Benefits of a Raw and Holistic Diet- For Pets
I have been wanting to write this particular hub for quite a while; I have yet to find a good place to start. With that in mind, I shall jump right in to the sequence of cause and effects which led me to this natural, mostly raw, meat-only diet for my cat.
What began as a no-vet policy ended with a no-commercial foods policy. I, personally, have never really believed in expensive vet bills. In many ways, I've always been a naturalist when it came to medicine, for both humans and animals. My 16-year-old cat has, as of a few months ago, been to the vet just a few times. The first, when she had kittens about 14 years ago, the second, in December, when she had a tumor the size of a shooter marble removed from her stomach. After a few follow-up visits, she has yet to be back. After all, I could not surgically remove the tumor at home, and I would not want to try it!
I can, however, control what goes into my cat's body, just as we can all control what goes into ours. We have recently begun eating as naturally and organic as possible. It is both an animal rights issue and a health and safety issue. When you purchase meats at just any grocery store, likely they come from animals which were not only fed a substantial amount of steroids and antibiotics, but also food that was not meant for that animal to eat. In addition, many of these animals were practically tortured when it came to killing them and processing them.
We began to think: if we're so picky about what we eat, why are we continuously feeding our animals the dry, bacteria-filled, species-inappropriate, grain and vegetable diet that is packed in all those processed foods?
Because it's convenient.
(below is a rather boring but informative and short video on the differences between dry cat food and a raw meat diet)
When we first began transitioning the cat to a raw-meat diet, she still had access to dry food 24/7. What we did not know is why she was constantly throwing up her food, but after different dry foods (at different levels of the "quality" scale) we deduced she was allergic to dry food. The problem was- some of the canned food was also upsetting her stomach. Why would this be? Aren't these foods made for cat consumption?
There is a simple answer to this complex problem: cats are carniverous. Much more so, in fact, than even dogs. We decided to begin adding meat to her diet, all-natural, though at first thoroughly cooked, meat. She took to it right away, and her throwing up stopped almost immediately, but not completely. Finally we took the dry food out of her diet completely. While my cat was more than happy to transition to an all-meat diet right away, I have read that for some cats it may be more difficult, and it may be difficult for cat owners. Unlike with dry food, the owner must actually take care to feed the cat two to three times a day, not just make sure the food bowl stays full. Reasons for this include:
- Meat, whether raw or cooked, should not be left out for more than 24 hours. An exception to this rule is if the meat were frozen and set out, in the event you would be gone for a day. This way the meat will slowly thaw and by the time it has completely thawed it will either be eaten, or will keep long enough for the cat to eat it.
- Cats in the wild do not have access to food 24/7, nor should they.
After a while, we started giving my cat a mixture of cooked liver and holistic canned food, which can get fairly expensive because it is usually a natural, meat-based food, even if it is canned. The liver we use is beef and chicken- one or the other to mix up her food a little bit. However, many sources state that you should not feed cats beef products, as it is not something they would eat in the wild. I understand this, and so you should always take caution when trying your cat on a new food by giving them only a small amount at a time until you determine their reaction to it after it's been eaten. I, personally, have never had an issue with beef liver, and it is great because not only will my cat devour it (in a puréed form- soft, not full liver) but it is a good treat for our dog as well. In addition, liver is quite inexpensive, even when you purchase it organic.
Recently we have started adding raw ground turkey to her diet. Once again, only try new foods in small amounts. My cat, who must have a stomach of steel, gobbled it up and has had no problems. I am not in a position to grind my own meat- but if you are, I highly suggest forgoing the pre-ground meat and buying thighs to grind yourself, for the same reason I prefer not to eat pre-ground meat from grocery stores for myself.
What to Feed and What Not to Feed
The following is what has been going into my cat's diet the past few months:
- Puréed beef and/or chicken liver. She does not like to eat this cooked normally- it must be very soft and borderline liquid for her to eat it, but she laps it up happily. However, there is no need to add water to it unless your cat is like mine and won't eat it otherwise. Then, only a teaspoon or less of water should be added for about three tablespoons of liver.
- Ground turkey. Please tread ground meat cautiously. What is good for my cat may not be good for all cats! There is a website below that covers nearly everything about feeding a raw-meat diet. Since I keep this frozen, I usually put in the microwave for several seconds (no more than enough to thaw it to room temperature), so it is partially, but not completely, cooked when I feed it.
- Fish and chicken skin- fully cooked! I do not give this to her often; usually it is a treat, rather than a meal. Some cats should not eat fish, however, but given on a very small scale, most cats should be able to tolerate it.
- Holistic and natural canned wet foods. Cats do not need the grains and vegetables present in most every commercial-grade cat food. Cats really only need meat, but there are a few canned foods out there which deal with a species-appropriate (95-100% meat) food product.
- Once in a while my cat will get the smallest amount of table scraps, only fish, turkey and chicken. Like I said, every cat is different and some may have allergies that my cat does not have. No pork or beef of any kind is appropriate for any cat.
Foods that other sites have recommended:
- Rabbit- 100% raw. The website below is a wonderful resource on raw food. Rabbit is much leaner than other meats, however, so a fatty meat or suppliment may need to be added.
Serious thought should go into picking and choosing your cat's food. While some cats are perfectly happy munching on dry food, it can cause serious problems later in their life, and basically, it's not what they are meant to eat. I beg you, however, to keep in mind that I am not a veternarian. I am a naturalist and I love my pets. Always remember that what works for some will not work for others, so when starting your pet on a new food or diet or suppliment, give them small amounts and slowly transition them from their old diet. It may take time, or it may take no time at all!
My cat is already benefitting from her new diet. She has gained a bit of weight (she has always been tiny to the point of looking sickly) and has filled out well and healthily. Her maximum weight was 7 lbs if I remember, she's been as small as 4-5lbs. While she is still having some issues with her skin since her surgery, her skin and coat are looking much more healthy. In addition, while I don't want to jinx my good fortune, she has not had a problem with fleas in a long time, and she's always had flea troubles. She is not drinking nearly as much water, which for cats is a good thing. Cats' systems are designed to get their water with their food, something dry food does not allow for.
It has only been a few months, but for a 16-year-old cat who had major surgery, the meat diet is the best thing we have done for her in a long, long time. It is never too late to get started!