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Cats are Obligatory Carnivores

Brenda Tobin-Flood

cat yawn

When I owned an all natural pet supply store, and even now, I’ve had people ask me my opinion about what to feed their cats.  I am certified in canine nutrition, but have taken courses in feline nutrition over the years as well.  There are lots of “good” holistic and organic kibble for cats.  I even sold them in my store.  Some people just really feel comfortable feeding kibble, thinking that the dry crunchies are keeping their cats teeth clean.  It really does not.  If you think about it, try eating dry cereal for all your meals and don’t brush your teeth.  Tell me what is going to happen….not to mention the bad breath stentch….YUCK!

Another issue with dry food is that a cat, being an obligatory carnivore, needs lots of moisture in their diet.  Sure, you can keep bowls of water available for your cat at all times, but the truth of the matter is that they just do not receive enough moisture  while eating a dry diet.  Dry foods contain as low as 9.5% moisture!  That is off of a bag of  a popular Veterinarian recommended cat food too. Raw diets contain upwards to 75% moisture. We’ll talk more about raw diets below.  If you are currently feeding a dry food to your cat go and check out the label.  Renal failure is a common disease in cats and that is often related to the cat not receiving enough moisture in their diet.  From the book Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs: Small Doses for Small Animals written by Don Hamilton, DVM”A fresh food diet with raw meats provides the best possible nutrition. This is essentially what carnivores are designed to eat, and it works best.  Dry food places the most stress on the kidneys because most animals drink inadequate amounts of water, thus the kidneys must work harder to maintain the water balance.  Cats are especially subject to kidney disease since they evolved in an arid environment, and they do not normally drink water.  They typically meet their water intake needs from the bodies of their prey, and a healthy cat on a healthy diet may take a sip of water every couple of weeks. Cats (and most dogs) who live on dry food are almost always somewhat dehydrated.”   He further talks about getting a bowl full of kibble and adding water to it.  See how much water it takes before the food is saturated. He further adds that he has been asked what kind of dry food would he feed to his cats and he responded he would never feed his cat a dry diet…..period!

Cats are obligatory carnivores!!! This means they need meat to survive and thrive.  Sure, they can eat kibble and they will survive, but to truly thrive and be healthy at an optimum level, they really need a meat diet.   Taurine is an essential amino acid that cats absolutely require in their diet.  A taurine deficiency has been known to cause retina degeneration as well as possible blindness and also cardiac problems.  Taurine is found in meat.  Taurine added to dry foods can be lost due to the cooking process.

I love the raw diet for a cat.  There are several types of raw food products.  You can purchase a pre-packaged diet blend, which would consist of ground muscle meat, sometimes ground organ meat and ground bone.  You  can even find specialty ground meats like venison, rabbit, ostrich or Kangaroo.  Most of these are AAFCO approved and most are a complete diet. Read your labels. You’ll need a quality supplement, and I would highly recommend NuVet supplement, which I have used for years for my own pets. This supplement contains human grade and natural ingredients including vitamins, minerals, herbs, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, fatty acids and amino acids.
Some good examples of raw food frozen diets for cats are Stella And Chewies Freeze Dried, Primal Pet foods, BRAVO, or Nature's Variety, just to name a few.

Another type of raw food you can purchase for your cat is processed meats.  This would include, but not be limited to, chicken wings, duck necks, chicken necks, possibly turkey necks (depending upon how big your cat is or how small the turkey neck is, usually the hen necks are a pretty good size) and rabbit.  Rabbit is an excellent raw food source for cats because it is high in taurine.  Yes, they can eat the bones, as LONG AS THEY ARE NOT COOKED!  Cooking the bones make them brittle.  Raw bones are soft and pliable.  This is a great way for your cat to keep their teeth clean.  Eating the bones is like natures toothbrush.  You can purchase this type of food from some small specialty natural pet supply stores or even from your own grocery store.   I would cat-eating-raw-food-300x294 recommend giving your cat a supplement when feeding a raw meaty bone diet.  Again, I would recommend the NuVe t supplement.  This is an excellent human grade supplement for cats, and they have one for dogs as well.  These supplements are water-soluble so your pet will excrete whatever their body does not utilize.


If you are not comfortable with the raw diet, I would rather see the cat eating a high quality canned food. Canned foods are high in moisture. Some examples of quality canned foods would be Instinct Grain Free,  Wysong Au Ju, Wellness Canned Cat food CORE, or Spot's Stew, just to name a few.

If you are new to the raw food diet, please feel free to email me. I specialize in the raw diet and am available for consults.  A common question is “How much raw food do I feed my cat?”.  If you are wanting to switch your cat to a raw food diet, be patient!  Dry food is often times sprayed with fats to make it  more palatable.  We had a cat years ago that we rescued from the local pound who fed him Friskies.  It took me a year before he would eat raw.  I would offer it to him and he would always refuse it.  I raised Great Danes and would purchase 700 pounds of raw food at a time for them.  One day while unloading my truck of raw food for the danes, our cat went into the bed of the truck and opened a case of chicken backs and started eating it on his own.  I did not make a big deal, nor did I say a word to him.  Inside I was jumping for joy knowing he was eating a species appropriate diet….finally!  He lived the rest of his life on a raw diet and never ever looked back.  He ate everything the danes ate.  One word of caution, when changing a cat’s diet, be certain to not starve your cat. If they do not take to the new food give them their usual food and introduce the new food another day. Sometimes lightly searing the meat first can entice the cat.  A cat can literally starve themselves to death!!!!! This is not to scare you, but to educate you.   Encourage him/her and be PATIENT!!!!! The results will be worth it!

Today, there are more veterinarians who understand the raw diet which makes it easier to approach them, unlike when I started 12 years ago.  You can also seek out the expertise of a holistic vet or a homeopathic vet. There is so much information available to you from qualified people.   You are your cat's voice and advocate.  Educate yourself and do what you feel is best for your family member.

Brenda M. Tobin-Flood, Cert. C.N.
Ruby's Naturals (hop over and give us a “like”)
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