Raw Meat Diet for Cats

A Good Start but the Best Diets are Balanced


I’ve had a shelter cat for a year now. I recently stumbled onto some basic information about pet nutrition and was horrified by the stories of dry food. I switched Knickknack to a raw meat diet. In just three weeks her energy is way up, she is keenly interested in her food, her coat is far more glossy, and she has stopped shedding. Is this change in hair/skin condition a benefit of the better diet? Why is proper pet nutrition not part of our discussion about pet health and behavior?


Dr. Nichol:

Actually I beat the drum for a high protein feline diet often in this column. It’s no surprise that Knickknack’s skin and hair are better on raw meat but her menu needs a bit more depth.


Cats are physiologically quite different than dogs and humans. By nature they are obligate carnivores. They don’t do well with more than minimal carbohydrates and fats. Dry food is loaded with starch to hold the kibbles together.


Cats used to be nutritionally much healthier. Back in the day they lived outside on rodents and wounded birds. They were sleek, athletic, and almost free of degenerative arthritis. Thanks to dry diets and a 21st century couch potato feline life style diabetes and degenerative arthritis are now rampant.


That raw meat diet concerns me because it is not fully balanced. Cats in the wild eat every bit of what they kill- hair, bones, brains, intestines, and the intestinal contents of partially digested vegetation. They need all of it.


Long term health requires a balanced diet. Canned kitten food is perfect for healthy cats of all ages. If you insist on being a do-it-yourselfer you’d better provide the genuine article-prey on the hoof. Mouse raising might be a fun hobby, but not for me. Some people hate meeses to pieces but I would only get attached.