/' http-equiv='refresh'/> Vegan Outreach Lincoln and East Midlands: Vegan Cats


Vegan Cats

After our last blog post on vegan dogs we got a few questions regarding feeding cats a vegan diet. We apologise for taking a while but we've been busy both doing outreach and planning for some pretty exciting outreach opportunities that we've got coming up (more soon)!

Firstly (and most obviously) a disclaimer, neither of us are vets. Ruth has studied animal nutrition at degree level but no one is professing to be an expert in feeding cats a vegan diet. We have done a great deal of research into this topic and believe we have all the information that we would need should we rescue cats. As per usual if you have any questions or comments you can email us, leave a message under this post or write on our facebook page/group.

Similarly to the dog issue, when we as vegans oppose speciesism it is less than ideal to feed our companion animals other animals over the course of a lifetime. Veganism is unnatural for cats they say, well so is feeding them (for just two examples) environmentally-destructive cows or fish from the overly-exploited seas, animals they could never hope to catch via their own means. On which topic please don't allow cats to kill native wildlife, they are a human-introduced predator and as such occupy a potentially devastating place in ecosystems, especially given their vast numbers.

Neither belongs in a "petfood" can.

Now onto diet, cats are often more finicky than dogs, and their nutritional requirements are more complicated however this shouldn't put you off transitioning a cat that lives with you to a vegan diet. Unlike dogs where switching food is a generally a relatively easy switch (being that most will eat anything!) changing a cat's diet is something that will likely simply take a bit more time and patience.

I would suggest start with the current food (this is for wet food) and add a small percentage of the new food and see how that goes (hopefully the cat wont notice the difference). Next day add slightly more and keep continuing until you're at 100% vegan food. This all assumes that you have no issues with the cat disliking the food. Should you get to a point (lets say for this example 50% of each) where the cat won't eat the food then there are a few good tips that I've been told. One is heating the wet food up very slightly (obviously please be careful!) this enhances the smell and can make the food seem more appealing.

Nutritionally there are a few things to look out for. Firstly cats need a considerable amount of dietary vitamin A as they cannot make their own (biosnythesise). It is important to ensure they have sufficient as without it they can get health issues including hearing,skin and intestinal issues.  Another important nutrient for cats is taurine, again a diet lacking this can cause significant health issues. Both these and all essential nutrients  can be found in vegan cat food and many cats have thrived on these. We have linked to both ready made wet cat food, kibble and Vegcat (a nutritional supplement to put in homemade food) at the bottom.

One of the most common health concerns with vegan cats is urinary tract infections. Because of anatomical differences, the risk of urinary tract problems is much lower in females than in males. Both genders can develop crystals in their bladders with females this may cause discomfort but the crystals do not cause blockage. This means that that urinary tract infections are much less severe in females than in males and are much easier to cure. In male cats however a blockage can occur and can be severe.

Females, as mentioned above, can usually be given a 100% vegan diet with no problem. And so can many males. However, we really need to stress that if you want to make your males completely vegan, you need to be very dedicated and vigilant when it comes to maintaining their urinary tract health. What does this practically mean? Well basically you should make sure you get your cats ph checked every 6 months (more so when you initially introduce them to a vegan diet). You can buy ph strips for cats online to do at home, they're easy to use and give you a quick indication as to whether your cats ph is fine (or not). Feline ph should be between 6.4 and 6.5, any higher or lower then make a vets appointment!

Next, NEVER feed a male (or female really but especially a male) a strictly kibble diet. Most vegan male cats will do best on NO kibble whatsoever. Cats usually get most of their fluid from their food, which is important for ph and flushes the urinary tract stopping minor infections. They will drink water but not enough to make up from not having water in their food. If they will only eat kibble then consider soaking it in water for a few minutes prior to soaking.

Also add enzymes pH to every meal, you can easily get hold of them and they're a good idea regardless of whether the cat that lives with you has urinary tract issues as they aid digestion and help with metabolism. Get hold of enzymes with vitamin c and cranberry extract as this help acidify the urine and soothe the urinary tract.

So experimentation is key. With so many permutations available you should be able through sensible, gradual analysis to find the ethically optimum diet for your cat. If you have tried everything you can and still can't get your cat to accept a fully vegan diet then it is better to have them on a percentage of vegan food like a 75% vegan wet food mix than a fully meat based diet. Try and get to as high a percentage of vegan food to animal-derived food to at least feel you are best reducing the suffering this one animal, you are responsible for is causing.

Finally, the other most important thing is to spay and neuter! We owe a great duty of care to the overflow of domesticated animals we have brought into being and should always vehemently oppose the wanton selfishness of breeding new ones into existence.

Ph Supplement
Vegkit for kittens and lactating females
Vegcat for homemade food
Benevo wet cat food
Benevo Kibble
Ami Cat- comes in different weights


  1. The overwhelming majority of vetinarians view the cat as a carnivore and do not recommend a meat free diet. Even vegancats.com have stepped back from advocating a meat and dairy free diet for all cats. The unescapable fact is that a cat fed on a vegan only diet will suffer health problems and have a shorter life span. The dichotomy here for us vegans is should we give succour to the meat industry for our cat's food or condemn the animal itself to a poorer quality existence?

    My basic tenet on this question is if you don't want to feed a cat meat (or allow it to hunt), don't have a cat.

    1. We feel the article was well balanced and have not said that all cats can consume a 100% vegan diet. However the vast majority of cats that can do, do so with no health issues whatsoever. I have spoken to veterinarians who after discussions agreed that provided the PH was checked and vitamin A and taurine were in the diet there is no reason cats cannot be fed a vegan diet. There is no evidence that cats will have a poorer quality of life due to the diet.

      It is certainly problematic to rescue an animal that you intend to feed lots of other animals to. You would be better not rescuing cats with this attitude and intention as the outcome would be totally speciesist.

  2. You say to Anonymous's reply that his/her attitude would be speciesist but:

    Definition of Speciesism:
    Giving moral preference to the interests of members of one's own species, over identical interests of members of a different species.

    And your own morality here is dictating to another species what it can and can't eat.
    Who voted you into that position of power then and why do you want to alter another animals nature?
    Yeah, want a pet but don't want to feed it meaty stuffs:
    Get a rabbit or hamster.
    I bet the cat would soon take off to somebody else, fickle things that they are.

    Joe Gill

    1. Joe, it is textbook speciesism, favouring the interests of one species over another. One (the cat) who is given special consideration as a human's companion animal whilst those seen as "food animals" suffer and die in great numbers to feed that individual.

      Again this article isn't advocating that vegans take on cats. Rather that if you do have a cat and consider yourself an opponent of speciesism and exploitation that you should to the greatest extent possible endeavour to eliminate the intrinsic cruelty involved.

      Ultimately it is a great shame that we have created the many ethical problems implicit to the domestication of other animals, let alone those of individuals who may need to consume some animal products.

  3. I think this is a great post; it's a summation of research and individual morals are not being pushed on anyone. As an animal lover I would obviously want to do the best for the cats I live with but that shouldn't mean compromising on ethics. Similarly if I were to have children I would feed them a vegan diet. If I have companion animals I will try, as far as is healthy for that animal, to do the same because I wouldn't want other animals to have to suffer. What's the real difference between the cow in the slaughterhouse and the cat in your home? You are attached to the cat and therefore it's well being tends to come first, which is only a natural thing to think. However why should hundreds of animals suffer in order for your cat to eat meat? It's like saying it's fine to kill a few people if it's for the greater good. That may sound like a slightly extreme comparison but really it's not all that different.

    Provided the cat is healthy and the human is responsible I think it is fine to feed a cat a vegan or mostly vegan diet. I've read many people's experiences with vegan cats online and generally they seem to be thriving. And as mentioned in the article, it's best to reduce the suffering where you can so even a 75% or 50% vegan cat is going to be helping farm animals by reducing demand. As for dictating what another species can and can't eat - isn't that what you do when you feed a companion animal anyway? You're the one buying the products so with that comes responsibility. Generally vegans are compassionate, conscientious people so I doubt anyone deciding to feed their cat a plant-based diet is going to allow them to suffer because of it.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Hayley, we find ourselves in agreement.

  4. We take care of a 13 year old male cat, who has been on a vegan diet since birth. Most of this time he has been fed kibble (Amicat), and no wet food. He has had no health issues related to his nutrition, and is healthy, strong, playful and cuddly. For brief episodes (weeks), we have put him on non-vegan veterinary foods when he had health issues. Neither issue was found to be dietary related, though (plant allergies, infections). The "advantage" with these episodes was that he got a thorough health check-up every time. All his test values have been very good.

    Because of articles like this, we have now begun to feed him also wet foods (vegecat), which he likes as well.

    Some questions, though:
    - Where's the proof that cats, male in particular, cannot be fed a 100% kibble diet? I hear this often, but have yet to see any studies.
    - Why would animals evolve that do not have a functioning thirst mechanism? Especially if the animal is a desert animal (like some cat people are claiming), wouldn't it be more logical to have an enhanced thirst? Our cat drinks plenty when he is fed kibble.
    - Couldn't the pH value of the food be the main reason why some vegan cats fail?

  5. Hi Anonymous,

    There are no good,broad,peer reviewed studies on vegan cats fed on different diets(wet vs kibble and a mix). The advice comes from multiple sources and I believe a lot of it has had to be structured using theory. What we're basically saying is, if your cat does well on a 100% kibble diet that's fantastic, that is what's working! At his age if you haven’t had any urinary tract issues I would severely doubt you're going to get any! The advice is given because male urinary issues are much more common and when they happen much more severe and therefore for a young cat that you have no idea if they are prone to infections you assume they are. It's like with dogs and chocolate, most dogs aren't allergic to chocolate but for those that are the reaction can be severe and therefore you don’t give them chocolate. I know both Lilly and Molly (our dogs) have eaten chocolate, accidentally, and they were fine but I still would be careful about chocolate and other dogs.

    The theory behind cats and kibble is that before we had kibble and when they hunted their prey supplied most of their necessary fluids.

    That's an interesting question regarding the PH of the kibble. We've emailed the companies in the UK that produce/supply vegan cat kibble and asked them and will let you know when/if we get a response. Email us if you wish then we can send you can replies.

  6. While I do agree there is a lot of good in this post, and some information that I feel is truly lacking from this discussion in the vegan community, I do find elements of it troubling. And perhaps it is only that I am reading it wrong.

    Those who have tried to switch their cats over, but they don't necessarily 'take' to it, because cats are 'finicky' eaters both of which imply that the cats are merely being difficult, and so we have to force them accept that nutritionally they are screwed. And I say this as someone with 4 cats living in our house two of which have to be on prescribed food because of digestive issues.

    From the way it is being discussed here, it makes me wonder what exactly constitutes a cat 'not taking' to the diet? It would sound like they are having some sort of measurable reaction (one that may even be refusing to eat the food), which means that forcing them to accept a compromised diet of 50% to 75% doesn't seem like the compassionate move does it? Making them starve to the point of accepting whatever food is put in front of them, is what it feels like it would amount to. And again, perhaps I am misreading the statements.

    But just like one who is being held and forced to subsist on a tasteless gruel that while satisfied their hunger, nutritionally was not providing them what they need to thrive in the healthiest way, may ravenously devour said gruel, it doesn't mean that's an acceptable thing to do.

    And now you can say I am being speciesist, but lets be honest, that's a crutch in this argument because we are talking about the nature of carnivorous animals being reshaped by humans to fit and fall in line with our moral stances. Which given that we oppose that level of oppressive and intrusive interference with our own existences through conditional and behavioral modification being imposed on us without our consent, then doing the same to other species because we can or want them to adopt our morals is sort of a flawed approach.

    Are we favoring one species of animal over another here by allowing cats to eat non-vegan diets? Not at all. As vegans we accept the nature of animals and that some species of animals unfortunately eat others. If we again, try to impose our sense of morality onto all of the carnivorous species of beings in favor of protecting those they prey on, wouldn't that be the speciesist act? Because we are again, imposing our own human choices and morals on certain species and protecting one species to the detriment of others. We see our way of existence as superior or more worthy. Thereby placing ourselves (or our morals and choices) once more above other species because we feel it's the right path.

    That is my take anyway. Again, some good stuff, but some problematic areas as well. In my opinion.

    1. Hi Rob,
      Sorry for the belated reply, nice to hear from you, we are avid listeners of your podcasts. We think that you're misunderstanding some of what we are saying in this blog.

      Firstly when we recognise that cats may be "finicky" over certain foods we aren't saying they will refuse them altogether. There would be no point in putting out food that remains uneaten. Rather the goal in transition is to get the highest amount of vegan food possible in a ratio the cat will enjoy.

      If they don't enjoy certain brands then perhaps try mixing it in with smaller amounts of something they prefer. The dogs we rescued didn't enjoy the first variety we gave them, weren't interested in it etc so we switched brands and found one they're both happy with and also is vegan.

      An element of sensible experimentation is required, our point obviously wasn't to infringe on the interests of the cat but moreso speak up for the farm and sea animals who suffer unseen in highly unnatural circumstances and end up as pet food.

      Not to disregard their area of expertise but most vets will not share this ethical concern and every vets we've ever seen has had at least one sponsorship deals with the big petfood companies. Most vets merely repeat the line of the status quo and wouldn't recommend a vegan diet for dogs either and as you well know many doctors are similarly opposed to vegan diets for humans. Personally we believe this is due to both the monetary implications (as said earlier) and that to recommend food outside the norm would require them spending time and energy researching it, obviously if they have no ethical reason to do so they are unlikely to.

      If more people feed cats a vegan diet there would be more and more varieties avaliable including better "medical diets" for cats with specific needs. Currently if a cat has an allergy or digestive issues there is Ami Cat avaliable, it would be nice if there was as many types of vegan cat food as there is avaliable for those fed a traditional diet as that way there would likely be something sutiable for pretty much every cat. Only by supporting the companies that do make vegan cat and dog food can we hope that they will develop a broader range.

      From the way "food" animals are raised, to which animals are raised or if focusing on the issue of exploitation, you know there is nothing natural about the process, nor in domesticating animals such as cats in the first place. Domesticated as they are, humans are already imposing their will and we make the decisions on what we're happy to buy for them, be that nutritionally, ethically or cost related. There are limits implicit in this. Obviously there is a moral element in all choices we make and that is not least true of the products we decide to consume, or more frankly whom we choose to consume.

      Thanks again for taking the time to discuss this topic, like you said it is one that is often ignored. The decisions we make on behalf of domesticated animals are important ethically and environmentally also as the book "Time To Eat The Dog: The real guide to sustainable living" showed. The impacts of companion animal diets are certainly far reaching.

  7. Signs that a cat may not be tolerating vegetarian cat food well include vomiting or diarrhea, hair loss, loss of energy, or merely appearing 'off-color'. One of the most common replacements to protein provided by meat in most cat foods is soy protein. Some cats, like some people, do not tolerate soy well.

  8. Thank you so much for this I have rescued a female cat and she is now eating a vegan diet and doing really well, I am taking all the precautions you have mentioned and my vet is right behind me amazingly! Thank you so much. Harriette and Lola (cat)