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.


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.

Lorelei A. Wakefield, VMD, Frances S. Shofer, PhD, Kathryn E. Michel, DVM,
DACVN. Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6010.

With the support of a veterinary student with a research grant from the veterinary company “Nestle Purina Petcare”, based in St Louis, Mo. Dr. Michel is a member of the Advisory Board of Nestlé Nutrition Purin. Presented in part at the “Forum on Nutrition Nestle Purina, St Louis, Mo, October 2004″ and the Symposium of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition in 2005, Baltimore, June 2005.

Correspondence: Dr. Michel.

Study objective – To determine the practices and feeding motivation of people who feed their cats vegetarian diets, as well as the level of taurine and cobalamin in cats who eat vegetarian diets.

Design – Cross-sectional study.

Animals – 34 cats that had been fed exclusively a commercial or homemade vegetarian diet and 52 cats that had been fed a conventional diet for ≥ 1 year.

Procedures – Participants were chosen through a website and attendees at a national conference on animal welfare. Cat caretakers in both groups responded to a telephone questionnaire on feeding cats. Blood was obtained from cats that had been fed vegetarian diets.  From this, the levels of taurine in blood and plasma and serum cobalamin were measured.

Results – The people who fed their cats vegetarian diets did mostly for ethical reasons and were more likely than people who feed their cats with conventional diets to believe that there are health benefits associated with a vegetarian diet and that commercial foods for cats are not healthy. Both groups were aware of the potential health problems that can arise because of incorrectly formulated vegetarian diets. All cats tested had serum cobalamin in the reference field, and 14 of 17 had levels of taurine in the blood within the reference field.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance – vegetarian diets fed to cats was primarily due to ethical issues. The results of this study should help professionals in communicating with and advising such clients.

Full article courtesy of For your information: cats with taurine levels below the reference field were not low enough to be considered critically deficient.  See Resources page for more information.

This study was funded by a generous donation from Nestle Purina. They support nutrition research on issues relating to the dog and cat. Invasive or terminal research is not funded. The research summer fellowships for veterinary students offered Nestlé Purina, creates an opportunity for these students to participate in research and participate in the advancement of knowledge of canine and feline nutrition and health care.

3 thoughts on “My 2006 Study of Vegetarian Cats

  1. Pingback: How it all began – A tale of two kittens | Vegetarian Cats

  2. Jeanine Shumway

    Hi Lorelei,

    I wrote you a few months ago and thought you might post my comment or maybe respond personally. I wanted you to know that one of the cats I had during your study was 20 years old this year. She died about 2 months ago and was in good health until the day before her death. She was vegan for 12 years. We got her when she was 8 years old when a friend of mine ended up in the hospital and unable to live at home anymore.

    I also mentioned the south African scientist, Dr Walter Veith that has taught zoology. He has done studies on how gut length and diet work. He said that gut length is actually determined by diet and not diet begin determined by gut length and he has the research to back it up. Professor Walter Veith obtained his doctorate in zoology from the University of Cape Town in 1979. Professor Veith is one of only five scientists in South Africa honored with the Royal Society London Grant for the Reconstruction and Development Program to establish a research climate in post-apartheid South Africa. Professor Veith’s research field is nutritional physiology, concentrating on the effect of modern animal husbandry on the incidence of disease transferal to humans.

    I really think you would find his research to be useful. I don’t expect you to post what I said but I would appreciate hearing from you. I think Dr. Veith’s research would be valuable to you. I don’t think that a man with this much research on this topic should be ignored. Please respond. :) I’m not trying to argue or rebut what you have on your website I just think that as an objective researcher you would find his perspective helpful.

    1. admin Post author

      Dear Jeanine,
      Thank you for your message. I didn’t post it before now because it went to spam and I just saw it. I didn’t receive your email either. I really appreciate your participation in the study.


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