Vegetarian diet for cats
Cats are regarded as obligate carnivores which means that in the wild they could not survive without eating meat. However, for the domestic cat there are commercial vegetarian foods available that contain synthetic versions of essential nutrients.
The issue of feeding your cat is a personal decision. As a Society we fully appreciate that committed vegetarians can find themselves facing a difficult decision.
Why consider a vegetarian diet for your cat?
Reasons for feeding your cat a vegetarian diet include the welfare issue of farmed animals being killed to feed our pets, as well as health, animal testing and the impact of meat on the environment.
Pet food manufacturers have the option to declare ingredients by category e.g. ‘meat and animal derivatives’, ‘oils and fats’, ‘cereals’ and ‘vegetable cereal extracts’. Parts of animals which are surplus to human consumption or are not normally consumed by people in the UK are classified as ‘animal by-products’.
Cats are unable to produce taurine and arachidonic acid which are essential nutrients provided by meat. Deficiencies can cause blindness and death if untreated. However, taurine and arachidonic acid are both available in a synthetic form.
It is the owner's responsibility to feed their pet a balanced diet suitable for its age, lifestyle and health status. We would recommend seeking advice from a vet before changing your cat's diet. New foods need to be introduced gradually over a number of days and the animal's health carefully monitored.
Vegetarian pet foods and availability
The Vegetarian Society currently approves a number of vegetarian pet foods such as Benevo. Benevo Adult Cat Original and Benevo Due Cat and Dog Food
The Veggie Pets website also offers a range of vegetarian cat food.
Last updated September 2016