“Can cats eat raw meat!?” seems like a debate waiting to happen. Wild cats have been hunting and scoffing down their prey (uncooked, obviously) since the dawn of time. But, your not-so-wild cat doesn‘t seem as capable.
How can you let your precious purrincess suffer while trying to chew on raw meat? How can you let her live off of a raw food diet when you’re perfectly capable of providing her with the most carefully crafted cat foods and cat treats out there?
There’s pretty much no reason for her to munch on raw chicken or raw beef when she’s presented with a bowl of Meow Mix every single morning. Other than an occasional mouse, spider, or a big bug she doesn’t nibble on anything that’s breathing.
That’s not to say that she doesn‘t want to, though! She looks at a piece of raw chicken the same way you look at Joey from Friends when he utters his famous “How you doin’?”, and that’s saying something. She’s waiting for you to give her a “Yes, go ahead” look, but you’re not sure.
Can cats eat raw meat with no repercussions? Our friends over at the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) don’t recommend feeding raw meat to your four-legged friend for a bunch of reasons.
That’s not to say that a raw meat diet shouldn’t be an option. But, you should make sure to cover the bases before you make your decision. What does a healthy cat’s diet look like? What does a raw meat diet demand? And what are the risks of a raw meat diet?
What’s the deal with cats and raw meat?
Cats have VERY specific nutritional requirements. Cats are curious (“curiosity killed the cat”, right?). But, they’re also INCREDIBLY picky and persnickety when they‘re choosing what goes into their mouths. They‘re not going to munch on anything – they have standards, you know?
There’s no reason to be surprised when you notice your cat getting bored with her regular pet food and looking for something a bit… better. Cats are obligate carnivores which means they NEED a bunch of meat, animal protein, and animal nutrients in their diets to survive and thrive.
They don’t need fruits, veggies, and whole grains the same way humans do. Their digestive systems don’t even possess the enzymes necessary to break down and process most human foods. But, they do possess the enzymes necessary to break down raw meats.
Wild cats have been hunting and feeding off of RAW animals their entire lives. Domesticated cats might be a bit more sensitive and accustomed to a different lifestyle. But, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have what it takes to live in the wild and feed the same way their ancestors did.
The BIGGEST concern with feeding cats raw meats has to be the fact that raw meat doesn’t come without a bunch of bacteria and parasites. That’s true, raw feeding your feline friend could lead to health problems, nutritional deficiency, and a bunch of other problems.
Here‘s the thing, most cat owners (that are PRO raw feeding) argue that raw meats and raw bones belong to a cat’s natural diet. They do contain a bunch of protein (and no carbohydrates), fatty acids, amino acids, taurine, and other nutrients.
They’re right, but they’re not considering the fact that domesticated cats have different nutritional needs than the ones found in the wild.
Can cats eat raw meat?
We’re going with a “Yes” AND a “No” on this one! Sure, wild cats have been eating raw meat without repercussions for quite some time (how about forever!), but domesticated cats haven’t.
Most pet owners feed their precious pets cat food and cat treats (and they don’t really have commercially available raw cat food, do they?). Domesticated cats don’t even feed off of mice, spiders, and bugs that often because they’re accustomed to a different lifestyle.
Sure, their digestive systems possess the enzymes necessary to deal with bacteria and parasites. But, you can‘t forget that their digestive systems only need ONE mistake to make them seriously sick. So, you have to consider a couple of things before jumping head first into the water.
When you’re planning on feeding her raw meat you should consult with your vet and make sure you purchase high-quality meat from a reputable source.
You should also make sure to store the meat the right way to avoid cross-contamination. Or even worse, feeding corrupted or rotten meat to your four-legged friend?!
There’s hardly anything more important than your cat’s health. So, on the off chance that she’s bored with her regular commercial cat food, you need to make sure to provide her with a balanced diet that’s packed with high-quality meat (raw or cooked) that’s been approved by your vet.
Obviously, cooked meat doesn’t possess the same bacteria and parasites (the cooking process pretty much kills them off). But, you should still make sure your meat’s prepared properly.
Cooked meat you’re planning on sharing with your feline friend shouldn‘t contain salt, seasonings, or other unfavorable ingredients.
All in all, cats can eat raw meat, but that doesn’t mean that they should. Not convinced? Here’s what to expect when you’re feeding different types of raw meats to your four-legged friend.
What about raw chicken?
We’re starting off with a very shaky YES! We’ve already touched upon the potential risks of feeding raw meat to your feline friend. But, we can’t forget to mention a couple of things you can expect when you’re feeding raw chicken to your cat.
Raw chicken contains pathogens, bacteria, and parasites that can enter your cat’s digestive system and make her INCREDIBLY sick. We’re talking about symptoms such as weakness, loss of appetite, loss of coordination, excessive urination, diarrhea that might contain blood or mucus, and fever.
Raw chicken typically contains Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria which can cause severe symptoms of food poisoning. Cooking your cat’s chicken can prevent her from confronting these symptoms. Although, cats can GENERALLY break down these pesky passengers with their stomach acids.
Can cats eat raw beef?
We’re giving you another diffident YES! Cats can eat raw beef, but that’s not to say that you shouldn’t be on guard when introducing raw meat to your cat’s diet (they can be pretty tough on your cat’s digestive tract).
First things first, raw beef ALSO contains bacteria and parasites such as Salmonella, E. coli, Shigella, and Staphylococcus Aureus (however that’s pronounced) that can send your furry friend to the emergency animal center.
Symptoms are pretty similar regardless of the type of bacteria. So, you can keep an eye out for weakness, loss of appetite, loss of coordination, depression, dehydration, and diarrhea.
On the other hand, raw beef contains more fat and fatty acids than chicken. Consuming raw beef can cause weight gain and obesity. Don’t even get me started on raw ground beef which contains EVEN MORE calories?! Let’s just say your feline friend might want to skip the next trip to Trader Joe’s!
What about raw fish?
Cats can eat raw fish, but not without any repercussions! Pretty much everything we’ve mentioned so far about feeding raw meat to your four-legged friend applies to fish, too. Feeding raw fish to your cat doesn’t come without the risk of bacteria and parasite poisoning.
Raw fish typically contains bacteria such as Listeria, Vibrio, Clostridium, and Salmonella which can wreak havoc in your cat’s digestive system. On the other hand, raw fish ALSO contains enzymes that can destroy thiamine in your cat’s body.
Some of the most common symptoms of thiamine deficiency range anywhere from diarrhea, vomiting, and anorexia, to neurological symptoms such as loss of vision, dilated pupils, ataxia, tremors, seizures, and coma. Cooking the fish helps destroy those enzymes and ensures your cat’s safety.
Can cats eat raw liver?
Cats can eat SMALL bites of raw liver! Consuming raw liver does come with the same risk of getting infected with bacteria and parasites. But, this tasty treat’s pretty great for your furry friend when consumed MODERATELY.
One too many bites of the raw liver can lead to vitamin A toxicity. Some of the most common symptoms of vitamin A toxicity are weakness, weight loss, dryness of the skin and hair, painful movement, and excessive bone development.
Vitamin A toxicity (when left untreated) can even cause osteoporosis. This is an incredibly dangerous condition that can diminish the quality of your cat’s life.
Oh, the age-old question “Can cats eat raw meat?!” We can’t give you a straight “Yes“ or “No“ answer. But, we can provide you with the information and instruction needed to draw your own conclusions.
Cats can eat raw meat (kinda?!), but you should ALWAYS make sure to consult with your vet. Keep an eye out for ANY symptoms of food poisoning or digestive discomfort your four-legged friend might experience.