Tuesday May 21, 2024

Can you feed vegan diet to your cat? New study raises more questions than answers

A recent study suggests that feeding cats a vegan diet may be healthier for them, based on a survey of 1,369 cat owners

By Web Desk
September 14, 2023
Researchers have examined the effects of vegan diets on cats health. Representational image from Unsplash.
Researchers have examined the effects of vegan diets on cats' health. Representational image from Unsplash. 

A recent study stirred up a debate among pet owners. Researchers have examined the effects of vegan diets on cats' health. 

The findings challenge conventional wisdom but leave us with more questions than answers.

The study, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, surveyed over 1,300 cat owners, the majority of whom had reduced their own meat consumption. A small fraction (9%) of these owners fed their cats a vegan diet, defying their own dietary choices.

The initial results might raise eyebrows as cats on vegan diets reportedly exhibited some health benefits. Owners reported fewer vet visits, reduced medication use, and a perception of better overall health. But here's where things get tricky: these differences weren't statistically significant, meaning they could be mere coincidences.

Digging deeper into the data, the researchers found that certain diseases were more common in cats fed meat-based diets, while others were more frequent in vegan-fed cats. However, none of these differences reached statistical significance, except for a slightly higher incidence of kidney disease in the vegan-fed group.

One important limitation of this study is that it couldn't pinpoint exactly what these cats were eating. Some might have indulged in meaty treats or supplements, potentially influencing their health. Additionally, the study didn't specify how long these cats stayed on their respective diets, and deficiency diseases can take time to manifest.

Experts also caution that relying solely on owner-reported health assessments can be subjective and biased. They stressed that good health isn't just about fewer vet visits or less medication.

So, should you switch your feline friend to a vegan diet? Not so fast. 

The study, funded by ProVeg International, a pro-plant-based organisation, leaves us with more questions than answers. It adds to a growing body of research suggesting that vegan diets might not be as harmful to cats as previously believed. Still, more comprehensive studies, including clinical trials and direct health measurements, are needed for a clearer picture.

If you're considering a vegan diet for your cat, consult with a veterinarian who can provide guidance on proper nutrient supplementation. Until more research is done, it's best to approach the idea with caution, to ensure your beloved pet's well-being remains the top priority.