My cat Mia started having stomach issues suddenly for no apparent reason. Her stool was smelling and I’m not going to enter much more detail, but something was off. That made me start investigating different kinds of food, allergies, and how to better feed your cat. I switched to raw meat after all my research and the results couldn't be more encouraging.
I'm looking forward to sharing what I learned in the process.
Complete and balanced food for cats
Let’s start from the beginning. What does complete and balanced food mean? Simply, it means it meets the latest scientific standards. It is important because a diet too low or high in certain micronutrients, not to mention basic fat or protein levels, can have severe impacts on the long-term health of your dog or cat.
The standards include minimum amounts of total protein, minimum and maximum amounts of total fat, minimums, and sometimes maximums, for all the essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients such as choline and, for cats, taurine. Note that there are no standards for carbohydrates because carbohydrates are not necessary for dogs or cats.
While the American and European standards are similar for minimum requirements, they differ in maximums or legal limits, with the European standards providing legal limits on more nutrients than do the American standards.
In the US the standard is AAFCO and in Europe it’s FEDIAF. Every food we feed our cats should be following the nutrient standards. The way to know if our food does it’s because the labels say something like “Formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO/FEDIAF”.
Is Raw Food good for cats?
Note that I'm not a veterinarian or a nutritional expert. All the information on this blog is based on personal experience.
Said this, as I don’t have formal training in cat nutrition I had to go to the experts! I want to share with you 2 things before we go into the topic:
- Googling stuff is not doing research, it’s called “confirmation bias”. Google, by default, serves you what you want to read so if you search for “raw food good for cats” you’ll find articles matching your opinion. The same goes with “raw food bad for cats”. To get an unbiased opinion, we have to go to research with medical evidence, which takes me to the 2nd point.
- To grade medical evidence, there must first be an understanding of the different types of studies that are published.
- A case-control study identifies patients that have an outcome of interest (cases) and patients without the same outcome (controls)
- A case series study is an examination of a series of patients with an outcome of interest. There is no control group.
- A randomized controlled clinical trial involves participants that are randomly allocated to an experimental group or a control group followed by assessing the outcome of interest.
- Finally, a systematic review or meta-analysis, that creates a summary of medical literature
- Studies are graded as evidence levels 1 very high (with several studies leading to similar conclusions) to 5 the lowest (include expert opinion without explicit critical appraisal).
There are no published level 1, 2, or 3 studies on nutritional risks or benefits of raw meat feeding to cats or dogs. This means that there’s very little we know yet about feeding raw…
Since cats are obligate carnivores, their digestive systems are adapted specifically for a meat-based diet. The cat's digestive tract is short and moves raw food, flesh, and bone, quickly which protects them from bacteria the raw flesh might contain. Also, their gut is very acidic, with a Ph OF 1.5-2, which destroys bacteria. Because their digestive track is designed for raw food, their stool it’s going to be smaller and less smelly, which does not happen with kibble or wet food because those foods contain a lot of carbohydrates that cats are not good at processing, that are going to go out in form of waste.
I have a video packed with information that can help you get a little more in-depth on the topic:
DARWIN's PROMOTIONAL CODE! https://bit.ly/3DnZNh8
Keep your cats WILD & SAFE! See you outdoors!!
Website with MANY resources - from an introduction to a raw diet to recipes for a homemade diet and much more: https://feline-nutrition.org
What cats would be eating in depth from Dr. Lisa Pierson: https://catinfo.org
Debunking some myths about the dangers of raw food for cats from Dr. Jean Hofve: https://littlebigcat.com/avma-vs-raw-...
Great info from. great source - Dr. Karen Becker: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites...
Raw food diets in companion animals: A critical review *Daniel P. Schlesinger and Daniel J. Joffe https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3003575/
More info on raw food for cats from Tracy Dion: https://catcentric.org
Feline pansteatitis revisited: hazards of unbalanced home-made diets. Niza MM, Vilela CL, Ferreira LM