The cat food saga continues. As you may recall, I wrote about this topic a few days ago. Since then I have been researching cat food, looking for humanely produced brands and investigating the possibility of switching Freya to a vegetarian diet.
I eventually bought some new cat food today. This is certified free from animal testing though it isn’t vegetarian. Freya seems to like it so that will tide us over while I continue to investigate.
As far as I can see there is no obvious reason why cats cannot live on a vegetarian diet. Yes, I know the story that they can only get taurine and some other nutrients from meat but these days that is hardly a problem. Most humans and most animals (unless living wild) now live on food artificially enhanced with additives. One of the sites I consulted pointed out that even non-vegetarian cat food contains a good measure of added taurine, for example. So what the heck is the difference between serving Freya a meat-based food with added taurine and serving her a vegetarian food with added taurine? Don’t say it is because “cats are carnivores and need meat”: in what way do those little dry pellets you feed your cat resemble meat? Right: not at all. Nor do I go along with the idea that plant taurine is somehow different from meat taurine. Taurine is taurine.
Though I would like to feed Freya a vegetarian diet I don’t want to jeopardize her health and well being so I am not going to do so until I have been into the matter very thoroughly. There are some respectable voices on both sides of the argument. No one has yet produced any evidence that modern vegetarian cat food is harmful to cats. The best argument that opponents have managed to come up with is “It hasn’t been in use long enough yet to see whether it is harmful.” The question is how long is “long enough”? As the argument over mobile phone “radiation” shows, doubters can never be convinced no matter how many tests you run or how long you run them.
There is also a psychological aspect to this that intrigues me. Cat food sold in Britain can only be labelled “complete” if it is properly established that it contains all the elements your cat needs for a healthy life. Vegetarian cat foods are labelled “complete”. If opponents of vegetarian cat food do not trust this claim, why do they trust the claim when it is made for meat-based cat food? Why would they think that companies ethical enough to produce vegetarian cat food are less trustworthy than companies who have so little ethical concern that they carry out vivisection on the very animals they claim to love and support?