Is Raw Cat Food Safe?
Many concerned pet owners wonder whether it is safe for cats to eat raw food, and whether it is safe for humans to handle it.
Cats are obligate carnivores, and have evolved to get their nourishment from meat, not plants, grains or carbohydrates. Feline stomachs differ significantly from humans, in that they have a higher acid pH level and a shorter gastrointestinal tract. This makes them significantly less vulnerable to most types of food-borne bacteria.
The Importance of a Raw Diet to Your Cat’s Overall Health
Cats’ natural digestive systems are designed for a diet that is rich in protein, high in moisture and low in carbohydrates. In the wild, cats eat mice, rats, rabbits, birds and insects. They eat the muscle meat of this prey, together with skin, hair, bones and organs. Similar to domestic cats, lions and tigers live on a wide variety of prey. Once they have caught their food, they eat the whole animal: meat, bones, skin, fur and organs. This is a true “balanced” diet. Cat’s nutritional needs are no different from their wild relatives. Cats that live on a raw food diet also require less drinking water, since they get a lot of the fluid intake from their raw food.
Pet owners are often worried about salmonella. Feline digestive system is designed to cope with harmful bacteria such as salmonella, as they have evolved to eat raw meat in the wild. Feline digestive tract is short and acidic, which doesn’t allow bacteria to multiply. However, salmonella is dangerous to humans, and it is essential to follow safe raw meat handling guidelines, the same way we handle raw meat for human consumption (i.e. washing hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, cleaning all surfaces that came in contact with raw meat)
Why We Don’t Use Grains
Cats are not natural vegetarians; grains have no place in their diet, they are designed to eat raw meat. Because grains are very cost-effective, many commercial cat food brands contain grains as filler. However, grains have no nutritional value to cats. Felines have evolved to survive in the wild by eating raw prey. A complete and balanced raw food diet rich in protein is species and biologically appropriate.
Contrary to stereotype, you should not feed your cat raw fish on a regular basis. Raw fish can contain bacteria that are harmful to your cat and enzymes that destroy Vitamin E; plus fish has a strong taste that can be addictive.
Safe Handling of Raw Cat Food
You should learn how to handle raw cat food safely, from buying to storing to serving. This is no different to how you would handle raw meat you would eat yourself.
Always store the food safely in our pre-packaged vacuum sealed pouches in your freezer. Defrost two portions of the food overnight in the fridge. Make sure your cat’s feeding bowl is clean before serving and wash your hands, all utensils and the preparation area thoroughly afterwards. Do not leave uneaten food out for more than 1 hour and discard any leftovers. Keep small children away from the raw food, the preparation area and utensils used.
Do not eat the raw food yourself and do not cook the food before feeding it to your cat. Cooking will remove many of the nutrients, minerals, vitamins and amino acids making it harder for your cat to get the benefits from the raw diet.
Gates, Margaret. “Just What Is a Raw Meat Diet, Anyway?” Feline Nutrition, 2015.