Cats are carnivores, and they need meat to survive. Cats are also very picky eaters; hence, it is imperative to feed them the right kind of meat.
Raw meat is a must-have diet for cats because it has all the nutrients that they need to thrive. It also has a higher water content than other types of food, which helps keep your cat hydrated and healthy. You can get the best raw meats for cats from your local butcher or grocery store or buy them online.
This article discusses the risks and rewards of raw diets for cats, raw feeding in general, and the nutritional value of raw pet food to your feline friends!
What Is a Raw Diet for Cats?
Uncooked animal products are fed to cats on a raw diet. Meat from muscles, organs, and bones is included in this category. Foods of this type are sometimes referred to as a “BARF” diet or “biologically-appropriate raw foods.”.
To prepare a healthy raw diet for cats, a carefully designed recipe must be followed. The majority of cat owners prepare their diets at home, but commercial forms are available. Veterinary nutritionists recommend feeding your cat a complete and balanced raw diet. Inequality in the food for cats can result in a variety of health problems.
Is It Worth Considering?
As carnivores, cats must consume meat. To put it simply, they must consume animal products to survive. Vegetables and carbohydrates are not necessary for cats’ diets. A small amount of carbohydrates is all they can tolerate. A cat’s diet should be high in protein, high moisture, and rich substances found only in meat. In addition to taurine and other essential amino acids, the diet should also include fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Some advocates of raw food diets believe that cooking meat alters or decreases the amount of these essential substances. Cats in the wild eat a similar diet to what they would consume in a biologically-appropriate diet. Cats hunt rodents, birds, fish, insects, and even reptiles, including small mammals and birds. Raw food is meant to be fed to your cats as a similar diet.
There is a great deal of controversy surrounding raw food diets for pets. Many people support raw food diets because of their health benefits, including shinier coats, cleaner teeth, and the prevention of obesity. Despite the validity of these claims, the opposition has legitimate concerns about raw food diets.
Is It Safe for Cats to Eat Raw Food?
There are a few risks associated with feeding raw food to your cat. A raw diet can contain pathogens like salmonella and E. Coli that can cause life-threatening infections. It is because humans tend to cook their food that most of these pathogens are removed.
Due to their shorter digestive tracts and more acidic environment, cats often digest raw food better than humans. It is common for pathogens to pass through cats without causing any problems. Raw food is generally not a problem for cats, but cooked food may be necessary for those with health concerns.
Cross-contamination is perhaps the most significant risk associated with raw meat when it is fed and handled. You and other people in your home can be exposed to dangerous pathogens if you feed your cat raw food. In addition to surfaces used for preparation, dishes containing food, cat fecal matter, and the cat itself (especially around the face), pathogens can remain on your cat.
Those living with immune-compromised individuals should not feed raw diets to their cats. The use of these products should also be avoided by households with young children and elderly members.
Preparing a Raw Food Diet for Your Cat
The preparation of your cat’s diet from scratch is not something to be taken lightly. It is not enough to just throw raw meat and ground bone together. If you want to feed your cat a healthy and nutritious recipe, ask your veterinarian for a bit of advice. Usually, pre-prepared foods are made with a delicate balance of muscle meats, ground bones, and organ meats. A recipe that does not include all the nutrients your cat needs will make him ill as he will not receive the proper vitamins and minerals.
Not all raw food diet recipes for cats are suitable for them. Consult your holistic veterinarian before preparing a raw diet for your cat. Nutritional imbalance can occur when nutrients are oversupplied or undersupplied.
It is also essential to note that you may have trouble finding a clean, good source of meat, especially in the market. Making my cat food is difficult for me because I can’t rely on a consistent source of meat. Using your home meat grinder to grind meat and bones is also not the most pleasant experience. It is gross both visually and audibly. Those who are squeamish may want to consider this.
Important Note: A Raw Diet is Tricky to Manage!
The raw food should not remain at room temperature if your cat doesn’t finish it within 10-15 minutes and should be refrigerated and covered. It can be problematic if you have to work away from home.
You should give your kitty time and plan when thawing raw food so he doesn’t end up eating frozen meat hockey pucks. In addition to taking up valuable space in your fridge, thawing food also takes up a lot of space.
The Risk of Bacteria
It is elementary for harmful bacteria to grow on raw meat if it is left at room temperature. If it is not handled correctly, your cat can become very ill.
Dry kibble, however, is NOT immune to harmful bacteria and fungi! It is possible to have problems with kibble in this way as well.
Takes Up Freezer Space
It can be a challenge to store raw food in your freezer or refrigerator, whether you purchase ready-made raw food or make your own.
The Best Way to Prepare a Raw Diet for Your Cat
To ensure your cat gets the best nutrition possible, you should consult an expert. Additionally, your vet may recommend special supplements to ensure your cat is getting the nutrition it needs.
These are some of the ingredients used in a raw food diet:
- Muscle meat and organ meat (examples are raw chicken or turkey, raw beef, venison, lamb, rabbit, and fish)
- Raw bones, ground
- Supplements (consider this!)
To prepare the raw cat food, you will probably need the following supplies and equipment:
- Dishwasher-safe large cutting board
- Grinding machine for me and shears for poultry
- Mixing bowls made of stainless steel or glass
- Nitrile or disposable latex gloves
- Containers for storage
- Refrigerator and freezer space
Most owners prefer to freeze raw diets to last a few weeks instead of preparing them at home.
How to Transition your Cat to a Raw Meat Diet
Raw meat diets are not healthy for cats when switched at once. Transitioning him slowly is best since his body needs time to adjust to the change. For some cats, the change might be difficult, especially if they are addicted to carbs and kibble.
While transitioning is not generally complicated, getting him ready takes time so that the transition will proceed smoothly. The following tips will help you transition your pet to a raw meat diet:
- Ensure your cat is fed on a regular schedule –Cats on raw meat diets need to be fed on a regular schedule, so prepare them for eating at specific times before switching. Make sure he gets fed twice a day, in the morning and late in the afternoon. When he doesn’t finish the food, remove it from his reach until his next feeding. Maintaining a schedule will be difficult otherwise.
- Make sure he eats grain-free kibble – If you don’t already feed your cat grain-free kibble, start now. In addition to helping his stomach and digestive system adjust to the high protein source of raw meat, this will also help him develop a more efficient metabolism.
- Wet canned food should be transitioned next – Start adding small amounts of canned wet food to his meals after he has been on kibble. Reduce kibble volume. Gradually increase canned food and reduce kibble while gradually increasing canned food. In the end, canned food will completely replace kibble.
- Start adding raw food gradually – Begin gradually reducing the canned food while gradually adding a small amount of raw meat food. Make sure your cat’s diet is free of canned food for a few weeks after you start this process. You need to be patient during this transition period.
Switching from an exclusively dry kibble diet to a 24/7 buffet plan can be difficult, especially for cats who are on an exclusive dry kibble diet. The good news is that once you’ve made it work into your schedule and lifestyle, you’ll find it to be no problem at all.
Extra Feeding Tips When Transitioning to Raw Food
- Until you find a raw food that your cat enjoys, you should try different brands. Try feeding him early in the morning when he is most hungry if you’re still having trouble.
- You can add nutritional yeast to your cat’s food to make him eat if he is picky and fussy. Add a little to the food and sprinkle it over it. There is no doubt that cats will eat it if they like the smell and taste. I always include it in my feline team’s meals as they adore it!
- Raw meat food shouldn’t be left uneaten in a cat’s bowl. To keep the food fresh, place it back into a container and refrigerate it if he doesn’t eat it all in a reasonable amount of time. Unless raw meat is kept cool, bacteria will begin to multiply.
- Buying fresh meat instead of ground meat is always the best way to grind your meat. Due to its small surface area, fresh meat is less likely to become contaminated with bacteria. If you want to prepare meals easier, you may want to invest in a good set of knives and shears.
- Make sure you prepare raw meat meals for your cat using safe handling techniques. If you mishandle raw meat, you could contract food-borne illnesses, so be careful and clean up as soon as you can. Making your cat’s diet healthier shouldn’t put you or your family at risk.
Commercial Raw Diets for Cats
You may wish to consider a commercial raw diet if you are not able to develop recipes and prepare raw food from scratch. In the opinion of raw diet supporters, commercial raw diets are inferior to those prepared at home. Feeding them is, however, considered healthier than feeding kibble.
Most raw diets sold in retail stores are frozen or freeze-dried to reduce the number of pathogens in them. Despite this, you should still take precautions to prevent cross-contamination when dealing with these diets. Veterinary nutritionists or veterinarians can help you choose the proper commercial diet for your pet. It must meet the requirements of AAFCO for a complete and balanced diet.
So there you have it! In their diet, cats require high protein content since they belong to the obligate carnivore group. Raw meat provides the best source of this nutrient. Meat can be digested by cats and provides them with the essential nutrients for long-term growth, health, and disease prevention. Don’t forget to consider the risks and rewards of introducing raw meats to cats. Don’t hesitate to consult a veterinarian if you’re unsure!