Myths About Feeding Your Kitten a Raw Meat Diet
Myths About Feeding Your Kitten a Raw Meat Diet

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Myths About Feeding Your Kitten a Raw Meat Diet

Are you considering feeding a raw diet to your kitten? Before you do, make sure you have the right information. Get the facts about 10 common myths associated with raw meat diets.

 

 

MYTH 1: The benefits are proven.

FACT: No scientific studies have shown benefits of feeding raw diets to kittens or cats. Their appeal is based on word of mouth, testimonials and perceived benefits.

 

 

MYTH 2: This is what animals eat in the wild.

FACT: Lynxes and other animals in the wild, like wolves, do eat raw meat (in addition to berries, plants, etc.). However, the average lifespan for an animal in the wild is only a few years. Therefore, what is nutritionally “optimal” for a wild animal like a lynx is not optimal for our pets that we hope will live longer and healthier lives.

 

 

MYTH 3: Dogs and cats can’t get infections from Salmonella or other bacteria in raw meat diets.

FACT: Cats, especially kittens, senior cats or immunosuppressed animals, can become infected with Salmonella, Clostridium, Campylobacter and other bacteria found in raw meat diets, just as people can.

 

 

MYTH 4: Raw food diet ingredients are human-grade.

FACT: Even meats purchased at the best stores for people can contain harmful bacteria, so purchasing “human-grade” meat does not protect against the health risks of uncooked meats. (Ask yourself: Would you eat raw ground beef?) It is also important to keep in mind that the term “human grade” has no legal definition for pet food.

 

 

MYTH 5: Freezing raw diets kills bacteria.

FACT: Most of the bacteria found in raw meat diets can easily survive freezing and freeze-drying.

 

 

MYTH 6: As long as bones are raw, they’re safe.

FACT: Bones, whether raw or cooked, can fracture your kitten’s teeth. They also can block or tear the esophagus, stomach or intestine.

 

 

MYTH 7: Cooking destroys enzymes needed for digestion.

FACT: All the enzymes dogs and cats (and people) need for digestion are already in the gastrointestinal tract. Additional enzymes from food are not required for digestion.

 

 

MYTH 8: Raw diets do not contain grains, because grains are added to pet foods only as fillers.

FACT: Corn, oats, rice, barley and other grains are healthy ingredients that contain protein, vitamins and minerals; they are not added as fillers and are unlikely to cause allergies. Although meat is an important component of diets for kittens and cats, grains can be part of a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet.

 

 

MYTH 9: Most commercial pet foods contain harmful ingredients such as by-products.

FACT: Byproducts are the animal parts American people don’t typically eat, such as livers, kidneys or lungs — in other words, the organs and meats other than animal muscle. Note that some pet foods may actually list these ingredients (e.g., duck liver, beef lung), but these are really just byproducts. Most commercial and many home-prepared raw diets also contain by products.

 

 

MYTH 10: If bones or chicken necks are added to raw meat diets, they’re nutritionally balanced.

FACT: Most homemade (and even some commercial) raw meat diets are extremely deficient in calcium and a variety of other nutrients, even if chicken necks, bones or eggshells are added. This can be disastrous for any animal but especially for young, growing kittens, and can result in fractured bones. For complete and balanced nutrition, feed your cat a high-quality kitten food like IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Healthy Kitten.

Myths About Feeding Your Kitten a Raw Meat Diet
Myths About Feeding Your Kitten a Raw Meat Diet
  • Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?
    Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?

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    Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?

    An upset stomach is more common in cats than you might think. But how can you tell if it's a serious problem?

    Every cat owner recognizes the warning signs of an upset feline stomach: the mournful meow, gagging, and heaving retch. But in a flash, the cat seems to snap back to good health while you're left scrubbing the carpet.

    The scenario is a familiar one for Cynthia Bowen of Cleveland, Ohio. As the owner of four Maine Coons, Bowen has cleaned her share of messes. "It would happen every couple of months or so," she says. "Otherwise, they were perfectly healthy."

    Although it's not a pleasant subject, vomiting is something cats seem to do almost on cue. Many cat owners accept this as a natural part of owning a pet, but it doesn't have to be that way. Knowing what triggers an upset stomach and what you can do about it will make for a better relationship with your cat.

     

    Cause for Alarm?

    Repeated cat vomiting should never be ignored because it can lead to dehydration. But, because vomiting is common in cats, how do you know what's normal? "A general guideline is that if the cat is vomiting one to three times a month, we consider this 'normal,'" says Dr. William Folger, a DVM from Houston.

    He considers it serious if the vomiting occurs twice daily for two or three days. If your cat stops eating, seems to have stomach pain, or retches continuously, or if there's blood in the vomit, take her to a veterinarian. And, as always, if you're suspicious that a lingering problem could be harmful to your pet, call your veterinarian. A visit to the office can help relieve your cat's discomfort and your worries as well.

     

    Why Cats Vomit

    Many owners attribute their cat's vomiting to hairballs, but that's not the only culprit. "It's careless to assume that most cases of vomiting in cats are due to hairballs," says Dr. Folger. Two other frequent causes of an upset stomach are:

    • Eating too fast. Cats sometimes eat too much, too fast. When the stomach wall expands too quickly, a signal is sent to the brain to cause regurgitation. In these cases, the mess on your floor is from regurgitation, not actual vomiting. When a cat regurgitates, he brings up fluid and food from his esophagus by opening his mouth–unlike vomiting, where there's gagging and retching. Regurgitated food is still formed, and may smell fermented. "Cats that eat too quickly because they are gluttonous or stressed by food bowl competition can regurgitate right after eating," says Dr. Sara Stephens, a DVM from Montana. But don't assume regurgitation is always a case of eating too fast. It could be caused by esophageal problems, obstruction of the digestive tract, hairballs, or dehydration. If you've forced your cat to eat slowly and he still has problems, contact a veterinarian.
       
    • Curiosity. Grass, carpet, and toilet paper are just a few things cats may digest and later vomit. The vomiting is a protective mechanism–nature's way of cleansing your cat’s system. Sometimes, though, curiosity can lead to more serious problems. String, toy parts, and feathers are favorites of playful felines and can lodge in the stomach or intestine, causing repeated vomiting and severe distress. If your cat exhibits these symptoms, take her to a veterinarian immediately; surgery is often necessary to remove the object.

     

    Preventative Measures

    Often, owners accept their pet's vomiting as a natural part of their behavior, but just because cats seem to have more than their fair share of tummy troubles doesn't mean you have to sit idly by.

    One simple preventative measure is to get your fast-eating cat to slow down or to simply eat less. Stephens recommends smaller portions, elevating your cat's food dish slightly, or putting an object, such as a ball, into the dish. The cat will be forced to eat around the ball, and thus her intake will be slowed. If you do this, make sure the ball isn't small enough to swallow. And you may need to feed cats in a multiple-cat household at different times and places to reduce competitive eating.

    If simple solutions don't work, watch your cat's eating behavior and reactions. Bowen, for example, tried changing her cats' diets. "Since switching to IAMS®, they rarely throw up," Bowen says.

     

    "Usually, when you change to a higher-quality diet, there is no problem," Stephens says. Here are some tips for helping make sure your cat's change is as successful and comfortable as possible:

    • Go slowly. Make the transition gradually to allow your cat time to adjust. "Make sure the cat eats something every day," Stephens advises. "A cat that quits eating suddenly can develop liver problems."
       
    • Add appeal. Switching from wet to dry or vice versa should also be done gradually. Many cats find canned food more palatable. If you switch to dry, add water and warm it slightly for more appeal. Discard uneaten food after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage.
       
    • Measure up. How much should you feed? Your cat's age, sex, breed, activity level, and overall health need to be taken into consideration. Talk with your veterinarian, then read the manufacturer's recommendations. Premium foods like IAMS cat foods are more nutrient-dense than many non-premium diets, so don't be surprised if the recommended amounts seem low.
       
    • Pay attention. Beyond careful measuring, also regularly weigh your cat and adjust the feeding amount accordingly after switching to a premium food. Your cat may appear happy if you overfeed him. But over time, he may become overweight. Tummy troubles can be in the past with your veterinarian’s help and a little effort on your part.

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