While a raw diet for dogs is becoming fashionable, plenty of raw-fed dogs live with kibble-fed cats. Many people think that because they are smaller, cats can’t eat a raw diet – but how many cat owners have been horrified by their feline’s finest gift of a dead bird / mouse / frog? So not only can your cat eat raw, most of them are trying to do it themselves!
Biologically Appropriate Raw Food – BARF – is perfect for cats who, by definition, are obligate carnivores. The word “obligate” means they have to eat meat in order to get the correct nutrients for optimum health, and yet most brand name cat food has very little meat content, and it is usually a derivative rather than chunks of meat. A raw food diet therefore satisfies a cat’s primal need for meat naturally.
One of the most vital nutrients for cats is taurine, and a deficiency will cause a long list of health complaints including blindness, neurological issues, heart problems, and even death if untreated. Yet ironically cats have evolved to stop producing taurine for themselves and so rely on getting it from their food. This essential amino acid is lost during the cooking part of manufactured cat food and has to be artificially reintroduced. However the darker meat, as well as organs such as liver and heart of a raw diet, are a rich source of taurine.
Fat vs Obesity
Cats require a relatively high fat diet, typically 20-25% fat content. While trying to prevent cat obesity, many owners opt for a low-fat kibble, however this can lead to a catch 22 situation where the cat overeats in order to get enough fat in her diet. A healthy raw diet will satisfy the cat’s craving for fat without putting on excess weight with carbohydrates.
Cats also don’t have a thirst drive and often won’t drink plain water. Therefore feeding a cat dry food, which dehydrates them further, can lead to a number of health issues including urinary tract infections and renal failure. Offering milk won’t work either, as most cats are unable to digest lactose shortly after weaning. A raw diet will provide a cat with enough moisture through the food even if she doesn’t drink naturally.
Ditch the Carbs
Being obligate carnivores, cats have no biological need for carbohydrates, such as cereals and grains. Kibble will always be bound together by carbohydrates, which can often cause digestive disorders as they struggle to process the carbs. A raw diet for cats will only consist of meat, bone and offal, all of which a cat can digest easily.
Just like dogs, cats enjoy a raw bone to chew on. Offer chicken wing tips, day-old-chicks or sprats to give your cat something to get his teeth into, or a raw egg over his food for an extra treat.
A Fishy Question
While many cats like fish, it’s best to keep this to an occasional treat rather than feed it every day as it can often have high concentrations of heavy metals and other contaminants. A raw meat diet with an occasional fish supper will give your cat a healthy balance.
We offer three brands of raw cat food – Unique Raw, Purrform and RudyRaw – to give your cat a purrfect balance, so why not try a raw diet for your cat today?