By Jasmine Kazlauskas
A pet owner has defended his decision to feed his cat a strict vegan diet – despite the negative backlash.
Harry Bolman, 53, feeds his cat Uma, five, a diet of vegetables and special vegan cat food and claims plant-based food is the ‘healthiest diet’ for felines.
The animal lover from the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, adopted Uma 12 months ago and said she is thriving after switching to veganism.
Harry, 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.
The production supervisor said while this is the first time he has owned a cat, he also raised his two former dogs on a vegan diet for most of their lives.
But a vet has claimed the vegan diet is ‘inappropriate’ for felines and is based on poor research.
Harry said: “I’ve been vegan since 1980 and I’ve always fed my pets vegan diets.
“Uma is my first cat but I’ve raised two dogs who were vegan for most of their lives. The eldest one lived until 18 and they were very happy and healthy.
“I adopted Uma one year ago and I knew straight away she’d be vegan just like me.
“I’ve always refused to have animal products in my house and Uma has been a vegan cat ever since I first adopted her.
“She absolutely loves her vegan diet. I will boil some pumpkin and mash it up with the dry vegan cat food and she chows it down like there is no tomorrow.
“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.
“Vegan food is far healthier for cats. They wouldn’t normally eat those different parts of different animals in the wild either.
“After posting online that I feed my cat a vegan diet, there was a lot of uproar from people who were telling me that you can’t feed cats a vegan diet.
“Some were saying it was animal abuse and that I’m killing my cat.
“But that couldn’t be further from the truth. My whole lifestyle is devoted to saving animals and the earth. I’d never do anything to hurt my pets.”
The controversial topic of vegans feeding their pets plant-based diets has exploded in recent years, with vegan cats being especially contentious due to their complex nutritional requirements that render them ‘obligate carnivores’.
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.
Despite this, vegan pet food companies around the world have formulated plant-based alternatives to traditional pet food which supplements these two amino acids with synthetic taurine and arginine.
Harry said: “People always tell me ‘but cats are obligate carnivores’, to which I always agree with.
“This is technically true. I did a lot of research into this and cats don’t actually need meat, they need taurine and arginine.
“And commercial vegan pet food is formulated with taurine and arginine added in. It’s completely nutritionally safe for cats and is the same as meat-based cat food.
“Why would I support the meat industry and the killing of countless animals when there is no need to? This is a cruelty-free version.
“It’s most disappointing when I see other vegans feeding their pet meat.
“There is no excuse in 2018 not to research these things. When they don’t look into this, it’s the same as meat eaters not looking into the possibility of being plant-based.
“I know I’m doing the right thing for Uma, myself and the earth. That’s all that matters.”
Dr Richard Gowan, a feline veterinarian from The Cat Clinic, Brisbane, said: “A vegan diet is inappropriate for cats.
“We have several vegan staff members and none of them would consider feeding their cats a vegan diet.
“This is based on the very limited and/or poor research that is currently available surrounding this diet choice for cats.
“There are many pet food ‘accreditation’ standards available in Australia and around the world.
“Despite this, there is no compulsory standard nor mandatory testing of pet food or true accountability of pet food producers in Australia.”