Cats: Can they be vegan?
Three experienced veterinarians with experience of vegan cats say whether and why they think cats can thrive on a vegan diet.
Jean Hofve argues – out of bitter experience – that cats need meat.
Andrew Knight advocates a vegan diet for cats – if you do it right.
Only Lorelei Wakefield has published a peer-reviewed study to try to discover who is right.
Lorelei Wakefield’s study site – vegetariancats.com – is currently down, but you can access vegetariancats.com via web.archive.org. That peer-reviewed paper is:
- Wakefield, LA; Shofer, FS & Michel, KE (2006). “Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers” .Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 229 (1): 70–3.
She does housecalls in NYC, and her site is ComfortsOfHomeVet.com.
Lorelei is vegan. Her own cat, Noel, used to be vegan but is now on a meat-based prescription food.
In between extreme ironing , vegan campaigning, and writing a cost/benefit analysis of Animal Experiments, Andrew Knight also runs VegePets.info, which offers advice for people considering vegetarian diets for dogs and cats.
Jean Hofve is a retired veterinarian with an interest in nutrition and alternative veterinary medicine.
Erin “Red” Grayson
Erin offers listeners to Red Radio “vegan banter with a bite” – strong vegan opinions and supportive commentary, as well as guests, compassionate clips, and rants.
She’s Canadian transplanted to Brooklyn, where she co-founded “The Seed: a vegan experience”, and practices muay Thai.
She discussed the ethical dilemma of vegan cats with Prof Gary Francione in a February 2012 episode of Red Radio.
Mazzy is a female tortoiseshell rescue cat, and she’s on my lap as I’m typing this.
She’s also had struvite crystals (when on a meat-based diet) so she’s also on a meat-based prescription diet.
Mainstream veterinary opinion
David Dzanis wrote in the Veterinarian Newsletter in 1999, concluding of both dogs and cats:
… while both species can eat and utilize some plant-source ingredients (dogs more than cats), they simply are not intended to eat only plants as are other animals such as cattle and sheep.
When it comes to felines, it really is best to provide a diet that includes meat.
I’m going to pass this on to other websites, but we mentioned that the challenges for vegan cats are:
That US National Research Council released dietary guidelines for Cats and Dogs in 2003 (before Lorelei Wakefield’s study) saying that cats:
should not be fed a vegetarian diet because it could result in harmful deficiencies of certain amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins
Other vegan experiences
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau addressed the issue in her 2007 podcast episode, What do Vegetarians Feed their Dogs and Cats? – and, as I mentioned, feeds her cats meat.
US writer and activist Jo Stepaniak blogged about how she feeds her cats meat after they did not thrive on a vegan diet.
Animal Voices (Toronto) covered this topic in 2006 with a round table discussion, involving two local activists whose cats fell seriously ill on a vegan diet, as well as Eric Wiseman of Evolution pet food.
… go to Robb Masters for the music, the three veterinarians for our interviewees, and of course Erin Red.
The interview with Andrew Knight is from back in 2010, hence some rookie mic handling noise.
This is not veterinary advice. It is a radio show with vets.