The Raw Food Diet for Cats – an Update

Feeding your cat a raw food diet might improve their energy levels. On the other hand…

Warning: this blog contains some details squeamish readers might find unpleasant…

A couple of weeks I blogged about my cat’s diet. Slightly off-topic I admit, but knowing how fond the internet is of cats, I thought regular readers might forgive me.

I’ve been experimenting with feeding my podgy puss a raw food diet to a) slim him down, and b) improve his health, specifically his digestion. My cat is sick after eating a lot. The general household rule is that whoever discovers the pile of puke wherever it lurks clears it up. My husband sometimes claims he only spotted it just before he left for work. Hmm…

The raw food diet for cats is rather like the low-carb diet we propose for people with diabetes. Admittedly, it doesn’t include mayonnaise, cheese or double cream and other such goodies, but it’s made up of unprocessed food and is very low in carbohydrates because it doesn’t include kibble, a product bulked up with grains.

Hard to Resist

Experts warn that patience and persistence are necessary for the transition. As Sandra, a reader of this blog commented, it’s a bit harder to be persistent when you’re at home with your cat all day. My moggie has trained me very well. He knows I’m a soft touch. A little pitiful meowing, or staring pointedly at the cupboard where the cat food is kept is hard to resist.

I can’t interest him in raw bones at all. I bought a box of them from Asda and even chopped them up for him. (Little aside, if you want to feel like a proper carnivore, cut bones up.) Nothing doing.

He refused to touch liver too, apart from the first time I put it down. Again, I’ve read that cats are very fussy about the freshness of meat. Liver goes off so fast, I think it would need to be fresh out of the animal for him to eat it. Years ago, my dad used to shoot rabbits, and he’d give them to the farm cats. He’d take the back legs and rip them apart down the middle, and the cats would dive into them with tremendous enthusiasm. You don’t get fresher than that, but it’s not something that is practical for me to do. I’m not keen on the idea either!

Eating too Fast

I’ve had the most success with raw mince and fresh, diced beef. As the diced meat is a bit harder to eat quickly, I prefer giving that than mince. The raw diet hasn’t stopped my cat throwing up, and he often throws up if he eats too fast. What’s worse? Clearing up regurgitated raw meat or cat food? Hard to tell.

What I have noticed is that I think he isn’t whining as much. The constant whinging for food I had put down to hunger because of poor quality nutrition and/or his bulimic tendencies seems to have eased off a bit. Is he more energetic? I don’t know. Freddie is an old-ish cat, as he is coming up for ten years old this year. He still sleeps a lot, but he also goes outside and jumps up and down on everything.

(Hygiene freaks look away now—yes, everything including the kitchen units and the dining table.)

Half and Half

I’m not feeding him an entirely raw food diet. It is expensive, and as he isn’t eating a lot of the components that make up the ideal raw food diet for cats, I worry that he is missing out on certain nutrients, so I’ve kept in the kibble just to be on the safe side. I think asking my sister-in-law to feed him raw food while we are on holiday would be taking favour-asking too far.

As for his weight… ah. It’s either gone up or stayed the same. The last time he was at the vet’s (October), he weighed 6kg. We weighed him a few times after that and his weight went down to 5.7kg. Now, it’s 6kg again. Argh! I suspect he gets fed elsewhere. Freddie’s a bold boy. He happily wanders into other people’s houses. There are plenty of cats in my neighbourhood, so he’s probably helping himself to food. What can I do, apart from attaching a tag to his collar – “PLEASE DON’T FEED ME”?!

The raw food diet hasn’t achieved what I wanted it to do – better digestion and a lighter-weight cat. That said, I’ll probably keep up the half raw/half cat food diet. I don’t know if I’ve given it enough time to work. I should start weighing out what I’m giving him to make sure it isn’t too much.

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

 

Raw Food Diets for Cats

My podgy puss (top) with his thinner friend.

What should you feed your cat?

I’m wandering a bit off topic this week, but having written a post on the raw food diet for dogs for a client of mine, I researched the same diet for cats.

Sometimes called the BARF diet (biologically appropriate raw feeding), raw food for dogs and cats is a growing movement. Just as humans don’t thrive on processed, preservative-laden foods, neither do our feline chums.

My cat has always been a puker. You can buy cat food that claims to be good for sensitive stomachs, but Freddie manages to vomit that up too. He’s also overweight by the human equivalent of about one and a half to two stones.

Cheaper vet bills

As I’m very fond of my cat, I’d like him to live a long, healthy life. A less noble motivation is cheaper vet bills. A slimmer, healthier cat won’t be as at risk of diabetes, lower urinary tract disease, joint stress, hepatic lipidosis (fat deposited in the liver), and decreased stamina – the same conditions that overweight humans face.

Cat food is a modern product. Dog food was invented in the 1860s, so presumably, cat food was created then or some time afterwards. Until that time, cats in a household made do with the food they could hunt and kill, anything they could scavenge and occasional scraps from the table.

There are various blogs and books you can buy that explain why a raw food diet is beneficial for cats. Primarily, it gives cats what they are meant to eat. If you’ve ever read the ingredients in cat food, you’ll have thought to yourself, I’ve never seen a cat eat rice, vegetables or whatever else they list as a benefit. And most cat food is likely to be loaded with preservatives. Have you ever noticed the use-by dates on those packets?

Dry food tends to be high in carbohydrates, and again cats aren’t designed to cope with that kind of food.

What’s in a raw food diet?

Raw meat – it’s what your cat is meant to eat.

What do you feed a cat on a raw food diet? And how much of it? The recommendations generally say you feed the cat about 5 percent weight of his optimal body weight – 250g for a 5kg cat – in raw food.

Food choices should be raw meat and fish, and meaty bones. Cat owners have been told to feed their pets bones, but this applies to cooked bones as heating changes their structure and makes them more likely to splinter. Organ meats are another good choice, and you can also try the frozen mice pet shops sell for reptiles*.

The cost is obviously a factor. Raw meat is going to be more expensive than cat food, and less convenient. You need to store it, and the best way to keep it fresh is to bag it up and put it in the freezer. You must also pay strict attention to hygiene.

Cats don’t like change. It takes patience too. My cat worked out how to manipulate me expertly years ago. I put down the raw food, and he jumps up onto the counter under the cupboard where I stored the cat food and looks at it and me pitifully. I’ve moved him from the human equivalent of eating McDonald’s every day, to a chicken and broccoli diet.

I’m hoping to report back great results soon, though. At the very least, getting my cat to his optimal weight would be a worthwhile achievement.

 

The usual disclaimer applies. I’m not a vet or cat expert, so if you want to feed your pet a raw food diet, please do your own research and speak to your vet.

*The frozen mouse option is a step too far for me…