Why consider a vegetarian diet for your cat?
There are numerous reasons for feeding your companion animal on a vegetarian diet. As well as the welfare issue of farmed animals being killed to feed our pets, factors such as health, animal testing and the impact of meat on the environment need also to be considered.
Pet Food Manufacturers have the option to declare ingredients by category, e.g. ‘meat and animal derivatives’, ‘oils and fats’ ‘cereals’ ‘vegetable cereal extracts’. Where materials of animal origin are used, parts of animals which are either deemed surplus to human consumption or are not normally consumed by people in the UK are used, these are classified as ‘animal by-products’.
In April 2010, The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recently brought out a Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats. In the diet section of this they specify that “Cats need a well-balanced diet to stay fit and healthy, and they all need foodstuffs that can only be derived from meat-based products”. As cats are unable to produce certain nutrients they rely on gaining these sources from the meat they would usually eat.
Taurine for example, is an amino acid and if there is a deficiency of this in a cat’s diet this can lead to blindness and death if left untreated. According to the ‘Pet Food Buyer’s Guide’ (Ethical Consumer March/April 2010), most meat cat foods have taurine added back into them as the processing of meats removes the natural taurine in the first instance. Arachidonic Acid is an essential fatty acid also required in a cat’s diet as they lack the necessary enzymes to synthesise arachidonic acid from linoleic acid. Both taurine and arachidonic acid are available in a synthetic form.
Vegetarian Pet Foods/Availability
The Vegetarian Society currently approves a number of pet food brands, such as Benevo. Further details about these products can be found on their website (www.benevo.com). For more information about feeding your cat a vegetarian diet visit the VeggiePets.com website (www.veggiepets.com)
Any questions regarding this information sheet please contact firstname.lastname@example.org | Last updated July 2010
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