Raw Food Diet for Cats
Almost all cats love eating natural raw meats such as raw chicken and other raw meats. Cats can be fed a raw food diet and it is even recommended as part of a cat’s lifestyle. Cats are strict carnivores and in the wild, would hunt birds and rodents to eat uncooked. A raw diet has ingredients that are simple and identifiable, the processing is minimal and it’s usually fresh. So next time you see your cat looking so ravenous at raw chicken, turkey or other meat in the kitchen you can be assured its beneficial for his health.
Concerns About a Natural Raw Meat Diet
While cooking raw foods may break down some nutrients, the unquestionable truth is that cooking meats, makes them safer by destroying parasites and bacteria that can cause diseases in cats as well as humans. Some cat owners also worry their cat will contract Salmonella food poisoning from raw eggs, poultry, meat and fish. Salmonella is a bacteria that can survive up to 2.5 years in excretions from infected humans and animals. Most healthy cats have no problem with bacteria, since their digestive tract is highly acidic making them pathogen resistant. Since cats process raw food quickly, the bacteria present in raw meats doesn’t have time to reproduce into harmful, dangerous levels.
It is recommended you feed your cats raw food and dry cat food, hours apart from each other. Raw cat food meats digest fast, but dry cat food takes much longer. Since raw food can carry bacteria in it, if mixed with dry cat food , it stays longer in the stomach, and therefore it could potentially cause bacteria problems.
Why a Natural Raw Meat Diet Is Good For Your Cat
One of the biggest benefits of a raw diet is hydration. Cats need water, but are not naturally good at drinking enough. Cats are designed to obtain their main source of water from their food and since 70% of whole prey is made up of water. A raw diet means your cat will get most of his water intake from food, and will be able to stay hydrated. Giving your cat a diet that is modeled on what they would eat in the wild has many other benefits, such as:
- Improved digestion
- Prevents heart failure
- Healthy coat, less shedding, fewer hairballs
- Increased energy
- Maintains healthy weight
- Better urinary health
- Less poop and better smelling
- Keeps your cat’s teeth in good condition
How to Transition Cats to Raw Foods
Whether you eat fish, chicken, turkey, pheasant, goose, duck, quail, lamb, elk, pork or buffalo meat, introduce your cats to little pieces of the raw meat. Switching to an all raw diet can take up to two months and maybe longer for older cats. The first step is to eliminate free feeding and put away the food bowl at night. In the morning, when your cat is the most hungry, start with a small piece mixed in with his usual food. He may show no interest. Try mixing a strong flavor with the raw meat like canned tuna juice, salmon or a favorite canned food. If your cat is on a dry cat food diet, you may need to start by introducing canned or wet foods first. Once you get the feeding routine in place, slowly decrease the canned food until the cat is accepting of the raw meat, over a 2 week period. The easiest way is to add 10% raw to 90% old food and increase the raw food by 10% daily. If your cat is still being picky, slightly cook the raw meat to give it more flavor and smell. Over the next few weeks, cook the meat less and less.
Raw Chicken Vs. Cooked Chicken for Cats
You should never ever give cooked chicken bones to your cat or any pet. Cooked chicken bones splinter easily and can seriously injure your cat. There is a major difference between cooked and raw chicken bones and cats can eat raw bones with no problems. However, bone structure changes when cooking causing bones to splinter into sharp bits which cause an obstruction or cut the inside of your cat’s digestive system. Raw chicken neck bones are the safest of bones for your cat but always supervise him when eating.
Alternatives to Home Made Raw Food
With the popularity of raw cat food diets, more and more pet food manufacturers are starting to offer commercial raw cat food products. The easiest way to begin is to choose a raw food diet that fits your cats health needs, life stage and preference. Commercial raw food diets come in all forms like freeze dried, nuggets, frozen and fresh. We recommend trying out Northwest Naturals, Wysong Archetype Raw, or consider a fresh food delivery service like Nom Nom Now.
The type of diet you choose to feed your cat is a personal decision. Whether you decide to prepare a raw food diet for your cat at home, purchase a commercial raw cat food or buy prepared fresh food, consider what is ideal and safe for your cat, before you do.
Amy is the founder of Cat Mania and a life long cat lover. She also writes for various other pet related websites. She is passionate about helping pet parents create a healthy and happy lifestyle for their fur-babies.