Vegan Cat Food
Veganism has gained a high profile lately, and some cat owners are interested in feeding their cats vegan cat food. Is this a good idea?
Taurine in the vegan diet
One vital ingredient of standard cat food is taurine. Taurine is an amino acid vital to cat health. They can’t produce enough of it themselves, unlike other mammals, so are reliant on finding it through their food. It can only be found in animal proteins, so vegan cat food needs to be carefully formulated to contain it. This article on Pet Central goes into details, but essentially cats need taurine for a healthy heart, digestion and vision, among other functions. Blindness and heart disease are just two of the problems that arise from insufficient taurine in a cat’s diet.
As Vegan.com acknowledges, switching a cat’s diet is notoriously difficult. Cats are fussy and tend to make snap judgments. There is no guarantee whatsoever that your cats will co-operate with the changes you might want to make. That aside, the site makes this interesting point:
Fortunately, taurine and arginine are both easily synthesized from vegan sources. Any reputable brand of vegan cat food will therefore feature taurine and arginine in their ingredients. But taurine and arginine alone won’t cover a vegan cat’s nutritional needs. Cats typically obtain most of their vitamin A and D from animal sources.
As yet there is no real evidence about the effect of putting a cat on a vegan diet. As well as taurine cats need vitamin A and arachidonic acid, which some vegan cat foods are including. Long-term studies don’t exist yet, so it’s impossible to say categorically how a vegan diet will affect a cat. Anyone planning to put their cat on a vegan diet will need to do take great care to ensure their cat takes in all essential nutrients and be vigilant to any change in their cat’s health and condition. The RSPCA recommends putting a cat on a vegan diet only under the supervision of a vet.
Canine Vomiting Bug
The Canine Vomiting Bug, also known as HGE, is causing great concern among dog owners and currently spreading into new areas of the UK, with the midlands and the North of England the latest areas to record cases.
According to Pet Gazette, The Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET) of the University of Liverpool has begun to collect data on the outbreak. Any animal health professional who comes across a case of the bug is asked to fill in a SAVNET questionnaire. You can find out more about SAVSNET and the surveillance project here.
What is the Canine Vomiting Bug?
The bug is defined as acute onset “prolific” vomiting – at least five instances in 12 hours. The sickness is often accompanied by bloody diarrhoea. Affected dogs usually go off both food and drink. The frequency of the vomiting is one of the key differences between the bug and dogs throwing up because they’ve eaten something nasty on a walk. The vomiting also tends to be quite forceful. Dogs stay feeling unwell for longer than they would after a minor vomiting episode. Dogs can take up to 10 days to get well. In some cases dogs seem to improve for a day or two and then have another episode.
If you see these symptoms in your dog, expert advice is to get them to the vet as soon as possible for the best outcome. In extreme cases the bug can kill so keep an affected dog isolated from other dogs.
Equine flu fears forced the Royal Welsh Show organisers this year to bar all unvaccinated horses from entry (we looked at animal vaccination rates on this blog two weeks ago). Organisers had debated whether to ban the horse section entirely. One Welsh horse show cancelled its entire event. This was upsetting as the show had been running since the 1880s, but it was the responsible move.
There have been over 200 cases of the flu this year. At one stage horse racing stopped for a week, with stables in lockdown. The New Forest Show, in Hampshire, has banned unvaccinated horses from entry. The disease is highly contagious, spread through coughing droplets into the air, putting the 3000 New Forest Ponies at risk. Equine flu can be fatal to unvaccinated horses such as these.
The Vet Times has this to say:
“Mixing of unvaccinated horses and no mandatory vaccination requirements at some events were among the main reasons for outbreaks of equine flu in the UK. This was the conclusion of a meeting of experts, who also highlighted poor application of biosecurity, new arrivals not being quarantined and the clinical signs not being caught early enough as significant factors.”
The British Horse Society includes this advice in its latest guidance notes:
“We also remind owners of the importance of vaccinations and to ensure that their vaccination records are up to date. The vast majority of confirmed cases reported by the AHT are in unvaccinated horses. We continue to recommend that if it has been longer than six months since the last vaccination, owners should discuss a booster with their veterinary surgeon.“
Some things in life are worth paying more for, but is cat food one of them? In a recent Money section feature, cat-owning journalist Rebecca Goodman set out to answer that question. She was prompted to look at her cats’ food when one of them became ill. She was surprised to learn from her vet that eating a mid-range wet cat food at every meal wasn’t good for the cats.
The range of foods available is huge. The variety reflects human’s own diet choices, including vegan and vegetarian varieties. Only a small minority of cat owners buy the cheapest food, but most don’t consider what’s in it. The article quotes vet Dr Rory Cowlam as saying that cats are carnivores so should eat meat. Surprisingly, this doesn’t need to come from wet cat food. He reckons healthy cats need only dry food. It has the advantage of being better for cats’ teeth. Dry foods tend to cost less than the top brands and the meat content is often higher.
The best quality foods are high on meat and low on fillers. Fillers can include sugar, not something a cat should ever eat. Labelling isn’t always clear but sugars usually appear as “various sugars”. Standard meat content is about 4%, so aim for a make with significantly higher meat content.
Feeding cats raw food is controversial. The Cats Protection League doesn’t recommend it. It draws the distinction between a cat eating all of a freshly-killed mouse or bird, and it being fed a previously frozen chicken breast. Providing previously frozen raw food to a cat also serves up disease risks. Salmonella, E-coli, campylobacter and TB could all be present. Gastric problems were the single biggest reason for cat insurance claims last year. It’s important to get it right as we all want the best for our pets.
Vaccination rates for dogs are down 25%
Animal vaccinations are a routine part of pet or stock ownership. Most pet owners want to protect the pets they love from suffering and possibly death from disease. A farmer or stockholder has a livelihood to protect and in many cases a carefully developed bloodline that their business trades on. Everyone has an interest in protecting their own animals and contributing to herd immunity.
The Daily Telegraph reported last month that animal vaccination rates are dropping. There is controversy at the moment about parents who don’t have their children vaccinated. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) compares this to the animal vaccinations issue. The Telegraph article refers to BVA research that shows that 98% of vets have been challenged about vaccinations by pet owners.
The animal vaccinations controversy affects cats, dogs and rabbits. Rates of vaccination for young animals are down 25% for dogs, cats by a high 35% and rabbits by a whopping 50%, according to the PDSA.
The BVA suggests dog owners could be breaking the law by not having their dogs vaccinated. It cites the Animal Welfare Act and the duty of pet owners to protect their pets from pain, suffering and disease. Standard vaccinations for puppies protect against parainfluenza, canine distemper, kennel cough, canine parvovirus and leptospirosis. As with MMR, the UK is seeing an increase in incidences of diseases almost eradicated until recently. Parvovirus and leptospirosis in particular are making a comeback.
Groups are springing up online encouraging owners not to vaccinate. In this way the situation mirrors the MMR vaccination storm. Just as with the MMR, some dog owners believe vaccinations cause canine autism. The link between MMR and autism in children has been scientifically disproven. Similarly, according to the BVA, no link has ever been scientifically proven between vaccinations and autistic-like behaviour in dogs.
Bilbo and Frodo
Black cat Palmerston the inspiration for our new model
Until late 2018 we made the Petflap in white. In January 2019 we switched to making it in black, and wanted to name this sleek black model after a well-known and highly respected black cat. We considered the name Felix, but the cat food manufacturers might have something to say about that. We wondered about Bilbo or Frodo as we had black rescue cats with those names, but copyright again. Then we thought of Palmerston, otherwise known as Chief Mouser and @DiploMog on Twitter. Palmerston is a rescue cat from Battersea so we couldn’t think of a better namesake for our new model, known as the Palmerston. We haven’t asked him, but we hope he’d be honoured.
Why switch to black?
We’ve had many enquiries about why we switched from white to black, as the white model was popular. The problem lies with laser cutting, how we cut our parts. The white ABS material reflected much of the laser light, so the laser had to be cranked up and that resulted in a form of burn to the edges of the plastic. These rough edges had to removed by hand before the parts could be assembled which took a long time and resulted in fractional variance to the profile of the parts. To produce the Petflap at volume we had to remove that step, and switching to black ABS was a simple solution.
Black cat love
We’ve been sad to hear that black cats and dogs are being given to shelters because they are hard to photograph in a time when online images are so important to people. We find this heartbreaking, but it’s good to see that in Palmerston’s case (and Bilbo’s and Frodo’s) a black cat can have a happy ending. #AdoptDontShop