Nutrition plays a key role in the overall health and wellbeing of a cat. It is important to choose a diet that not only meets the nutritional requirement of your cat, but that also works best for its personal situation. That’s why you will need to spend a little time determining what type of food is best to feed your cat.
There are many reasons why you might choose a raw food diet for your cat. One of the most prominent reasons is to feed your cat what mostly closely resembles their natural diet, which in nature is protein dominate.
Not every cat is the same. Cats can have specific dietary needs based on a lot of different factors, from age to level of health. A raw food diet might be a good solution for your cat, depending on these factors.
Choosing a diet for your cat is one of the most important decisions you will make. Some owners choose home-prepared foods, while other consider commercial cat food best. In this post, we will go over the raw food diet and why you might choose this route.
» Check out our guide to the best raw cat foods.
What is a Raw Food Diet and What Does it Include?
A raw food diet consists of uncooked and unprocessed animal products made from raw ingredients. This includes ground bones, organ meat and muscle meat. The most common meat is chicken, fish, and eggs while other meats can also be included.
Being an obligate carnivore, the major source of energy for cats is proteins, rather than carbohydrates or plant matter, so a raw food diet consisting of raw animal products is likely as close to a natural diet as your cat can get.
Benefits of a Raw Food Diet
- Cats are carnivores and their digestive system is adapted for a meat-based diet. They do not require carbohydrates as they have a limited ability to digest them. So, a diet containing raw meat improves digestion in cats. Having low carbohydrates in diets also prevent obesity.
- A raw food diet mainly consisting of proteins is highly digestible for cats and most of the nutrients are absorbed by the body. This also significantly reduces the odor and volume of stool.
- When fatty acids come from animal sources, they are proven to contribute to healthier skin and coat. There is less shedding and fewer hairballs.
- Allergies in cats lead to poor skin and coat quality. Raw diets consist of quality ingredients and natural oils that promote a healthy skin and shiny coat.
- Raw diets are satisfying, which helps avoid overeating. This can also help a cat maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if necessary. Raw diet helps prevent excessive weight gain.
- Efficient protein delivery provides a boost of energy.
- When the diet contains high levels of carbohydrates, it builds up a layer of plaque which leads to periodontal disease and loss of teeth. Chewing on raw bones, meat and tissues support dental health and act as ‘natural toothbrush’ for cats.
- Low moisture content in the diet causes chronic dehydration and urinary tract problems in cats, while a raw food diet has a high moisture content i.e., 65-70% which helps in kidney function.
Raw food diets also pose some risks to your cat’s health as uncooked meals may contain many pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli which are typically removed during cooking. Cross contamination exposes you and other people at home to dangerous pathogens.
Cats living with immunocompromised individuals or in a household with children should not be fed raw diets.
Although most cats are able to digest a raw food due to shorter and highly acidic digestive tract, immunocompromised cats with health issues cannot tolerate raw food and need cooked food.
Preparing A Raw Food Diet Safely
Health risks associated with feeding a raw diet to your cat be minimized by adopting a safer method of preparation.
- Food should be prepared in a contained area of your home where objects that come in contact with the raw food and all surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly. These includes inside of the refrigerator, microwave, kitchen utensils and cutting boards.
- Raw meat should be frozen in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Frozen products should be thawed in the microwave or refrigerator and not in the sink or on the counter.
- The meat ingredients should be from a reliable source.
- Wear gloves and handle the frozen products carefully.
- Do not rinse frozen products as splashes of water may contaminate other food and surfaces nearby.
- You should feed your cat when it is in an area that is easy to clean.
- After feeding your cat, disinfect food bowls using bleach and water solution.
- Wash and disinfect your hands thoroughly.
- If the diet contains grounded bones, make sure there is no piece of bone that could possibly be a cause of gastrointestinal obstruction and laceration. If there are small pieces of bones, they should be ground up properly.
How to Shift Your Cat to Raw Food?
If you are about to introduce a raw diet to your cat, the transition should be gradual, over 7-10 days. An abrupt change of diet leads to gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea.
- In the initial 1-3 days, mix only 25% of the new food with the old food.
- In 4-6 days, the amount of new food should be doubled.
- Day 7-9 should have 75% of the new food.
- Day 10 the diet should consist of 100% of raw food.
If the cat faces digestive issues, the transition may take a longer period. Don’t force your cat to transition faster than he’s ready to. It will be better for everyone if your cat stays happy through the whole process.
There are many benefits of a raw food diet for your cat. If you’ve been considering it but haven’t made the change yet, you might find that it leads to better health for your cat. Proceed carefully and make sure you only choose quality food.
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