Very occasionally someone will ask me what I feed my cats as a vegan. It’s a simple question, but requires a long answer to explain it fully. The short answer is I regrettably feed them meat. But for those with the patience here’s the long answer.
I have two cats and I am currently fostering 2 more stray kittens with some other teachers at my school. I got my current cats (now six and five) before I was vegan and my attitude towards my companion animals has changed much since then. I have to say that when I got my cats I did for me. I wanted a pet cat. I wanted the love and affection of cats. It kind of was all about me and how I felt. My attitude has changed now. I consider myself as someone who is giving my cats a good home and a safe life and at the same time I get a lot of joy from them. Rather than having them for me, Seb and I do everything we can to give them a good life. I have always enjoyed having cats in my household. I like dogs too, but cats are much lower maintenance!
You see, the thing is, if I could go back in time thousands of years and stop cats and dogs being domesticated, I absolutely would. I truly think that domesticating cats and dogs hasn’t really been a good thing for cats and dogs as a species overall. Forget about history for a moment. Look at what domestication of cats and dogs is doing right now.
- In the US, 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters every year (preferred method is gassing as the lethal injection is too expensive)
- The food that cats and dogs eat has a huge carbon footprint.
- The feral (and home cared for) cat and dog population are decimating wild life like birds and small mammals.
So, what do vegans feed their cats and dogs? Well, for dogs, it is really easy. Dogs can do well on a plant-based or nearly plant-based diet. Cats though? It’s not so simple. A lot of vegans do feed their cats vegan cat food with no problems at all but they do have very high protein requirements and can be fussy. There are some commercially products available but it isn’t so easy getting the average fussy cat to eat ’em. When I was in Canada a year or so ago, I brought home some vegan cat food to try with my cats. I was astounded that the cats actually ate it. I tried to find it in South East Asia and couldn’t get a hold of it anywhere. When I went to Australia I brought back a ten kilo bag of a different brand. It cost a lot of money and was a considerable pain to bring back and surprise surprise, the cats turned their noses up at it. I was gutted. I have to feed them food than not vegan. That or starve my cats. I hate doing it.
- Do I think we should be trying to reduce the amount of cats and dogs on this world significantly? YES!
- Do I think we should be adopting cats and dogs that are desperate for homes rather than breeding them, that breeding cats and dogs should be banned? YES!
- Do I think spaying and neutering should be compulsory for ALL domesticated cats and dogs? YES!
- Do I think we should be doing trap, neuter and release programs throughout the world on an extensive scale to reduce the amount of stray and feral cats especially in countries that do not have established no-kill shelter programs? YES!
I keep meaning to buy vegan cat food and donating it to a cat organisation in the US or someplace that vegan cat food is available to offset my own cats’ meat consumption. Must do that! I am just hanging out waiting for the time when in vitro – meat* is widely available. The production of cat food would be a great application for this product. Let the humans eat plants (the most healthy choice) and give the remaining cats (that are hopefully much reduced in number) the in-vitro stuff. It certainly can’t be worse the crap we give our companion animals now. The ethical quandaries of having cats would be much reduced.
So right now, that’s where I am at. It’s not ideal (hurry up commercially available in-vitro meat), but I am happy with my stance all the while supporting programs that do all of the above things to reduce cat populations.
What do you think? these are my thoughts and I certainly open to further discussions on this issue. I agree, it is not clear cut.
These are the kittens we are currently fostering. They need a foster home for the summer! Anyone in Indo interested?
* I am sure that many people will say that this in-vitro stuff is playing around too much with nature and that we shouldn’t do it. I respectfully disagree. I truly believe that technology and scientific research creates some problems and solves so many others. But this to me in a no-brainer. In many ways I feel blessed to be living in a time where we canuse tech to do such amazing things to improve our world. What a wonderful thing to be able to produce meat that caused no suffering and had a light footprint. I think it would be wonderful. If we use technology well, then we can achieve great things for our species and our world.