A vegan has been criticized for feeding his companion animal cat a plant-based diet - with some online commentators saying he is 'abusing' and 'killing' the animal.
Harry Bolman, who is based in Australia, adopted rescue Uma around a year ago. Since then, he has fed her a diet of specially-manufactured vegan cat food and a range of vegetables, saying she is 'thriving' on her food plan.
His position is a controversial one, with many vets and cat lovers saying the animals are obligate carnivores and must eat meat in order to consume essential amino acids including taurine and arginine. However, there are others who believe these can be obtained through plants, in specially prepared vegan cat food.
According to Bolman, he received a barrage of abuse when he revealed online that he feeds his cat a vegan diet. He told the Mail Online: "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'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 vegancat 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."
Dr. Andrew Knight is a Veterinary Specialist in animal welfare science, ethics and law, and a Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics at the University of Winchester. He says: "Cats, dogs and indeed all species, have requirements for specific dietary nutrients, not ingredients.
"There is no scientific reason why a diet comprised only of plant, mineral and syntheticallybased ingredients cannot be formulated to meet all of the palatability, nutritional and bioavailability needs of the species for which they are intended.
"In fact,a growing number of commerciallyavailable vegan companion animal diets aim to do exactly this and studies demonstrate that animals maintained on nutritionally sound vegetarian and vegan diets can be perfectly healthy (Knight & Leitsberger 2016)."
But writing for The Telegraph, veterinary surgeon Dr. Pete Wedderburn took a different view, saying: "What do I say to strict vegan cat owners who want to force their cats to be vegan? First, you're sharing a home with obligate carnivores: do you really think it's fair to ask them to change their natural way of existence to fit in with your personal beliefs?
"And second, if you are going to insist, you need to accept that there is a risk to your cats' long term health. To minimise the risk, choose a commercial non-meat cat diet that has been proven by undergoing proper feeding trials that have been independently reviewed (and such a product may not be available at the moment).
"And liaise closely with your vet, with regular visits to check their weight and body condition, as well as doing urine and blood tests to monitor their metabolism."
Maria is the head of written content for Plant Based News. Also a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer. Her writing has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaChiorando and Instagram @mariachiorando.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself.
Since you're here...
Plant Based News is a FREE service that receives millions of views each week on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, our weekly newsletter and this website. This takes a lot of our personal time, money and hard work. But we do it because we KNOW it makes a difference. If those following our reporting helped by contributing, we could do even more. Please consider supporting us so we can create further awareness about animal rights, environmentalism, ethical consumerism and the plant-based lifestyle. Not a false narrative - but information that empowers people to make better choices.