Veterinary professionals have voiced concerns that vegan diets could be unhealthy for cats.
Vegan cats are healthier than meat-eating moggies, suggests a new study.
Owners of cats on vegan diets report healthier pets than owners of cats that eat meat, say scientists.
Study co-author Professor Andrew Knight, of the University of Winchester, said: “Many pet foods contain cooked meat as the primary protein source, but a growing number of available products use alternative protein sources, such as plants or fungi.
“Some veterinary professionals have voiced concerns that vegan diets – which lacks meat, eggs and dairy – are less healthy for cats than meat-based diets.
“However, limited research has examined these concerns.”
To help clarify the healthfulness of vegan cat diets, Prof. Knight and his colleagues analyzed survey responses from 1,369 cat owners who were asked to report about a single cat in their household that had been fed either a vegan or meat-based diet for at least one year.
The survey asked participants questions regarding their cat’s health, followed by questions about its diet.
PHOTO BY PIOTR MUSIOT/UNSPLASH
Around one in 11 participants (nine percent) said they fed their cat a vegan diet, while the rest provided a meat-based diet.
After statistically accounting for other factors that could influence health – such as a cat’s age or whether it was neutered – the research team found that participants reported that vegan diets were associated with a lower risk of several health issues, although none of the differences were considered statistically significant.
Prof. Knight said: “For instance, compared to owners of cats on meat-based diets, owners of cats on vegan diets tended to report fewer veterinary visits, less medication use, and that their veterinarian would be more likely to describe their cat as being healthier.
“After analysis, there was no statistically significant difference between the reported health indicators of cats on vegan diets and those on meat-based diets.”
He added: “The survey also asked about 22 specific health disorders; 42 percent of owners of cats on meat-based diets reported at least one disorder, compared to 37 percent of owners of cats on vegan diets.”
The researchers say their findings, published in the journal PLOS One, support the healthfulness of vegan diets for cats.
But they noted that they did not analyze the nutrient content of the cats’ diets.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker