I talked to three professionals regarding feeding raw meat to cats. Here are the results, in three little nutshells:
Colorado State Vet School—Dr. M.
I talked with Dr. M., the vet who currently sees our ancient, ailing cat Slim (who will play no part of this raw food experiment, by the way). He is basically against raw diets and the main reason he gave was the possibility of bacteria and/or parasite contamination. However, he was happy to answer my many questions and even suggested that I speak with a nutritionist at the UC Davis vet school (see below). He even offered to help me come up with a recipe if I decided to go that route.
UC Davis Vet School
Well, this was interesting. As suggested by the trusted vet from Colorado State, I called the nutritionists’ office at UC Davis to schedule a phone consultation. The person who eventually answered the phone informed me that UC Davis does not promote raw diets. When I asked if I could at least talk to someone who could answer some questions, the tart reply was, “The answer to any question you ask will be that UC Davis doesn’t promote raw diets.”
I won’t use the “information” I got from this phone call in my decision-making since they refused to even tell me why they think raw is bad. The person I talked to was clearly just regurgitating some meaningless words someone else had told her. She obviously hasn’t read my Meaningful Quote 3.
Local Vet—Dr. B.
So finally I called my local vet, the one who actually has examined Oscar and Tara. I was fully expecting a firm “no” from her as well. But to my surprise, Dr. B. promotes raw diets, as long as the owner (that’s me) knows that there’s a delicate balance of protein, vitamins, nutrients, etc. If this balance is even a little off, then the raw diet is not only useless but also very harmful.
Of course, I already knew this, having read everything under the sun about raw cat food.
Dr. B. was very knowledgeable and even seemed excited about it. She recommends using a pre-made raw food since it will have the proper nutritional balance. And interestingly, the brand she recommends, Nature’s Variety, is the same brand of the tasty rabbit I bought recently (see my previous two posts on this matter, Of Mice and Kibble and Rabbit Eaters).
Regarding bacteria and parasites, she had two things to say. First, like people, cats are all different. Some can tolerate the bacteria and some can’t. So watch the litter box! Second, parasites are found mostly in pork muscle meat. So that’s easy—don’t feed pork. Parasites can be found elsewhere too, but she didn’t seem too concerned about this, especially since I take my cats in for a physical every year.
Since Dr. B. reviewed Oscar and Tara’s latest blood work before making her recommendation, I feel confident switching them to raw. I really believe her professional opinion was based on the current health of my two cats. She also told me that there are some cats that she would absolutely recommend against feeding raw, so hopefully anyone who is thinking about this consults their vet before jumping in.
I think I’m ready to take the plunge. My next step is to purchase a second plastic mat for mealtime since Tara has recently developed a fondness for dragging her food onto the floor before eating it. Maybe she thinks she’s killing it. That’s a new thing.