Every cat owner wants the best for their furry feline friend. As a pet owner, one of the most valuable things you can do for your cat’s overall health is feeding her a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet.
From dry food to wet food, there are a lot of options when it comes to pet food. Add raw food to the mix, and there’s even more to consider! Raw diets have been increasing in popularity for dogs and cats alike, stemming from the belief that domestic pets should be eating the same type of food as their ancestors and wild counterparts.
A dietary change isn’t something that should be taken lightly, though. If you’re considering raw food for your cat, take some time to do the necessary research. After all, successful raw diets for pets require a lot of time, careful planning, and commitment.
What is a Raw Diet?
A raw diet is designed to mimic the diet of a wild cat, consisting of foods that your cat would be eating if she were hunting for her own food.
Sometimes referred to as the BARF diet (bones and raw food, or biologically appropriate raw food), a raw diet is typically made up of uncooked animal products—muscle meat, organs, and bones—and supplements. Chicken, fish, and eggs are the most common raw foods for cats, but other meats can also be included in a raw diet.
Because cats are obligate carnivores, animal protein is a crucial ingredient in any type of diet, cooked or raw. A healthy cat diet consists of animal protein, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and plenty of water. Carbohydrates and vegetables can be beneficial in moderation, but are not necessary for cats.
Raw food for cats can be prepared at home (with gloves and plenty of sanitation); there are also commercial raw food options for cats for those whose lifestyle may not be not compatible with the work required for preparing a raw diet.
Benefits of Raw Food for Cats
There are a few reasons one may consider implementing a raw diet for their cat. Many supporters of raw food diets cite health benefits including:
- Weight management due to fewer carbs
- Healthy skin and a shiny coat
- Improved dental health
- Encouraged hydration
- Overall health improvements
Some pet owners also prefer raw food for cats because they like the idea of knowing exactly what ingredients are being consumed. Plus, they don’t have to worry about commercial pet food recalls.
Is Raw Food Worth It?
If done correctly, a raw diet could very well be good for your cat. This doesn’t mean you can simply toss any meat and bones at your cat and call it good—any raw food fed to your cat should be part of a carefully designed recipe approved by a veterinary nutritionist. In fact, an imbalance raw diet could potentially lead to health issues, which defeats the purpose altogether.
If you’re thinking about switching your cat to a raw diet, consider the following:
Feeding your cat a raw diet requires consistency. If you go on vacation, will someone be able to provide your cat with the same diet while you’re gone? Keep in mind that an abrupt change to dry food, even if temporary, could result in digestive issues.
Making and properly storing your own cat food can be expensive and time-consuming. For this reason, many raw diet supporters make big batches of food at a time and freeze it.
Raw food can be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli. Not only could this pose health concerns for your cat, but it could also cause exposure risks for other members of your household.
A proper raw diet must have the right balance of ingredients, vitamins and minerals included, in order to avoid nutritional deficiencies or health issues… hence the appeal of ready-to-eat commercial cat food.
A raw diet isn’t right for every cat. Some cats with underlying health issues may have difficulty digesting raw food; other picky eaters may simply prefer their usual kibble and/or wet food.
You would also have to be cautious when it comes to bones; bones that are not ground could be harmful to your cat as they could be choking hazards or lead to intestinal damage.
While it may seem intuitive to mimic a wild cat’s diet, a raw diet may not be appropriate for your domestic cat. After all, there’s a reason why domestic cats have longer lifespans.
Ultimately, the choice to switch to a raw diet is up to you. However, there are several viable options that can work for you and your cat—a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is still possible with commercial cat food. If you do decide to make the switch, be sure to talk to your vet beforehand.
Whether you opt for a raw food diet or a commercial cat food diet, boost your cat’s health with PetHonesty’s cat supplements: Lysine-Immune Health+ For Cats, and Digestive Probiotics+ Powder For Cats.