Raw feeding is the latest craze to hit the pet industry...but should you be doing it?
Raw feeding is the latest pet food craze and commercial food producers are cashing in big on the trend. But what is raw feeding, and should you be doing it?
What is raw feeding
Raw feeding has grown in popularity over recent years, and most people have now heard of it as a concept. Pet food trends tend to follow human food trends. So when human food trends moved towards paleo diets, veganism and the return to a more ‘cave man’ style of eating….pet food soon followed!
The obvious conclusion that was reached was this: in the wild, animals eat things that they have caught, and killed. They don’t cook them first...therefore, since natural is better, it must be best to feed our domesticated animals the same way wild animals eat: raw.
Why we don’t do raw feeding
We have researched the issue of raw feeding many times over. Every time so far we have reached the same conclusion: it is not the best thing for the average domesticated cat, nor is it the best thing for their owners.
We remain open minded to the benefits of raw feeding, and continue to do research, but as time passes and raw feeding gains popularity, the evidence of the health risks involved is growing.
The risks of raw feeding
Humans do not eat raw meat. We don’t eat raw meat because our digestive systems cannot deal with the dangerous parasites, bacteria and infectious conditions that raw meat contains.
The reason we cook meat is to destroy these dangerous pathogens that contaminate meat. Our pets are no different: they can also catch parasites, bacteria and other infectious conditions from raw meat. There are multiple documented cases of cats catching campylobacter, e-coli, salmonella, parasites and other nasty conditions including tuberculosis, from being fed raw meat.
Unfortunately, as raw feeding has grown in popularity, the number of these incidents has increased. More alarmingly, humans can catch most of these things from their animals...and there have been cases where humans have died after picking up something from their pet, that came from raw feeding.
For that reason alone, we don’t think raw feeding is worth the risk for the vast majority of domestic animals that we share our homes with.
There are some cases where certain animals don’t seem to do well on alternative foods, and thrive on raw food. In those circumstances we can understand why someone may choose to feed raw, provided they take every precaution possible.
Risks of raw feeding:
Reported incidents include the following conditions caused by raw feeding:
Campylobacter infecting cats and their humans (can be fatal to both)
Salmonella infecting cats and humans (can be fatal to both)
Tuberculosis infecting cats and humans (can be fatal to both)
Improper balance of nutrients added, causing serious malnutrition in cats
Pets and humans have died because of raw feeding. Bacteria and other pathogens are so small they are impossible to ‘clean up’ - you will not see them in your house, and you will not know whether they are in your raw food or not!
Raw feeding and TB
Recently a well known brand of raw pet food appears to have been causing cases of TB in pets. These pets have died as a result. Worse still, the strain of TB in question is considered zoonotic, which means it can spread between species. This means that all of the families who have lost a pet have now go the extra worry that they may develop TB and are having to submit to testing. This is a very serious issue and is currently being investigated by the authorities. It seems that the brand is aware of the issues but has not yet withdrawn the product.
Isn’t other pet food killing my cat?
Other pet food has been labelled ‘commercial’ and given a very bad press lately. Clearly there are pet foods and pet food brands out there that are not at all good for your pet - those that are full of sugar, grains and other things that can cause hyperactivity and allergies in your pet. But there are also much better quality pet foods available these days, including very lightly cooked fresh ingredient pet foods.
Read our wet cat food reviews.
It is also worth noting that the digestive tracts of wild cats are very different from the digestive tracts of domestic cats. Wild cats, like the Scottish wild cat, have much shorter digestive tracts, which enable them to eat prey with far less risk to themselves. Domestic cats, on the other hand, have evolved over generation after generation after generation. They have adapted to their environments, and part of their environment is the food they eat. One of the changes that evolution has brought about is that cats now have longer digestive tracts.
Raw feeding: our opinion
We would strongly advise against raw feeding except in the most extreme of cases (i.e. where a cat/dog has multiple/serious health issues and raw feeding appears to help them). We will continue to review the research and keep up to date with this issue, but at the present moment we believe that the risks to the health and the life of your pet and your human family members are simply too high.
Remember, if your cat lifts their raw food onto the floor, and then your child crawls over that floor, your child has effectively handled raw meat. If your dog eats raw food and then licks your face, you have just had raw meat rubbed over your face. You can very quickly see how these bacteria and pathogens can spread invisibly and silently around your home.
If you are raw feeding, remember to do your research! Cats cannot survive on raw chicken alone. They need a complex mix of nutrients and amino acids and you must make sure you are supplying this in their food.
Raw food has now conclusively been shown to have caused TB in more than 100 cats. Please read our article to find out more: Raw food linked to TB
Read an additional update: the rise of the raw food superbugs
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic condition that can be passed on through raw feeding
Find out how often you should be vaccinating your cat - the guidelines have recently changed!
Extremely flat faced cats and their health problems
Discover the importance of good litter tray hygiene
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