It is obvious and almost natural for pet owners to think about feeding their felines raw meat if they have not yet actually done so yet. After all, the evolutionary past of domesticated cats goes back to the plains and wilderness where their diet is mostly made of the same ingredient.
The big question though is how good or bad is raw meat for your feline friend at home. There are arguments against meat consumption largely revolving around the amount and varieties of bacteria in raw meat.
However, there are also good things about it. You should take the time to learn about both sides of the story to make an educated decision.
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The Good Things About Raw Meat
Since cats are technically predators, they have survived the challenges of evolution through the consumption of uncooked meat. When the meat is cooked, a good amount of the amino acids, minerals, and vitamins that it contains are eliminated.
This is truer especially for meats processed by cooking at extremely high heat levels. What happens is they extract the nutrients and then add them back in. This is not the best way for food to be nutritious for your pet though. This version will never be as healthy as its raw counterpart.
When cats catch their prey, they usually eat up the whole animal minus its intestines. In fact, cats get their main fix of calcium from their prey’s raw bones. Once bones are cooked, they become brittle and are not safe to be consumed as they may cause damage inside your feline’s body.
In the wild, your feline friend feeds on smaller mammals like birds, fishes, rodents, and snakes. They do prey on insects as well as certain reptiles. You should look for a way to get these kinds of animals alive for your pet if you want him to have the same diet as when he was living outdoors. This is definitely not an easy feat for anyone.
One of the good things about raw food is how it makes a cat’s digestion process better. It also helps to keep your pet’s coat in good health, so there is less shedding resulting in a hairball decrease. You will also notice a higher energy level as well as good dental and urinary health. Overweight and obese felines also benefit from raw meat as it will help them achieve a balanced weight.
Cats’ teeth are also maintained in a healthy and clean state when they chew on connective tissues, fur, meat, raw bones, and skin. Your domesticated feline’s diet has no requirement for carbohydrates. In fact, they are unable to properly digest carbohydrates because they do not have the enzymes that are needed to assimilate them.
More so, your pet can end up with plaques and gum problems due to the starchy films produced by carbohydrates. This is another good reason why a raw meat diet is a better choice.
The Pottenger Study: The Effects Of Heat-Processed Food On Cats’ Health
Dr. Francis M. Pottenger Jr. did a study on the impacts of food processed in the heat on the health and well-being of domesticated cats. It was conducted in the 20th century on donated cats for the purpose of the study itself. When the cooked meat supply started to diminish, Dr. Pottenger gave raw scraps of meat from one of the meatpacking plants in town.
After receiving the uncooked meat for a few months, he observed a significant improvement in the felines’ health. It is from this that his study on feeding began together with one of the most used raw diet arguments.
From 1932 to 1942, the experiment went on using a population of more than 900 cats. Their diet included ⅓ raw milk, ⅔ raw meat, and cod liver oil. On the other hand, cooked meat was given to the control group. Based on the results of this study, there is a clear relationship between consuming cooked meat and medical problems like having too many parasites.
The Bad Things About Raw Meat
You will be receiving words of wisdom from veterinarians regarding the issues that come with raw food. These include E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, and many other bacteria. However, there is also a good portion of these professionals who think that such a diet is very healthy for your pet.
You should know though that some of these illnesses have the ability to be transmitted to humans who are handling the cat’s food. Precautionary measures should be taken seriously.
Cats in the wild can consume days-old dead animal bodies without any digestion problems and the like. However, this does not apply to your domesticated felines. If you wish to change their diet and give them raw meat, you should observe a period of transition properly.
The following practices are very helpful to make sure that nothing goes wrong.
- When purchasing meat, you should choose butchers who you trust over supermarkets and similar suppliers. You should utilize the meat right away. If you need to use certain portions later, you can freeze them. However, it is best to keep them in individual servings, so you do not have to defrost the entire pack when you wish to use only a part of it. Freezing t helps kill a good amount of the bacteria that are naturally present in raw meat.
- Probiotics enhance the intestinal tract’s health and well-being, resulting in lesser possibility and negative impacts of indigestion.
- You should conduct proper sterilization of all the dishes and cutting boards after you use them because they easily serve as breeding grounds of bacteria when left alone. You should also discard any food left by the cat in less than 30 minutes. Their food and water bowls should always be properly and thoroughly cleaned.
- You should check with a veterinarian before giving uncooked meat to your pet if there are any issues regarding his immune system. In fact, it is best to check with the vet about your plan to modify your pet’s diet regardless of the presence or absence of any health issues.
The Shift To Raw Meat Diet
When it comes to kittens, there is no need for transition. You can go ahead and feed them raw meat. It is the adult ones that need some time to adapt to a change. However, you should be aware of their need to eat more frequently because of their smaller stomachs. It is recommended to feed them every after six hours.
Adult cats, on the other hand, have to go through the transition period. The length of which is based on a couple of factors that include their health condition and how comfortable they are with their food. You might need to be very patient because it can be more than a month or two in some cases.
Cats have a tendency to enjoy dry food, so you will have a challenge bringing them past this stage. To start, you can work on making them follow a certain feeding schedule. Giving them two to three meals a day with a fixed timing for each is way better than giving them full access to dry food at all times.
Getting them hungry will help in training them to follow the new schedule faster as well as make them ready for their meals as per the new schedule. You should ensure that they have eaten. It is not very bad if they are feeling hungry still because the new food you are introducing will appeal more to them.
You can then present the grain-free canned food to them in place of the dry food. There is a chance that they dislike it at the start, so you can give them meat baby food instead. Once they are comfortable with the regularized meal time and their new canned diet, you can start to introduce raw food.