As many of you may already know, Leo has been fed a vegan diet since just before Christmas. When I wrote about his veganism (read post here), the comments all expressed concern for his well-being. Since writing the post, not only have I done some further research into vegan cats, but Leo has had to have several trips to the vets due to an injury, which gave us the opportunity to discuss his diet earlier than we’d planned.
Before switching him to vegan food, I had done a lot of research online, but finding any concrete evidence either for or against cats being vegan was difficult. I’d read many stories about cats (and other companion animals) thriving on vegan diets, but that’s obviously anecdotal rather than fact-based. Whilst I have still not found any scientific studies, I did find an article written by a veterinary specialist. You can read this on The Vegan Society website here, but essentially the article supports what had been my own thoughts on the matter – that it is the nutrients a cat needs from their diet rather than a particular type of food.
We had originally planned to discuss Leo’s diet with the vet next week when he will be going for his annual booster jabs. However, the fact he was having to spend a day at the vets anyway (to have his wound cleaned) gave us the perfect opportunity to ask for them to do full blood tests. I told the vet we’d recently changed his diet and asked if they could check his nutrient levels, although I didn’t mention at this stage that we’d changed him to vegan food. She said they couldn’t test nutrients, but could do full blood tests to ensure all his organs are working correctly and that there are no other health problems.
Over the next few visits (he’s been three times since his injury), two different vets have thoroughly checked him over. He has been weighed and had his temperature taken (much to his displeasure).
Everything has shown that he is perfectly healthy.
In fact, he has put on weight, which the vet says is good at his age (I should point out we have no way of knowing whether this weight-gain is a result of his vegan diet, as he had not been weighed since his last vet trip nearly a year ago). I was surprised that the vet was pleased with his weight-gain, as every time he’s been to the vet since being a tiny kitten we’ve been told he was overweight!
His wound healed at a normal rate, which again supports the fact he is healthy. Based on its healing, the vet thought it must have been there for a week before we found it, although, based on his behaviour, I’m pretty confident the injury happened no more than four or five days before we found it, as that was when he became skittish and out of sorts.
When we told the vet we’d switched him to vegan food she was surprisingly fine with the idea. She said that usually the main thing cats get from meat is a specific type of protein, but that if we’re using a specialist vegan cat food, it should contain all the nutrients he needs. She double checked the blood test results for his protein levels and confirmed they are normal. She didn’t seem at all concerned about his health or diet.
We asked about checking his urine ph, as this is something that my online research had suggested, as a vegan diet can cause a cat’s urine to become too alkaline, especially in male cats. He will be having this checked at his jab appointment next week, assuming we can get some wee in the pipette after using the special litter the vet has given us! Our vets do free urine checks for cats, although it looks like there are a lot of home-test kits available online, which might be easier if he doesn’t need to go for anything else as often as it needs testing. She said to test his urine two or three times a year. This may coincide with his blood tests, as we’re planning to have those every six months or so unless the vet thinks they need doing more or less frequently. I’ll be discussing how often to do his blood tests when I see the vet at his booster appointment next week.
I’ll provide another update in a few weeks when we should have the results of his urine tests, but I thought everyone who has been sending loving thoughts his way would like to know how he’s doing on his vegan diet.
P.S. A final thought that I completely forgot to mention in the original post about him being vegan. He has only ever been fed proper meat that was not part of commercially-produced cat food once. This was when he was given some plain turkey a few Christmases ago at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. He threw it up all over her antique teddy, pretty much undigested, so it clearly didn’t agree with him!