What to feed your cat can be one of the most important decisions you make in the health and well-being of your feline family member. Cats are obligate carnivores
, which means they are especially adapted to a diet consisting of the flesh of other creatures. They are uniquely equipped to eat a diet of small prey and they evolved to eat this diet raw.
Cats have no dietary requirement for carbohydrates
. Period. They evolved to get almost all of their fluid intake from the food they eat. A mouse, a typical prey food, is about 70% water. Dry kibble
food contains far too much carbohydrates and far too little moisture to be an appropriate food for cats.
There are many ways to feed a bio-appropriate raw diet to your cat. You can make your own ground raw meat diets at home or buy commercially ground meat/bone/organ mixes especially made for pets. You can buy commercially prepared complete diets that are available frozen or dehydrated. You can feed whole meat cuts or small, whole prey foods. Many people feed a combination of some or all of these.
If you and your cats are new to raw meat diets, transitioning is the next step. Whether this is fast or slow depends on your cat's particular situation. Many cats take to a raw meat diet right away. Making the change is worth it, the benefits are tremendous for your cat and for you.
Beginner's Luck: Where Do I Start?
Congratulations on taking the first step towards feeding your cat a healthier diet. Just making the decision to change what you feed your cat can be the hardest part. For many people, realizing that a cat should be fed a diet closer to what it evolved eating is a complete shift in thinking. Frankly, it's empowering to take control of what goes into your cat. It's also a bit of a relief. No more mystery ingredients. No more worrying about what "by-products" really means. You now get to skip an entire aisle at the grocery store, well, except maybe to get the kitty litter. You'll join the ever-growing cadre of cat parents who can't believe they ever fed their cats any other way.
But, now that you've made the decision, what next? A lot depends on where...
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Just What is a Raw Meat Diet, Anyway?
All cats, small or large, are true carnivores, obligate carnivores. This means they must eat meat to survive. Cats cannot be vegetarians. Because they evolved to fill this top predator niche, their bodies are specifically geared for processing a prey-based diet. This is as true for a tiger as it is for the cat on your lap.
Raw feeding is a way to feed cats a more natural diet. By natural we mean bio-appropriate.
A diet that fits their true nutritional requirements. The benefits to your cat are enormous. And it isn't hard at all. Raw diets can be readily purchased frozen at the more enlightened pet stores, purchased online and delivered right to your door, or if you are a do-it-yourselfer, it can also be made at home. See "Making Raw Cat Food For Do It Yourselfers
Read more: Just What is a Raw Meat Diet, Anyway?
Your Cat's Nutritional Needs: The Basics
This article discusses the basic nutritional needs of your cat. Many nutrients have been studied individually in a clinical setting — in fact, they're examined more individually than in the food they came from. This is unfortunate because it's important to remember that the essential building blocks of health aren't isolated in nature. Whole foods contain a complex blend of synergistic compounds that work together to support optimal well-being. While that may sound complicated, it really isn't — if you simply use species-appropriate real food as the foundation for health.
One of the great things about feeding our cats a well-prepared diet of real food is that it's chock-full of all the nutrients we know are important to feline health. Plus, we're also including natural nutrients that have yet to be...
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The Benefits of a Raw Meat Diet for Your Cat
Cats are predators. They evolved eating a prey based diet, and more importantly, eating that diet raw. Cooking degrades nutrients in meat, causing losses of vitamins, minerals and amino acids
Meat used in highly processed pet food is cooked at high temperatures and the nutrients lost must then be added back in. This supplementation is not exact, and there are nutrient losses which aren't always replaced.
Cats in the wild eat often eat the entire prey animal if it is small and will eat nearly everything except the intestines of a larger prey animal. This includes the bones of their prey, as raw bone is highly digestible and is their primary source of calcium. Cooking bone not only reduces the nutrients available but also makes the bone...
Read more: The Benefits of a Raw Meat Diet for Your Cat
Care to Compare? Wild vs. Domesticated Prey
Cats evolved eating wild prey animals, but now we feed them mostly domesticated and farmed meats. The differences between domesticated food animals and prey animals are especially important for raw feeders, who are trying to mimic the diet that cats evolved eating. Even if one can feed the entire domesticated animal, including the nutrient-dense parts of the prey animal, such as the blood, plasma, tongue, pituitary, adrenals, prostate, brains, eyes and testes, the nutrient content would not match the nutrient content of the wild prey. The differences would be large: domesticated animals have less protein
, more fat, often with an unhealthy balance, fewer minerals and fewer antioxidants.
Pastured and free-range animals, while better than feed-lot fed animals, still have...
Read more: Care to Compare? Wild vs. Domesticated Prey
How to Transition Your Cat to a Raw Meat Diet
Transitioning a cat to a raw diet is something that the majority of us will have to do until the time comes when people grab a kitten from its mother's teat and start raw feeding from the beginning! But in the meantime, it's a major issue in the raw feeding movement. This step-by-step approach, and patience, will work for nearly every cat.
Kittens need no transition; they take to raw food like ducks to water. Special kitten food is not necessary. They eat the same food as adult cats, just more of it and more often. Kittens need about twice as much food per ounce of body weight as an adult. All that growing to do! Their stomachs are small, so they need to eat more often than adults, about every 4 to 6 hours. If you're getting a kitten(s), ...
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Easy Raw Diet Feeding for the Busy Person
There are now many easy raw-feeding choices for the person on-the-go. In stores and on the internet, you can purchase frozen complete diets, frozen ground meat/bone/organ mixes and pre-mixed supplements that you just add to raw meat. There are a few national brands, and many smaller, regionally available products that make it easy to feed raw. It's as simple as thawing and serving.
We discuss some specific products here, but there are many others, with more being added all the time as demand for easy-to-feed raw foods increases. Feeding complete foods is probably the most convenient, but it can be more expensive and it gives you the least control over what ingredients are used. Finding a producer whose product you trust, and who uses quality ingredients is very...
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Spooked By Salmonella: Raw Food!
You may have concerns when considering a raw meat diet for your cat. What about bones, parasites and proper nutrients? Most especially, what about pathogens such as salmonella? We have all been warned our entire lives about cooking meat thoroughly. The idea of feeding uncooked meat to our cats can seem scary at first. Isn't feeding a raw meat diet dangerous?
Not at all. People from all over the world are feeding their pets raw meat diets. The risk from pathogens and parasites is minimal if you follow safe handling procedures and are careful about sourcing the products you feed your cats, just as you would with foods intended for your own consumption. Cats eating a wild, prey-based diet routinely eat raw bone; it is a vital part of a natural diet. Cats...
Read more: Spooked By Salmonella: Raw Food!
Making Raw Cat Food for Do-It-Yourselfers
Making your own ground raw cat food at home gives you the most control over what goes into your cat's food, allowing you to select the meats and supplements you use. It is also the most economical way to feed a raw diet. It takes a little time and some equipment, but it's worth it.
Depending on your available freezer space and the number of cats you are preparing food for, you should only have to make food every two to four weeks. Once you do it a few times, you'll realize how easy it is. If you're organized, you can easily make 15 pounds of food in about an hour and a half, including clean-up. Following is an overview of what equipment you'll need to get started, what meats and supplements you’ll need, a recipe to follow, average costs and some...
Read more: Making Raw Cat Food for Do-It-Yourselfers