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Sid, Zora and Snow: Carnivores We Love

Posted on March 5, 2011 by ari

Our rescued feral cat friends, Sid, Zora, and Snow, were vegan for years, and I still sometimes get emails from people asking me how they’re doing. They’re doing great – but they’re not vegan anymore! All three girls are happily eating canned and dry food made from other animals, and have been for some time. While it really hurts me to make the decision to sacrifice the lives of other animals to benefit my cat friends, I think we’re doing the right thing. Our cat friends enjoy their food in a way they never did before. When you’re a little hunter stuck inside, prevented from stalking and killing and fulfilling your other natural drives, simple enjoyment of your food is really, really important. Sid and Zora and Snow can’t help who they are and what they desire, and I feel obligated to be as responsive to their personal needs as I possibly can. To do otherwise would be disrespectful.

Back when the kitties were vegan, we got a call from a reporter at ABC News who wrote a piece about vegan cats. At the time I remember saying to her on the phone that I didn’t think this was a good thing to cover in such a soundbyte-y way… veganism and cats don’t go together easily, and it worried me to think that some folks might read the article and go make unsafe choices for their cat friends. She thought it was novel and interesting, but I saw it as potentially dangerous and irresponsible. That was probably the beginning of the end.

I had already created a Vegan Cats social network where I was trying to get other folks to come together to share information and perhaps engage in some advocacy to help improve the nutritional testing of foods for vegan cats, to facilitate better communication with and oversight from the veterinary community. I had been increasingly frustrated that folks who were supposedly experts were uninterested or unwilling to join the site. I certainly didn’t feel like an expert and yet I was one of the most “experienced” people advocating for this potentially dangerous cat diet. So when our vet suggested we temporarily change the kitties’ diets to meat to help eliminate the veganism as a cause of their various allergies, we felt ready to make the change, and when Ning closed free accounts I moved the site over to Group.ly and gave up control to the other admins, glad to be free of the scene. Here’s the last post I made to the community, which I see at the time of this writing has seen very little action since I left – which I think is very telling.

Hi everybody,

Thanks to everyone who has joined the website. I’m stepping down officially in as complete a way as I can from running the website, since I’m no longer a part of the vegan cat community. I’ve found there is a lack of scientific, verifiable information out there to support this diet in the long term – and I’ve had a very hard time really engaging others in the community (vegan cat food manufacturers, activists, etc.) in a truly open-minded and confidence-inspiring way around these issues. After seeing how my once-vegan cats have embraced their new diet and totally rejected their old one, I also question the ethics of imposing this change in quality of life on cats. My feeling is that a lot of folks who make this decision do it based on well-meant advice from current practitioners, but that a critical dialogue about how to ensure our cat friends’ longterm health and well-being is lacking.

Admins, please feel free to approve new members (there are several waiting), promote members to be admins, change the pages and features and preferences of the group, and otherwise make it your own. Perhaps it will be useful to you all – if it’s not, don’t feel like you have to keep using it. If you like, you can use it to further your own goals around the concept of a vegan diet for cats.

If anyone who’s interested in being an admin contacts another admin and doesn’t hear back, you can contact me to get promoted. I would be happy to turn over control to folks who are willing to take this on. With communication comes wisdom, and hopefully, better decisions for our cat friends.

Thank you everybody, and good luck with the site!

“There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking.”
- Alfred Korzybski

If you live with vegan cats or are considering a vegan diet for your cat friends, please monitor their urine religiously for crystals and other pH problems, be honest with your vet about what’s going on, and, most importantly, change what you’re doing if your cats are not thriving. Health comes first. That’s your obligation to your cat friends, who depend on you to make sane and compassionate decisions for them as well as for other animals.

Related posts:

  1. Shirari Peace and Love Podcast #7: May Day 2012
  2. Snow Kitten Needs a Home
  3. Calling all vegans: Stand up and be counted!
  4. This one’s for you, animal family
  5. A Magpie Funeral Service, and Love Between Red Foxes


2 Responses to “Sid, Zora and Snow: Carnivores We Love”

  1. Daryl Denning
    February 26th, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

    Our 5 cats have enjoyed Ami vegan cat food for over a year. Who doesn’t like Italian food? Sweetie, the oldest, now 17, was diagnosed with kidney failure almost 6 years ago. A KD diet for most of that time, along with diligent sub-cutaneous fluids administered at home have her doing well. Since starting her on a diet of KD mixed with Ami – about 50/50 (and a few dental health morsels) about a year ago, her kidney disease has been in the normal range for the first time in all the preceding years. She usually leaves the KD food for last, preferrin g the Ami. The other 4 cats receive a mix also of about 50/50 of standard dry food and Ami. They all have so far enjoyed their food and good health. We share in some concerns about strictly vegan diets for cats, but hope that our mixed food approach is healthy for our gals while reducing the traditional animal based food sources. We love our gals dearly and would never want to do anything harmful to them, but hope that trials like ours are taking place and will produce better information. Ami is said to have been sold succesfully in Europe for many years so experiences there seem to be needed from those with cats who have been fed Ami.

  2. ari
    February 26th, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

    Thank you for this comment! Our cats also liked Ami but after they transitioned to meat for health reasons, they didn’t like the vegan food anymore — and we were reluctant to go back to veggies, after their allergies let up. (They were quite bad, and we were glad to see them feeling some relief.) I didn’t mention it in this post but we also had urinary tract crystal formation, a potential serious complication of a low-acid diet, for carnivores, usually more of a problem for boy cats – though our cats are girls, and were even eating VegeCat pH (and Ami) at that point. None of this showed up or formed discernible patterns until they had already been vegan for some years. So, I guess I don’t feel safe transitioning our cats back at this point, at least not without more independently researched longitudinal health data. But more power to you — I hope your cats continue to thrive! Good luck to Sweetie with those kidneys.

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