Guest post by Jodi Ziskin
Raw food may seem like a new trend for cats (and dogs), but don’t tell them that; it is what they and their ancestors have eaten for hundreds of thousands of years.
In today’s world of highly processed kibble and canned foods being recalled for a variety of reasons, many cat lovers are discovering the myriad of benefits associated with feeding a raw diet. These include easier and better digestion and assimilation of nutrients, reversal of allergies, disease prevention, better oral health and cleaner teeth, less stool and an improvement in overall health.
Still, some people are freaked out by the idea of preparing raw meat at home. There are many wonderful commerically prepared frozen raw foods on the market. Brands I often recommend include Primal, Bravo, and Nature’s Variety Instinct. But for some people, it is still too foreign. There are many misconceptions about safety and salmonella and other nonsense.
That is why I am super excited about the rise in popularity of dehydrated and freeze-dried raw foods for cats. This option offers many of the same advantages of fresh/frozen raw food, but in a neater, easier format for people to handle.
The act of freeze-drying was created by the pharmaceutical industry. It was a way to transport vital medications to soldiers. For food, the act of dehydrating or freeze-drying helps lock in the freshness of the ingredients, resulting in very little loss of nutrients and enzymes.
To me, the biggest advantage is that it gets folks who are afraid of raw food to actually use raw food!
Small companies, deeply committed to quality, are producing excellent foods for cats. Stella & Chewy’s has a wonderful line of foods available in single serving pouches and in 12-ounce re-sealable bags. Primal Pet Foods also offers a couple of varieties of freeze-dried food for cats. I am a big fan because they use organic vegetables and food-derived vitamins. Companies like The Honest Kitchen (all organic) and Sojos have less variety, but make fantastic foods. At The Honest Kitchen, a human taste-tests every batch of food they produce.
With freeze-dried and dehydrated food, you simply add warm water, let the food rehydrate, mix and serve.
Many of the companies making freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are very committed to quality: they use all human grade ingredients, most are free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and many use organic ingredients.
Stella & Chewy’s, Primal (poultry only), Nature’s Variety Instinct and some other companies are now using a safety measure called HPP (High Pressure Processing). This is a form of pasteurization that kills pathogens without the use of heat or irradiation. Some ‘purists’ scoff at this, but I’m all for it as it helps ensure the safety of the food.
Can dehydrated and freeze-dried foods be the only source for a cat’s diet? Yes. However, I do recommend a varied diet that includes fresh or frozen raw or home cooked food. But if I can get a client to make the switch from dry food to freeze dried, it is a huge victory for their cat.
Jodi Ziskin is a Certified Pet Nutrition Consultant who also holds a Master of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition with a concentration in companion animal care. Her mission is to help cats and dogs live healthier and happier. Through her company, Holistic Healthy Pets by Jodi Z, she educates pet parents in their home environment, via Skype/Facetime or by telephone on how to make the best holistic diet and lifestyle choices for their animal companions. Jodi has been featured in articles appearing in Animal Wellness Magazine, Cat Fancy Magazine and Urban Animal (Australia). She is also a Cat Health Writer for examiner.com and a Nutrition Consultant for Lap Of Love Veterinary Hospice.