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Choosing the right diet for your cat is an incredibly difficult decision. You need to balance your obvious desire to give your cat what’s best with their finicky needs. Time and effort are also big considerations. Raw food diets are increasing in popularity, so let’s explore the pros and cons of a raw food diet for your cat.
An Easy Solution
As more people are choosing to feed their cats a raw diet, pet food manufacturers are focusing their attention on addressing this growing desire. You may have seen refrigerators in the pet food aisle of your local supermarket or pet supply store. These commercially available raw foods are typically meant to be just as easy as cracking open a can of processed foods.
If you choose to feed your cat a homemade diet, most of the ingredients are relatively easy to find. Since cats are obligate carnivores, most of the foods suitable for them are available at a grocery store or butcher shop. Chicken and beef are cheap and plentiful and require little processing before your cat can eat them.
When done right, a raw diet is more nutritious for your cat then canned wet food or bags of dry kibble. A raw diet usually contains more natural ingredients without the artificial colors and flavorings contained in other foods. Commercially available raw diets prioritize whole ingredients to balance fats, proteins, and calories with the other nutrients that cats need, without relying on fillers.
Making your cat’s food yourself means you know exactly what’s in it, without question. A homemade raw diet is typically composed of human-grade food. Most people prepare raw food for their cat shop in grocery stores or butcher shops, where higher-quality meat is readily available.
For cats with sensitive stomachs, a raw diet can alleviate digestive issues. Cats may have difficulty digesting some of the fillers and supplements included in other commercial foods, but since a raw diet more closely mirrors what they would eat in the wild, raw food is simply more acceptable to your cat’s digestive system.
Switching to a raw food diet can make a drastic change in your cat’s health. The most noticeable change will be softer, shinier fur. Their breath will likely improve too, because chewing meat and bones helps keep teeth clean. In addition to looking healthier, your cat may feel healthier. Since the protein in raw meat is of a higher quality and more easily digestible, your cat may have more energy.
Switching your cat to a raw diet can be incredibly difficult. A cat who has spent their entire life thinking that food only comes in round pellets may have a hard time recognizing a piece of chicken on a bone as something that they should eat. Cats are notoriously picky about food, so there may be a great deal of trial and error involved in finding food that appeals to them. It’s substantially easier to choose food your cat likes when it’s just a simple as picking up a can.
Preparation and Storage
Feeding your cat a raw diet can require you to handle large quantities of meat that many people find unappetizing. Many pet owners turn their noses up at the thought of dicing up chicken hearts and livers for their cat’s food. Even though organ meat isn’t usually part of an American human’s diet, these contain valuable vitamins and minerals for your cat.
Storing raw food can be tricky. Commercial food can be fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried, which can take up a large amount of space in your fridge or freezer, while a homemade diet typically consists of fresh meat that must be stored carefully. While canned or dry food lends itself to being stored in a cabinet, you must take extra care with raw food to avoid spoilage and bacterial growth.
Raw food can be substantially more expensive than canned, processed food. Because the ingredients in a raw diet can be unusual, most people who feed their cats raw meat tend to buy in bulk rather than make several trips to specialty stores. This can add up quickly.
A raw diet may also need to have certain supplements added to it, such as taurine. Taurine is an essential amino acid that cats require for the health of their eyes and hearts, but most foods don’t contain enough of it naturally.
Changing your cat’s food should not be done lightly. Since most cats resist change, you shouldn’t switch to raw food unless you can commit to following through with this diet. It’s important to weigh these pros and cons and evaluate what’s best for you and your cat before making the switch.
Featured image credit: Laura Chouette, Unsplash
Roland has been an animal lover all his life, with cats holding a special place in his heart. He is owned by three felines: Wheely, KitzKitz, and Nugget (all rescues) who bring all the laughter and mischievousness one can expect from the feline master race. As the creator of ExcitedCats, his mission is to assist in the search for the best gear to help improve the health and wellbeing of cats everywhere.