A raw food diet usually includes raw muscle meat, organ meat, and ground bones. It also can contain vegetables, fruits, and some dairy. The most common proteins in cat raw food are chicken, egg, and fish. Although raw diets may seem to resemble a wild diet it may not be suitable for our domestic cats and dogs who often have a much longer life expectancy than their "wild ancestors".
Myths about Raw Diets
1. Many people believe raw chicken, fish and eggs have more protein and higher nutrient content and that the cooking process reduces those nutrients, but this isn’t true
2. Better digestibility is another perceived benefit of raw diets. This has not been proven by any scientific studies, in fact, some cooking processes may even make certain foods more digestible and nutrients more available than they were raw.
3. Claim health benefits such as improved digestion, firmer stool, healthier skin and coats, and nutrition more akin to the “wild diet,” very few of these claims are supported by published research.
When choosing a diet, it’s essential to look for formulas that are complete and balanced. Although commercially prepared raw food diets may be complete and balanced, the raw food prepared at home probably won’t be. If you are considering feeding raw food, we want to make sure your pet is getting all the nutrients they need through both their food and supplements. If not, cats are at a higher risk of developing nutrient deficiencies, like thiamine, which can affect nerve, brain and metabolism function. Nutrient deficiencies in both cats and dogs can also affect bone health and development.
Are Raw Foods Safe?
- Any bones not completely ground up could cause intestinal blockages or even lacerations.
- Risk of nutrient deficiencies
- More likely to be contaminated with harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria. These food-borne pathogens can cause a variety of problems, including diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases, the results can be fatal. These bacteria aren’t just a risk for your pets, they also pose a threat to you and your entire family.
Your pets can spread the bacteria from food either by grooming/licking and then interacting with you or through feces. Reduce the spread of bacteria by using gloves when handling the raw food and thoroughly cleaning the prep surfaces.
This link goes over what percentage of each type of food makes up a raw diet.
I personally do not feed my dogs or cats raw food diets because of the risks of nutrient deficiencies and illnesses, but what you feed your pet is ultimately a personal choice. I recommend talking with your Veterinarian and RVT if a raw diet is something you are thinking about implementing or want more information about.