Monthly Archives: September 2013

How It All Began – A Tale of Two Baby Kittens

I am a veterinarian who has been vegan longer than I’ve been a vet.

Care Bear Cold Heart

Back in 2001, I was working as a veterinary technician at Compassion Veterinary Clinic in Marlborough, MA . Somehow I ended up fostering two 3-day-old kittens who required bottle feeding.  So, I took care of them like her mother had done, including feeding them a milk substitute for cats every two hours.

Vegan kittensWhen it came time for weaning, they refused to eat cat food.   Continue reading

Vegetarian Cats – Ethics 103

Most veterinarians strongly recommend against feeding cats a vegetarian diet.  While vegetarian cat food can be supplemented and formulated to meet AAFCO standards, there is a paucity of scientific data regarding bioavailability of essential nutrients and long-term health effects.  The bioavailability of synthetic taurine in these foods, for example, is unknown.  However, the majority of commercial cat foods add synthetic taurine because the natural taurine is denatured during high-heat processing.  So there is a huge sample of cats lacking any signs of deficiency during a lifetime of consuming and utilizing synthetic taurine.  Still, the bioavailability of many supplemented nutrients remains unknown.

Anecdotally, the thousands or tens of thousands of cats currently on vegetarian diets are in adequate to excellent health.3  Continue reading

Vegetarian Cats – Ethics 102

In his book Obligate Carnivore, Jed Gillen writes about the difficult decision caregivers are forced to make where essentially they are choosing between animals.  He speaks of his newly adopted kitten: “Nature may have evolved her to be a carnivore, but it most certainly did not evolve me to go into the grocery store and buy dead animal parts to feed to her.  Those same laws of nature that designed her to eat flesh did not tie my hands at all.  If I chose to sustain this one life at the expense of many ‘food animals,’ on what would this decision be based?  The fact that she was adorable and lived in my house, while they were just nameless and faceless statistics?”  That sort of thinking is defined by Peter Singer as speciesism, which is arbitrary discrimination based on species. Continue reading

Vegetarian Cats – Ethics 101

Despite warnings from veterinarians, some animal caregivers are choosing to feed their pets vegetarian food for ethical reasons.  Aside from nutritional health concerns, some veterinarians think it is inhumane to the animal not to feed a ‘natural’ diet.  So why do these caregivers feel that vegetarian diets for their carnivorous companion animals are actually more humane?  Most are vegans or vegetarians themselves who believe in animal rights and do not wish to contribute to the suffering of farm animals.  They are considering the overall consequences of providing a flesh-based diet, not simply the consequences for their companion animals alone. Continue reading

My 2006 Study of Vegetarian Cats

Whether it meets the approval of your vet or not, many caregivers have begun to feed their cats vegetarian food. The purpose of this study was to gather preliminary data for that veterinarians can properly advise clients who want to feed their cats vegetarian food.

Summary

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
July 1, 2006, Vol 229, No. 1, Pages 70-73.

Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers. Continue reading