Why do i feed a species appropriate raw diet?
So. Many. Reasons! Let’s start from the beginning!
Cats are obligate carnivores. This means they require essential nutrients from meat to live. As much as I’d prefer it if they could be vegan, THEY CANNOT! Cats are predators. They have evolved to hunt, kill, and consume their prey largely whole and definitely raw. Picture a cat cooking it’s meat…
Cats have no requirement for carbohydrates. Sure, a cat can eat them, but their body doesn’t process them efficiently and feeding any individual something their body wasn’t designed to eat leads to chronic disease.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m super passionate about the health and well-being of my fur babies - fosters and forevers. I believe that nutrition is the foundation of health (for us and them)!
— Food can either be the safest and most powerful medicine or the slowest form of poison. —
The World Health Organization has classified processed meat as a carcinogen. What is commercial pet food? Very, very processed meat! While there is no research to support this yet, I would hypothesize that we have a high incidence of cancer in our companion animals because we feed them highly processed foods - similarly to all the chronic disease we see in humans from eating junk! Additionally, dry food puts them in a state of chronic dehydration, as cats were made to “eat” their water. They simply can’t drink enough to keep up with it. This is likely why we see so much urinary tract disease and chronic kidney disease.
Sadly, vets don't get much nutrition education in school through no fault of their own. I'm a dentist and went to an Ivy league university where I took all the med classes with the medical students. WE didn't get very much nutrition education. It’s just not a big part of the curriculum. Sadly, in modern medicine its more accepted to tell a patient they need a heart transplant vs. a whole foods plant based diet and exercise - which is completely mind blowing if you stop and think about it! Vets have so much to learn in school (so many species!) - its impossible to cram it all in! Also.. there isn't a strong body of research to support a raw diet, so many vets are uncomfortable with it. Personally, I've done my research, I look at a lot of the human studies, and see the benefits of eating a species appropriate diet (and what’s species appropriate for humans isn’t species appropriate for cats), and I just can't go back! To me, it's just logical! Animals don't cook!
Most of the “issues” I’ve encountered with people understanding the benefits of raw has them hung up on pathogens. Nothing in life is without risk. As a doctor, I’m always weighing the risks/benefits of a particular option and comparing those to the risks/benefits of the alternative options. Sure, getting “food poisoning” is a risk, but sadly, it’s also a big risk with dry and wet food. Consider all the recalls for commercial pet foods contaminated with bacteria. In my opinion, the risks of chronic disease from a commercial pet food diet far outweigh the risks of feeding raw.
When you understand a cat’s anatomy and physiology (which is different from ours - our body works best when fed a whole foods plant based diet), it’s not quite as scary. Cats’ stomachs produce a much more acidic environment to neutralize pathogens in response to raw food. Comparatively, commercial food full of grains and fillers does not elicit this same acidic response. Thus, dry/wet food contaminated with bacteria is actually much scarier than raw! Additionally, a cat’s intestines are much shorter than ours. Because raw meat is what they were intended to eat, its easily and efficiently processed and quickly expelled. By contrast, these processed commercial foods are much harder for them to digest and do commonly result in GI issues as well as chronic disease (obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, recurrent urinary tract infections, IBS, diarrhea, etc.).
Why not cook it? Cooking the meat degrades the nutrients, which then must be added back in the form of supplements. Why lessen the quality of the food when they were made to eat it raw?
If you’re interested, check out www.catinfo.org and www.feline-nutrition.org. They have some amazing articles (many written by vets) with informative articles on the benefits of a species appropriate raw diet! There’s also the documentary Pet Fooled, which sums things up nicely (but I find those websites have more in depth info on the various topics).