Naturally, cats are predators. They prey on small animals such as rats, mice, and even birds, surviving on prey-based raw food. Many people, however, feed their domestic/pet cats both cooked and raw food, which might not be ideal for their health. One reason for this is that the cat’s digestive system is designed to handle raw food, with the cat getting all essential nutrients from its prey. Cooked cat foods, however, have a relatively low nutrient density. High temperatures tend to denature or degrade minerals, vitamins, and amino acids, a reason the lost nutrients should be added back to ensure the cat’s health. Many pet food producers do not add these nutrients back.
However, wild cats eat almost every part of small prey and will not touch the intestines of larger animals unless famished. Unknown to many, cats get their supply of calcium from the raw bones of their prey. While raw bones are easy to digest, it isn’t exactly the same with cooked bones. Cooked bones are not only hard and brittle but are dangerous and low in calcium.
From the facts outlined above, raw foods are more beneficial to cats, a reason you should look for foods modeled based on what they’d eat in the wild. Some of the benefits of raw cat food include:
– Improved digestion
– Reduces the volume of stool and odor
– Fewer hairballs, less shedding, and a healthy coat
– Higher energy levels
– Maintains healthy weight (weight loss if overweight)
– Improved dental health
– Better urinary health
- Improved Digestion
The cat’s digestive system is adapted to digesting meat only, which makes them obligate carnivores. A carnivore’s digestive system is considerably shorter and more acidic compared to an herbivore’s. The increased acidity creates the perfect environment for efficiently processing raw foods (meat) within just 12 hours. The short and acidic nature of a cat’s digestive system makes the proliferation of bacteria almost impossible, reducing the risk of food poisoning.
Cats have a limited ability to digest carbohydrates. They also do not require carbohydrates in their diet plan. For this reason, their digestive system only has enzymes capable of handling proteins and nothing else. This is unlike dogs and humans with different enzymes for handling the different types of food. A raw diet plan will thus help improve your cat’s digestive and overall health.
- Reduced Stool Odor and Volume
When on the right diet plan, cats absorb most of their food, producing a significantly low stool volume. A cat’s stool is hardly smelly though dry and a little dry. They only produce stool once per day or even less. The almost odorless stool makes wild cats harder for their prey to track.
A carbohydrate-rich diet, on the other hand, stresses the cat’s digestive system, with almost all the carbs excreted undigested. For this reason, cats fed with carbs produce a higher volume of stool, smellier than normal. That said, smelly puddles of stool in the cat’s litter box are a sure sign of poor-quality feed.
- Fewer Hair Balls, Less Shedding, and A Healthy Coat
A raw diet is not only good for the cat’s digestive system but also promotes a healthy coat too. Cats on a raw diet usually have soft and silker fur compared to those fed cooked meals. The raw meals provide the cat with essential omega 3, omega 6, and unsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids are vital for hair/fur growth and a healthy skin/coat. The raw diet plan also reduces shedding and hairballs.
- Higher Energy Levels
A raw protein diet provides cats with essential nutrients and energy needed to keep them healthy and energetic. Most cats will be more active when fed with the appropriate raw diet than cooked meals. Cats burn proteins through glucogenesis (in the liver) to produce the much-needed energy. This is unlike dogs and humans that only respire proteins for energy as a last result, or if there aren’t carbohydrates in their diets. Providing your cat with quality meats thus gives them the needed energy sources, bringing them back to ‘life’.
- Promotes Weight Loss
Unknown to many, cats tend to overeat when fed with the wrong food, especially cooked foods low on proteins and other nutrients. They do so to make up for nutritional deficiencies, making them overweight and/or obese. Switching from the ‘inappropriate’ diet to a raw cat food diet can, however, see him/her shed off the excess weight and gain an athletic body. It will be just a matter of a few weeks before the once overweight cat will have a healthier body and full of energy.
- Improved Dental Health
While genetics can influence your cat’s dental health, feeding them with the wrong type of food only increases their risk of tooth loss and gum disease. Wild cats hardly ever suffer from these conditions because they chew on bones, skin, connective tissue, and meat, which keeps their teeth strong and healthy. In addition to this, living off a raw protein diet eliminates the risk of carbohydrates or starch on their teeth and gums. Carbohydrates are one of the leading causes of dental problems by promoting the growth of bacteria and tartar buildup.
Switching to a protein-rich, raw diet plan can thus help improve your cat’s dental and overall health. It would also be advisable to provide or add raw meaty bones for the cats to chew on. Chewing on the bones helps remove food particles and bacteria from between teeth. This helps control bacteria known to cause dental infections and other issues.