Despite their current status as domesticated pets, cats are natural-born hunters who evolved eating a raw, prey-based diet. Cats in the wild devour the entire animal – basically a combination of raw meat, bones (a valuable source of calcium) and offal.
Different parts of the cat’s prey provide the nutrients they need to remain healthy, and while these are all included in a high-quality processed cat food, commercial cat food includes extras (such as fillers, vegetables and grains) that your cat doesn’t need.
As obligate carnivores cats need a meat based diet, and preferably raw meat as the cooking process destroys essential nutrients. Below, we outline the many benefits of feeding your cat a raw food diet similar to the one that nature intended.
1. Improved Digestion
Cats evolved eating a predominantly meat based diet and their bodies are design to digest raw meat far more efficiently than plant based carbohydrates. They have short, acidic digestive systems which means a protein meal usually only takes a short 12 hours to pass through.
Feline bodies are not designed to eat and digest carbohydrates (often a mainstay of commercial pet foods) in the same way that humans or dog can and in fact, they don’t produce the enzymes required to efficiently process carbohydrates. In the wild, the only carbohydrates cats eat are found pre-digested in the intestines of prey animals.
Feeding your cat a biologically appropriate raw food diet allows them to process food more efficiently and eat the way nature intended.
2. Smaller, Less Smelly Poop
When cats are fed a species appropriate raw food diet, their bodies utilise more of their food, so there is less waste to eliminate and less poop to scoop. A poop problem with Charlie was our primary reason for switching to a raw food diet (he has subsequently been diagnosed with IBD), but we have since transitioned the entire Pawesome Cats family to raw.
Let’s talk stools for a second. When our cats ate commercial, processed cat food their stools were bigger, smeller and more regular (daily in most cases). Now, on a raw food diet their stools are much smaller (half the size), dry and crumbly and with minimal smell. They also use the litter-box far less frequently, usually only every 2-3 days.
3. More Energy
Have you ever felt lethargic and tired when you’ve eaten too much sugar or unhealthy food? And then, when you make a conscious change to focus on healthier food options, you notice your energy levels improve — it’s no different for cats.
When your cat eats the diet that nature intended for them, they become physically and mentally more stimulated. Charlie is the perfect example, a former couch potato he has become a lot more active and interested in play since we switched him to a raw food diet. The combination of a raw food diet and increased activity has also resulted in him shedding those extra kilograms. So, it’s a win-win situation for us.
4. Better Oral and Dental Health
Dental health in cats is part genetics and part diet. When your cat eats carbohydrate-loaded kibble as part of their diet, they get that furry feeling on their teeth which leads to a build up of plaque and tartar, just like us humans.
Cats who eat a raw food diet usually have stronger jaws, clean teeth and healthier gums. They often have better smelling breath too! When a cat tears and chews chunks of raw meat and eats raw meaty bones (we feed the tips of chicken wings and quail pieces) these act like a toothbrush – it’s a bit like brushing and flossing in one.
Oral and dental health is more important than you might realise, as bacterial infections that start in the mouth often spread internally to other organs and parts of the body.
5. Overall Improved Condition
Besides improved digestion, smaller and less smelly poop, more energy and better dental health you’ll probably notice a few other changes in your cat when you switch to a high quality raw protein diet. Your cat’s skin will benefit from the fatty acids found in a raw food diet, and their fur will be softer, shinier and less prone to shedding. You’ll probably notice a reduction in hairballs too.
Since transitioning our cats to a raw food diet I have seen first-hand all of these benefits which is why I am now such a strong advocate for raw feeding cats. For Charlie, the result has been a huge improvement in his quality of life.
>>> To learn more, check out our Raw Feeding articles.