By John M. Simpson.
As reported by certain outlets (here and here), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) recently warned that feeding a house cat a vegan diet (i.e., no meat) could violate the UK’s Animal Welfare Act. The RSPCA’s warning apparently came after several vendors at the National Pet Show in Birmingham in November displayed the latest in vegan pet food and non-meat pet food alternatives.
As reported, a spokesperson for the RSCPA remarked that the Animal Welfare Act “requires an owner to take reasonable steps to ensure that all the pet’s needs are met” which includes a “healthy diet.” Malnourishing a house cat could lead to prosecution under the law. As the RSPCA spokesman was quoted as explaining, unlike dogs, which are omnivores:
Cats are strict carnivores and depend on some very specific nutrients that are found in meat, including taurine, vitamin A and arachidonic acid so [they] can become seriously ill if they are fed a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Cats need a well-balanced meat-based diet to stay fit and healthy — they cannot be vegetarian. Make sure your cat eats a balanced diet that is suitable for their age, health status and lifestyle.
Cats are meat eaters. Meat is an important part of a cat’s diet. Eating meat is important for cats; they cannot survive without the nutrients found in animal-derived materials.
(Emphasis in original).
Thus, it would appear that, while a human may decide for herself/himself to go vegan, the choice whether to take the family cat down the same path may be more complicated legally, at least under the UK’s Animal Welfare Act.