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Study indicates that cats on a vegan diet are healthier

Cats are carnivores, or at least that’s what people thought. A new study reveals that cats are healthier when fed vegan diets. The research, published this Wednesday (13) in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, is the largest on the subject to date. During the investigation, 1,369 cats were fed vegan or meat-based food for at least a year. Animals fed vegan diets had better results for each of the seven general health indicators studied.

First, we statistically controlled for differences between diet groups with respect to age, sex, neutering status, and primary location, i.e., whether the cat lives indoors or free range. Risk reductions were then calculated for cats with a certain average age and other characteristics. For regular cats fed vegan diets, the results were:

  • 7% reduction in veterinary visits due to possible illness
  • 15% reduction in medication use
  • 55% reduction in progression to a medically necessary diet
  • 4% reduction in veterinary assessments for general unwellness
  • 8% reduction in veterinary evaluations of more serious illnesses
  • 23% reduction in serious illnesses in the owner’s opinion
  • 16% reduction in the number of disorders in sick cats
Vegan Diet Vs Meat-Based Diet

None of the reductions were statistically significant, but taken together they reveal a strong trend. In addition, the prevalence of the 22 most common feline health disorders was studied, with 42% of cats fed meat and 37% of cats fed vegan diets having at least one health disorder. Additionally, 15 disorders were more common in cats fed meat, and seven were more common in cats fed vegan diets.

Animal welfare expert Andrew Knight, an adjunct professor at the Griffith University School of Science and Environment in Australia, led the study on the impacts of a vegan diet on felines. He stated that, “For every general health indicator studied, cats had better health outcomes when fed vegan diets. This represents a strong and consistent trend. Furthermore, it indicates that pet food manufacturers are now designing and creating vegan pet foods that include all the necessary nutrients, but with less of the dietary dangers that are prevalent in meat-based foods. Cats that consume vegan diets are healthier as a result.”

The new study results are in agreement with those of other recent research. In 2021, veterinary nutritionist Dr. Sarah Dodd and her colleagues published a study looking at 1,026 cats, 187 of which were fed vegan diets. Owners of cats fed vegan diets frequently report their animals’ good health. Their body conditions were more ideal and they were less likely to suffer from gastrointestinal and liver disorders than meat-fed cats. Additionally, no health disorders were more common in cats fed vegan diets.

Veterinarian Dr. Lorelei Wakefield and her colleagues found similarly positive results for 34 cats fed vegetarian diets, nearly all of which were vegan, compared with 52 cats eating meat-based foods. To date, no large-scale studies on the health of vegan cats have shown negative results regarding this diet. These studies are available in this link.

Professor Knight stated, “This offers exciting potential to not only improve feline health, but also to address the significant environmental impacts of the livestock sector created by pet food production. However, to protect the health of our feline friends, it is important that pet owners only offer their cats commercial vegan pet food that is labeled nutritionally complete and produced by reputable companies with good standards.”

Source: CNN Brasil

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