I’ve always been a fan of the BARF diet for dogs, so when I got Molly and Moe, I looked into feeding the cats a raw diet. I wanted to keep their main diet a commercial diet, but adding raw foods for extra proteins and nutrients, just like I try to do with my dogs.
When let outside, our domestic cats will hunt, kill, and eat various animals and insects, more so than a domestic dog. It’s not uncommon for them to eat rodents, small mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles.
Unfortunately, when I offered Moe and Molly their first truly raw meat, they turned their noses up. I’m hoping that they just didn’t like the raw chicken, as I know Moe loves meat; he will greedily eat ribs and medium rare steak.
Cats’ stomachs are much more acidic than ours and their intestines are shorter, allowing quicker digestion of raw meat, when compared to our stomachs. Cats can eat day-old carcasses as well as fresh killed meat without having any ill-effects from the bacteria.
Either way, when feeding your cat a raw diet, you may want to consider a few precautions.
- Buy meat from a trusted butcher instead of commercially-packed meat from local grocery stores.
- Use the meat immediately.
- If you have excess meat, go ahead and mix it up how you like and freeze it in individual serving sizes (which will actually kill many bacteria).
- Add probiotics to the meat.
- Use safe food handling techniques, sterilizing all equipment after each use.
There are different versions of the raw food diet, but the essential basics are always the same.
- Raw muscle meat and organ meat from the same protein source
- Raw bones (ground and/or whole) to include the neck and back bones of poultry
- Supplements (cod liver oil, fatty acids, enzymes, and taurine)
Some diets will advise adding fresh raw vegetables, fruits, and grains, but many believe that there is no need to add these ingredients to your cat’s diet because your cat wouldn’t normally eat these things in the wild.
What meat should I offer?
- Beef, goat, lamb, pork, and venison (less likely for cats to eat, as these are not natural prey item for cats)
- Chicken and turkey
- Game hens
- Mice and rats
How much should I offer my cat?
Since cats are carnivores, it’s ideal to have at least 80% meat, 10-15% bone, and organs making up the difference.
When feeding raw food to your cat, you want to make sure it is fresh. If you have previously frozen the meats, you want to thaw it out. Do NOT put the meats in the microwave to thaw, as this can make the bones brittle, which will splinter in your cat’s body when he eats. You wan to place the meat/bones in a bag and let it sit it tepid or lukewarm water for about 10 minutes.
You want to serve the food room temperature, at best. Cats generally do not like cold foods.
Offer about 2-3% of your cat’s body weight, which is usually about 1/4-lb for adult cats.
You can offer this in one or two meals per day. For kittens, it’s usually ideal to offer two meals a day, but for adult cats, one meal a day will be sufficient. Watch your cat’s weight, to determine if you need to offer more or less food.