The Cat Food Dilemma

So you may remember a while back when I posted a photo of a little 11 week old kitten I adopted. He’s now 9 months old, 12 pounds, and still growing. The “Tucker Then” photo is actually before I got him, so he’s younger than 11 weeks there.

It’s obvious that the boy likes to eat. I’m a Vegan Kat, but he’s not. He doesn’t even stick to actual food and enjoys chowing down on shoe laces and plastic bags…two habits I’m really trying to curb. He oddly also really likes kale to the point that he begs for it and steals it if I don’t give him any (maybe there’s a little vegan in him somewhere). He even chewed open a bag of kale that I had defrosting on the counter just to eat some little frozen kale bits. What can I say…he’s an odd cat.

It’s a dilemma though, for a vegan with a cat, what to feed them. Cats are carnivores, not omnivores, so I recognize that difference and his need to eat meat despite his kale loving ways. I know that there are vegan cat foods out there, but there’s also conflicting information about whether a cat can be healthy on a vegan diet. Omnivores can live healthily off of a plant based diet, but carnivores aren’t built that way. I’m okay with carnivores eating meat. That’s nature and that’s what they have to do.

The challenge for me, however is that commercial pet foods buy into the same factory farming system that is cruel to animals. It brings up a moral dilemma of giving this little guy a home (he was a stray), but having to feed him food that causes pain and suffering to other animals. A second issue is that most commercial cat foods are kind of atrocious as far as quality of ingredients.

So, shortly after I adopted him, I spent some time researching the best food solution. What I ended up choosing to feed Tucker is Orijen cat food. It’s made in Canada using sustainably farmed free-run/free-range/wild caught fish, red meats, and poultry. It’s all food that would be fit for human consumption, not by-products and who-knows-what found in most pet foods. Orijen is meant to match what cats would naturally eat, rather than just finding a way to use what’s leftover from processed food manufacturing.

It’s a little bit pricey, but a bag lasts a while. I’m willing to shell out the extra cash for what seems to be more humane and better quality cat food. But it’s still meat! I think this is the best option, but what do you think? Do any of you have pets? As a vegan or vegetarian, how do you go about deciding what to feed them?

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21 thoughts on “The Cat Food Dilemma

  1. Tucker is super cute!!! One of my friend is a vegan, she has 4 cats and 2 dogs on a non-vegan diet. She buy organic-free-‘everything’-whatever cat/dog food and also buys organic meat for them. She spends a LOT of money on it, but I can’t blame her. If I had a cat I would also want to buy the healthiest, best quality possible, yet most cruelty-free food… Btw, one her cats LOVES tortilla chips, like seriously, she can smell it from far away and is always where the chips is (junk-food kitty, haha), so I think your kale-lover tucker is much better with his weirdness 😀

    • Yeah, it’s definitely not cheap to buy the better quality food, but it’s worth it to me for the same reasons you listed. Tucker also likes raisins…it’s so funny what they end up liking! I guess since I’m vegan he doesn’t have many options, haha. 🙂

        • Glad it was helpful! Orijen can be hard to find, but I think it’s worth it once you track it down. I’ve managed to find a few local stores that carry it, and you they have a store locator on their website. My cat’s eaten it for two years and he’s a healthy guy! Also, you’re right, raisins are toxic to cats. I found that out after he ate that one, but now I keep him away from them. Another thing he loves (that isn’t harmful to cats in small amounts) is watermelon! I’ll sometimes give him a little bit in the summer and he eats it up as fast as he can.

  2. I believe it is as you say; cats and dogs are carnivores. Their bodies are designed to run on meat. I don’t feel badly giving our dog meat-based food, though I also bake vegan treats for him. He does not have the moral or ethical dilemmas humans have. But…you make a good point about industrial food. That is a tough one. Sounds as if you’ve found a good option.

  3. If the vegan diet doesn’t have taurine, the cat will go blind, then die of heart failure. It is a definite essential additive you best make sure you have in there, even if you make your own cat food with meat. I assume a commercial cat food vendor will make sure this is the case.

    The main problem in trying to construct a meatless diet for a cat is that they are so optimized for the kind wild hunting food they catch that you would find it very difficult to get the very low carb low fat crazy high protein ratio their bodies expect. And then you would have to get them to eat it.

    • Orijen’s got plenty of taurine according to their website…of course it’s pretty much made entirely of meat and some plant based ingredients as well. I don’t know how the vegan pet foods rate as far as taurine goes.

  4. Raisins are bad. Same bad chemicals as chocolate, toxic to cats and dogs. As far as food, do the best you can, which is what you’re doing. It’s not a perfect world, but in my mind keeping your cat healthy trumps everything. Even being a vegan requires bees . . . and you can’t save every bee. I suppose you could get a paint brush and pollinate yourself, but that’s just not practical.

    • Hm, I didn’t know about the raisins. Thanks for letting me know. He’s only eaten a raisin once, as far as I know. I don’t give them to him, but he nabbed one once. As far as I can tell, I think this food is better for him than most of the more common brands you find in stores, and it’s a bit more humane as well, so that makes me happy. I don’t see bees pollinating plants for food as a conflict with veganism, since that’s something they do naturally. Even keeping a bee house isn’t an issue, however I wouldn’t agree with doing anything unnecessary that would hurt or kill the bees if there were alternatives that weren’t harmful. There’s an interesting documentary called “Vanishing of the Bees” about their role in agriculture and ‘colony collapse disorder’ which is mostly likely caused by the harmful affects of pesticides on bees.

    • Oops, I didn’t see the link you included before. Thanks for posting that, it’s good to have as a reference. I generally try not to feed him “people food” but he’s a devious little one and gets into things sometimes.

  5. Hi, how is Tucker going with his diet now? Our cat, Shandy, thinks he is a human and always wants what we eat, but most of the time, doesn’t even like it. Life can be bliss for a cat – eating, sleeping, being petted and fussed over, enjoying scratching the rug & a bit of time outdoors …..

  6. Oh how I love your kitty!!! The cat food issue is also something that I struggle with. My kitties are a lot like Tucker and seem to love their greens but I often worry if this would be enough for them if I were to change their diet completely. I’m hoping to do some research on kitty food options, and do let me know if you come across anything that might be good for our fabulous felines!!!

    • Thanks! He’s a sweetheart despite being a bit of a troublemaker. I’ll let you know if I hear of any other good options for cat food. From the quick research I did Orijen seemed to be the best middle ground for me, but it’s always good to explore different options. What do you currently feed your cats?

      • Right now I’m just feeding them a chicken and rice crunchy food that I bought in bulk, as it seemed the best option for the money at the time and didn’t have fillers etc. Still wanting to get them something else though, because I feel pretty conflicted about shelling over my money for a meat based product when the rest of my shopping is so political!

      • It’s definitely a dilemma. It’s almost impossible to cut animal products out of your life completely, but I definitely agree with the idea of shopping being political and putting your money into products you agree with. I have to say, it can be quite a bit of a challenge, but it’s worth it!

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