A recent study published in PLOS ONE found that vegan cat food is only one-third of what is typically sold at pet stores, and that many pet food companies use non-vegan ingredients, such as corn starch, soybean oil, and sugar, in their cat food.
The researchers from the University of Michigan’s Center for Veterinary Science and Technology, led by Dr. Michael V. Mears, said that the results are not surprising, given the “expectations and biases” in consumer behavior.
“The market is highly influenced by consumers’ perceptions of the nutritional quality of pet food and their perceptions of what cats are supposed to eat,” the study said.
“It is difficult to tell what the underlying reasons are for consumers’ expectations and biases.”
The researchers used the USDA Food and Nutrition Board’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference to measure the average nutrient content of vegan and conventional cat food brands, as well as the average nutrition content of each brand.
They then compared that information to their database to determine how many servings per year of each product were vegan.
The average nutrition of the vegan brand was higher than that of the conventional brand, but that difference was mostly due to the inclusion of non-animal ingredients, the researchers found.
They also compared the average nutritional content of cat food and pet food brands that contained both soybean and corn starch.
The difference between vegan and non-food cat food was not statistically significant, but they did find that the vegan cat foods had a higher amount of fat, sodium, and saturated fat, while the conventional brands had a lower amount.
However, there was no significant difference in protein content, the study noted.
“The results are consistent with the expectation that animal products and ingredients are primarily processed to produce a more palatable product for consumers, rather than to provide a higher quality product,” the researchers said.
A vegan cat is supposed to get more nutrients than a conventional cat.
For example, vegan cat and dog food usually has higher amounts of potassium and protein than conventional cat and breed food.
But they also tend to contain more carbohydrates, and the protein content is higher, according to the study.
The authors said they didn’t want to discourage consumers from eating vegan cat or dog food, but did note that the findings do not prove that eating vegan foods leads to better health.
“However, in our opinion, these findings suggest that consumers who are currently considering vegan diets might consider alternatives to those diets if their nutritional needs change,” the authors wrote.
“In general, the most compelling evidence suggests that consumption of a vegan diet is unlikely to lead to improvements in overall health and the prevalence of disease, but consumers should be encouraged to pursue alternative diets if they want to avoid the health risks associated with these diets.”
Vegan cats are expected to get all of their nutrients from plants, but there is no scientific evidence to support this.
Some studies have suggested that vegan diets can provide better health for cats than conventional diets, according.
“While animal products are primarily consumed to produce animal-based products, vegan diets are primarily made from plant-based ingredients and include fewer animal products than do most conventional diets,” the report said.
It added that it was important to remember that vegan food is “more nutritious” than animal-derived foods, but added that the information is based on a limited amount of research.
The research was funded by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
For more on cat health, watch this video.