CAT owners could be prosecuted if they force their pet to be vegan, warns the RSPCA.
One in six pet food suppliers offers vegan or vegetarian food to cater for owners who have ethical concerns about feeding their pet meat.
But the RSPCA says cats could become seriously ill if they are given an exclusively plant-based diet and owners now risk getting a criminal record.
This is because cats are carnivores and they need meat to remain healthy.
The RSPCA said: “Under the Animal Welfare Act the law requires an owner to ensure all the pet’s needs are met. This includes a healthy diet, as well as suitable living conditions and protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease.”
Owners face a hefty fine or even a prison sentence if they are convicted under the Act.
Clinical nutritionist Marge Chandler said: “Feeding an inappropriate or incomplete diet that doesn’t provide the animal with the nutrients it needs is a welfare issue.”