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Published November 25, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Cats not born to be vegans

Dear Dr. Fox: I know your intentions are good. But do you know the details about the horrific animal agriculture industry that produces cat food? For you to say that it is “unethical” to raise a vegan cat does not seem to make much sense, given that the alternative is far worse for so many more animals.

By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: I know your intentions are good. But do you know the details about the horrific animal agriculture industry that produces cat food? For you to say that it is “unethical” to raise a vegan cat does not seem to make much sense, given that the alternative is far worse for so many more animals. – D.S.

Dear D.S.: I advocate feeding cats and all captive, obligate carnivores the produce from certified-organic, free-range, grass-fed farmed animals, which play a significant role in sustainable, ecological agriculture. This advocacy is based on my conviction and professional experience that forcing obligate carnivores such as cats to be vegan is to deny their biological nature and physiology, and to put them at risk for a host of diet-related health problems. These problems are now well-recognized in the millions of cats fed commercial foods high in cereals and vegetable protein and oils.

I was one of the first in the United States to document the atrocities on factory farms and feedlots, which continue to expand globally. The organic and humane farming alternatives need consumer support, especially of the farmers and ranchers who have adopted more humane methods of animal husbandry. Support is also needed for more humane methods of transportation and slaughter.

Social progress is a multifaceted endeavor, thus veganism should not rule out vegetarianism, and vegetarianism should not condemn what I call “eating with conscience.” Many people now follow such conscientious omnivorism by selecting free-range and organically certified animal produce. I urge purported animal rights and protection organizations to do a reality check and focus on the ethical imperative to reduce human consumption of farmed and fished animal produce for ethical, economic and science- based reasons documented in my new book, “Animals and Nature First.”

Some years ago I was shown a poor zoo-raised tiger in India that the prideful management had insisted on raising as a vegan. It was a miracle that this big cat attained maturity, since it clearly had multiple health problems and was evidently a cripple, with a fragile and deformed skeleton.


Dear Dr. Fox: Please reconsider your suggestion that pet owners supplement their pet’s fluid intake by giving them a bit of bouillon. As far as I know, all commercially available broths and stocks contain onions in one form or another and are bad for cats and dogs, more so cats. I make my own from only chicken parts and water for that reason. – J.L., St. Louis

Dear J.L.: Thanks for your vigilance! Knorr beef bouillon has no onion or garlic; ditto Burlington Farms Beef and Chicken Flavored Seasonings. But all three products contain monosodium glutamate (MSG, also present as “natural flavoring” in many pet foods and treats). This should not pose a problem short-term, when an animal’s appetite needs to be stimulated. But I agree that the best solution is to make your own bouillon or gravy from boiled ground chicken or beef hamburger and marrowbone, with a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture in ice cube trays and bag the bouillon cubes when frozen.


Accidental poisonings

Accidental ingestion of xylitol can put pets at risk for health issues such as liver failure and low blood sugar levels, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned.

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports an increase in the number of dogs sickened by xylitol poisoning, and owners are advised to seek veterinary help if they see their pets exhibiting signs such as vomiting or depression after eating xylitol-sweetened “diet” cookies and candy. This chemical could also harm cats, but unlike dogs, cats do not have a sweet tooth.


Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s Web site at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.

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