I’ve been feeding my cats a raw diet for more than 10 years now. It is a little frustrating that after that length of time, when I research it on the web, many veterinarians and “health professionals” have the same old objections to feeding cats homemade raw food. Even the CDC still recommends against it due to the possibility of illness from harmful germs. Germs, germs, germs. Perhaps I find this especially frustrating because I’m from a generation where we weren’t obsessed with them. I’m not saying this isn’t a concern but with a few precautions, in my opinion, the benefits of a raw diet for cats far outweigh the slim “possibility” of illness for the person preparing and feeding the food.
Risks vs. Benefits of Homemade Raw Food for Cats
I’m not sure what these professionals think cats ate before they were domesticated but I’m pretty sure it was raw meat. You might say, “Well, that meat was really fresh”, but that wasn’t always the case. A hungry cat has no problem eating roadkill or other less-than-fresh meat with no adverse effects. How many times have you seen stray cats in the garbage? Read on to see why this is possible.
The second argument from the opposition against feeding a homemade raw diet is that homemade is nutritionally unsound. If you can measure, weigh and follow a recipe, ignore this objection. Many pets died while pet food manufacturers were “perfecting” their recipes and there are still many recalls of contaminated food. Even worse, pet manufacturers respond to trends, like grain-free, without knowing the potential repercussions.
What do Veterinarians Know about Nutrition?
I loved that a veterinarian named Andrea Tasi confirmed in an article on Conscious Cat what I have been saying for years. When people tell me, “but my vet said,” I tell them that vets get very little training in nutrition. Pet food manufacturers convince them that homemade is complicated and risky while they push their over processed and “prescription” foods. In case you don’t know, there is absolutely nothing in those foods that make them require a prescription. Their only purpose is to be sold through a veterinarian where they can sell for more money.
What Exactly is a Raw Diet for Cats?
There are basically two ways you can feed your cats a raw diet. You can buy a commercial food (usually a little on the pricey side) or you can make your own. Not only is homemade more cost effective, but also you know exactly what your cat is eating. You have complete control over the quality of each ingredient. Just remember, if you make your own raw food, it is very important to follow a balanced recipe and include all the supplements.
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Benefits of a Raw Diet for Cats
Cats have a short digestive system that is highly acidic, much more so than humans or even dogs. Raw food is processed through their system in about 12 hours which doesn’t leave much time for bacteria to do any harm. This is why they can eat pretty much anything without getting sick.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat. They have evolved eating meat and have no need for, and a limited ability to digest, carbohydrates. Please don’t try to make your cat vegan!
Cats don’t have a strong drive to drink water. In the wild, they get most of their moisture from their prey. Commercial food, especially dry food, can cause chronic dehydration and alkaline urine which can lead to urinary tract inflammation. Has your cat had a UTI? Raw food has a high moisture content of around 65-70%, about the same amount of moisture as their natural prey.
Smaller, Practically Odorless Stools
When cats eat an appropriate diet, their bodies use it more efficiently and they produce less waste. Their stool is usually much smaller and on the dry, crumbly side. It’s all the carbohydrate fillers in commercial food that creates the large, wet, smelly stools.
The smaller, drier stools are practically odorless. For me, this was one of the best benefits of feeding my cats a raw diet. It is especially appreciated when we travel in the trailer!
Better Oral Health
Are you one of the people who has the misconception that dry food cleans your cat’s teeth? This is a total myth and the truth is actually quite the opposite. Do crackers clean your teeth? No, of course not. The food mashes down around your gums and often sticks there until brushed out. Just like dogs, the best way to clean your cat’s teeth is to give them raw, meaty bones to chew on. Oral health for cats is very important because, as you probably know, infections in the mouth can spread to other parts of the body.
Does your cat wake you up at 4am to be fed? Switching to a raw diet might alleviate that issue. My cats are still sound asleep when I get up in the morning. When cats eat an appropriate diet, they are usually satisfied and not hungry all the time. Do you know it is carbohydrates that cause YOU to have cravings? Since they are satisfied, they don’t beg to overeat and they maintain a healthy weight.
Many people notice that their cats have a lot more energy when they are started on a raw diet. Cats burn protein for fuel and commercial food is often lacking in adequate protein, especially quality protein. When cats consume all the carbohydrates in commercial food, they can become lethargic – just like you on a sugar overdose!
Healthy Coat with Less Shedding
My cats definitely have healthy coats. Many sources say that less shedding is a benefit of a raw diet but I’m not sure I find this to be the case with my cats. Perhaps it would be with yours.
Benefits Outweigh any Risks of Feeding a Raw Diet to Cats
After more than 10 years of feeding a raw diet to my cats with none of us getting sick from it, I am totally convinced that the benefits far outweigh any risk.
Let me know in the comments if you now or ever have fed raw and what your experience has been. I’d love to know your thoughts.
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