Feeding Your Cat a Raw Diet: Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered why, despite cats being obligate carnivores, they would happily dive into dried and pellet form of cat foods at any given time? This is because the processed cat foods that you can get in the market are still made of meat.

While cats seem to love cooked and processed food, it’s actually something that could be considered as unnatural.

Advocates of raw food diet believe that what’s natural for cats is to munch on raw food like meat and bones. They find this healthier for their cats and not cooking the meat will mean that there’s less chance of losing the enzymes and nutrients that could be very beneficial to felines overall.

angry cat

Cats as Obligate Carnivores

As obligate carnivores, cats will need meat in their diet for their nutritional needs. They can still eat other food like vegetables, but these won’t really have any nutritional value for them.

Naturally, cats hunt for their food. This means that if they are in the wild, they would hunt for food and usually, they go for mice, insects, birds, fish, rabbits, and sometimes even reptiles.

Cats are real predators and they mean serious business when they need to hunt for food and look for preys. They’d go as far as not eating at all just for a kill.

If you can’t imagine your precious kitty going for a kill or you’re just really finding it hard to believe, you need to remember that they are still related to lions and tigers.

Raw Foods for Cats

With the information that cats naturally eat their food raw, you are probably now wondering if you could already start the raw cat food diet. Questions like what you should really feed your cat when you choose to let it live as if it is in the wild may arise and that’s fine.

Getting your cat into raw foods is not really simple without the appropriate knowledge. You’ll need to make sure that it still gets well-balanced meals so that it remains healthy.

Letting your cat have the raw diet will basically make it feel and live the experience of how wild cats get their nutrition. Since the idea of giving your cats raw food will mimic how wild cats feed themselves, you’ll also need to introduce other types of meat to your cat if it is only used to eating fish or chicken.

All raw diet supporters believe that if you cook or process the meat that you’ll feed your cat, the vital nutrients that it would be getting from its food won’t be as much as when it’s raw.

Now, even if this diet mimics how wild cats get their food, it doesn’t really mean that you need to give your cat newly-killed animals. Wild cats do eat their newly-killed prey, but they still save some of those for later so they don’t really need fresh meat all the time

a cat having a fresh raw feeding

What is the Composition of Raw Food Diet?

An easy answer would be anything raw that’s ideal for carnivores. There’s really more than just raw meat that’s included in a raw food diet for your furball.

Here is a list of the different meats and ingredients that can be used in a raw food diet.

  • Meats (Chicken, Rabbit, Salmon, Tuna, Beef, Pork, and Shrimp)
  • Raw Egg
  • Bones
  • Supplements

Now, carbs aren’t necessary, but some raw diet enthusiasts would still add a bit of carbs in the mix in the form of rice, peas or oatmeal. However, to really keep your cat’s digestion smooth, just make sure that you only add a small amount of food rich in carbohydrates.

Is Feeding Cats Raw Meat Safe?

The safety of feeding cats raw meat is still quite a debate and not really all veterinarian would recommend this. If you really want this diet for your cat, you’ll have to look for vets who are not against this or who can discuss with you the risks of doing so.

The reason why there are risks when it comes to choosing this diet is the pathogens in raw food. Cats have an acidic and short digestive tract.

For humans, it could take 35-55 hours to fully digest what we eat, while cats only need about 12-16 hours. This means that most of them won’t have any issues when it comes to their encounter with pathogens like worms, viruses, and bacteria since the food they eat won’t really have much chance to multiply and make their stomachs upset.

We say only most of the cats won’t be affected by these pathogens because there are still cats that are sensitive when it comes to these things and are susceptible to getting food poisoned.

Knowing that there are risks when it comes to getting your cat into this diet, proper preparation of the raw meals you’ll serve is necessary to avoid cross-contamination. Dealing with raw meat that may have harmful pathogens can also mean a risk to expose yourself from pathogens like E. Coli and Salmonella.

Aside from the meat itself, if your cat has eaten anything with these pathogens, the bacteria can be passed on through its waste and so it could easily be spread in your home and can pose as a danger for you and the people you live with.

Remember that even worms can be transmitted from your pet to humans.

Is it Worth Taking the Risk?

Even if there are risks involved in serving your cat raw food, there are still a lot of cat parents out there that prefer this diet because of its many benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Better Digestion – Cats actually do not need carbohydrates in their diet. In fact, cats only have a limited ability when it comes to digesting carbs. Giving your cat raw meat diet would mean that it won’t have any carb intake, so digestion would be easier for them.
  • Better Dental Health – It is noticeable that wild cats seem to have better dental health than house cats. This is mainly because of how wild cats chew on raw meat, fur, skin, and bones. Also, since the raw diet won’t have much carbohydrates, dental issues like caries can be avoided.
  • Help Avoid Nutrient Deficiencies – If you prepare a good mix of raw meat and other raw food in your cat’s diet, you’ll be assured that your cat won’t suffer from any nutrient deficiencies like lack of Taurine, Calcium, and Thiamine. However, this is only achievable with the right choice of ingredients when it comes to preparing your cat’s food.
  • Better Bowel Movement – Another benefit of giving your cats fewer carbs would be lessened volume of cat poop. Cats can easily digest meat and bones, which means that most of these will be completely absorbed by their bodies. In fact, when your cats eat raw, their stools would also be a bit crumbly and almost have no smell.
  • Increase in Energy – If you feed cats more meat, they’ll be able to convert more energy as protein is its main source.
  • Healthy and Shiny Coat – The fatty acids found in your cat’s raw diet can help its fur look healthier, thicker, and shinier. This means you’ll see less shedding and furballs.
  • For Overweight Cats, it could help with weight loss – Cats have the tendency to overeat if they don’t get enough nutrients. If they are fed with mostly carbs, they will just feel hungry even if they’re not. Giving your cats raw diet with balanced nutrients will help them lose weight as they will only feel satisfied with what they eat. The benefit of getting increased energy will also help with losing some weight.

Kinds of Raw Food Diet for Your Cat

There are two main ways that you can serve raw food diet to your cat. You can either prepare your cat’s meals yourself or buy commercially available raw food products made specifically for cats.

If you’re aiming to just get commercially available products, here are the options you have:

  • Frozen Raw Food – This is usually frozen while it’s fresh and will only lose few nutrients once it’s thawed. If you’ll buy this, you can simply put it in the freezer and thaw portions that your cat can completely consume. Frozen raw food usually comes in the form of rolls, patties, and ground meat.
  • Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food – It may sound like it shouldn’t really pass as something to add in a raw food diet as drying the meat means it’s already processed. But this type of raw food is just minimally processed and then frozen. It may also lose a few nutrients but this can still be easily rehydrated.
  • Organic Raw Cat Food – This is a quality raw food product you can give your cat as manufacturers who sell these ensure that the meat that they sell is organically grown. This means that they used no chemicals or they used no modified organisms and radiation to treat the meat they use. This kind of raw food has no preservatives and is antibiotic-free.
cat reach the meat and ready to feast

Precautions When Preparing Homemade Raw Cat Meals

While it’s actually ideal to just create the raw food your cat will eat yourself to make sure that you know everything that goes into your cat’s stomach, do keep in mind that vets who are fine with a raw diet will probably not suggest this. It’s mainly because of risks we mentioned earlier.

But if you assure your vet that you’ll take all the necessary precautions, then you can and should get all their advice regarding this matter.

To make sure that cross-contamination won’t happen and that your cat will get the balanced nutrients from the raw food you’ll serve, here are a few precautions when preparing the food yourself:

  • Basic hygiene – Clean hands and clean prep area is a must. If you could, you can use gloves while mixing different types of raw meat. While ensuring everything is clean before and during food preparation, it’s also important that you thoroughly clean your hands and prep area once you’re done.
  • Know the source of the meat – Yes, you can easily get meat from the supermarket or the meat shop, but it’s always better to ask the butcher about the supplier or do your own research to make sure that there’s nothing harmful in the meat that your cat will eat.
  • Go for whole meat – It does seem easier to just get ground meat from the shop and mix them yourself. But ground meat is more prone to bacteria, unlike whole meat. Whole meats only have the tendency to have bacteria on the outer layer. So if you don’t trust the shop just yet, you can just get rid of it and take the inner part and grind it yourself.
  • Do not forget about calcium – Now, even if we’re mostly talking about raw meat, the raw diet should include bones of animals too like rabbits or chickens. These bones may only be the source of your cat’s calcium needs.
  • Bone size – be mindful of the bones that you’ll include in your cat’s food. If you have a grinder, then you can just have the bones go through it but make sure the size is something that your cat is comfortable eating.
  • Collect recipes and guides – This is important if you’re just starting to make raw homemade food for your cat. Again, you have to look for a vet who’d allow this diet and ask them for recipes and what supplements you can include in the food that you’ll make.

Lack of nutrients will definitely lead to nothing good for your feline friend.

When preparing this yourself, you can do it in big batches so that you only have to do this at least once a month. You can always just freeze your cat’s food and then thaw it out whenever you need to give it to your cat.

Cats would usually prefer their meals a bit warm so you can also have them heated a bit. Think of how wild cats eat their newly killed prey – the meat is most likely a bit warm.

Conclusion

To sum things up, giving your cat a raw diet can be very beneficial. However, this also includes risks. Always make sure that you follow the precautions we’ve shared and to consult your vet before even starting.

It’s important that you know if your cat can handle this diet after being domesticated for so long. A lot of raw diet supporters can attest to the raw diet’s benefits, but if you choose to transition to this, allow some time for your cat to get accustomed and to reap the benefits you want them to.

It’s always best that you know how much you should be feeding your cat and that it gets a well-balanced and nutritious diet. As they always say, keep everything in moderation.

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