Most kitty parents have at least heard that kitties are “obligate carnivores” but do you really know what that means? Quite simply, it means that we are meat eaters. It means we eat meat and only meat (including organs and bones). We don’t need fiber. Our bodies aren’t designed for it. We don’t have the enzyme needed to digest it and so fiber can cause digestive issues. That includes all those grains you find in commercial pet food as well as those fruits and vegetables. I know, you think if fruits and vegetables are good for you they must be good for us, but, no. Now, I know the next thing you are probably going to say is, “but what about the grains in the stomach’s of our natural pray?” Well, think where they are. They are already well on their way to being digested and there is only a minuscule amount.
The other main thing I want to address is the fear of contamination from bacteria. Now, I’m not suggesting you serve rotten meat or that you shouldn’t be careful, but we cats have strong stomach acids that neutralize potentially harmful bacteria. A short digestive tract minimizes the opportunity for potentially harmful bacterial colonization. That means that if anything bad gets past our stomach acid, it doesn’t stay around long enough to make itself at home. Just picture a big cat in the wild eating off a carcass that might be days old. We kitties have not evolved from that!
I have been eating a homemade, raw diet for many years now and I highly recommend it. Feeding raw is one of the best things you can do for your cat’s health. If you don’t believe me, there are lots of vets and other professionals out there who will tell you the same thing. Yes, it is still very controversial, but many feel the way mom and I do. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? Humans stay healthier when they eat whole, fresh, minimally processed food so why wouldn’t that apply to us cats? We’ll live longer, healthier lives if we eat a “species appropriate” diet.
You can read here how and why I came to be fed a raw diet. You’ll also find mom’s step-by-step instructions for making raw food using a grinder!
We mostly eat chicken because it is the least expensive meat available to us, but cats can eat game hens, chicken, quail, lamb, beef, pork, turkey, duck, fish, goat, venison, rabbit, mice, rats, eggs, and various organ meats. Most raw feeders recommend a varied diet. If you don’t want to actually make the food yourself, there are a few good raw pet food companies out there that offer many of these meats. I hope to be working with a couple of them soon and will be able to give you more information about them.
As good as raw meat is, whatever meat you feed will not have the same nutritional value as our natural pray, unless, of course, you plan to feed raw, whole mice. There are a few raw diet supplements that MUST be added to the raw meat for cats. Now neither I nor my mom is a vet, a nutritionist or a scientist. This information comes from other professionals in those fields. Following are the supplements mom adds to my raw chicken diet from Lisa Pierson, DVM at CatInfo.org.
- Taurine is probably the most important supplement. Taurine is an essential amino acid that cannot be synthesized in adequate quantities by the body so must be acquired through a cats diet. Without adequate taurine, kitties can go blind or suffer heart failure. Other symptoms include tooth decay and loss of fur. Taurine is found in all meat, especially the heart, and seafood but not in sufficient quantities for a raw diet.
- Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) which, as you probably know, are also very important for humans. The EPA fatty acid is an anti-inflammatory. It also promotes healthy skin and coat. DHA is important for brain and eye development. Early studies indicate that fish oil may slow the growth of cancer and is often recommended by vets for patients with cancer.
- Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found mainly in liver and animal fat. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed in the body with fat and excesses are stored in the liver and fat. An inadequate level of vitamin E leads to a syndrome known as the Brown Bowel Syndrome. Because fish contains very little vitamin E, cats fed predominantly fish can develop a syndrome called Yellow Fat Disease.
- Vitamin B complex includes a number of vitamins. Although most of these are found in meat and meat by-products, most of them are destroyed by cooking. Supplementing them in a raw diet is recommended as a deficiency in any of them can create a myriad of illnesses.
- Iodized salt, preferably LITE (reular salt is just sodium, LITE is sodium and potassium) provides the iodine required to prevent thyroid hyperplasia and goiter. Cats are sensitive to iodine and an excess can be toxic, so be sure to follow your recipe closely.
- Liver is added to the diet to provide vitamin A and D. The liver is a MUST add. Cats can’t synthesize vitamin A but must get it from the fat or liver of an animal that has already processed it. A vitamin A deficiency can cause conjunctivitis, cataracts, retinal degeneration and other eye problems, muscle weakness, reproductive abnormalities and weight loss. Vitamin D regulates the calcium and phosphorous levels in the bloodstream. A deficiency can result in abnormalities in skeletal development. Both vitamins A and D can be toxic to cats in excess so, again, be sure to follow your recipe.
- Bone meal, only if you aren’t grinding and including the bones. Bone meal replaces the calcium that would have come from including the bones.
And that’s it! Remember, it’s easier than you think. Click this link to see how easy it can be if you don’t use a grinder.
Mom orders our supplements from iHerb.com. They have great prices and fantastic customer service. If you order from this link, not only will you get to see the exact supplements we order from them but you will receive $5 off your first order ($10 off an order over $40) and I will receive a small commission.
Do your own research on this very important topic. There are many websites out there that can help you find just the right diet and recipe for your cats. Here are some of the sites we used to research this post:
Feline Nutrition Foundation
Raw Fed Cats
Homemade Cat Food and Raw Cat Food
Taurine Deficiency in Cats
Know Your Cat – Focus on Vitamins
Does Iodine Deficiency Cause Thyroid Disease in Cats?
Whew! I think mom is worn out from researching and writing this post. I know I’m ready for a snooze!
Have a great evening!