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Raw Diet for Cats: A Basic Guide

Updated: May 21, 2019

The intestinal tract of a cat controls their whole well-being and when they are being fed correctly they are in balance, change just one element and they can get really sick.

I get so many cries for help from pet parents whose cats have heath issues, such as constant diarrhea and vomiting. Perhaps just like me, you have been on a roller coaster ride of sick cats going from vet to vet who prescribe prescription foods and antibiotics only to have your furbabies get sicker.

Why is this happening?

The easiest way to think of it is like celiac disease in humans, where grain causes inflammation in cats. Antibiotics further compromise the good bacteria in the digestive tract, along with plant fiber and prescription foods that contain grains and cause further intestinal inflammation.

There are many benefits in switching your family to a raw diet, even if they are not displaying health problems today. Read my article about why I made the switch to raw and the benefits of going raw to learn more.

Vets and raw diets

Now you may be wondering if raw diets are so great, why aren't vets recommending them more often? I have cultivated a network of vets and after speaking with many on this subject I have discovered the main reason that they are not yet proponents of raw diets is simply that they do not know much about them.

Now add in that vets typically see the aftermath of raw diets gone wrong as pet parents rush in sick cats with severe constipation or obstructions requiring surgery.

Like doctors, vets can only recommend treatments that they personally have knowledge about and feel are safe. Most vets are similar to human general practitioners, they are only taught about commercial food in veterinary schools and do not learn nutrition. Raw food and general nutrition is covered only when a vet becomes a veterinary dietitian specialist in animal nutrition.

What are the health benefits of a Raw Diet

As documented by many Animal Nutritionists, a Raw food Diet can improve coat, tooth and gum health; as well as improve digestive function. Cats extract nutrients best from raw food as a Raw Diet closely mimics a natural diet. Heat during the processing of traditional pet foods kills probiotics and many vitamins while in a Raw Diet, these essential nutrients are not lost.

Optimal Nutritional Balance

Cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements. Dogs are Omnivores and adding fruits and vegetables is beneficial to their diets.

Cats are Carnivores!

Carnivores require more taurine which is an amino acid that is fundamental for maintaining healthy cats. Taurine effects everything from vision and hearing to heart and immune system functions. Unlike dogs, cats are unable to create taurine on their own and it must be acquired from the food they ingest. It is essential to provide an adequate amount of taurine in your cat’s raw diet.

The optimal nutritional balance of raw diets for cats

Which diet model is right for me?

Feeding raw properly can alleviate current health problems and reduce the risk of future health problems. Feeding raw incorrectly can make your pets sick and there is a lot of misinformation regarding raw diets for pets.

  1. no matter which diet you choose, read and follow all of the instructions properly. Do not skip steps, do not skip ahead. If the instructions say to use a ceramic plate, do not use a metal bowl. If the instructions say to transition over 2 months, do not stop feeling your cats commercial food the next day.

  2. transition slowly over time, this is a lifestyle change for both you and your pets. You can and will make your pets sick if you switch back and forth between commercial and raw. i'll cover this in more depth in my transition to raw article.

  3. if you have questions, ask for help and do your research. There are animal nutritionists specializing in raw diets. If there is something that you are unsure of, look into it.

Prepared Raw Food

Balance raw diets are not just about chopping meat up on a plate

Prepared ground raw diets come in several varieties both with and without bone supplements. I recommend complete diets (with supplements) when available, regardless of the bone content. Just remember take the total bone percent into consideration, especially if you feed your pets extra treats that contain bone often. Too much bone can make them sick or worse.

Personally, our family gets the necks and other chew-able bits of the animals and a custom grind which is made with lower bone, which is good for older cats. If you have concerns the best course of action is to ask the companies you are getting your meats and supplements from about the percentages and how to best adjust it for your furfamily's life stage and dietary needs.

Many companies now prepare and ship fresh frozen meats and raw meals already balanced for pets or offer supplements to balance amino acid and pre/probiotic enzymes. Supplements are offered separately from the fresh frozen foods so that the grinds can be adapted for dogs or cats. There are already a few reputable raw food companies for pets which offer prepackaged food today and more are likely to spring up in the future. The two that I have personally used in my journey and can recommend are:

Raw Feeding Miami not only offers a variety of meats and organs, they also offer an EZ Complete supplement mix that you can use with pre-ground meats when you are first getting started with raw diets. The great part about complete supplements is that most, if not all, of the required vitamins and supplements are in a single package. If you have multiple pets, or specific dietary needs then a complete supplement may not be the right choice for your family since you cannot control the bone percent.

When I started my switch to raw, I tried many different fresh frozen grinds as well as making some homemade options before I tried Darwin's Natural Pet Food select chicken. The select had no recalls that I could find, is frozen in convenient serving sizes and is closest in smell and texture to canned food. Darwin's select is nutritionally sound containing all the vitamins, minerals and pre/pro biotics that a raw diet needs. If you are not yet ready to attempt a DIY Raw recipe at home, then Darwin's is an excellent solution.

Sustainable Nutritionally Accurate Carnivore (SNAC) Diet

After my discussions with Animal Nutritionists, vets, breeders and raw food companies I've discovered that just like people, not all pets are the same and their diets shouldn't be either. I've developed the Sustainable Nutritionally Accurate Carnivore (SNAC) diet to be adjustable to meet your unique pet's dietary needs.

  • Sustainable - this is a lifestyle change for you and your pet

  • Nutritional - no fillers, no grains, nothing that you pet does NOT need

  • Accurate - adjustable to meet your pets needs regardless of breed or age

  • Carnivore - pets are carnivores and they like to snack

Feeding your cat a Sustainable Nutritionally Accurate Carnivore (SNAC) diet is excellent for their overall health and well being. Cats are designed to snack and this diet is modeled after the nutritional balance of the animal’s natural diet. Look for my SNAC sample diet recipe articles to use as a foundation for your transition to raw.

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