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 The facts about meat-based and vegetarian cat and dog diets!

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The health hazards of commercial meat-based pet foods are extensive and difficult to avoid. They may include slaughterhouse waste products; 4-D meat (from dead, dying, disabled or diseased animals); old or spoiled supermarket meat; large numbers of rendered dogs and cats from animal shelters; old restaurant grease, complete with high concentrations of dangerous free radicals and trans fatty acids; damaged or spoiled fish, complete with dangerous levels of mercury, PCBs and other toxins; pathogenic bacteria, protozoa, fungi, viruses and prions, and their associated endotoxins and mycotoxins; hormone and antibiotic residues; and dangerous preservatives. The combined results are rendered so delicious to cats and dogs by the addition of 'digest' - a soup of partially dissolved chicken entrails - that more than 95 % of companion animals subsist primarily on commercial meat-based diets. Unsurprisingly, studies have demonstrated dietary links to a variety of degenerative diseases of cats and dogs, including cancer, heart disease, allergies, arthritis, obesity and dental disease.


On the other hand, nutritionally sound vegetarian companion animal diets appear to be associated with the following health benefits: increased overall health and vitality, decreased incidences of cancer, infections, hypothyroidism, ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, lice and mites), improved coat condition, allergy control, weight control, decreased arthritis, improved stool odor and cataract resolution.


Although scientific and anecdotal information describing the adverse health consequences of unsupplemented vegetarian diets is common, this is of little relevance to animals maintained on nutritionally complete and balanced vegetarian diets. There is no scientific reason why a diet comprised only of plant, mineral and synthetically-based ingredients cannot be formulated to meet all of the palatability, nutritional and bioavailability needs of the species for which they are intended. In fact, several commercially-available vegan (no animal product) pet diets claim to do so, and have jointly supported a healthy population of thousands of vegan cats, dogs and ferrets (who are also naturally carnivorous) for many years.


The number of people who have become vegetarian for the sake of the animals, the environment, or their health, is very large (see if you're still unconvinced of the merits of vegetarianism for you and the world around you). The amount of good this has done is barely calculable. Yet most of these caring people nevertheless continue to feed their companion animals meat-based diets, in many cases causing as much harm as if they themselves ate meat (the average medium-sized dog or three cats consumes roughly the same quantity of meat as a human). They choose to do so out of fear of adverse health consequences of vegetarian companion animal diets, and ignorance of how these might be avoided.


Consequently was created to assist animal guardians, animal carers and veterinary personnel who wish to gain a sounder understanding of the health and nutritional issues associated with meat-based and vegetarian companion animal diets. Included are advice on transitioning to vegetarian pet food; on safeguarding the health of companion animals - particularly cats; on links to suppliers of vegetarian pet foods and nutritional supplements; and all the essential scientific and anecdotal information I've been able to locate on this topic after extensively searching the biomedical literature, and reading the main books in the field. Please email me if you learn of a new scientific study or paper related to animals maintained on nutritionally complete and balanced vegetarian diets (not unsupplemented diets). Thank you, and enjoy the site!

Has you cat been maintained on a meat-based or vegetarian diet for a year?

Please help us learn more about the links between diet and health by participating in this important new study:

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James Peden, author of
Vegetarian Cats & Dogs, literally spent months researching numerous invaluable references for the articles on this website. I am particularly grateful to James, and also to Jed Gillen, author of Obligate Carnivore, for their invaluable assistance.

For all animals,

Dr. Andrew Knight

Animal Advocate and Veterinarian

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