Raw Food Diet for Cats
Have you thought about transitioning to a raw food diet for cats, but have concerns about safety and bacterial risk?
Raw feeding is a controversial topic; it’s also still relatively new. A raw food diet can help a pet with health conditions such as allergies and digestive problems but most veterinarians are more likely to recommend commercial pet food brands that they know before anything else. It seems that mentioning a raw food diet to a vet is like raising a red flag – which is perfectly understandable when you think about the animals they may have seen in the clinic and treated for bacterial infections or nutritional deficiencies.
Like anything, if you plan to feed your cat a raw food diet you need to do your research and make sure you take necessary precautions to reduce any risk. The last thing you want is to make your beloved pet sick.
There are 4 basic safety concerns in a raw food diet for cats:
- Bacteria – The biggest bacterial risks are from salmonella and e-coli, so make sure you only buy raw meat from reputable sources and follow safe meat handling procedures. We always buy organic human-grade meat from our local butcher.
- Parasites –Toxoplasmosis (from venison, pork, and lamb), and trichinosis (from pork and game meats) can be present in raw meats so make sure you freeze for at least 4 weeks to kill parasites.
- Bones – Think about the type of prey your cat would eat in the wild (e.g. mouse or bird) and just make sure that any bones you feed your cat as part of a raw food diet are small enough so that they can’t choke on them. Never feed cooked bones as these can splinter once swallowed and cause serious internal damage.
- Nutritional Deficiencies – Cats have strict nutritional requirements, so it’s vital that you get the balance right. Make sure you use a balanced raw recipe from a trusted source such as a holistic vet and supplement the food as instructed.
Handling Raw Meat Safely
These are our top tips to ensure safety comes first when preparing raw food for your pets:
- Only use fresh meat from sources you know and trust.
- If you are feeding ground raw meat, buy a grinder and grind it yourself to reduce the bacterial risk.
- Wash your hands regularly – use hot water and soap and scrub your hands before and after you handle raw meat.
- Wash everything that comes into contact with raw meat thoroughly – chopping boards, knives, bowls, and kitchen countertops. You can use hot soapy water followed by disinfectant (1 tablespoon bleach to 4 cups water) or run items through the dishwasher.
- In the freezer, ensure raw meat is wrapped and separate from other foods.
- Defrost raw meat slowly in the fridge when you’re ready to use it, never leave raw meat out to defrost at room temperature.
- Plastic feeding bowls can harbor bacteria, so ensure you only feed your pet in stainless steel or glass bowls.
Preparing a raw food diet is not difficult but there is a small learning curve. Being aware of the potential safety risks gives you the knowledge you need to embrace raw feeding and prepare meals for your pets safely.
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