How to Choose a Raw Food Diet for Your Cat
Once you have made the decision to give your cat a raw food diet, you will find that a variety of ways to implement it exist. In general, raw foods are closer to what your cat's body was designed to digest, so he or she will receive more nutrients and enjoy a greater quality of life in return. To ensure the best possible results, there are some things that should be considered when selecting the ingredients for your cat's new diet.
Meats provide phosphorous and are an integral part of a raw food diet. Chicken and rabbit are the two preferred sources of meat in a diet comprised of raw foods. They are very similar to what your cat might be eating in the wild and are easy to prepare. Beef and fish are not as recommended because they have been known to be hypoallergenic for cats. Raw fish contains thiaminase, which is unhealthy for cats because it reduces their thiamine level considerably. Other options of meat choices are Cornish game hen, quail, and guinea fowl. Turkey is considered an option as well, but turkeys have larger bones that would need to be ground. Overall, chicken and rabbit seem to be the most convenient in preparation, availability, and health requirements. When purchasing raw meat for your cat, look for free-range chicken thighs that are free of any antibiotics and hormones. It is advised to shop at a whole foods market instead of a supermarket that stocks pre-packaged meats. Keep the meats fresh and freeze them when preparing meals in bulk or advance. Rabbits can be bought in pre-ground and extra fine double grounded forms. Again, avoid any extra additives to keep the meat close to a diet observed in the wild.
Bones are the best source of calcium for your cats. They are not considered a supplement and are essential to a felineï¿½s diet. Most of the meat you can buy will include the bones, thought they should be ground. If the bones are larger, extra grinding may be necessary. Rabbits have a higher bone content, so a popular recipe is to blend both rabbit and chicken together using smaller chunks of chicken. This also balances out the low fat that rabbits have, and the chicken chunks are excellent for the dental health of your cat. Remember to only use bone-free chicken when adding it to rabbit. Otherwise, for meals that are based mainly on the chicken itself, include the bones or a bone meal. In some cases, too much calcium can lead to constipation. Monitor your cat closely during the beginning of the diet and reduce the amount of bones as needed.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Other Additives
In addition to the meats and bones discussed above, water is added to your cat's diet for consistency and disease prevention. Liver is naturally included in select meat sources, such as rabbit, but can be missing from chicken thighs. Add liver as needed along with taurine, which is available in a powder or tablet form. Salmon oil is an excellent way to give your cat the essential fatty acids that he or she needs. Vitamin E and Vitamin B Complex promote healthier functions, and psyllium is an optional fiber additive that should be used with extra water. Eggs are a source of protein; the yolks can remain raw and the whites are cooked. Check for any allergic reactions to recipes with eggs or digestive intolerance. Some cat owners prefer to feed their cats vegetables, while others maintain that a cat does not need them as part of their diet. In fact, large amounts of vegetables can actually cause intestinal problems. When the vegetables are consumed in the wild as part of a cat's prey, they have been digested already and processed by the prey's enzymes. Since cats do not have the enzymes to directly digest vegetables on their own, only small amounts, if any, are recommended, including 5% or less of peas or zucchini.
Ready Made or Frozen Raw Cat Foods
Making it even simpler to use a raw cat food diet, several types of ready made or frozen meals can be purchased. However, many of them have a high percentage of vegetables in them and should be avoided. The frozen meals that do not have vegetables are made up of primarily meat, bones, and organs. It is better to select the ones without necks or backs that have more bones than meat (and thus an improper balance of calcium to phosphorus). Please consult with your cat's veterinarian and/or the resource below for exact recipes and ingredient amounts.