Since about 75% of the folks I interact with in ESO and on various ESO forums are cat lovers (ja’khajiit means khajiiti child or kitten), I wanted to share this information on this website. This article is from Purina, but there are many other articles on the web that agree with this one.
From my perspective, a raw diet has no additional benefits for cats, but carries much higher risks to the health of cats and the people who care for them – and, as the article states, cats fed raw diets are also at risk at being deficient in certain nutrients.
Raw Diet For Cats
Is a raw diet for cats ideal?
Cats’ ancestors and present-day cats are obligate carnivores. That means cats need to eat meat. So it is vital to incorporate protein-rich foods in your cat’s diet. Does that mean a raw food diet is the best way to feed protein? Not necessarily.
Some claim that raw chicken, fish or eggs maintain a higher protein and nutrient content than when they are cooked and that feeding these raw foods to your cat imparts numerous health benefits. Two of the most commonly reported benefits include digestion and nutrition. But information on whether or not they do have benefits is largely anecdotal.
Does a raw diet really have digestive benefits for cats?
One of the most foundational reasons cat owners feed a raw diet is digestibility. One prevalent thought is that raw foods are easier to digest than cooked. But cooking does not necessarily decrease digestibility or nutrient content. Cooking processes vary significantly, but some methods even result in food that is more digestible than it was when raw.
Does a raw diet truly have nutritional benefits for cats?
Another factor to consider before serving raw cat food is the balance of nutrients in each serving. A raw food diet for your cat can be complete and balanced, but it can be difficult to achieve. Diets created at home are less likely to meet your cat’s specific needs.** Feeding raw cat food for a prolonged period of time can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
What can help decrease the chance of nutrient deficiencies, if feeding raw food?
The effects of feeding foods that are not complete and balanced are significant but often cumulative, and, therefore, hard to identify. Common nutrient deficiencies include:
Make sure to tell your veterinarian if you plan to start your cat on a raw food diet. Her awareness allows her to monitor your cat for deficiencies and to identify problems if they occur.
Another way to prevent nutrient deficiencies is to choose a food that is complete and balanced. If you’re concerned a raw diet could cause problems for your cat, remember you don’t need to do it. Select food that fits all of your cat’s dietary needs, so she can be healthy and you can have more peace of mind.
Is a raw diet for cats safe?
Raw foods can introduce your cat to risks you may be unwilling to take. Apart from the choking hazards and increased chance of ingesting a bone, another major risk with raw food for cats is unseen. Letting your cat eat foods like raw chicken, raw fish or raw eggs can cause illness, since these foods may be contaminated with harmful bacteria, parasite, and protozoa. There are many bacteria that thrive in raw foods:
These foodborne pathogens can cause a range of complications for cats ranging from diarrhea to fatality.
Is a raw diet for cats safe for the whole family?
It’s true that cats can be resilient even when fed contaminated raw food, but family members may not be as hardy. Your exposure to bacteria does not end after cleaning your food prep area. Bacteria your cat eats can live on in her mouth, and can be shed in her feces. So as she goes about her day—grooming herself and using her litter box– you are exposed as well. Petting and caring for her basic needs puts you in contact with the pathogens.*** That means when your cat begins a raw food diet, the health risks for every family member in your house increases too.
Should I begin to feed my cat a raw food diet?
What you decide to feed your cat is a personal decision. Whether you opt to create a raw food diet for your cat at home, purchase a commercial raw cat food or buy prepared food, consider what is ideal and safe for your cat, your family and you before you do.
*list adapted from Purina Science Perspectives: Raw Food Diets; May 2017
**up to 80% of pets fed home prepared raw food diets have multiple nutrient deficiencies
***11% of vacuum cleaner waste in raw food diet households contained Salmonella, which was twice the level in non-raw food diet homes
Regarding Raw Diet and FIV+ cats
FIV+ cats should be fed a high-quality, commercially prepared diet. Raw food diets can be especially dangerous to FIV-infected cats as they may have suppressed immune systems, making them more likely to get sick from the bacteria in raw food diets.
What do the experts say about feeding pets raw diets?
A number of professional associations have condemned the practice of feeding raw food to dogs and cats. A few are:
- The American Veterinary Medical Association policy (AVMA) adopted a policy statement addressing the issue in 2012 opposing the feeding of raw foods.
- The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) approved a policy in August 2012 that discourages feeding raw meat to pets.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend feeding raw foods to a pet because of the risk of food-borne infection to the pet and to household members.
- Avoiding Raw Food in Cats | VCA Animal Hospital
- Stop Feeding Your Pets Raw Meat
- Feeding Pets a Raw-Meat Diet Can Be Dangerous for Them and for You | TIME
In closing this entry, I want to be transparent – I feed my animals the highest quality commercial food I can afford on my income and considering the number of animals I feed. I buy the sensitive stomach formula for my cats, as most of them are 12 – 19 years old and need a more gentle diet. I have never had any “diet related” health issues with any of my animals. I have also had FIV+ cats and they lived long lives.
So, while what you feed your cats is a personal choice, please always consider the risks – to the cats, your family, and yourself. And never let anyone “shame” you for not feeding what they consider to be a “natural” diet. According to the article above, and others, up to 80% of cats fed a raw diet are deficient in multiple nutrients and all cats, and dogs, fed “Raw” are at heightened risk of infection by bacteria’s, protozoans, and parasites, as are the humans who live with them.