The RSPCA has warned of tough sanctions for pet owners who force their cats into being vegans.
Owners concerned with ethics are turning to veganism and vegetarianism and bringing their cats with them.
Pet food suppliers are now following suit, with one in six now branching out into vegan and vegetarian food stuffs for animals.
A criminal record could be dished out to owners who make their pets seriously ill as a result of a plant-based diet, warned the charity.
Cats are technically carnivores and require meat, unlike dogs who can survive without it
Harry Bolman faced hostile backlash after placing his cat Uma on a strict vegan diet last year
The focus on cats is because they are technically carnivores and need meat.
The warning doesn’t apply to those who choose to make their dogs vegan because they can theoretically survive on plants alone.
A spokesman for the RSPCA said: Under the Animal Welfare Act the law requires an owner to ensure all the pet’s needs are met. This includes a healthy diet, as well as suitable living conditions and protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease.’
Those in breach of the act could even face prison. Failing that, they could be fined.
Other experts agree that it is a possible welfare issue and warnings came after the National Pet Show in Birmingham this month displayed non-meat options to potential buyers.
Pet shops have reported the growing demand for grain and gluten free options for their pets.
RSPCA has warned of tough sanctions for pet owners who force their cats into being vegans
An expert from Benovo, a company that has been making ‘ethical pet food’ since 2005, told The Daily Telegraph the apparent health issues the RSPCA were talking about are all hogwash and that any vets that disagreed with him were struggling with ‘an unshakable ideology’.
A 53-year-old called Harry Bolman also thinks plant-based food is the ‘healthiest diet’ for felines.
He feeds his cat Uma, five, a diet of vegetables and special vegan cat food and claims she’s never been healthier.
Harry – from Australia – who has been vegan for the last 38 years, said despite negative comments from people who he claims say he is ‘abusing’ and ‘killing’ his cat, he stands firm in his position.
Uma, 5, is on a diet of vegetables and special vegan cat food and ‘has never been healthier’
‘Uma is very healthy. She’s got the whitest coat, a great appetite and is full of vitality. Regular processed cat food is abysmal. It’s just bits and pieces of different animals which is absolutely revolting. There is no way I’d feed my cat that. I don’t support meat-based pet food, it goes against my ethics altogether,’ Harry said.
According to the RSPCA, cats ‘need a source of animal protein to survive’ – and while all mammals need the nine essential amino acids, cats are unique as they require taurine and arginine in their diets – which is only found naturally in meat.
It is added to the likes of Benovo’s foods but veterinarians still say that it’s inappropriate because it’s based on very limited and/or poor research.