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.
Transitioning Your Dog to a Raw Dog Food Diet
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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15 thoughts on “Raw Food Diet for Cats – Safety First”
Great post! So nice to see that others out there are constantly looking for ways to improve their felines’ health. My cats have suffered from digestive issues for a few months now and you’ve got me wondering if perhaps a raw diet is the answer. Thanks for the post Jeanne!
I’m not in a position to answer your question as to whether or not your cats would benefit from a raw food diet, but I sure am glad you took the time to read the post. Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂
Excellent post. I have been considering it, but I do worry about bacteria and I am too lazy to prepare that much raw food ( 13 cats worth).
13 cats! Holy moly! That’s so cool. I had 13 cats at one time too and it was a blast. I loved every minute of it. I wouldn’t dream of preparing that much raw cat food either. I’m not that ambitious. Thanks for visiting my site. Take care, and have fun with those cats.
Thanks Ellen. It certainly would be time consuming preparing raw food for 13 cats — we had to buy a second freezer to accomodate the cat’s raw food.
I wash my hands a lot while handing his raw food and we put his dishes in the dishwasher and we’ve never had any problems!
Your tenacious little terrier is a lucky boy! You’re such a good mom. Thanks for that. 🙂 And thanks for your comment.
Good food handling practices are so important when preparing raw – we wash our hands multiple times throughout the process too.
If I had a cat now I would feed it a raw diet,this is great info,xx Rachel
I’m glad you stopped by and took the time to read this post, little rabbit. You’re lucky you get to eat raw salad! Have fun!
Thank you for this sensible post addressing common health concerns and how to be cognizant of them (and for not throwing vets under the bus for having those concerns!) This is the way to open these conversations.
Thanks for your comment, Dr. V. I would never consider throwing vets under a bus. They’re too valuable! I’m glad you stopped by. I’m going to go visit your site now. Take care, and hope you’ll come back sometime. Peace.
Thanks Dr V – I believe in a balanced view of controversial topics and respect our vet’s opinion, even though we don’t always see things from the same perspective. Raw feeding has made such a huge difference to the health and quality of life of our IBD cat, it was the right decision for us.
Fantastic post! Thank you for expanding the conversation around raw feeding. 🙂
You’re welcome, Bernard. Thank you for stopping by my blog! 🙂