If we all waited for perfection before spreading a good word, no one would ever speak up at all.
It’s a conundrum that many vegans face. Of course most vegans are “animal people.” For many, that is the reason they went vegan in the first place. Naturally, these are the types of people who would own pets, right? So how does someone who has made a commitment to no longer support any industry that benefits from animal slaughter and abuse (food, clothing, cosmetics, entertainment, etc.) then come to terms with buying pet food? Here I am with a purpose, a blog, a business, and a goal to create a sanctuary for animals that are raised for meat…and the namesake of that business is a cat, a true carnivore.
I feel the need to address this topic here partly because it is a popular topic of discussion, but also to clear the air for anyone who might be wondering about the hypocrisy of it all. I went back and forth for awhile on whether or not to use my cat’s name as the title of the business for that very reason. When I finally decided to go with it, the reasoning was the impact he has had on my life and the lives of many others who were suffering, which is exactly what Cupid’s Landing is all about. You can read about that here.
While I am not a scientist or veterinarian, I have done a bit of research on vegan diets for cats and dogs. That research has included picking the brains of my friends and coworkers who are vets or vet techs. The conclusion is this: Cats are carnivores, and dogs are omnivores.
What that means is that cats generally should not be forced to eat a 100% plant based diet. In nature, they wouldn’t eat any plants at all. Dogs on the other hand, are omnivorous, which means they can eat both plants and animals. Much like us, they can in fact thrive on a healthy plant based diet. I have heard that the extent to which that statement is true may vary from breed to breed. In any case, if you are considering feeding your dog a vegan diet, I would strongly encourage you to research their dietary needs to make sure they are being met.
Back to cats – I have heard stories of people raising healthy vegan cats. These are just stories…I have never actually met a vegan cat before. Among several other concerns, the main nutrient that a plant based diet is missing for cats is taurine. Taurine is an amino acid (a type of protein) that primarily exists in animal tissues, and therefore is obtained in diet through meat consumption. Humans and dogs can make their own taurine, but cats cannot – they must obtain it through diet. Taurine deficiencies can lead to serious medical conditions. The most common condition caused by this is taurine-related dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart with weak contractions and poor pumping ability).
Given that Cupid’s heart is already compromised, feeding him a plant based diet is something that I will not consider. I feed my cats Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Fish & Potato Indoor recipe. The fish are supposedly wild caught, which is a miniscule thing that makes me feel slightly better about buying it. I personally have committed to never owning cats again after the two that I have now pass. I love them dearly and hate to imagine my life without them, but I realize that to truly live in line with my morals, I must refrain from putting myself in a situation where I am forced to support an industry that I strive to avoid in all other areas of my life.
Many people try to counter this moral dilemma by pointing out that some animals need to eat meat, so why should you feel bad about feeding it to them? The issue is not whether or not it is ok for carnivores to eat meat, rather the way meat is sourced for cat and dog food is very, very far from the natural order of things. The whole system is troublesome, and pet kibble and treats are merely symptoms of that.