The following information is from: http://www.catinfo.org/makingcatfood.htm Lisa A. Pierson DVM note: if you follow any links in the following text article, please remember to click on your browser's back button to get back to this website. The links will take you to another website.
Many people have a strong negative reaction to the idea of feeding their carnivore raw meat but this is what a carnivore is designed to eat. Keep in mind that there are no hibachis or stoves in the wild. Also, wild cats do not always consume their prey in its entirety immediately upon killing it so the meat that they eat is not always from a fresh kill.
Cats are very different from humans with respect to their susceptibility to ‘food poisoning’. Cats have a much shorter transit time through their intestinal tract than humans do (about 12 hours, or less, for the cat versus 35-55 hours for the human). This is a very important point because the more time bacteria spend in the intestines, the more they multiply, eventually leading to intestinal upset.
Cats are designed to eat raw meat.
A properly handled and prepared raw meat diet has much less bacteria in it than many commercial dry foods. Commercial pet foods may also contain high levels of mold toxins from grains which are never a danger in a grainless raw meat diet.
Please see this section on my Making Cat Food page that discusses the common contamination issues associated with dry food.
There are several ways to feed a raw meat diet. One way is to prepare the diet yourself using a very simple recipe. This is my preference so that I can control the ingredients that go into the diet. My cats have been thriving for the past 5 years on a raw meat diet that I prepare using either ground whole carcass rabbit from a reputable farm, or whole meats (usually chicken thighs) from Whole Foods Market that I grind myself. I add just a few supplements to complete the diet.
People are often overwhelmed or intimidated by the idea of making their cat's food but, in reality, it's quite simple. And if you have a simple recipe to follow, it's a piece of cake to assemble everything and have nutritious meals on hand for several weeks that you can freeze. Making your own cat food doesn't mean slaving in the kitchen every day--trust me, if it did, I wouldn't be doing it. If you are interested in preparing your own cat food, see Making Cat Food.
One common mistake people make when feeding a home-prepared diet is thinking that a cat can live on meat alone - without bones as a source of calcium. While meat must be the primary component of a feline diet, there is not enough calcium in meat (without the bones) to ensure that a safe calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is achieved. Always remember that calcium is not an optional “supplement,” but a very critical component of the diet. The bones must be ground with the meat (preferable), or bone meal must be added to the recipe.
Another way to feed a raw meat diet is to purchase ready-to-feed frozen commercial pet diets. Many people feed these diets with great results. Unfortunately, as is also true with canned foods, these products vary a great deal with respect to quality and ingredients. Many of these products contain items such as vegetables in a much higher quantity than would be found in a cat's natural diet. Plus, the vegetables in these diets are obviously not predigested as they would be if consumed with the cat's prey. This is a very important point that many people seem to forget when deciding to feed vegetables to carnivores. Cats do not have a physiologic requirement for vegetables and actually lack the enzymes needed to break down this food source for efficient utilization.
If you choose to feed a commercially prepared raw pet food, you must do some homework. One specific issue to look at is the percentage of vegetables, and occasionally fruits, that the product contains. My favorite commercial raw diet is Feline's Pride. It is grain-free and vegetable-free. Nature's Variety raw food is another quality product. NV contains 95% meat/bones/organs and only 5% vegetable/fruit matter. This is a reasonable blend although some cats with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) do not do well with any amount of vegetable matter in their diet. Other cats will do just fine with up to 10% vegetables or more, although I do not feel that diets containing more than 5% - 10% vegetables are optimal diets for a carnivore. Many products do not list this value on the packaging so a call to the company will be necessary or ask your local raw pet food retailer for product literature which may, or may not, list the breakdown of ingredients on a percentage-basis.
Some commercial raw pet diets are prepared without any vegetable matter. They are simply meat, bones and organs. Be aware, however, that a diet prepared with a large amount of necks and backs (common ingredients in commercial products)does not have an optimal calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. There is very little meat, when compared to the amount of bone, on this part of the animal. This leads to a diet that is too high in calcium relative to the phosphorus which can cause constipation in addition to other medical problems.
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