Sunday, August 9, 2009

Is Raw Cat Food Safe?

There is some concern about whether raw cat food is safe. Some feel that raw meat may contain salmonella, toxoplasmosis or another equally troublesome bacteria or parasite. And that the only way to be certain that your cat does not get these potentially fatal diseases is to cook the meat.

At first glance, this line of argument does appear to have some merit. But look a bit deeper.

Wild cats eat nothing else but raw meat and bones. Domestic cats, along with all other cats, have evolved on a diet of raw meat. Their digestive system only knows how to cope with this.

Cats, along with bears, are the only true carnivore. Their teeth show this very clearly. They are spiky for catching prey and powerful to crunch up bones. Their digestive track is short as raw meat is easy and quick to digest.

Humanity is generally under the illusion that they have improved on nature. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Holistic vets, as a body, can tell you that when you feed raw cat food, chronic degenerative disease melts away. Diseases like feline leukaemia, heart problems, sterility and tumours.

As Richard Kearns DVM puts it “I believe all cases of spinal myelopathy are caused by poor nutrition, sometimes going back to the mother’s nutrition during pregnancy”.

Richard Pitcairn DVM brings things into perspective. “Foods are so complex, we still don’t understand them. For example, researchers discovered that cats need taurine, an amino acid only found in animal tissue, which is lost through cooking. Now it is added to cat foods and supplements. Rather than wait for more such discoveries, it is better to provide animals with the diet that most closely resembles their evolutionary history”.

When you consider that cats have been evolving for hundreds of thousands of years, how could it be possible to have improved on their diet in the mere decades that commercial cat food has been available?

Lets look at salmonella. This is basically food poisoning by eating infected food. However, wild cats only eat the prey they have just killed. So the meat is super fresh, still warm in fact. Super fresh food does not carry infections. Infected food come from inadequate storage.

This is one reason why you will find cats are very fussy eaters. It’s because they know bad food when they see it. But because they still need to eat, domestic cats are left with little alternative but to eat the cat food they are given, if they are to survive.

The general guide here is to keep your cat’s raw meat super fresh. Don’t keep it in the refrigerator longer than between two to four days, depending on the temperature of the refrigerator, how many times it is opened, the ambient temperature, etc. Freeze the rest and thaw out each meal as necessary.

Toxoplasmosis is rarely a serious illness in healthy individuals. It can be a major cause of serious illness in those with a damaged immune system or those on medication which lessens the effectiveness of the immune system. This is true for both cats and humans.

Wild cats can only survive with a very strong immune system. So their diet of raw meat and bones seems to serve them well.

Nino Aloro DVM confirms this to be the case. “Diet seems to be at the base of about 90% of the cases of cystitis that I see. When my clients observe the proper diet after initial treatment, there are rarely any of the normal relapses. If they put the pet back on commercial pet food, then the cystitis comes back.”

Only buy the freshest meat and be as sensible about the handling and storage of your cat’s raw meat as you are about your own. If your cat doesn’t like the food, suspect a problem. This could be meat starting to decompose or a chlorine wash on the meat, a process some butchers use to extend the life of the meat.