In Response to Our March Article, Can Dogs and Cats Go Vegetarian? | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

In Response to Our March Article, Can Dogs and Cats Go Vegetarian?

In Response to Our March Article, Can Dogs and Cats Go Vegetarian?

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Several readers pointed out that our recent story “Can Dogs and Cats Go Vegetarian?” seemed to advocate feeding cats a vegetarian or vegan diet.

While we strive to present expert information, even when the experts offer differing viewpoints, we agree with Bruce Kornreich, DVM, Ph.D, Associate Director of the Cornell Feline Health Center at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine with a specialty in cardiology, who says: “Cats, like many species such as birds of prey and dolphins, are obligate carnivores, meaning they require a strict meat diet.

Cats need certain essential amino acids (those they cannot produce on their own), the most often mentioned is taurine. Since cats cannot produce this on their own in significant amounts, if they don’t have enough taurine in their diet, there can be deleterious effects on their heart, eyes and reproductive systems.” We presented this article in response to the many questions and comments we’ve received from readers who are feeding their pets a vegetarian diet (or contemplating it).

We urge readers to discuss the health consequences of a vegetarian diet for their pets with a veterinarian before proceeding. 

Comments on this Blog

After researching feline nutrition extensively for my book, CAT SKILLS: Loving Care for Cats, I assure you that your cat CANNOT survive on a vegan diet. His digestive system is not equipped to digest plant matter of any kind. His anatomy and digestive system is designed to digest whole animals and no vegetable matter all. A cat's anatomy is different from ours. He cannot absorb the nutrients he needs to survive from eating plant matter..which by the way is one reason why many cats suffering from IBD and other digestive problems are cured when taken off a diet of kibble and put on an all meat diet. Aside from exacerbating or even causing irritable bowel syndrome, feeding cats fruits and vegetables can cause urinary tract infections and crystals as it alters the Ph of the urine. Meat contains a combination of amino acids not found in vegetables including the most important nutrient of all for cats: Taurine as Dr. Kornreich stated. A "vegan" kitten made the news when it was found near death living on a diet of pasta, rice milk and potatoes. The vet who treated it, Dr. Pinfold, immediately fed it a meat meal and commented "those who want a vegan pet should consider guinea pigs or other animals."