Should I Feed My Cat Raw Or Cooked Meat?

After I switched my cat’s food from dry to wet a few years back, I noticed that one of my cats began to lose her hair and had scabs on her lower back where her tail starts.  My first thought was it had to be an allergy from the wet foods. That’s when I decided to dig deeper and research into what was a better solution for my aging cats to eat.

So, I thought, should I feed my cat raw or cooked meat? I am feeding my cats cooked chicken meat along with bits of vegetables that comes already prepared because it’s easier. They get the nutrients they need from these freshly cooked ingredients. Although, it’s a better choice to feed your cat safely prepared raw meat, like chicken or rabbit.

Safely prepared raw meat for your cats is the chasm here that most cat owners are confused and scared by. 

red tabby cat on stool trying to grab a raw whole chicken to eat

But despite the concerns about giving a raw food diet to your cat, it serves the best choice if done right.

But for me, I found it less confusing to deal with just giving them cooked meat.  

This was more convenient, easier to prepare and my cats took well to it. The transition from wet food to cooked meat was fairly easy.

This preference between a raw versus a cooked diet for your cat is totally up to you and would depend on your budget, lifestyle, your time commitments, and your cats.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this “what should I feed my cats” quandary and hopefully make it less confusing.

What Do Cats Need To Eat? Meat.

Cats need a source of high-quality protein in their diet.

They are carnivores and living on a “vegan” diet will not give them the nutrients they need to survive.

Basic foods your cats need to eat:

  • Protein (meat or fish)
  • Amino acids (taurine – arginine)
  • Fatty acids
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

Honestly, the confusion between feeding raw or cooked cat food is the quality control.

When deciding to go raw or cooked for your cats, comes with some risks.

Can Cats Eat Raw Meat?

Cats can eat raw meat but many prefer to have it cooked.  The biggest concern for feeding cats raw meat is the safety and risks involved.

Basically, the risk of transferring disease from cat to human. (Zoonotic)

Many vets will deter you from going down this road because of those health/safety issues and they feel a lack of responsibility (having slip-ups) from cat owners.

But don’t let that stop you, just be careful when preparing and mixing your ingredients.

How To Make Raw Cat Food:

 

What Is A Raw Food Diet

Also referred to as the “bones and raw food” diet (BARF) or “biologically-appropriate raw food”.

You’re basically feeding your cat animal muscle meat, bones, and organs.

This is also the “gold standard” diet for cats, despite what non-supportive vets may say. You can make this yourself or you can buy this in commercial form.

Just know, it’s a bit time consuming and you’ll need to make sure your sourcing your ingredients from reputable places.

You may want to consult a vet nutritionist to make sure you have the right balance for your cat.

Making sure you have the right balanced ingredients of:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals – calcium from the bones in meat
  • Protein

Raw Food Diet Recipes For Cats – Labor Of Love

The recipe below was created by Lisa Pierson, a veterinarian in Lomita, Califonia. 

She stated it’s way cheaper than buying canned food and really isn’t that time intensive.

This recipe below is for 1 cat lasting 10 days: Approximately taking a couple of hours.

Go here for the video guidelines. 

  • 3 lbs of  fowl or rabbit (whole) with bones, organs, and skin
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 eggs (use raw yolks, and lightly cook the whites)
  • 2000 mg wild salmon oil
  • 400 IU vitamin E (powdered E in capsule form works)
  • 100 mg vitamin B-complex (start with a smaller amount when beginning a raw meat diet; the vitamin has a strong odor)
  • 2000 mg taurine, powdered
  • ¾ tsp lite salt with iodine (when using chicken parts)
  • Liver (add 4 oz if the meat you are using does not include organs)
  • Psyllium (add when first introducing the raw meat diet to your cat. 

Things you may need:

  • A large cutting board that can go in the dishwasher
  • Meat grinder
  • Poultry shears
  • Meat Cleaver
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Stainless steel or glass mixing bowls
  • Disposable gloves (latex or nitrile)
  • Storage containers (ice cube trays, small freezer-safe airtight containers)
  • Freezer and refrigerator space

Are Raw Food Diets For Cats Safe?

The biggest debate is whether this path of raw food is safe. It’s safe to a degree.

There are risks of course, like salmonella poisoning, E-coli, cats may not tolerate it, cross-contamination, prep surfaces, bones not ground enough, dishes you’re using.

Note: Cat susceptibility to pathogens or food poisoning is different due to their ability to digest faster. They have a shoer digestive tract than us humans. (takes a cat about 12 – 16 hrs and us humans 35-55 hrs)

For now, I’m avoiding the raw food route because I have 2 toddlers running around and I have 4 cats. I feel the cross-contamination would be too risky for me.  

Below are some safe ways to adhere if feeding a raw food diet:

  1. Prepare the food in a designated area
  2. Sanitize and clean thoroughly (using 1:32 bleach/water solution)
  3. Wear gloves
  4. Handle food frozen when possible
  5. Source your meat ethically
  6. Cat feeding area is easy to clean
  7. Sanitize food bowls immediately after feeding (scrub clean, then use a 1:32 bleach to water solution, then rinse and dry bowls)

Homemade Food For Cats (Cooked)

If you’re like me and not comfortable feeding a raw food diet to your cats but still want the best, be in control and know what exactly goes into your cat’s food… then consider cooking it or buying it pre-made yourself.

I like to keep their food as minimally processed as possible.

I actually buy my cats food from a company called NomNomNow. (I only buy the chicken recipe, not the fish.)

Create your cat’s profile here for the free trial.

They prepare all their food fresh and deliver within 2 days still ice cold.

I’ve been using them for about three months now and I don’t see myself ever going back solely to canned food.

The biggest thing here is cost, especially with 4 cats. I still supplement using Crave cat food for variety or when the fresh food runs out.

Homemade Cooked Cat Food Recipe

Let’s not leave our cats out from eating freshly cooked food like we humans do.  

It doesn’t take that much more time, it cost a bit less than buying pre-made and we can freeze it.

Let’s get some of the benefits out of the way:

  • Natural
  • Satisfies their carnivorous instinct
  • Healthier for their teeth
  • Easier to digest
  • Control of what they eat

The Homemade Recipes:

The food you’ll need:

  • Meat
  • Organs
  • Vitamins/Minerals to replicate eating bones
  • Veggies (if you want)

Rabbit Stew (Cooked)

This recipe comes from the book “Natural Cat Care” –  Christopher Day

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb rabbit meat – cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • A dash of parsley, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram
  • Unsalted vegetable stock
  • Sautee rabbit in the olive oil
  • Sprinkle with herbs and add vegetable stock, bringing to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and cook through.
  • Add chopped veggies and return to the oven for another 45 mins.
  • Let cool to room temperature and serve.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge, or freeze

Chicken Breast/Thigh Cooked Cat Food Recipe

With credit to CatsAndMeows

Ingredients: You could totally change this up if you have more cats

I added the asparagus and took out the potato. You can see her original recipe from the link above.

  • 2 LBS Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Thighs and add Liver
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1 Asparagus
  • 1 Can Sardines (Whole)
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Herbs (Oregano, Sage, Thyme)

Click here for the guideline and Instructions. 

Transitioning To A Raw Or Cooked Diet For Your Cat

All cats have their own personalities and tastes, although they certainly aren’t as picky as my 2 toddlers! (yet they can be as stubborn)

Instead of going full throttle into giving them this new smelling food, try supplementing it once per day in place of their regular meals. Whether you currently give them dry or wet food.

My youngest girl, Coocoos, took 3 weeks before she gave in to the cooked chicken meat from eating her dry food.

It took a lot of patience.

Here are the guidelines I followed to get to transition easier from Catinfo.org

Do cats like raw or boiled chicken?

 

Changing habits isn’t an easy thing, so don’t get discouraged if they turn their noses up to it.

When transitioning my cats, I added some beef flavoring over the meat or some Fortiflora (a probiotic supplement for cats)  

This is a great way to get your cats to eat almost anything.

(See what kind of foods can cat’s eat)

It’s like a seasoning over your cat’s food.

Above all have patience.

Related Questions:

Can cats eat raw fish?

Cats can eat raw fish but it’s not recommended due to the bacteria and food poisoning. There’s also an enzyme in raw fish that destroys an essential B vitamin (thiamine) in your cat.  If your cat likes eating raw fish, do so very moderately (preferably never) and offer extra vitamin B1 and extra vitamin E with it.

What meat can you feed cats?

Cooked these to their respective temperatures.

  • Chicken – 165 F
  • Turkey  – 165 F
  • Duck – 165 F
  • Veal – 145 F
  • Rabbit

Can cats eat vegetables?

Cats can eat vegetables such as chopped carrots, peas, frozen corn, broccoli florets, green beans, zucchini, lettuce, spinach, and catnip.  As cats can eat these veggies, its thought that this isn’t something they would eat in the wild, so please serve moderately.

Sources:

https://www.petdiets.com/ – to build the best diet for your cat

https://feline-nutrition.org/nutrition/making-raw-cat-food-for-do-it-yourselfers – great raw food recipe

All The Best Pet Care

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