Can cats eat raw food?
In the wild, a cat would eat raw meat. But should cats eat raw cat food at home? Here’s what you need to know about a raw food diet for cats
Updated on the 19/12/2019, 15:28
No matter how furry, fluffy and friendly your kitty is, their natural instinct is to hunt and kill wild prey for food. And if you left your cat to itself outside, that’s exactly what it would do.
Recently, raw pet food has become increasingly popular. A raw diet basically means feeding your kitty uncooked animal meat, bones, organs or muscle.
The basic idea of a raw food diet for cats (and dogs) is that it taps into their natural instincts and follows the diet they would naturally consume.
But is feeding your cat raw food safe, beneficial and worth the hassle? Let’s find out.
Can cats eat a raw diet?
Simply put, yes - cats can definitely eat a raw diet. After all, cats are born carnivores - they can survive purely on meat. A raw diet aims to closely mimic what a cat would eat in its natural habitat.
If a cat has to hunt for its own food, it will eat the whole of its prey fresh and raw. And, yes, this includes the guts and nerve tissue - cats don’t discriminate when it comes to meat! From raw meat, cats can gain all the nutrition they need to lead a healthy life.
Raw cat food is heavily debated, but many holistic vets believe that a raw food diet is beneficial for cats. They argue that cooking meat normally decreases its nutritional value and depletes it of some of the most vital substances.
What are the benefits of raw cat food?
In Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats, the results of a study on raw cat food are discussed - and they’re pretty amazing, to say the least. The study was conducted over 10 years and involved 900 cats. Half were fed a raw food diet while the other enjoyed cooked food.
“Dr Pottenger found a startling contrast in health between the two groups. The cats on the raw food diet thrived in good health. They reproduced easily, and their kittens were uniform in size and vigour,”
“The cats that were fed cooked food swiftly deteriorated in health, until, by the third generation, they could no longer reproduce. These cats suffered from behavioural problems, parasites, skeletal deformities, organ malfunctions and inflammation of the nervous system.”
He also explains some of the benefits of feeding cats an appropriate raw-food diet:
- Stronger disease and parasite resistance
- Elimination of bad body odour and bad breath
- Healthier skin and coat
- Improved digestion
- Cleaner teeth
- Healthy ears
- The satisfaction of knowing exactly what your pet is eating
Raw cat food: the concerns
While we could go on and on about the benefits of a raw diet for cats, there are some things which you should be aware of before switching up your cat’s food.
Wild animals may eat raw meats - but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe. When it comes down to it, cooking meats removes dangerous elements such as parasites, salmonella and bacteria which could potentially cause disease or infection. While cats have a higher tolerance to certain pathogens, raw meats are still risky business. Not all cats will tolerate transitioning from commercial to raw food well.
Plus, there’s no denying it - preparing a homemade diet for your cat is time-consuming. Raw diets also tend to be more costly than commercial cat food.
How to prepare raw meat for cats
As we said, raw meats are risky business. But on the plus side, the way you prepare uncooked meat for your cats can help to lower the risks.
- Clean and sanitize all food preparation areas before and after preparing raw meats
- Purchase meats frozen when possible
- Ensure meat is thawed before serving
- Buy your meat from a trustworthy source
- Give your cat the raw food in an area which is easy to sanitize
- Thoroughly sanitize bowls after every meal
- Thoroughly grind or remove bones
Raw cat food: easy recipes
If you decide to go ahead and feed your cat a raw food diet, make sure you do plenty of research and ensure your cat is receiving all their essential nutrients.
A high-quality, complete and balanced raw diet for cats should focus on 3 main elements: flesh, organs and a small amount of fibre such as pumpkin or kale. It’s also a good idea to incorporate some cat-safe dairy such as eggs, as well as fish, into the mix.
Including a range of raw meats for cats is a good way to ensure they’ll receive enough nutrients. We’d also advise talking to your vet about adding some supplements to your cat’s food if you choose to go raw.
Raw turkey-veggie mix
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 4 turkey or chicken livers
- ⅓ shredded carrots
- ⅓ canned pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon egg powder
- Puree livers with blender or food processor
- Mix livers with ground meat
- Mix in shredded carrots and pumpkin
- Stir in eggshell powder
Everyday raw chicken
- 1 whole chicken with skin, giblets and all internal organs. Discard the neck unless you know your grinder can handle grinding bones
- ¼ pound mixed, fresh vegetables
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon fish liver oil
- 1000mg taurine
- 2 teaspoons eggshell powder
- Cut up the chicken at the joints, down the middle and across the back. Feed all into a meat grinder
- Feed the gizzards and organs through the grinder, follow with the neck if you can, then the vegetables
- Mix all ground meat and vegetables thoroughly. Add in chicken broth for moisture and the supplements. Again, mix thoroughly
As seen in Purr-fect Recipes for a Healthy Cat by Lisa Shiroff.
If you decide to go raw and feed your cat using raw cat food, congratulations! Providing that you ensure your cat is gaining all the required nutrients and that you're preparing the meat well, we're sure your cat will be as healthy as can be. Good luck!