Written by Gaye Flagg
Recently, TheCatSite.com introduced the Raw Feeding Forum and we are excited about the positive response. Many cat owners already know that cats are obligate carnivores, but they mistakenly believe that the processed foods readily available in most grocery and pet stores today will satisfy their cat’s nutritional requirement for the purest form of protein. However, many of today’s processed foods contain a great deal of corn, rice, potato or other grain/carbohydrate as filler.
Additionally, many of today’s store-brought, processed foods lose the valuable nutrients contained within raw meat during the cooking and canning process. The extremely high temperatures required to correctly seal the can causes the necessary nutrients to be cooked away. Dry foods contain very little, if any, real meats. What small amounts of meat they may contain often comes from questionable sources. A dry-food-only diet can be a fast road to health issues in the future for many cats. In their natural environment, cats do not eat grains; they hunt mice, birds, rabbits and other small mammals. If optimum nutrition for your cat is the goal, then raw is the way to go.
Cat owners and vets alike disagree on the importance of feeding a raw diet. Some feel that the processed foods are fine, so long as the cat is doing well on them. Others feel strongly that a raw diet is best when it comes to the nutritional needs of our cats. Even though these groups have opposing views, both are right in their ways of thinking; the most important thing is that the cat is eating normally, is healthy and thriving well.
During a recent seminar by Dr. Andrea Tosi, board-certified veterinarian and holistic practitioner and Anne Jablonski, owner of http://www.catnutrition.org, Dr. Tosi explained that cats do not need nor do they utilize the carbohydrates found in processed foods like humans do. Humans require these carbohydrates as our source of energy however; cats derive their energy from the amino acids in the pure protein sources which can only be found within a raw meat diet.
Based on Dr. Tosi’s comments during this seminar, the health benefits of feeding raw are many. Cats with chronic illnesses such as IBD (Irritable Bowel Disorder) and Diabetes have actually been greatly helped by feeding a raw diet.
Cats that regularly receive a raw diet may be able to visit the vet less frequently because they stay healthy, youthful and full of energy. The incidence of chronic illness may be greatly lessened and the symptoms of any chronic illness currently present may be enormously relieved. These valuable health benefits can result in fewer trips to the vet, thus saving money over the life span of the cat. There are even more benefits to a raw diet in that their fur can grow in soft and shiny, their eyes seem brighter and they appear more alert. Their bodies are sleek; they are stronger and more muscular. Cats receiving a raw diet seem to be more playful and energetic. As an additional benefit to those of us who don’t enjoy cleaning the litter box, there is less eliminated waste to clean up because they more fully digest the food.
Anne Jablonski demonstrated how to “build a mouse” by using readily available items such as fresh chicken, liver or other organ meats. It is essential that the meats you use be as fresh as possible. There is a lot of helpful information on Anne’s web site as well as recipes and ideas to get started. There are also pre-prepared raw diets which can be purchased at many of the popular pet stores.
At first, the task of making the raw food diet can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Once you get the hang of it, it goes quickly and easily. But there are cats that simply will not eat a raw diet, no matter how hard you try or how much effort you put into it. Not to worry, so long as you are feeding the highest quality of canned food you can afford, your cat should be fine without it.
One of the most important things to remember when preparing a raw diet is proper sanitation, both during preparation and the cleanup afterwards. Since we are handling raw meats, everything must be very clean. A solution of one part normal household bleach to 3 parts water in a spray bottle works nicely to effectively kill any bacteria and the utensils and bowls are easily cleaned and sterilized in the dishwasher running the heat-dry cycle. Of course, washing your hands after handling raw meat is essential; use the hottest water you can stand and a good antibacterial soap.
For some people, feeding or preparing a raw diet may seem impractical due to work, school or other daily activities which may take you away from home from extended periods of time. When you first introduce a cat to the raw diet, you can no longer just toss down a bowl of food and leave for work or school. You must take the food up within 20 to 30 minutes to reduce the risk of spoilage. Serious illness can occur if cats ingest spoiled meat. Leaving the raw food down for more than 20 or 30 minutes greatly increases the time during which harmful bacteria can grow. You must make certain your cats are actually eating the food so you have to be there to watch them. You have to be there to observe whether or not they keep the food down once they have eaten it. If vomiting occurs, you must put down more to make certain they have food on board enough to sustain them until the next meal.
Once your cats have acclimated to the new diet, it becomes easier and less time consuming. You develop your own schedule and can adjust the time it takes to task everything.
Others find it to be unaffordable, but after the initial investment for equipment and supplements, a raw diet is, in the long-run, much less expensive than the processed foods. It may take time, effort and a small, initial financial investment for the supplements and equipment, but once your cats are successfully eating the raw diet, the return can be absolutely remarkable, in the health benefits for your cats as well as in the money you save from not having to buy pricey store bought processed foods for them or expensive trips to the vet for treatment of chronic illness.
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