Cat & Dog Food
Should you feed your companion animals meat?
The quick answers:
As omnivores, dogs do not need meat. Cats need special supplements if you
remove meat from their diets, but it is possible for them to eat vegetarian
All of our dogs are vegan and have lived wonderful, healthy lives. Our
oldest dog is 17 years old and has been vegan as long as I have (over a
decade). No problem.
Our cat is another story. We have tried several vegan cat food diets -
both pre-made and home-made versions. She wants nothing to do with any of
them and, with true cat stubbornness, will simply not eat until we give her back
her meat-based food. She does, however, like to snack on the canned vegan
dog food. Go figure. (She won't eat enough of it though for us to
just add supplements and let it go at that.) So we are stuck giving her
the meat-based food. Yuck.
You are your companion's caretaker. It is your duty to make sure they
lead happy and healthy lives. That is the responsibility you accepted when
they became part of your family. You need to make sure that they are
getting adequate nutrition, regardless of which diet you choose. For dogs
(as well as humans) I think the responsible and healthy choice means a vegan
diet - assuming you don't have a dog with cat-like stubbornness. :)
For cats, more attention is required, but a vegan diet is possible.
Aren't you just forcing your will on them by making them eat a veg diet?
Well, unless you let them go to the store by themselves to pick out your own
food, they are at the mercy of your decisions no matter what you do. We
choose their food. We can choose meat or we can choose veg - either way it
is totally up to us.
Cats are just like lions and tigers - they are carnivores and need meat.
Well, there are thousands of years of domestication between your cat and a
lion. They are not the same. But, again - it comes down to the fact
that cats can be vegan, so their similarity or dissimilarity to lions and tigers
is somewhat irrelevant.
Wouldn't they prefer meat? Isn't it more natural for them?
These are all the same questions that people ask me when I tell them that I
am vegan. If these questions aren't enough to stop me from being vegan,
there's no reason they should stop my cats and dogs from being vegan. Once
you get past the fact that cats and dogs CAN be vegan, all the other questions
can be answered the same way you would answer them for yourself.
From the Veg
for Life website:
"Like humans, dogs are omnivores, able to
digest and utilize a wide variety of foods. While dogs require a higher ratio
of dietary protein and calcium than humans, these nutrients are available via
a well-balanced vegetarian diet. Numerous pet food manufacturers provide
tasty, nutritionally complete foods for dogs. So long as you provide adequate
levels of protein, calcium and all-around nutrients, getting your dog to
"go veggie" is typically a smooth process.
Cats are true carnivores and switching them to a vegan diet may prove
more complex. Cats require dietary sources of taurine, an amino acid-like
nutrient, and arachidonic acid, an essential fatty acid, according to CVM
research. Both are found in appreciable levels only in animal tissues.
Additionally, cats cannot convert the beta-carotene in plants into vitamin A.
Instead, they require "pre-formed" vitamin A, usually found in liver
and fish oils. Synthetic versions of these nutrients are available, and
it is up to you, the caregiver, to ensure that your cat is receiving the
necessary nutrition. Some dogs, particularly larger breeds, may also require
taurine to keep their hearts healthy; seek out veggie dog foods that contain
taurine, or simply add a supplement with taurine to your dog's diet."
"With proper planning and guidance, using nutritionally-complete
vegan dog and cat foods that meet the Association of American Feed Control
Officials (AAFCO) Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiless, which were determined
in cooperation with the U.S. Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), your dog
and cat friends can lead happier, healthier lives."
Links about veg pet food:
Network Victoria - This site provides objective information on why
caretakers opt to feed their animals a vegetarian or vegan diet, potential
problems, a vegetarian dogs and cats 'check list,' vegetarian pet foods and
supplements, and helpful links for more information, including books and
Suppliers of Veg Pet Food:
Diet Pet-food Company