Why cat owners who force their pet to become vegan could be jailed and face huge fines

Cat owners who force their pet to become vegan could face huge fines, according to animal welfare charity the RSPCA.

Don't feed your cat a vegan diet - it could be an offence
Don't feed your cat a vegan diet - it could be an offence

Vegan diets have become increasingly popular in recent years as consumers become more aware of food provenance and the availability of vegetarian and vegan options has increased.

-> Storm Diana: Yorkshire to be hit by severe storms this weekBut vegan cat owners must not force their pet to follow suit - because cats cannot be vegan, says the RSPCA.

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An RSPCA spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: “Under the Animal Welfare Act, the law requires an owner to take reasonable steps to ensure that all the pet’s needs are met.

“This includes a healthy diet, as well as providing suitable living conditions, ability to behave normally, appropriate company and protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

"Cats are strict carnivores and depend on some very specific nutrients that are found in meat including taurine, vitamin A and arachidonic acid so can become seriously ill if they are fed a vegetarian or vegan diet."

Huge fines

If a cat became seriously ill because of being forced to avoid meat, then that could be classed as an offence under the Animal Welfare Act.

A local council, police or a normal civilian can prosecute against an animal owner and it could be up to three years after the offence occurred.

The most serious crimes can lead to a fine of up to £20,000 and 51 weeks in jail.

The RSPCA's own guidelines say

"Cats need a well-balanced, meat-based diet to stay fit and healthy - they cannot be vegetarian.Make sure your cat eats a balanced diet that is suitable for their age, health status and lifestyle."

Do the guidelines apply to dogs?

No, it's possible to feed a dog a vegan diet because dogs are omnivorous rather than carnivorous. As long as your dog is getting all their needed nutrition and is fit and healthy, it won't be an offence.