Benefits of a Raw Diet
A raw diet can benefit cats in many ways.
- Improved coat condition - a raw diet is high in Essential Fatty Acids which help the skin & coat brighter, less itchy & flaky.
- Dental hygiene- a raw diet can help naturally clean your cat's teeth. A fresh, edible meaty bone every day or two can help scrape plaque off teeth and clean the gums.
- Digestability - cats have short digestive tracts, meaning they need diets that contain easily-digested nutrients. A fresh raw diet has very digestible nutrients that are readily absorbed by pets’ intestines.
- Less waste - stools will be smaller, firmer & less smelly on a raw diet.
- Behaviour - chewing raw meaty bones can have a calming effect on behaviour due to Dopamine release. It also encourages natural chewing behaviour.
- Joint Health - a raw diet contains natural sources of Glucosamine & Chondroitin.
- Weight Control - Feeding a highly digestible, nutritious raw diet high in essential moisture and low in carbohydrates can allow your pets’ body to work more efficiently and maintain a healthy weight and even enable it to lose weight where necessary.
About Cats Nutritional Needs
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they have nutritional requirements that can only be met with a diet based on animal tissue.
Cats evolved to eat small prey animals. They cannot utilise plant proteins.
Wild cats eat a meat-based diet: high protein, moderate fat, minimal carbohydrate and high moisture content.
A prey-based diet provides a normal level of protein for cats, not the ‘high protein’ diet some vets would refer to as a raw diet.
Modern, processed diets (including grain-free) contain abnormally low levels of protein.
Cats are designed to obtain most of their water from their food. A cat on dry food may not drink adequate water to make up for the dehydrated food. Raw food contains good moisture levels which helps keep the cat well hydrated.
Cats are designed for a VERY LOW carbohydrate diet.
- Cats have no taste buds for sweet flavours
- The intestines only absorb small amounts of glucose.
- Cats don’t produce the enzymes required to digest carbohydrate diets.
- The carbohydrates that felines would eat in the wild are pre-digested & found in the stomachs of prey animals.
Studies have shown:
- As cats age, they can’t absorb and metabolise protein as well so it is vital that they are offered plenty of high-quality protein.
- Cats have no requirement for carbohydrates (grains, vegetables, fruits etc).
- Cats have an innate drive to eat enough protein. If they are on a low protein/high carbohydrate diet (processed cat food), they will attempt to meet their protein needs by over-eating carbohydrates. This results in cats that are either overfed and overweight, or normal weight but always hungry.
Protein is broken down into amino acids as it is digested. A cat’s liver produces a high level of enzymes whose job is to break down the amino acids. If you shift a cat onto a low protein diet such as processed cat biscuits and tinned food which are low in protein, and usually have poor quality proteins their liver will not adapt, rather it will continue to produce high levels of catabolic enzymes. This, in turn, results in the proteins within the cat’s own muscle being broken down. This can be why old cats get skinny. Old cats need plenty of high-quality protein to counter this.
Cat Health & Diet
A lot of the illnesses we see in cats today are likely to be due to the low quality, biologically inappropriate commercial pet food formulas. A raw diet may be helpful for many diseases, however, it is very important that we work in close consultation with your veterinarian with unwell cats before transitioning onto a raw diet.
Some feline diseases that have links to diet are as follows:
On modern processed diets, cats are ingesting an unprecedented amount of carbohydrates, leading to a greatly increased workload on the pancreas. It is not surprising that diabetes (when a damaged pancreas fails to produce insulin) is now a common condition in cats. Obesity also predisposes to diabetes.
- Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
Frequently involving bladder inflammation (cystitis) and crystals, and less commonly bladder stones and infection
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Chronic, uncontrolled inflammation in the gut
Highly palatable diets with inappropriate ingredients like a high carbohydrate diet can promote weight gain. Obesity can cause chronic inflammation, hormonal imbalances, cancer, diabetes and many other conditions.
- Dental Disease
Dental disease not only causes pain but also provides a source of infection that will affect gut health and may spread in the bloodstream to damage organs, such as the kidneys and the heart.
- Chronic Kidney Insufficiency
Kidney (renal) disease is very common in older cats. There are many potential causes. These may include inorganic phosphorus added to a commercial diet. Cats may not be able to regulate the absorption of inorganic phosphorus which can lead to excessive levels in the blood. Natural phosphorus in a raw diet is absorbed and regulated by the gut. Also good moisture content in the diet will support kidney health.
In older cats, the thyroid gland can become overactive. There are many possible causes for this including variable iodine contents in foods and environmental chemicals.