Last week we ventured through the pet food labeling. Today, it is going to be all about the raw diet. Kitty is a carnivore. Their teeth are built for it. The raw diet does not mean let Kitty outside to hunt for themselves as Kitty does not always hunt because they are hungry. They hunt because it is FUN and satisfying - not so good for the neighborhood’s small wildlife species and also not the safest route to go for Kitty. As anyone who has had kitties for a long time, at some point, a treat was brought to your feet – usually a dead mouse, bug, lizard, etc. We know they don’t always eat what they catch. I don’t know about you, but Kitty bringing me their catches from outside into my house is a little too much for me. We also put Kitty at risk for diseases “in the wild”. Once other outside threats such as cars and natural predators are considered, I think I am okay with procuring the raw ingredients for Kitty’s diet.
The entire idea behind the raw diet for Kitty is we get rid of the veggies, carbs, and fillers completely. We want to mimic what Kitty would get if they were out hunting in the wild way back when. If you have ever watched a single nature series, we see a lioness or a cheetah chasing after the gazelle, and well… cut to the feasting. The rest of the lion pride will show up, and drag their treasure away or decimate it right there depending on hunger and if there are cubs to protect and feed. There is not much left after big kitties are done, and there is nutritional benefit to every part of the animal our wild cats eat. Therefore, the goal of the raw diet is to get as close to that as possible.
Over at the Feline Nutrition Foundation, they have a mind boggling amount of information on the raw diet. (My eyes are still somewhat crossed.) There are recipes if you want to make your own including a list of every supply you would need, suggestions on where to get organ meats, and what to look for if you are going to by pre-packaged raw food. There is a ton of science there too. The best place to start if you are new to the raw diet is their Beginner section. From there you can get an overview and find links for a dive into the deep end of the raw diet. I spent several hours on the site last night because there was always another interesting thing to read. Frankly, even if you are not considering a raw diet, there is a lot of invaluable information on Kitty nutrition, including more details on what goes into pet food, and a very informative area on what the raw diet should consist of, why supplements are needed, and what each ingredient is for in reference to mimicking the game they would be hunting in the wild.
For our sugar Kitty, the raw diet can minimize the carbohydrate factor that many commercial foods contain. The high protein content is what Kitty’s body thrives on, and without plant-based carbohydrate sources, over time Kitty’s sugar can easily become diet controlled. I said over time – not instant. Kitty’s pancreas is going to need time to heal, and depending on their other health issues, diabetic status, and previous blood glucose control, this can still take a long time even if you do everything perfectly. Kitty might also snub the raw diet, especially if they are on carb-rich dry food. That stuff is the potato chip of the feline world. I personally LOVE potato chips, and I’d be rather upset if someone just took that stuff away one day without reason! If this is the case, some transitioning will probably be necessary, especially if Kitty is not used to canned moist food. You may have to gradually mix in raw food and keep dropping the ratio of the dry food until they are down to raw food only. You can also transition them from dry food to wet food first to get them used to the softer textures and a feeding schedule. Then you can try the straight raw diet, and if it doesn’t take, do another transition. Patience and persistence are your best allies here. It is also important to understand not to give in. Once we transition off the dry food, no more. Get rid of it. After all, if the potato chips are in the house, I’m going to eat them. Kitty will find a way to that dry food – even in the airtight plastic pet food containers. They KNOW. Also, I have a team of younger and older cats who have no problem working together if there is a common goal. That container has been opened and dumped all over the floor with cats joyously crunching away. (My vacuum cleaner made a full recovery after emergency treatment.) Lesson: Do not underestimate the power of the carb-addicted Kitty.
In reading over forums all the time, where the raw diet is mentioned, folks get upset because it seems gross. Is it going to stink? What about bacteria? My Kitty could get food poisoning. As far as the smell, if you have ever fed canned cat food ever, some of them smell wretched! Raw food, based on the ingredients in a few DIY recipes I glanced over, cannot possibly smell as strong as some of the canned food I have given my own fur babies. My sister actually buys pre-made raw food for her kitties, and, according to her, it does not stink, and so far, her cats’ digestive issues have cleared up. I can attest that their fur is softer and shinier than ever as well.
Where sanitation and bacteria are concerned, understand, Kitty is much less likely to get food poisoning than we delicate humans. Generally, meat is pretty sterile on its own. When exposed to the outside environment, it will accumulate surface bacterial which eventually will penetrate all of the meat, but hopefully we are going to avoid buying or serving rancid meat. Many food companies, including some that make raw pet foods, sanitize their food in this really big pressure cooker – think industrial size! They can do that with the food already in the packaging minimizing the risk of re-exposure to environmental bacteria! How cool is that? Check this process out here.
Next week, we will look into raw pet food companies and DIY recipes plus raw material sourcing! Until then, read up on the concept of the raw diet for felines. Even if this is something you don’t want to consider doing, reading about the raw food ingredients will help you understand standard pet food labels a lot better. It is a win-win.
The Feline Diabetes Support Group on FB is always available for support for questions, venting, and all things sugar Kitty. They have food information all over the place, and members who have probably tried most things. First-hand experience is a lot less confusing than crude protein 10.0% (min)!