Cat opening its mouth looking at food

Cat opening its mouth looking at food (© fantom_rd - stock.adobe.com)

WINCHESTER, United Kingdom — Vegan diets might be healthy and trendy for people, but should you be giving your cat the same plant-based meal plan? A new study contends that the answer is yes. Researchers in the United Kingdom say vegan cats appear to be healthier than their meat-eating feline friends.

Professor Andrew Knight from the University of Winchester, a co-author of the study, explains that while many pet foods list cooked meat as the primary protein source, there’s a rising availability of products that utilize alternative sources of protein, such as plants or fungi.

Despite this, some veterinary experts have expressed reservations about vegan diets for cats, pointing out the absence of meat, eggs, and dairy. Yet, there’s limited research addressing these concerns directly.

In an effort to shed light on the health implications of vegan diets for cats, Prof. Knight and his team analyzed survey data from 1,369 cat owners. These owners were asked about the health and diet of one cat in their household, which had been fed either a vegan or meat-based diet for at least a year.

Cat eating food from a bowl
(Photo by Laura Chouette)

Out of the participants, approximately nine percent reported feeding their cat a vegan diet, while the remainder opted for meat-based diets. Once variables like the cat’s age and neuter status were accounted for, the results indicated that vegan diets had a link to fewer health issues, though the differences weren’t statistically significant.

REACTION: Vet Says Study ‘Far From Conclusive’

For example, Prof. Knight observed that cat owners on vegan diets generally reported fewer vet visits and less medication use. They also claimed that vets would often describe their vegan-fed cats as healthier than those on meat-based diets. However, upon further analysis, there wasn’t a statistically significant difference between the health indicators of cats from both diet groups.

The survey further delved into 22 specific health disorders. It was found that 42 percent of meat-fed cat owners reported at least one health disorder, as opposed to the 37 percent of vegan-fed cat owners.

Publishing their findings in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers support the potential health benefits of vegan diets for cats. However, they emphasized that the actual nutrient content of the cats’ diets was not analyzed in the study.

You might also be interested in: 

South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor

68 Comments

  1. Wcate says:

    Calling bullshît on this one. Kittens who are not fed meat don’t survive.

  2. SuzanneL says:

    It’s not that they think you’re stupid. It’s that they demand you be stupid. That’s pretty offensive. It’s all about “banning meat”, so next they’ll be pushing lab-grown cat food. So demand bone-in chicken for yourself, and then share with your cats.

  3. Brian says:

    What a worthless study. No verification of the health of the cats, which could only be accomplished by a vet and blood tests. No consideration that the people feeding their cats a vegan diet could be less likely to take their cat to the vet for regular checkups (because they believe in “natural” health) or that they might not be completely truthful because they have an agenda.

  4. b ando says:

    so dumb. but if the cats can get out they will surely go after birds and mice. going vegan will be a good way to ruin your cats health

  5. Geno says:

    Bull crap

  6. George Gautier says:

    Felines are carnivorous creatures and it’s animal cruelty to not feed them the proper food they need. This is just left wing vegan propaganda to force their no meat eating agenda. Do lions, tigers,, leopards, jaguars etc. eat fruit and grass

  7. George Gautier says:

    Felines are carnivorous creatures and it’s animal cruelty to not feed them the proper food they need. This is just left wing vegan propaganda to force their no meat eating agenda. Do lions, tigers,, leopards, jaguars etc. eat fruit and grass?

  8. Alexandra S. says:

    Cats are obligate carnivores. This supposed “study” is an atrocity to science and cats. Shame on the journal editors for letting this vegan propaganda see the light of day.

  9. Andrew says:

    Wow- this site is becoming more and more propaganda and less and less real studies. Cats are Carnivores plain and simple- they are not even Omnivores like dogs. They are Carnivores- show me a single cat in the wild that eats plants except a little grass to help clean up the stomach.

  10. Sage says:

    These are dog lovers trying to kill off cats!

  11. DB says:

    You can make a study that will find biblical meaning in the walk of a duck if you structure it properly.

  12. B says:

    This wasn’t a study. These are self reported anecdotes. Perhaps owners who give their cats vegan diets are too foolish to take them to the vet. It’s just a flawed study that doesn’t even demonstrate statistical significance. Highly irresponsible to even publish this nonsense.

  13. Maryanne Cameron says:

    The title is misleading. This isn’t a study it’s self reporting what pet owners say and the main point is IT’S NOT STATISTICALLY SIGNICANT ANYWAY!!! I had a hunch this was BS but reading the first two paragraphs confirmed it. Why even write this article?

  14. Tammi Moore says:

    Liberals want all of us to go meatless, close down the farms where we raise cattle, etc. I love animals but love hamburgers. But they claim meat causes global warming. So, start everywhere including pets diets.

  15. Sincerely, a vegan that can't stand vegans says:

    So, I myself went to a vegan diet for serious health reasons, and as such, I feel compelled to condemn this garbage article.
    Do not EVER do this to a cat.
    Cats require taurine, which can be found in trace amounts of certain nuts, but cats cannot eat nuts. Hence, feeding them meat, poultry, and fish.
    Cats also require carnitine, which is only found in meat, especially in red meat.
    Feeding them anything other than what the require is animal abuse (which I thought the stereotypical militant vegan was against).

    My cat is fed a routine of free fed high quality grain free kibble throughout the day, and for dinner she gets a tin of whole sardines, mainly in water, but sometimes will get them packed in a high quality olive oil with nutritional yeast. When she is not given sardines, I will make her boiled chicken or turkey breast (yes, boiled) mixed with smashed peas and nutritional yeast.
    She also gets cooked ground venison 4-6 times per month.
    She is happy, healthy, 20 years old, and can run circles around the typical 2023 kid.

    We need to stop this vegan propaganda campaign and come back to reality. This is why people like myself are demonized, ridiculed, and harassed. The author of this article should be ashamed. I feel a vast amount of people reading this article will be compelled to try this, and then sit there flabbergasted as to why their cats are sickly.

  16. Alexander says:

    This is all based on the owners answering a questionnaire not on science. Its not like Vegans have a political, social or mental reason to lie about… oh wait…

  17. Jeff Mason says:

    Total nonsense. Vegans are forcing their choices on their pets to justify their lifestyle. This makes as much sense as a carnivore forcing a pet cow to eat only meat. Cats are carnivores. Put a hungry cat in a room with one dish of tuna and 500 dishes of vegan food and see which one it eats.