I think, therefore I harm
Last week, we saw two options for feeding your cat: dry food and canned food. There is a third choice, one mostly unknown because it is not sold as cat food in any store.
Have you ever saw a lion fed on dry food? You wouldn’t dare imagining that scenario. Even in captivity (in zoos) lions are fed raw meat. Despite their difference in size, lions and domestic cats have the same requirements, there is just a small question of proportion. In the wild, cats are predators, they eat the fresh meat of captured prey. While I do not encourage you to provide fresh live mice to your cat, you could still feed them on raw meat from the grocery store.
The point is to pick pure meat. Check the ingredients on the package to ensure nothing was added, such as spices. Do not pick ground meat as this would cause the same teeth problem as some canned food. Give your cat big chunks of fresh meat. Big enough that they need to work to eat it, but not as big as they would carry it in your house as prey. Do not give them rotten meat, or meat that is so old that you wouldn’t eat it yourself. Unlike dogs, cats will only eat and digest fresh meat.
Cats like, among others, chicken, turkey, pork, rabbit and beef. Beef and other red meat, however, should only be given on the occasion, not regularly, as it is very rich (the same rule holds for humans too, apparently). Fish could be provided as a treat, but should never be a meal, as fish is quite a poor meat.
Meat provides for all the nutrients a cat needs, though diversity is advised because different sources of meat have different proportions of the nutrients. Also, as cats tend to develop a preference for a single food, it is also advised to give them a different kind of meat every day so they don’t get used to just one particular taste.
We humans must cook our meat before eating it, because we lost the ability to digest raw meat as we cooked it for the last million years or so. Cats however do have this ability. Cooked meat lacks some of the nutrients of uncooked meat, and therefore only raw meat should be given to cats. Cats may get used to cooked meat and eventually refuse to eat raw meat, unknowingly missing some of the nutrients.
The only thing missing in meat is calcium, which cats require in large amount. Unlike us which stop developing our bones as we reach adulthood, cats have soft bones which are constantly being renewed, all of their life, thus the requirement for a lot of calcium. In nature, cats get their calcium from the blood and bones of their prey, but neither is available at the supermarket (there is no blood in the meat, some red coloring is added so the meat remains attractive – what goes out of your steak isn’t blood, it’s really just colored water). To compensate, you need to add some calcium to the meat, or provide your car with calcium in some other mean. Some stores sell calcium additives for cats. Some people use calcium additives meant for humans, though I would discourage you from doing so unless you know what to look for (cats do not absorb the calcium the same way we do). Another method, which I adopted with success, is to use egg shells crunched into a powder.
Some people who feed their cat on raw meat add some more additives, such as vitamin B and D, or even taurine. This shouldn’t be necessary though if you carefully pick varied fresh meat, but it shouldn’t hurt either.
When young kitties are fed raw meat, they will eat it immediately, and once they are used to it they most often don’t consider dry cat food as food. However, switching an adult cat to food which doesn’t crunch may be challenging. Raw meat diet requires a lot of dedication on the part of the human to prepare and serve the meals. This diet is also much more costly than the alternatives. In the end, however, many cats get a much better health when they are feed on what they have evolved to eat for several million years.
How good would it be to discuss something I never tried myself?
When Juliette arrived, I had just recently learned about raw meat feeding, so I decided to try. Juliette ate mostly raw meat for the first few months of her life. Turkey, liver, chicken hearts, you name it she ate it. Tigra, which was then 2 years old and only had dry food by then, did like meat. However, she ate just some of them, and never in large amount. She saw meat more like a treat then a meal. She was always waiting for her real, dry meal. Catou, the older cat, never liked meat. She did taste it at a few occasions, but never more than a few bites. When meal was served, she would come to see what it was, and if it was meat she would go back to sleep and wait for the dry food. Though I did try many tricks, I was never successful at converting Tigra and Catou to raw meat.
During my attempt at the diet conversion, I was serving meat first, and dry food only later. I never forced them to eat meat or prevented them from eating dry food. The later was probably my mistake, because eventually Juliette, previously the only meat eater, gradually stopped eating meat and began preferring the dry food. Over time, all of them were back on dry food again and I gave up trying. I do mix small amount of meat with their dry food on the occasion, which works, but they stop eating it if I do this more than occasionally. Also, I often mix a raw egg into their dry food, which they enjoy, but I avoid doing it too often in case they would do the same as for meat.
I did notice a massive difference when they ate raw meat rather than dry food, which encouraged me to continue attempts for a while. Catou stopped loosing her hair, and all of them had more silky hair in general. Also I noticed it took them more time to digest the meat, as they were calm for a much longer period after a meal, though later in the evening they were a lot more active and playful than usual. These results encourage me to try again later in the future.
I learned from my mistakes and promised myself that any future cat which would join my family would be on raw meat only diet from their birth. For now though, my cats eat the more expensive mostly meat dry food. When I first converted them to that food from their earlier supermarket cheap brand, I soon noticed that they needed to eat much less than before, and in the end I believe the food costs just about the same as before.