Thursday, May 31, 2012

Vegans and Cats

I am perplexed. Over the past six years or so I've come to know several people who describe themselves as Vegan. I have to say I am generally pretty impressed by my friends who are disciplined enough to hold to such a strict diet. I appreciate that it must have spiritual and health benefits that they find rewarding... but still I can imagine they must occasionally be tempted by the terribly indulgent foods the rest of us eat without even a second thought. I truly respect the higher ideal of not causing suffering to other creatures that every Vegan I've asked claims to be the driving force behind their diet. However the thing that confuses me is why so many of them keep cats! It seems to be a complete contradiction to me.

I don't understand the attraction Vegans have to cats... well actually in terms of Yin and Yang or the balancing forces of the universe it makes perfect sense but rationally it makes no sense! Cats are true carnivores, domestic cats kill simply for entertainment... how can someone so opposed to the suffering of other beings possibly be comfortable sharing their space with a creature who's primary instinct is to slaughter other creatures, not to mention tormenting them and causing them to die from fright, exhaustion or mutilation. The other matter that confuses me is, even if you happen to have a cat that doesn't indulge it's god given instinct (Can't blame a cat for being a cat) you must still feed the cat... What do you feed your cat? I am pretty sure that the meat supplied to the commercial pet food industry is rarely obtained via ethical or humane means... Is there a way of feeding a cat that meets the strict ethical criteria most Vegans apply to their own diet? I'd seriously like to know how these apparent contradictions are reconciled by Vegan cat owners. Seriously!

The other problem I see is that domestic cats (and dogs... and other pets) exist solely for us... Please don't get me wrong of course they are creatures in their own right and deserving of the same respect as any other living creature. But realistically people breed them so that other people will buy them and keep them as pets, Pet owners then go and buy pet food to feed them and thus the cycle of violence continues simply because we wish to have the company of a furry purring friend... I am not claiming to be beyond this myself but I just don't get how it matches up with the otherwise virtuous choices of the Vegan lifestyle. 

I am sure this post will offend some of my Vegan friends, it is not my intention to do so it's just something that's been on my mind for such a long time that I had to get it out because so many of you guys seem to be in love with cats. I'm kind of hoping the answer is one of those paradoxical curiosities that defy logic and require simple acceptance of the natural synthesis of opposites... Or maybe there's another simpler rational explanation...

A Feline feast
Cats are carnivores; and the Vegan eats no meat.
You'd think they could not be lovers.
If I killed a fish, brought to your pet on a dish
would you run and hide under your covers?

Moggy, tabby, Tom and stray, have teeth for tearing,
they crave flesh night and day.
Give them beans and rice and they'll turn away
even though to their gut they are staving?

Do you feed your cat meat or does she hunt in the street?
You're answer will be one or the other.
Whether shop bought or scraps, a cat is a cat
To kill for her is far from a bother.

She purrs at the backdoor but have no doubt,
puss hunts amongst the rafters?
She knows where to find what she's after.
A cat wont get her fill from you broad beans and dill,
She's designed just to kill.
That purr that you hear is her laughter!


Lizzie Bordello said...

I've thought about this a lot too...overwhelmingly, the vegans I know tend to be cat people, and very passionate cat people at that. The best conclusion I've come to is that it is one of the great sick jokes of the universe. The do-no-harm non-meat-eater cursed with true love for one-who-must-eat-meat. Truly, that's the only explanation I can find.

David J said...

Yeh! I with you on that description! It is just so bizarre knowing how passionate some can be about doing no harm... The more I think about it the more baffling it is to me. Do you think our Vegan cat loving friends ever wonder about this apparent contradiction.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm a vegan/cat owner/ vet tech. I had my cats before I was vegan, though I was a vegetarian when I adopted them. It truly sucks to have to buy meat for my cats. However I feel it's wrong to impose my beliefs on my animal companions. It is also not healthy for a cat to be a vegetarian though I've heard of people doing it.

Pet ownership in my mind is a form of animal exploitation, but this idea doesn't do anything for the millions of homeless pets in the world. We've domesticated these animals and there's no going back. Therefore I do what any practical person does, I do the best I can and try not to obsess over details. I try to support responsible companies when I purchase pet food. My cat's eat meat and it bothers me but they are just doing what cats do, and I love their creepy sadistic butts none the less.

In the future I may choose to adopt rabbits!

P.S. I am not offended and actually clicked on this post via google thinking I would get opinions from other vegan cat lovers, but I like discussing things of this nature, vegan or otherwise.

David J said...

Thanks Anon,
Although I'm not a vegan and this is not a food blog I was kind of hoping to get feedback from people such as yourself. Life is full of paradoxes and apparent contradictions, you've given some pretty level headed insight into the conundrum, which is only a conundrum if we don't have any reasonable way of making sense of it. A cat is what it is... Same goes for us. I like this response.

Anonymous said...

I am vegan and ask the same questions you do. I see SO many vegans with cats that I can't comprehend what's going on. Have I missed some point? Interested to hear more responses.

David J said...

Yeh I'm sure there must be quite a few vegans who would wonder about this. I've had a few conversations since I posted this and have found that even vegans who keep cats are a little confused about the ethics involved. Some attempt to feed their carnivorous felines vegetable based foods and there are some commercially available. Others I have spoken with believe that their cat should eat meat and grudgingly dish it up to their cats. It seems that the personality of the animal over rides most arguments against keeping them. I'd love to see this question raised in a vegan forum where we could get a lot more input. I really want to know what the cat owners think about this conundrum.