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.

Kitten on fence
 

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.

Kitten on tree
 

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.