Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken
Feeding a raw diet for cats is a controversial topic and there can be genuine health risks to you and your pet. If you decide to try raw-feeding, it is always best to discuss this with your vet first. They can give advice on responsible raw-feeding, making sure your cat receives a suitably balanced diet, and will highlight some of the health concerns that need addressing.
Raw-feeding refers to a diet that includes raw meat, sometimes containing raw offal and bone, in addition to other uncooked ingredients such as vegetables. A raw diet can be home-made or commercial, with the latter being sub-divided into complete and complementary diets.
A complete diet will contain the correct balance of nutrients that your pet needs in order to be fed solely on this food. However, a complementary food should be fed in combination with another diet, in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Home-made diets can be very variable in terms of whether they adequately meet your pet’s requirements. This means they should only be fed under specialist guidance, and are likely to need additional supplementation to avoid deficiencies.
There are purported benefits and drawbacks to raw-feeding, which contribute to both sides of the debate on whether cats should eat raw chicken or indeed any other raw meat. Here is what you need to know about this type of diet.
Can cats eat raw chicken and other meats?
It is possible to feed cats on a raw diet which may be based on chicken or another meat. However, there are food safety concerns to both pet and owner, which will be discussed in more detail below. Supporters of raw diets for cats often mention that these diets allow the cat to consume food that is more similar to the diet of wild cats. After all, no one is cooking the rodent a wild cat just caught for dinner! It is important, though, to consider that our domesticated felines have come a long way since their ancestors, and that life expectancy of our pets is greater than wild cats.
To make an informed decision on feeding raw, we need to look at what the safety risks are for both our pet and ourselves.
What are the risks of a raw diet for cats?
Parasites and bacteria
Cats can get sick as a result of the parasites and bacteria living in raw meat which can contaminate raw diets. It is possible for cats to pass this on to humans, and to shed bacteria within the household. Commercial raw diets are subject to legislation and testing, which aims to minimise the risk of food-bourne illnesses. Home-made diets can pose a greater problem and pet owners must always source ingredients from safe and reliable sources to ensure food safety.
Decrease the risk of contamination by using a suitable commercial diet, disinfecting all the surfaces that have come in contact with the food and thoroughly washing your hands or even wearing gloves when handling it. Pregnant or immunocompromised people should be particularly cautious, as they are at greater risk. All diets should be stored appropriately, usually in the freezer, and tightly sealed to avoid cross-contamination. Follow guidelines on safely defrosting frozen raw diets.
Raw diets made at home are less likely to have complete and balanced quantities of nutrients, as the properties of ingredients can be inconsistent, increasing the risk of nutrient deficiencies. Therefore, homemade diets, raw or otherwise, are not recommended, although a more balanced diet is possible with expert advice. Find out more about how to feed your cat a balanced diet with our article.
Keep in mind that a commercially available, reputable, complete cat food based on raw meat might be a better option. This is specifically formulated by pet nutritionists to meet the needs of your pet and tested to make sure they meet safety standards.
Bone pieces can be dangerous
Small bone pieces can end up in your cat’s raw chicken dinner and pose a threat if they become lodged in the digestive tract. Bones can also cause damage to teeth. Cooked bones are also considered dangerous as these can splinter once swallowed and can cause internal damage.
Take these risks into consideration and make sure you consult the vet before feeding your cat raw chicken or any other type of raw meat.
Can cats eat raw bacon?
Yes, cats can eat raw bacon, as it is not toxic, but it is not very good for their health. Make sure the bacon is fresh, raw not cured, and keep surfaces and kitchen utensils clean after they’ve been in contact with the raw bacon.
Bacon tends to be high in salt and fat, so it’s best to use it as an occasional treat rather than a staple food in your cat’s diet.
Even though cats can eat raw meat, it doesn’t mean they should, and is not without its risks. Consult with the vet before making a decision about whether to try raw feeding.
Next, find out our top tips for cat snacks and treats, including which ones to choose, how many should your cat have per day and what are some of the most toxic foods that can be easily confused for cat treats.