A couple who has been vegan for years recently welcomed a rescue cat into their home.
But after discovering the kitty had horrible teeth due to its prior living conditions, the couple considered raw feeding as an alternative to kibble to help alleviate pain.
As vegans, Redditor "edenflicka" said that having raw meat in the house wasn't a big deal since it would benefit their beloved pet. However, friends accused them of being hypocrites.
Which led the Original Poster (OP) to ask AITA (Am I the A**hole) for calling themselves vegan in the presence of raw meat in their home.
"Last year we got a beautiful cat who is the grand baby neither of our parents will ever have."
"She's obviously an obligate carnivore and we've been feeding her kibble and wet food."
"Unfortunately, where she came from wasn't a very good situation and she had horrible teeth when we rescued her. It hasn't come to a point where she's painful and doesn't want to eat kibble but if it does, wet food will just make it worse."
"We went on a website for rawfeeding animals and bought her some chicken necks and chicken hearts."
Felines are one of a small group of mammals designated obligate carnivores. Canines are opportunistic carnivores.
So while your dog can survive on a vegan diet—although it's not advisable—your cat will become very ill.
An uncooked animal parts diet became popular among domestic pets in the 90s. It is also referred to as the BARF diet.
Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst penned the acronym indicating that sustenance includes Bones And Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.
Rawfeeding can be beneficial for a pet's teeth because the tearing of meat, bones and tendons simulates flossing and cleans the teeth.
"According to the vet, this should encourage her to use her teeth as it smells 'more appetizing' than space nuggets."
It was a sacrifice worth making.
"We've obviously been quite uncomfortable with this as it's raw meat in our otherwise vegan home but we'd do anything for our little gremlin so it's worth it."
"We've since had some friends over who were horrified when we got raw meat out and asked us if we weren't vegan and we said that we were and still are, but that kitty is not."
"They're now saying we're fake vegans and that we don't care about animal welfare if we're feeding her raw meat."
The OP viewed the diet as ethical and also argued they were following the vet's orders.
"We don't see the issue, as these are part of a chicken that humans wouldn't eat and we are following what our vet told us to keep our baby at optimal health. In our minds, these parts of already slaughtered animals would otherwise just be thrown away."
"This has created quite a bit of drama in our friend group as some people are now accusing us of being hypocrites while the other half say that we're just caring for our cat."
"Are we the a**holes here?"
Redditors weighed in to declare whether the couple was any of the following:
NTA - Not The A**hole
YTA - You're The A**hole
ESH - Everyone Sucks Here
NAH - No A**holes Here
"NTA NTA NTA! Cats are obligate carnivores as you rightly stated. Good for you, don't listen to your vegan friends, you are doing the best for your kitty." – Femalamalamaloid
"When I saw the kitty at the top, I'll be honest, I was so worried you were going to tell me you were feeding her a vegan diet."
"I was elated to hear that you're looking out for your obligate carnivore in the best ways possible!"
"I'm so glad your beautiful little nugget has found a true home in you! NTA a million times over. You are truly caring people." – bananabread-nonuts
"I was an animal nutritionist (mostly cats and dogs) and cats have to have meat. I was sooo worried! So NTA."
"You guys are amazing for realizing that your needs are not the same as your sweet kitties!" – ClrxHpy
Happy Cat GIF by memecandy Giphy
This Redditor slammed the OP's friends for gaslighting.
"I get veganism as a moral principle and lifestyle choice, but also you can't advocate for animal welfare and animal rights and then criticize people for actually attempting to properly care for and help an animal."
"They're ostensibly telling OP that they'd rather OP both neglects & abuses their pet than feed it meat. I just genuinely don't understand the hypocrisy."
"You can't abstain from eating or buying animal products at least partially because you're against cruelty to animals and then say, 'Well, but feeding an obligate carnivore meat is wrong, if you were a true vegan and really cared about animal welfare then you'd just let it slowly starve to death.'"
"Feeding an animal that requires meat to live when you're a vegan does not make you a 'fake vegan' or a person who doesn't care about animal welfare, it makes you an actual animal lover who puts your money where your mouth is instead of compromising your personal beliefs the first time they're challenged because, 'But the meat industry is evil!'"
"Yeah, it is, but so is neglecting your obligate carnivore pet just because you believe that one or two people abstaining from buying meat is going to make a major difference in the meat industry's success or the worldwide fight against animal cruelty."
"There's a major moral difference between you buying meat to consume yourself and you buying meat to sustain an animal that both needs that meat to survive and is incapable of procuring that meat on its own as an indoor domestic animal."
"Your friends are idiots and bigots for trying to gaslight you into believing that adequately and appropriately caring and providing for an animal that you are directly responsible for makes you a fake, hypocritical vegan." – DumpstahKat
There is a place in our ecosystem reserved for carnivores.
"I once got into a mega-argument with one of those types of vegans on Reddit."
"They admantly refused to acknowledge or understand the realities of how ecosystems actually work and how the overpopulation of prey/herbivorous animals (like deer) drastically and negatively affect those ecosystems, to the point of irreversible chain extinctions of both plant and animal life in those ecosystems."
"Like, whether you ['you' being the hypothetical vegan who advocates for the extinction of all carnivores, or otherwise argues the futility/cruelty of carnivorous animals outside of humans] like it or not, the world has carnivores for a reason. That reason is to maintain a very necessary ecosystemic balance."
"Without carnivores, most of the world's ecosystems will inevitably and irreversibly fail. The plants and herbivores will not flourish for longer than few years at most; they will eat both the plantlife and their other fellow herbivores into extinction and then cease to exist themselves." – DumpstahKat
"NTA Your child needs food."
"Those are chicken parts that most Americans won't consider eating, so you aren't even responsible for the death of the chickens."
"It is even an honor to be eaten by a cat, so that is the best thing that could happen to chicken remains." – pursuedbyapanda
The OP updated her post by emphasizing they have no plans to feed their cat a vegan diet.
"If we didn't feed her raw meat she would have kibble instead but she's reluctant to eat that when her teeth are sore."
"Her teeth are not currently painful as she's had them cleaned earlier this year. We're trying to prevent it from getting painful again with this food."
"It also won't be the only thing she's fed as she's still getting regular cat food and getting these as 'treats' because they taste nicer than space nuggets."
Again, all felines—from the biggest tiger to the tiniest tabby—are obligate carnivores and need to eat meat in order to survive.
Raw feeding supporters indicated their cats had shinier coats, cleaner teeth and overall good health.
However, raw feeding does come with risks that pet owners should be aware of, such as the possibility of cross-contamination and pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli that can be present in raw meat.
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The book Dr Becker's Real Food For Healthy Dogs and Cats: Simple Homemade Food is available here.