A raw diet closely mimics the natural diet of cats and dogs. Heat during the processing of traditional pet foods kills probiotics and many vitamins. In A raw diet, these Essential Nutrients are not lost. Cats and dogs extract nutrients best from Raw Food. According to many veterinarians, raw diets can improve coat, tooth and gum health; as well as, improve digestive function.
Prey Model Diet
Feeding a prey model diet is excellent for your Cats & Dogs. This diet is modeled after the nutritional balance of the animal’s natural diet. Some natural nutrients must be added back into the prepared raw food. These are pre/probiotics and enzymes that are naturally present in the digestive tract of p
Optimal Nutritional Balance
For cats, a raw diet with optimal nutritional balance is composed of…
6% Edible Bones
5% Other organs(Kidneys, Heart…)
Importance of Taurine
Taurine is an amino acid that is fundamental for maintaining a cats health. Taurine consumption effects everything from vision and hearing to heart and immune system functioning. Cats are not able to create Taurine on their own unlike Dogs. Taurine must be acquired from the food a cat ingests. It is essential to provide an adequate amount of taurine in your cat’s raw diet. Muscle meat provides a high level of Taurine(especially hearts).
Importance of Fat
It is important to provide enough fat in raw diets for both cats and dogs. Fat provides essential omega-fatty acids, which promote coat and skin health. It is also vital for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Transitioning to Raw Diet
It is important to transition your pet to a raw diet slowly. This allows your pet to develop the digestive enzymes, Good Bacterium and higher Stomach Acid naturally present in wild cats and dogs. A higher level of these digestive enzymes raises the acidity of the animal’s stomach. Any Bad Bacterium that may be present in prey meat is unable to survive at such pH levels and is therefore killed upon ingestion. This is what allows wild cats and dogs to eat raw meat without the risk of disease such as salmonella.
Most raw bones are consumed without problems. Too much bone in the diet can cause constipation or even impaction (needing veterinary intervention). Introduce slowly for system to get used to working correctly – remember the digestive tract needs time to build up natural higher stomach acid and balanced flora and enzymes.
Bones that can be problematic:
Pork bones are brittle and can splinter easily
All cooked bones are dangerous
Hollow wing bones should be introduced carefully
Many supplements are meant to be added to ground meat without bone. They make supplements to be used with ground bone too.
Check – too much calcium can cause constipation and other health issues – if in doubt ASK!!
Whole Prey Model Diet
Remember when processed the digestive tract is washed out, this also washes out key enzymes and pre/probiotics, It is important to replace what has been removed.
There are many complete supplements on the market that replace and balance the missing nutrients needed for a healthy diet.
Another aspect of prey model diets is for feathers, feet and beaks. All these parts are becoming easiest to find frozen and ready to feed.
Companies that use the complete animal prepare these parts which would normally be discarded – in nature no part is discarded.
The most noticeable benefits include strong and clean teeth and fresh breath – this eliminates costly dental bills.
Higher energy levels.
Healthy and efficient intestinal tract.
Many allergies, asthma, diarrhea/vomiting and other common health problems are eliminated once transitioned to a raw diet-
This transition should be done slowly to give the system time to learn to work efficiently again after commercial food which is easy but that ease also puts the system out of balance – lower stomach acid, lower natural good pre/probiotics, intestinal inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, and diabetes from plant matter.
Cats are carnivores!!!
Their systems are extremely efficient to allow them extract the most from a raw diet – even water is best absorbed this way – but always provide fresh water at all times.
Commercial food is cooked
This destroys live enzymes, amino acids, vitamins,
Grains used as filler cause intestinal inflammation even grain free use plant based protein as binders – not all protein is the same and cats cannot utilize these plant proteins well.
Raw and meaty bones from small animals (rabbits) and birds contain many essential minerals, amino acids and fatty acid as well as the chewing of these bones strengthen the teeth and gums naturally.
Commercial foods like to claim dry food will clean the teeth – it does not.
What To Feed
Many companies now prepare and ship fresh frozen foods balanced or offering a supplement to add in to balance the enzymes, Amino Acids and pre/probiotics. The companies that offer the supplements separately do this so the grinds can be adapted for dogs or cats. Ground meaty bone in pieces should be added to these ground diets to maintain strong clean teeth.
Raw feeding allows you to control their nutrition – it is also less expensive in many ways – from the diet itself to the savings in less vet visits, especially expensive dental visits.
Cats have a very acidic stomach environment-this higher acid kills Bacteria that would be harmful to humans.
It is important to feed parasite free food. Just to be on the safe side routine fecal tests are run(just drop sample at the vet)so far all have been negative.
I DO NOT FEED RAW PORK!!!
Toxoplasmosis- The risk of infection from a cat is minimal- easier to contract from unwashed fruits and vegetables than from scooping the litter box(you would need to ingest the mature eggs if any were present) My cats have always tested negative for this parasite-If positive it is easy to treat.
Freezing meats for 72hrs kills the eggs that carry Toxoplasmosis so the Raw diet you put out will be safe to touch.
Freezing for at least 72 hrs does kill most parasites but not bacteria.
Buying Whole Birds/Rabbits/Cuts of Beef is Safer.
Human grade meats should be devoid of bacteria, however recalls occur constantly from improper raising and slaughter practices.
Do Not Buy Grocery Store Ground Meats
Fresh or Frozen
Both are risky since there is an expectation of cooking before consumption to kill off bacteria and pathogens.
Meat ground for Raw Pet Diets are frozen Immediately after Grinding and tested throughout batches for quality and safety. In many ways their food preparation has better control than ours.
Cats naturally have a higher Acidic Digestive system-this protects them and in the wild allows them to even eat carrion-coupled with a shorter digestive tract(13hrs vs Our almost 40hrs)
Reputable Butchers and Raw Diet Providers use safe handling practices of all products-After researching this I feel they eat better and safer than we do!
Gastrointestinal issues not resolved by veterinarians
Cancer – carbohydrates which break down into sugar are linked to many illnesses, including cancer
Cats are carnivores. They have evolved to NOT require or be able to break down sugars!! Cheaper than canned/dry food
This is a very important part of your cats diet. As a concentrated source of energy it also provides essential fatty acids that are crucial in the ability to absorb many nutrients (A, B, E, K…) These are saturated fats found in Animal/Bird sources(plants are primarily polyunsaturated fat)
GOOD FATS/OILS Comprised of FATTY ACIDS-
Omega 3 Fatty Acid
Omega 6 Fatty Acid
These are all found in Real Food/Prey Model Diets
Proteins found in muscle provides Amino Acids and are needed for the body to manufacture Antibodies, Enzymes, Hormones, tissue regeneration, and proper system balance
Protein to be complete must include Essential Amino Acids found in
Plant Protein can not be substituted to provide these as well as essential Taurine
Arginine which is present in raw meat is crucial in the manufacture of enzymes that the liver uses to remove toxins- Eating just one meal deficient in this can cause a build up of ammonia, Drooling, Vomiting, Lethargy
Vitamin E cannot be absorbed without being eaten with Saturated animal fat.
Raw Bones provide not only Calcium but minerals, Enzymes and the marrow is nutrient rich.
Not much fish is added to their diet-some wild caught salmon or sardines can add extra omega fatty acids.
Fish can be contaminated with PCBS and other Heavy metals
Since a Raw diet contains no fillers, whether homemade or pre-ground and supplemented with necks and other meaty bones for strong teeth- It is much cheaper than the canned/bagged commercial food –add in the lower veterinary visits and overall health benefits too.
Prepared Ground Raw diets come in several varieties- with or with out bone as well as with or without supplements(pre/probiotics…) I recommend complete diets if available- Also with or without bone-if you are feeding extra items with bone it is important to consider this-too much can cause severe constipation!!!!
We feed necks and other parts- a custom grind is made with lower bone(this is also better for older cats) Best to ask the company the percentage and how to best adjust it. This is not difficult just needs to be considered when planning a Raw Diet.
If you Use a Boneless grind you can adjust the amount of Bone Meal Powder/Egg shell Powder you put in(normal is 1000-1200mg per pound of meat)
Most Cats prefer food at body temp-you cannot heat especially microwave since this will cook and destroy all the nutrients. We put it out fully thawed from the refrigerator. Some will eat it cold, warm and even sat all day. It’s OK to leave out all day or all night-weird since we are programmed to put meat and poultry into the refrigerator at lightning speed.
Another interesting observation was my cats prefer food served on plates not in bowls- Glass or China is best (plastic can harbor Bacteria in Scratches and Paper absorbs moisture). Restaurant supply sells plates and platters(bowls for dogs) very inexpensively by the dozen.
Most Cats transitioning to raw will not understand a plate of meat especially a plate of bone in meat.
Begin slowly- put out a balanced grind and ½ portion of their usual food on the same plate, if they eat dry sprinkle a little on the grind but only a little. Most cats are given both wet and dry food, if your cat eats dry only this process will take longer but will happen. After trying many different fresh frozen grinds as well as making some homemade options I tried www.Darwinspet.com select chicken (the select had no recalls that I could find). This comes frozen in convenient serving sizes and is closest in smell and texture to canned food. It is nutritionally sound containing all the vitamins, minerals and pre/Pro biotics
A great first food while you transition and many stay with this just supplementing Necks and other bone in meats and organs(heart, kidney, stomach-not liver since its already in the grind).
I do not like the cold turkey method with cats, unlike dogs they will starve themselves rather than give in which can cause health issues(fatty liver…) A few of my older cats, 10+ years, took a full 3 months to make the full transition- Yes it was worth it.
Raw can sit out 8-12hrs easily, so do not worry if the plate at breakfast is not consumed- sprinkle a few more pieces of dry or dehydrated salmon or chicken and leave. This is also when I changed all the treats over to healthy options(after reading a package of Whiskers with unspecified fat I was thoroughly disgusted to learn “unspecified Fat/Protein… means euthanized Pets) These and all items containing unspecified ingredients were promptly discarded.
Remember you are doing this for a healthier cat. Don’t get discouraged, some change over very fast especially if they are food motivated.
Begin putting less canned and more grind- soon they will be on Raw grind only and either dehydrated treats sprinkled or dry food on top-if still using dry food begin less and more of the healthy dehydrated treats(these are real pieces of meat or fish just dehydrated) I always put some dehydrated chicken around the plate to soak up and juices during the day. As raw sits blood will pool as it comes to room/body temperature- having this delicious sponge keeps the food fresher.
Time to start introducing raw chicken necks-These are both delicious, nutritious and most important essential for strong gums and Pearly white teeth.
To prevent choking and encouraging chewing cut the necks on the bias in ¼- ½ inch slices(poultry shears make this easy)- Buy fresh chicken necks and prepare these slices in large batches, then freeze on cookie sheets-once frozen they will not stick together and can be stored in freezer bags or containers for ease of use- just take out a few at a time and thaw overnight in the fridge.
As your cats becomes familiar with eating these slices and more important, chewing, you can just cut the necks lengthwise to serve. Remember necks contain added bone and should be carefully considered as to not cause constipation in your cat.
This is also a good time to introduce hearts, gizzards and other tidbits usually found in the bag inside a chicken(not the liver since they are already having plenty of A vitamin in the grind)
Many cats do not take to these easily but cutting up into treat sized pieces offering a few of each at either breakfast or dinner- again prepare in portions freezing in ice cube trays to be served later will make this much easier.
Whether you buy prepared, make your own or go onto The whole prey model – Remember Balance!!!
The whole prey model can be the least balanced of these since many do not include vitamins, Pre/Probiotics and other trace minerals.
Remember Whole Prey in the wild includes just That WHOLE – intestinal contents and ALL.
During butchering the stomach and intestines are removed and washed out completely.
The nutrition value must be replaced.
Digestive enzymes, pre/probiotics naturally found in to aid digestion in the Prey is also crucial for your cat to break down raw efficiently.
Roughage, predigested plant matter, is also present and important, (cats can not break down or use plant matter but the predigested contents found in the intestines helps keep regularity) Pysllium Husk mimics this roughage.
There are many available Digestive enzymes plus pre/probiotics available as well as mixes to be added to homemade grinds both with or without bone.
These make the grinds complete and many companies have Raw Diet premix Additives-
EZ complete, Carnizoo, TC Feline… Just check to make sure you choose the right one- Some are for grinds with bone and do not contain much calcium and some are made to be added to ground boneless meat.
While your cat transitions it is important to understand why you should take your time- Especially an Older cat who has spent a lifetime on processed food.
Their systems do not know how to work correctly- A lower stomach acid, good bacteria and enzymes needs time to rise and become what nature intended for proper digestive balance and health.
IT IS WORTH IT!!!
The change in your Feline family members overall Health, Coat Energy, Teeth and many unresolved Common Health issues that have now resolved themselves makes this crucial, not just lowering many costly Vet visits but also in a Happy healthy cat.
We feed both a balanced grind, Lower in bone since we feed bone in meats too. It is easier to feed and in a multi cat household complete nutrition is accomplished easily.
Researching whole prey model diets, fresh frozen day old chicks or mice would need to be added for the enzyme and other nutrients present in the digestive tract- feathers and fur should be left on and can help break up hairballs.
To be successful this must be easy and palatable for you and your cat- Just putting meat on a plate is not a Balanced diet.
As you start this journey it will become easier and easier. Understanding the nutritional balance is key.
Ask Questions, Research- Become familiar and Comfortable knowing your cat is eating for a healthier Life.
How Much To Feed
This diet is all usable, no fillers.
Cats like to graze all day – In the wild prey is taken and consumed over the course of hours or days, not in a scheduled sitting.
We put out Raw all day always replenishing as needed- The final plate before bedtime after a strenuous play/training session contains the bone in parts, grind and organ meats- Cats are nocturnal and will eat the most in the middle of the night, sleep, then eat some more.
If your cat is restless and keeps you up all night(a common complaint by many) THEY ARE NOT TIRED AND THEY ARE HUNGRY!!!! Its not their fault!!!
You are in charge of everything from FOOD to EXERCISE to HARMONY!!!
If traveling or busy a balanced frozen grind makes for easy nutrition for others to even feed- portioned necks and organs simple to add to their diet.
Many companies offer Grinds that are complete – just serve- both in the USA, Canada, and Europe.
Spend time talking to these companies and always check to see if any recalls have happened(Very few if any compared to the canned and dry industry)- Don’t be afraid to ask anything!!!
- Bone percentage(important to know how much bone in meats you can feed)
- Vitamin E
- Omega Essential Fatty Acids
- Portioned (2 lb log is hard to feed if you only have one or two cats)
- Do they offer custom options-(Protein selection and bone percentage)
Most cats do best with milder Chicken/Rabbit
90-95% Animal Matter(meaty bones, internal organs, indigestible fiber(fur, feathers, claws, Psyllium husk…contents of preys digestive tract)
Fat- Fat is very important and essential- Even if your cat is overweight before switching they will slowly change from flabby to lean and muscular- The carbohydrates/Sugar- used as filler in commercial canned and dry food is responsible for the extra pounds.
On A Final Note:
Read Labels- Any food containing NOT SPECIFIED or CONTROVERSIAL INGREDIENTS – is sourcing this from Euthanized Dogs and Cats!!!! These Foods and Treats contain hazardous chemicals (they say are within SAFE LEVELS, but should not be present at ALL) These substances lead to Autoimmune Problems, Allergies and many others.
It’s a horrifying and a real eye opener to learn this!!!
Lena is the CEO of Petsncharge LLC. She is a pet owner, animal lover, trainer, rescuer and an advocate. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit.