Studies & Numbers

Study Concludes Plant-Based Diet Promotes Better Health in Cats

A study conducted by research teams from the UK and Germany, supported by the NGO ProVeg International, concludes that ​​plant-based diets are healthier for cats.

The study surveyed a total of 1,369 cat owners. 91% fed their cats a meat diet, while 9% fed a plant-based diet over at least a year. After examining seven general indicators of illness and factors, such as age, sex, neutering status, and location, the authors found that cats fed a plant-based diet experience the following risk reductions:

  • A 7% reduction in increased veterinary visits (consistent with illness)
  • 15% less medication use
  • A 55% reduction in progression onto a therapeutic diet
  • A 4% reduction in cats reportedly being assessed as unwell by veterinarians
  •  An 8% reduction in veterinary assessments of more severe illness
  • A 23% reduction in guardian opinions of more severe illness
  • The number of health disorders per unwell cat decreased by 16%
Biocraft Cat food in dish
Cat food © Biocraft Pet Nutrition

Less specific health disorders

The researchers also analyzed reported veterinary assessments to determine the occurrence of 22 specific health disorders. They discovered that 42% of cats fed meat and 37% of those fed plant-based diets experienced a minimum of one condition. Of the 22 disorders, 15 were found to be more prevalent in meat-eating cats, while in plant-based fed cats, only seven were. 

Lead author, veterinary Professor Andrew Knight from the University of Winchester in the UK, said: “Modern vegan diets produced by pet food companies use plant, mineral and synthetic sources to supply all needed nutrients. They also lack hazards such as animal-sourced allergens that occur within meat-based pet food. We therefore expect to see health outcomes as good or better, when cats are fed nutritionally-sound vegan diets, and that’s exactly what this very large-scale study shows. Our results are consistent with other studies in this field.”

 

Veggie Animals cat food
© Veggie Animals

Pets thrive on plant-based diets

According to ProVeg International, additional findings include the guidelines of the industry association UK Pet Food, which has previously stated that synthetically made or novel ingredients provide the necessary nutrients to support cats on plant-based diets.

“We hope this new data on cats will embolden the pet food industry to launch more food and snacks from alternative proteins”

Also, a 2021 large-scale study published by veterinarians Dr. Sarah Dodd and colleagues showed that cats fed on plant-based diets were reported to be in good health more frequently. And, last year, a similar study on dogs, published in PLOS ONE, found that nutritional plant-based foods are healthier and less hazardous for dogs.

“It is very encouraging to see a growing amount of research appear from the field of veterinary science that confirms how pets can thrive on plant-based diets,” commented Jens Tuider, CSO at ProVeg. 

“We hope this new data on cats will embolden the pet food industry to launch more food and snacks from alternative proteins that are healthy and more climate-friendly than the conventional meat products. Pet food plays a significant part in the larger food system transformation that is needed to fight climate change,” he added.

The study has been published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. 

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