The RSPCA in the UK say that if a cat owner feeds their cat commercially prepared vegan cat food they may be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act. But they are on a collision course with the big manufacturers because there is a well-known product on the market already called Benevo which is a dry cat food with a meat-free recipe.
Plant based but added nutrients
This product is sold on Amazon and it contains the nutrients cats are unable to synthesise including non-animal sources of Taurine and Vitamin A. It gets good reviews on Amazon and although it is meet-free they claim that it is a balanced, good quality product. I have discussed this argument before. If this product contains all the nutrients that a cat needs then notwithstanding that it is not meat-based it must be satisfactory.
Obviously, a vegan or vegetarian commercially prepared pet food which does not contain the added ingredients (because it is poorly prepared) that the cat needs will be toxic to cats, which is the point that the RSPCA is making. They say that a vegan pet food can make pets seriously ill and that cat owners who feed a vegan pet food to their cat could end up facing criminal charges.
Cats and dogs
Of course we have to differentiate between dogs and cats. Dogs are omnivores and cats are carnivores. Therefore they say the dogs could theoretically survive a well-balanced vegetarian diet but cats need meat to thrive.
If a cat ends up very malnourished because they’re eating vegan pet food owners are open to be prosecuted and to face on conviction a hefty fine and a possible jail sentence. This scenario would occur if a cat owner fed a homemade cat food diet to their cat. That’s happened before.
Vegan more popular
The warning from the RSPCA comes after the National Pet Show in Birmingham earlier this month which showcased the latest vegan pet food. In the UK people are becoming more interested in vegan and vegetarian diets. They are therefore open to placing their companion animals on the same diet. This is potentially dangerous quite obviously but if a pet food manufacturer is producing a pet food which is dangerous to cats and dogs it would not sell. It would be in breach of a raft of regulations and it could not be sold in the UK. As it is sold it must have been approved by the authorities.
There is a case referred to on the Telegraph website in which a cat became very weak because she was on a strict vegan diet. The animal was hospitalised and severely undersized as a result. Some fur was missing. The owner was barred from retaining her cat until she agreed to feed her cat in meat-based diet. As mentioned this person must have been feeding a homemade vegan diet which is a crime.
RSPCA are wrong
It seems that the RSPCA disagree with pet food manufacturers producing meat-free pet food. I understand where the attitude comes from but I think they are wrong. I think that they are missing the point. A business can’t sell products that will kill an animal in the UK without being prosecuted and the manufacturers of Benevo have not been and will no be prosecuted.
I made this comment (see below):
“I am looking at things from the standpoint of basic ingredients i.e. at the molecular or chemical level. If we break down food stuff into their chemical constituents their source is irrelevant I believe.
The plant based cat food I refer to on this page is the product of a chemistry kit. Take all the necessary ingredients in food that a cat needs at a molecular level and put them together. As it happens plants do have proteins. But at the chemical level this is not plant life but a chain of molecules. It’s about chemistry.”
The director of Benevo, Damien Eadie, said yesterday that his business, which he founded 13 years ago, is growing and that he is in discussion with major retailers about stocking his product. He denies that there are health issues attached to his product because they have worked with nutritional experts to ensure that it meets the nutrient requirements of cats and dogs.
He believes that veterinarians who disagree with him are suffering from an ‘unshakeable ideology’. Although I don’t use this particular product and don’t endorse it I have to agree with him.