Grocery and pet store shelves abound with a dizzying array of dry cat food. For decades, kibble has been the preferred choice for most cat owners. After all, the bags say it’s “complete and balanced,” it’s easy to feed, and most cats seem to like it. Unfortunately, dry cat food, even the high-priced premium and veterinary brands, is the equivalent of junk food for cats. Feeding dry food to cats is no different than feeding sugared cereals to kids.Continue Reading
Cat owners are always looking out for their companions’ health, especially regarding food. The pet food industry is roughly valued at $95 billion globally and is expected to grow. This means that the variety of cat food available is quite expansive, which is good news for people who want to find top-quality food for their cats.
One kind of pet food that is getting a lot of attention is raw food, and it has piqued the curiosity of many cat owners. Since the raw food production industry has increased by 20% in 2021, it is becoming popular. But should you feed your cat a raw diet? This article covers the benefits of a raw diet as well as some things to keep in mind should you make the switch to raw food.
What Is Raw Food?
Raw cat food is uncooked and unprocessed food. The main ingredients in raw food include uncooked meat, organs, and ground bone (for calcium). A raw food diet cannot just include meat. There needs to be a proper balance of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the raw food. This nutritional balance will ensure a cat’s overall health.
Since cats are obligate carnivores, they need a diet high in animal proteins to be healthy and thrive. Obligate carnivores cannot survive on plant proteins as their main food source. This is why many people are feeding their cats a raw food diet; these recipes are the least processed form of animal protein.
What Are the Benefits of a Raw Diet?
Some cat owners are concerned about low-quality ingredients and the toxic end products resulting from thermal processing found in most standard wet or dry food. While there are plenty of companies that make cat food with high-quality ingredients, there are cat owners who prefer a purer form of food, whether they buy the raw food commercially made or make it themselves.
Boost in energy: Cats can get sluggish without the proper amount of meat protein. While a cat with low energycan mean several things, diet can be one of the causes.
Digestion is improved: As mentioned before, cats need a diet primarily of meat. Plant foods and excessive carbohydrates can disturb their digestion and metabolism. So, with a raw diet, cats get the ingredients their bodies were made to ingest.
Healthy Weight: Cat food high in carbohydrates can lead to weight gain because cats are trying to eat more to compensate for the lack of animal protein.
Hydration: Any cat owner will tell you that it can be a challenge to keep a cat hydrated. In the wild, cats get their daily moisture from the animals they eat. Dry food does not have enough moisture to help a cat stay hydrated.
Things to Consider with a Raw Diet
While there are several benefits to feeding your cat a raw diet, there are some things you want to keep in mind before you make the switch:
Risk of illness: Cat owners must know the potential issues in handling raw meat. If a cat owner prepares the food and does not consider the sanitation aspect, this can lead to increased risk of infection with Toxoplasmosis, Salmonella, E.coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter. People can get these infections when preparing raw food improperly, handling or touching their cat near the face and mouth after eating raw food, and by handling fecal matter.
Improper nutritional balance: Commercially made raw foods usually have added nutrients and minerals cats need to be healthy. However, cat owners might omit those essential components when making the raw food themselves. A raw diet cannot just be meat on its own. Making your own raw food can be tricky, so consulting your veterinarian on this matter is vital for your cat’s health.
Meat Source: If you are making homemade raw food, it is essential to get the meat from a highly reputable source. The animals must be slaughtered under hygienic conditions as well as having the meat be handed properly. These practices will reduce cross contamination of bacteria.
Time: Many pet owners like the convenience of packaged food. You can buy the food in bulk, which saves time and money. Dry food can sit out safely for a few hours, so you can add some food to a bowl earlier in the day if you plan on getting home late. But because there are some health risks surrounding improper preparation of raw food, some people may not have the time to make the cat’s meals safely. With raw food, people must take the time to disinfect the preparation area, wash their hands thoroughly after touching the food and your cat, and ensure you use fresh meat from reliable sources where the animals have been raised in sanitary conditions.
Generally, dry and wet food are less expensive than a raw diet. People on a tight budget might find it harder to get the ingredients to make homemade raw food or sign up for raw food subscription services.
Final Thoughts: Should I Feed My Cat a Raw Diet
A raw food diet can benefit your cat’s overall health and wellness. Many cat owners have been pleased with the positive changes they have seen in their cat’s physical appearance and overall health. However, switching to a raw food diet should not be taken lightly.
You want to consider a few things before changing the cat’s diet. If you do not think you have the time to clean up after raw food preparation safely or if you do not think you have the money to either get the proper ingredients to make raw food or buy it from the store or online, you might want to reconsider this meal plan.
However, if you are aware of the risks of improper raw food preparation and clean-up, as well as understand the time commitment and costs, reach out to a raw savvy-vet about how to switch to a raw food diet for your cat.
Cat mom to Ivy – a feisty little rescue kitten that is her one and only child. For now! Throughout her life, she has been introduced to the special love that can be found in the bond with a cat. Having owned multiple felines, she is more than certain that their love is unmatched, unconditional and unlike any other. With a passion to educate the public about everything, there is to know about felines, their behavior, and their unique personalities, Crystal is devoted to making sure that all cats and their owners know the importance of conscious living – and loving!
Far too many cat parents accept occasional, or even chronic, vomiting and diarrhea as a fact of life with cats. Cats just do that sometimes, don’t they? Well, no. Healthy cats don’t vomit on a regular basis, nor do they have diarrhea. Chronic vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, and, if left untreated, can become life threatening.
The most common cause of gastrointestinal problems for cats is Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Although cats of all ages can be affected, it is typically seen in middle-aged or older cats. The term IBD is used for a number of chronic gastrointestinal disorders. Physiologically, it is characterized by an infiltration of inflammatory cells into the lining of the digestive tract. The location of the inflammation can help determine the specific type of IBD.
Symptoms of IBD
Symptoms most typically include chronic vomiting and diarrhea, but sometimes, constipation can also be a problem. Some cats present with weight loss as the only clinical sign.
Diagnosis of IBD
To rule out other causes of gastrointestinal problems, your veterinarian will perform diagnostic tests that may include complete blood cell counts, blood chemistry, thyroid function tests, urinalysis, fecal analysis, abdominal x-rays, and ultrasound. The most definitive way to diagnose IBD is through biopsies of small samples of the intestinal lining. These samples can be obtained through endoscopy or abdominal surgery. These procedures require general anesthesia.
IBD is usually treated with a combination of medical and dietary therapy. Corticosteroids are used for their anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant properties, and they can also serve as an appetite stimulant. However, steroid therapy carries serious longterm side-effects.
The Diet Connection
There are commercially manufactured diets available for the treatment of IBD, most of them containing so-called “novel proteins,” ie., proteins that the cat may not have been exposed to before such as rabbit, venison, and duck. (We used to call them the “Disney diets” when I still worked at a veterinary clinic – Thumper, Bambi and Donald…).
However, increasingly, holistically oriented veterinarians are seeing a connection between diet and IBD. These vets believe that commercial pet foods, especially dry foods, are a contributing factor to the large numbers of cats with chronic IBD. They also discovered that many cats improve by simply changing their diets to a balanced grain-free raw meat diet. Similar results may be achieved with a grain-free canned diet, but a raw diet seems to lead to quicker and better results.
Vomiting and diarrhea are not something you, and your cat, should learn to live with. Take your cat to a veterinarian for a thorough physical exam. After ruling out other conditions or diseases as causes, the solution might just be something as simple as changing your cat’s diet.
You will find a lot of information on feline nutrition on this site, but one aspect I haven’t covered in detail is treats. While treats should always be used judiciously, especially for cats that have a tendency to gain weight or are already overweight, realistically, most cat guardians want to occasionally spoil their feline charges with a special treat. Treats also have their place when it comes to training (and yes, cats can be trained). Since most of us will give our cats treats, it’s important to choose healthy options.Continue Reading