Is Raw Food Bad For My Cat?

Pet lovers across the globe… in recent years are choosing to feed raw food diets to their pets rather than commercial ones. There are a couple of good reasons that instigated the switch from commercial feline food to homemade raw cat food.  

First, the toxic level of chemicals such as preservatives and unwanted additives may harm your pets. Although this is rare in reputed animal food manufacturers since they take extra precautions and maintain high standards.  

The second reason is more to do with the basic nature of the feline family. Cats, unlike other pets, are obligate carnivorous. In other words, this means that they need to eat protein from animal products to survive.  

Felines that belong to the cat family live on raw food in the wild and feed on their prey’s carcasses. These consist of raw meat, bones, and organs that provide high amounts of taurine, fatty acids, and other essential vitamins, minerals.  

If prepared correctly, this not only taps into your cat’s feline instincts but keeps them healthy, lean, and strong.

There is, however, a catch in this situation if a pet parent chooses this path. It is very important that you understand what raw food suits your cat’s diet and its associated risks. 

If you want to prepare your own cat food, make sure that you have ample time on your hands and choose the right balance of ingredients such as raw meat, soft bones, organs, etc., and include vitamins, minerals, and calcium supplements.  

What is ‘Raw Food’ for cats?

Raw food diets (RFD), also known as the BARF diet (“bones and raw food” or “biologically-appropriate raw food) usually includes human-grade meat (e.g., fresh pieces of raw red meat or raw chicken), soft bones, fresh organs, and a small amount of vegetation. 

Although cats do not need vegetables and carbohydrates in their diet, be sure to work with your veterinarian to ensure your cat is receiving the balanced nutrition. Domestic cats that eat an imbalanced diet are at risk of developing various health issues.

What do Pet Cats need in their diets?

  • Protein from red/white meat and fish
  • Fatty Acids
  • Amino Acids such as arginine and taurine (already available in meat & fish)
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Calcium
  • Water
  • Carbohydrates from corn and rice in very minimum quantities are okay. Cats can live without them. 
  • Avoid dairy products, sugars, and starch-based products. This may lead to health issues such as inflammation, diabetes, urinary tract diseases, and obesity.  

    Supporters of raw food diets claim that cooking meat can alter or decrease important vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, such as taurine, fatty acids, vitamin B1 (thiamine). 

    Most commercially available pet foods are cooked and, in some cases, with large amounts of carbohydrates and starch of grains. This is done to make the product value more viable and cost-effective. 

    While overcooking decreases necessary supplements required for your cats’ well-being, the unnecessary amounts of starch and carbohydrates might cause health issues.

    Raw Food Diet: A Tried and Tested Recipe for Healthier Cats

    While there are many RFD recipes online, the following one is recommended by a veterinary nutritionist. This is enough for 10-14 days for an average cat.   

  • 3 pounds (1.4 kg) of a whole chicken or any other fowl.
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 eggs
  • Liver (4oz/120 grams) – Good for ‘vitamin A’ but do not exceed. This may cause toxicity if given in large amounts.
  • 2000 mg salmon oil (Supplement*)
  • 2000 mg taurine – powdered (Supplement*)
  • 400 UI Vitamin E (Supplement*)
  • Vitamin B-Complex – Start with 50 mg and after few days 100 mg (Supplement*)
  • Psyllium – A source of fiber. (add when initially introducing a raw meat diet to your cat) (Supplement*)
    Note: Before introducing this diet to your cat, discuss the same with your veterinarian. It is essential that you get the supplements correct as per your cat’s age, size, and breed. 

    Soft bones can be added in the raw diet but never cook the bones and feed them to your cats. Cooked bones can splinter and cause potentially fatal internal damage or intestinal obstruction.  

    Raw Food Diet for Kittens:

    Kittens naturally wean off from their mother’s milk at around 6 to 12 weeks of age. When they are old enough, they start eating food on their own while gradually decreases their milk intake.

    Unlike larger cats, domesticated Kittens are immunosuppressed, meaning that they are vulnerable to Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, and other types of bacteria found in meats.  

    It is best advised to consult with a veterinarian because your kittens may have special needs or react to certain foods.  

    A Raw Food Diet can be introduced to kittens who are 20 weeks or older. Before that, it is best to feed them high-quality balanced premium commercial kitten food. You can later transition them to a B.A.R.F diet depending on their growth and health. 

    Once they are 20 weeks or older, the diet for adult cats listed in the article can be provided. Like older cats, kittens should never be given cooked bones and other foods that may harm their health.

    How much RFD for my cat?

    A general rule prescribed to feed cats is 2% of their body weight. For example, if your cat is 5kg (11 pounds), it will require 100gm (3.5 once) of food per day. 

    It is best to adjust the quantities as per your cat’s activity levels, metabolism, and age.

    Toxic Foods 

    The following foods are very toxic for cats and kittens alike. Never ever, feed these to your pets since they can cause a lot of harm to their health and may cause irreversible complications. 

    Please note that this is not the complete list of toxic foods that may harm felines. Consult a veterinarian for the same.

    Chocolate, garlic, alcohol, onions, onion powder, bread dough, grapes, raisins, sultanas, currants, nuts, coffee or caffeine products, moldy or spoiled foods or compost, small pieces of raw bone, salt and roughly-cut vegetables, avocado, fatty trimmings/fatty foods, yeast dough, fruit stones or ‘pits,’ fruit seeds, corncobs, tomatoes, mushrooms, cooked bones.

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