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The Dangers of a Vegan Diet for Cats

Cats are not Vegans!

Pet Insurance Australia issues a timely reminder about the danger of vegan diets for cats and catches up with leading feline vet and owner of The Cat Clinic in Melbourne, Dr. Richard Gowan, to get the lowdown on the purr-fect diet for your cat.

“There has been a lot of hype lately around vega
n pet diets, with some pet owners unexpectedly putting their pets in danger of chronic illness,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “This type of diet is especially dangerous for felines.”

The fact is our feline friends are carnivores and require animal-based nutrients to lead a healthy, happy and balanced life.

Meet Dr. Richard Gowan from The Cat Clinic in Melbourne.
“Cats are obligate carnivores,” he says. “Their unique metabolic requirements means it is essential for their diet to contain some animal-based nutrients. Feeding a home-prepared vegan diet would have dire consequences for a cat's life.”

It’s also important to remember that a cat’s unique health requirements have evolved due to them being solitary hunters, usually devouring the whole prey, consuming all of the nutrients within the preys' organs and digestive tract - not just the muscle protein.

“However, cats can derive excellent nutrition from plant-based proteins and nutrients, but at this point in time, there are no scientifically tested and studied vegan diets for cats.
Conversely, too much meat protein can also be an unbalanced and unhealthy diet,” Dr. Gowan says. It’s all about the right balance and ensuring pet owners get the right information from their veterinarians on the diets needs of their pets.

“It is vital you speak with your veterinarian before doing any drastic diet change for your pet,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “As you can be putting your beloved pet at risk of developing health-related issues.”

Dr. Gowan is also quick to remind readers of the extreme dangers posed to cats when they are fed an incorrect diet. “Cats can suffer terrible chronic health problems when fed a nutritionally deficient diet, from blindness, kidney failure and sudden death from heart disease,” Dr. Gowan warns.

Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet. People who follow a vegan lifestyle can be tempted to have pets who are also following this strict diet. 

The danger is that felines have several essential amino acid requirements found in abundance in animal proteins. Removing these vital requirements from your pet's diet can result in a very sick animal.

What about Vegetarian Diets?

There are many commercial vegetarian diets available for cats. Several studies have questioned the true balanced nature of these diets, but evidence is growing that points to many cats living healthy lives eating a commercially prepared, vegetarian diet.

“Feeding a balanced home-prepared vegetarian diet would be close to impossible due to the variable bio availability of nutrients when prepared in this manner,” Dr. Gowan warns. “Due to the dire health consequences, it is imperative to talk to your veterinary team to understand the best current diet options and their associated pitfalls. I could not advocate a vegan diet to be fed to a cat at all.”

Lifestyle Choices?

If your lifestyle choice of living a vegan life is conflicting with your pet ownership and pet diet needs it’s important to do your research and speak to a professional.

“There is so much misinformation out on the internet in regards to diets for animals, it is really important that pet owners only seek advice from their local vet,” Crighton suggests. “It comes down to understanding what your pet needs, to live a long and healthy life.”

Dr. Gowan agrees that pet owners need to avoid vegan diets for their felines, or consider owning a vegan happy pet.

“Understand that your cat is a carnivore and their intrinsic health needs at this point in time can only be fully met with a complete and balanced diet that contains some form of animal-based protein and nutrients,” he says. 

 “You can look to a commercially validated vegetarian diet, but if this is still not personally palatable - I would counsel the owner that in the best interests of their animal's life and health, that they re-home their cat. 

Vegan pets like rabbits and guinea pigs are perfectly adapted to a vegan diet.”

MEDIA RELEASE, 22nd October 2019

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