I’ve been pretty open about my struggle as a simultaneous vegan and cat owner. Veganism is, in large part, about treating animals with respect and dignity regardless of their species. So why, as a cat owner who refuses to put his cats on a vegan diet, is it okay for me to feed them the meat and other animal products that I refuse to consume myself? I don’t have an easy answer.
The truth is that I’ve always loved cats. I grew up in a household where we had up to five cats at a time. My dad proposed to my mom with a cat-laden billboard. When I left home and went off to college, where I had to live without feline friends, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I graduated and adopted some cats of my own. Even after I went vegan, there was absolutely no doubt that I was going to have cats, ethical queasiness be damned.
In 2016, I adopted two cats: Moose and Portland. While Portland is incredibly, ridiculously adorable and photogenic, I’m going to focus on Moose, a tiny black cat with the biggest personality I’ve ever seen in a feline.
Black cats unfortunately get the short end of the stick. They aren’t particularly photogenic so they don’t get adopted as often as other cats do. They also don’t get adopted as much due in part to long-standing unreasonable superstitions. It’s a myth that Satanists, witches, and members of other alternative religions abuse cats; the cruelty derived from bizarre superstitions are in most cases perpetrated by Christians who believe black cats to be of the devil.
These factors led us to adopt from Black Cat Rescue, and I encourage you to do the same if you can.
Moose prances about like the queen of our apartment. She’s most comfortable sitting on our chest, inches from our face. She runs on her exercise wheel — even though we bought it for Portland originally. She can be extraordinarily difficult, as cats can, but that only makes me love her more. She’s beautiful, she’s adorable, she’s everything you could want in a cat — and then some.
I can’t provide a solid ethical justification for adopting a non-vegan animal such as a cat. I can, however, point out that being vegan and owning cats is better than being non-vegan and owning cats. And for me personally, I was simply not going to live my life without feline friends just because I went vegan. I understand that others feel differently, but the “vegan cat owner” seems to be a certified trope, so I’m not alone on this.
So this Halloween season, if you’re considering finding a fuzzy friend, adopt a black cat. They will love you, adore you, and maybe even wear a witch costume to spook out your trick-or-treaters.