Do you want your pets to merely survive or to thrive?
This is my Karmel, my rescue Cornish Rex. He came to me so terribly sick. He weighed barely over 2 lbs, they thought maybe he was hyperthyroid, but the tests said no. With his leaky bum, I put him in cloth diapers. He had these weird skin issues like allergies. I just knew his whole problem was food. I immediately took him off kibble upon entering my home. We went to limited ingredient cans and bone broth before switching to raw. He gained weight and looked healthy, his labs were all good, once he hit 8 lbs the vet said he was a healthy boy and to keep doing what I was doing. The second year he was here he had little to no issues till he started falling off things, missing jumps, stumbling in the last few weeks of his life until a seizure, 1 single seizure claimed his life. The vet said something was going on in his head we missed, no way to explain it, but I am confident raw food saved his life and gave him the best life possible here with us.
At his best, loving life, beautiful boy
Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding (BARF Diet)
First, I'd like to state that cats are obligate carnivores; obligate meaning essential for survival. Carnivores need meat to live a life of thriving not just surviving.
Raw feeding closely resembles the diet cats would get in the wild; the diet to which their anatomy and physiology is naturally attuned, their biological appropriate diet. Cats eat a varied diet in the wild, including organs, brains and occasionally stomach and intestine contents of:
mice and other rodents
snakes and other reptiles
Carnivorous Anatomy: huge impressive sharp teeth for tearing and shredding, powerful jaws, powerful neck muscles and elastic stomachs to hold large amounts of prey. Cats have a hinged jaw with no lateral mandibular motion. We need the lateral mandibular motion to grind through veggies.
Carnivorous Physiology: little to no salivary enzymes, no amylase in saliva; thus forcing the pancreas to work overtime to break down carbs, and no friendly bacteria to break down cellulose.
There are mixed reactions to this diet. Certainly pet food companies will tell you of the dangers inherent in feeding raw meat to pets, such as salmonella, e.Coli (a zoonose), listeria, and other bacteria. Some veterinarians also take this stance, but vet school doesn't spend time on animal diets and often the commercial pet food industry is paying veterinarians to sell in their clinics; biased for greed. On the other hand, the "Raw Meaty Bone" diet was developed by a respected veterinarian Dr. Lisa A. Pierson, who advocates raw diets for cats. While cats' stomachs are said to be more acidic than ours, and while cats often eat day-old carcasses in the wild with no ill effects, human-induced bacterial contaminants in processed meats can be problematical.
Guidelines for success:
Use the meat immediately, or freeze the meat mixture in individual serving-sized packets for future use. (Freezing also destroys many bacteria.)
Use safe food handling techniques - clean and sterilize all equipment, including cutting boards and food dishes after each use
Consult with your own veterinarian before offering a raw meat diet to an immunocompromised cat
The commercial pet food industry began in the 1930s. Before commercial pet food people fed their animals what they ate, real food in the form of mostly table scraps. Somewhere after commercial kibble began we transitioned to thinking our food was not for our pets. I feel like it's not people food, it's real food. If you want to feed a pet a vegetarian diet, get a rabbit. If you have a rabbit, don't feed it meat. If you have a carnivore, feed it meat, simple as that. It is unethical to force an animal to eat species inappropriate foods.
Dr. Pottenger's Cat Study:
Like many great discoveries, Dr. Francis M. Pottenger accidentally came upon the finding that his laboratory cats were noticeably healthier when fed on a diet of raw meats rather than cooked meats.
Dr. Pottenger, a human doctor, was involved in using cats to assess the potency of adrenal extracts for use in human medicine. His job was to adrenalectomise laboratory cats, and then maintain the animals on adrenal extracts, thus determining the “potency” of the compounds. Pottenger’s cats were fed on table scraps from the local restaurant. When the restaurant closed during the off-season, he was forced to source his meat scraps directly from the local abattoir (which came raw). During the time he was feeding the raw meat scraps to his laboratory cats, he noticed a dramatic improvement in their overall health, and also a significant reduction in surgical mortality rates.
Between 1932 and 1942, Dr. Pottenger conducted a clinical trial, involving over 900 cats and over 9 generations, into the nutritional effects of cooked versus raw food diets. This study is still, to date, the single largest trial conducted on the effects of feeding cooked food to domestic cats (or dogs).
Group one was fed raw meat scraps including organ meats and bone, and raw milk. Group two was fed the same scraps but cooked, and were given pasteurized (heat treated) milk.
The cats on raw food were healthy, averaged 5 kittens per litter with few birthing problems, and most died of old age. After 9 generations there was no change in their health status.
The cats in group two, however, began developing problems from the first generation, with increased deaths in the litters, smaller litter sizes, poorer mothering, noticeable dull rough coats. From the second generation onwards there were vision problems (probably taurine deficiency), common infections, and dermatitis (military dermatitis), arthritis, heart disease (taurine again), allergies, gingivitis and periodontal disease, inflamed joints and nervous tissue, skeletal malformation (Ca bone density fell from 17 % at the start, to 4% by the fourth generation). Fertility declined rapidly, as did litter size and perinatal mortality increased. Behaviorally the group on cooked food became progressively more aggressive to handlers and each other. Interestingly gastrointestinal parasitism was a major problem in the cooked food group, not the raw food group The most common cause of death in adults in the cooked food group was from pneumonia and lung abscess, and in kittens was from diarrhea and infection. By the ninth generation on cooked food, the cats were completely sterile and had stopped reproducing.
Pottenger found that by changing the diet from cooked back to raw he could reverse most of the symptoms, but only until early in the third generation. From the fourth generation onwards much of the damage was irreversible. This suggests that damage from a cooked food diet has a generationally compounding effect. He also found that the soil he fertilized with the feces of the cats on the cooked food diet did not grow beans or grass, whereas the soil fertilized from the raw food group grew beans and grass vigorously.
It's Ultimately Your Decision
As in all such issues dealing with cats, the bottom line is always that it is a personal decision, and you need to determine what is best for you and your own cat. I've given you information and some resources for forming your own opinion. I obviously am an advocate for raw feeding; however, I do understand it is not for everyone and I know many people who feed kibble, also successfully. As always, here's to good health and long happy lives for your kitties and mine.
Facebook groups: Cat CRAP (Cats Completely Raw and Proud) and Raw Feeding Friends are a great help as well as Sphynxlair