What if cats were herbivores

Cats as herbivores

Wouldn’t the world be better if all creatures were herbivores? Herbivores eat plants to live. There would be no killing. No animals would prey on another animal. I am looking at this very simplistically but as there would be no killing there would be a lot more animals. The planet wouldn’t be able to sustain them so their lifespan would have to be much shorter. We’d all live for five years maximum and eat grass 😉

That includes cats. But what if everything is as it is now but cats were herbivores. You know what would happen, no one would like cats anymore. One reason that we like cats is because they are such impressive predators. We admire them for their skills. They have developed superbly athletic anatomy and skills to hunt efficiently.

If cats were herbivores they would not have these skills.  Society has a schizophrenic attitude towards the cat.  On the one hand we love the lythe, powerful and athletic abilities and on the other we moan and complain bitterly about cats preying on birds and not being native species. What do we want? One of the other?

But if cats were herbivores and had some how developed athletic skills, no one would moan anymore about cats killing birds. The moaners would leave the cat alone.

And what if cats had one litter every five years with a maximum of two kittens per litter. No one could moan about cats breeding like flies, which by the way it a misrepresentation. You wouldn’t even need spaying and neutering.

Personally, I would prefer it if all animals including the human animal were herbivores. It would be a better word. No killing to eat for a start. I think shorter lives would be an improvement too We’d probably live for about a year! It would be a very happy year, though.

Are herbivores more gentle creatures? They appear to be. Deer are gentle, aren’t they? Cows are benign and passive. Think how unaggressive the world would be if all animals were obligate vegetarians.

Carnivorism = agressivity. Vegetarianism = passivity. Is that right?

An animal has to have an aggressive streak to be an effective carnivore as (s)he has to hunt. The more aggressive a hunter the more effective the hunter is (as long as it is accompanied by guile).

So, the obligate vegetarian cat would be super passive. He’s probably have no claws and small teeth. No canine teeth (the long ones at the either side of the upper jaw, at the front). He’d be a passive pudding, a blob. That would suit some people. The people who like to modify their cat to make the cat a fluff ball.

People would not be fearful of the herbivore cat. This would mean they would treat the cat better. Or would they? If humans remained as they are they’d find some way to hurt the cat whether the cat was a vegetarian or a carnivore. But if people were also herbivores, they’d be more passive and leave cats alone.

If people were herbivores and cats carnivores we’d be in danger of being eaten by our domestic cat ;).

Conclusion: If cats were herbivores, they’d no longer be cats. Cats can’t be herbivores because being a carnivore is what makes the cat a cat.

Associated: Cat that eats vegetation.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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14 Responses

  1. OK so this is blatantly wrong, most people love cats for their frisky behavior, but if they were simply herbivores then they would no longer have this because they would not need this to hunt, and also just bc an animal is an herbivore does not mean it is not aggressive, zebras are very aggressive and cause the most zoo related deaths every year,

  2. Connie says:

    FYI, I recently read an article about dear eating birds.. so the idea of dears being gentle, not so much.


  3. maureen mbaika says:

    do you think plants alone can sustain all the creatures man and animal?It is a good point but impossible, God created both herbivorous and carnivorous..he had a reason for all this

  4. Rose says:

    “We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation,and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt,if they were able to formulate a religion,they would depict the Devil in human form”
    William Ralph Inge,Outspoken Essays,1922

  5. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    We can’t change Nature, it was all planned out before the human race came along and interfered and ever since, have and still are, systematically destroying the habitat and the killing of many species of animals, birds, fish, insects, etc etc.
    We have the power over every other species and many abuse that power.
    I’m vegetarian because I know I can survive this way and I believe it’s a healthier diet, I’ve heard all the arguments about humans being designed to eat dead flesh but it’s my choice not to.
    I love and admire all animals but cats more than any other, just as they are, but would surely love them however they had been created, carnivore or herbivore, but they have a purpose in life and a part in the food chain and I accept that.
    What purpose and part do humans have? Only the power to use animals! Growing grain to feed animals born especially to slaughter and eat. Grain that would feed millions of starving people in the third world.
    The animal kingdom was well designed, each species for a purpose and they understood that and knew by instinct exactly where they belonged in the animal food chain…..until humans interfered!

  6. Sarah Hartwell says:

    If all animals were herbivores, we’d be deep in rotting carrion. Each herbivore species risks becoming weaker or degraded as the weaker individuals are no longer picked off by predators. The earth wouldn’t be able sustain the herbivore load as plant growth is seasonal and even in the growing season,vegetable growth is finite. There would be starvation. Some plants would be eaten into non-existence. Without predation, it would be a world out of balance.

    It’s predation that ensures species are fit. Even if species in a wholly vegetarian world had only limited reproductive capacity, those offspring might not be the ones best fitted to perpetuate a healthy species.

    You can actually see this in action in regions of North America where wolves have had to be reintroduced because the caribou population had deforested the land and the deforestation driven out species such as beavers, resulting in damaged waterways. Once the caribou were controlled naturally (the wolves also forced them to move pasture regularly), the scrub and trees returned, the beavers followed and the waterways sprang to life.

    Many herbivores are aggressive. They fight over territory and for the right to mate. Deer are actually pretty dangerous to humans (and stags will fight each other to the death). Cattle have killed people (is an intact bull a peacable animal?) The most dangerous animal in Africa is considered to be the vegetarian hippo (though they are carrion eaters when given the opportunity). Rhinos are irascible and bull elephants, especially when in musth, are deadly to other species.

    You only have to look at a rabbit to see the vegetarian analogue to the cat. But carnivores are crucial for the health of other species in the food web, including plant species.

    • Michael says:

      Don’t you think, though, that the planet could be a little bit less bloody and more in balance? Is life that cheap? It probably is. Perhaps humans place too high a value on life.

      If all animals were herbivores, we’d be deep in rotting carrion.

      Ahhhh…smelly. Unpleasant. The earth would be covered with the rotting flesh of dead herbivores. Good point.

      Without predation, it would be a world out of balance.

      I guess a balance would be reached when most animals had died of starvation.

      You only have to look at a rabbit to see the vegetarian analogue to the cat

      A rabbit is a vegetarian cat.

      But what if just the cat was a herbivore or what about an omnivore? If a cat was an omnivore perhaps people would be kinder towards it.

    • Valley Girl says:

      Reply to Sarah, and to Michael’s comment as well, albeit a quick one.

      Sarah, I absolutely agree with what you say in your comment. I’m not meaning to say that I knew all the info you mention, very educational, but that what you say makes total sense.

      Michael, you say
      ~~Don’t you think, though, that the planet could be a little bit less bloody and more in balance?~~

      Maybe it’s wrong to take this comment out of all that you said, but I would have to say, as far as the animal world is concerned, and that is what Sarah was addressing, but NO, unless you want to undo evolution and start again, it would not be more “in balance” if all animals were herbivores.

      Not sure how to address the comments about rabbits, but I think this needs more explication. Not sure about Sarah’s comment re: cats = rabbits. Meaning, a bit too cryptic for me to understand the meaning. But I will take a guess at that. It would be something like “it’s good that cats aren’t vegetarians”.

      for a history of the rabbit in Australia, I resort to wiki

      ~~Since their introduction from Europe in the 19th century, the effect of rabbits on the ecology of Australia has been devastating. They are suspected of being the most significant known factor in species loss in Australia. The extent of plant species’ loss is unknown at this time though it is known that rabbits often kill young trees in orchards, forests, and on properties by ringbarking them.

      Rabbits are also responsible for serious erosion problems, as they eat native plants, leaving the topsoil exposed and vulnerable to sheet, gully, and wind erosion. The removal of this topsoil is devastating to the land, as it takes many hundreds of years to regenerate.~~~

      Michael, you say
      ~~Perhaps humans place too high a value on life.~~

      This is a really complicated statement for me to absorb. So I may be totally off base with the following.

      In one way it implies that animals apart from humans don’t place a high value on life. Depends on how one parses the words and the evidence, but “value” is a human word. But, if you want to use it in the animal world (as I will do) what animals “value” is the continuation of the species. That can include nurturing young, who will carry their genes forward, or at the other extreme, carnivores killing predators.

      I actually think that humans place too low a value on life. “We” are happy or driven to destroy the natural world for the sake of human greed and human hubris. “We” (I will limit this to mean the US military/ industrial/ warmongering government) kill, bomb, and maim all over the world. “We” have no second thoughts about bombing Fallujah with white phosphorus and causing a decade of birth defects. etc., etc. Yes, I am speaking as an “American”, and don’t mean to imply that all humans around the world do the same. But, still, there is the essence of greed everywhere.

      Animals in the natural world are innocents compared with the human species.

      • Michael says:

        unless you want to undo evolution and start again

        Yes, I do want to start all over again. I realise you can’t just change one thing because everything is joined together. But it doesn’t look that good does it – the planet. It looks good from space when you can’t see what is going on.

        I think the truth is we are animals (of course) and we pretend to place value on human life when in fact we place no higher value on each other than a predator does on prey. We are deceiving ourselves when we say we place value on human lives beyond the concept of survival of the species. We behave like our animal brethren. We just think we are different.

  7. The World was made for Carnivores and Herbivores to exist simultaneously, a perfect balance in a natural environment. Imagine a World without carnivores and just herbivores and you have a “FAMINE” as there would be no plants or vegetation to feed on due to excessive consumption.

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