Raw food diets for kittens - Winn Feline Foundation

jcat

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Raw food diets for kittens–final project report
The researchers in this study investigated the effects of raw diets on health and well-being of kittens. While both benefits and costs have been claimed for raw diets, little work has been done on specific effects of the raw diet on cats. In this study, kittens were fed either a commercial processed diet, commercial raw diet, or home-prepared raw diet.

Growth performance was similar on all three diets. Nutritionally, there was neither an advantage nor disadvantage among any of the diets, as all three were nutritionally adequate. The raw food diets were associated with higher digestibility and decreased fecal matter, although a direct health benefit of this difference was not observed.
 

minka

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The study seems very biased to me as "nutritionally adequate" isn't what I would call a healthy diet.
The initial article was also poorly written IMO. It was hard to tell whether their stated results pertained to the raw cats, the commercial cats or both.
I'm left skeptical.
 

ldg

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Thanks Tricia!

IMO the Winn Feline Foundation is one of the few places that conducts independent research.

This was the interim report: http://winnfelinehealth.blogspot.ca/2012/03/raw-food-diets-for-kittens.html

And I've seen a different version of the final report. Interesting that there's no mention of higher immune response in the cats/kittens fed raw in this short summary. The project is part of someone's dissertation, so it'll be a while before the full report is available, but I'm really interested in seeing more of the detail, and knowing what control foods were fed, and what the home made diet was.

All of that said....

This trial was 10 weeks long. It was conducted to determine nutritional adequacy and potential benefits.

Now - unless a cat had FLUTD, IBD, allergies, etc. I'm not exactly sure what benefits (other than fecal volume and potentially skin condition/coat quality) would BE expected to be observed in feeding raw for 2.5 months. :dk: :scratch: It was 10 weeks - not one year or 10 years. Sadly, these cats will not be tracked throughout their lives on these diets.

IMO, the length of the study by definition limits the ability to observe any real benefit unless a cat had an illness going into it. To observe actual benefit (other than better bioavailability) you need a group of IBD kitties, and have some put on raw and some kept on whatever control diet, or a group of FLUTD kitties, etc.

So I think that an independent study found that a raw diet is nutritionally adequate for growing kittens and adult cats in and of itself is great. :clap: :clap: :clap: ...and I suspect that the full report will detail some of the immune system benefits. The final report I have discussed higher levels of oxidative burst response (though the theory is that if more taurine is added to canned foods, the same result might be seen) and various other things (all the groups of kittens developed diarrhea due to an overgrowth of normal gut bacteria from the switch to the high protein diet; all were put on antibiotics, and the kittens fed raw had their diarrhea resolve the fastest).

I can't wait for the full dissertation with details. But clearly if someone wants to feed raw, they need not fear it's not nutritionally adequate.

:D
 
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auntie crazy

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I would submit that ten weeks is more than enough time to see a difference in health and vitality, even in cats that aren't actively ill.

In every demographic, that is, EXCEPT kittens.

Kittens haven't had their systems compromised by years of living. They have bodies that are strong and healthy, that can take a lot without showing wear and tear, and repair quickly. Their metabolism is in an accelerated "repair and grow" phase so, naturally, their bodies and behaviors are going to be similar between groups fed strictly "adequate" nutrition and those fed "optimal" nutrition.

Except for the small percentage of kittens whose digestive systems are already too compromised (through genetics) to absorb the chemicals, toxins and species-inappropriate ingredients of commercial products, I wouldn't expect to see a lot of difference between the outward health and behavior of the cats in this study.

Like LDG, however, I have a more complete version of this report... and there is more that was discovered than was mentioned in that summary. Also, I find this remark, "The raw food diets were associated with higher digestibility and decreased fecal matter, although a direct health benefit of this difference was not observed." rather disingenuous. The benefits of a food that is more digestible (meaning less energy is required to digest it, and less stress is inflicted upon the system doing the digestion) and more efficiently and thoroughly utilized (meaning more nutrients are absorbed, with less waste produced) are blatantly obvious.

The ending line, however, is a nice giveaway to the actual study conclusion. "Future research on methods to reduce pathogen load while minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins is recommended." To my mind, that's a clear acknowledgment of the benefits of feeding fresh, raw meat  (and bones & organs) to our kitties.


Just makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. *grin*

AC
 
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ldg

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I would submit that ten weeks is more than enough time to see a difference in health and vitality, even in cats that aren't actively ill.

In every demographic, that is, EXCEPT kittens.
Good point. BUT... seems to me those are so subjective, unless the trial is in the home of owned pets, how can such a study "measure" something like that (in adult cats). :dk:
 

auntie crazy

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Good point. BUT... seems to me those are so subjective, unless the trial is in the home of owned pets, how can such a study "measure" something like that (in adult cats).
No clue. That's a question for those who perform these studies, I think.

I'm sure there are methods of quantifying levels of energy, coat condition, eye clarity and all the other myriad health status indicators, but I'm just as sure I couldn't tell you what they are.


For certain, however, ten weeks is more than enough time to see the difference in adult cats. Just look at all these wonderful TCS threads detailing the amazing changes so many of us have seen in our kitties within days of beginning the transition.


I'm just as puzzled as you why more detail wasn't provided with that summary. Maybe... just guessing now... whoever wrote the WINN summary didn't want to steal any thunder from Dr. Hamper's dissertation?

Hmmmm, wouldn't it be cool if that dissertation turns out as mind-blowing as that Harvard law student's Deconstructing the Regulatory Façade: Why Confused Consumers Feed their Pets Ring Dings and Krispy Kremes, report?

AC
 

ldg

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VERY interesting! Really - that is about the shortest "abstract" with the least amount of information I've ever seen! :lol3:


The ending line, however, is a nice giveaway to the actual study conclusion. "Future research on methods to reduce pathogen load while minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins is recommended." To my mind, that's a clear acknowledgment of the benefits of feeding fresh, raw meat  (and bones & organs) to our kitties. :D
And EXCELLENT point. :clap:
 
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Willowy

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According to the "Ring Ding" paper (I was just skimming but saw this), the AAFCO feeding trials done for "growth" only run for 10 weeks. So I guess that's what they were trying to approximate in this experiment?
 

carolina

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The ending line, however, is a nice giveaway to the actual study conclusion. "Future research on methods to reduce pathogen load while minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins is recommended." To my mind, that's a clear acknowledgment of the benefits of feeding fresh, raw meat  (and bones & organs) to our kitties. :D

Just makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. *grin*

AC
:dk: I read this completely differently......
I read this as there is a concern with exposure to pathogen load when feeding raw or underprocessed meats, and further research on minimizing the risks is recommended.

I read it this way because of the two sentences preceeding the above statement:

Overgrowth of fecal bacteria was noted in cats fed both control and raw foods. Salmonella spp. was definitively isolated from the feces of one kitten fed the homemade raw diet and undetermined in another instance. Exposure to pathogenic bacteria from raw foods and contaminated commercial diets have been reported in other studies. Future research on methods to reduce pathogen load while minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins is recommended.
Emphasis is mine.
Obviously, I am not saying feeding raw is bad.... as I FEED raw.... And those cats didn't get sick.
I am just noting I read the above conclusion differently.
 
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ldg

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But in this summary, they mention the pathogens are present in COMMERCIAL food - not just raw food.

Now - whether they mean commercial raw food or other types of commercial food isn't clear. Either way - bacteria has been reported (as we well know from recalls) in ALL types of food - kibble, canned, commercial raw, etc.

What struck me was the word "recommendation" in conjunction with "minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins." :nod: Sounds like an endorsement of raw feeding to me - but along with a recommendation to find ways of reducing potential bacterial issues (like HPP or whatever).

The interesting thing about this summary is the very little information in it. Yes - the salmonella was isolated from a kitten's feces that was eating raw. It was isolated from another sample, but they didn't know which diet it was from. In the more detailed "final report" I have, what's notable about that is that none of the kittens were sick with salmonellosis. So they found salmonella - but no cats or kittens were sick from it.

BTW, here is the description of the study: http://www.winnfelinehealth.org/Pages/WinnGrants2009p2.html

09-002: Nutritional adequacy and performance of raw food diets in kittens
Beth Hamper, DVM; Claudia Kirk, DVM, PhD, DACVN, DACVIM; Joseph Bartges, DVM, PhD, DACVN, DACVIM; University of Tennessee; $14,878

There are many benefits claimed for feeding raw food diets to cats, including improved immune function. Although 4% of U.S. cat owners feed raw diets as all or part of their cat’s diet, there are no published studies examining whether these diets are complete and balanced for feeding cats or whether immune function is improved in cats on a raw food diet. The goal of this study is to determine whether a commercially produced raw food diet and a homemade raw diet are nutritionally adequate for feedings kittens and whether these diets enhance immune function and improve digestibility. The outcomes to be measured include growth rate, feed efficiency, digestibility, and various blood and immune status parameters. The long term goal is to evaluate ways of improving feline immune function through diet.
And these are the people responsible for the study:

http://www.vet.utk.edu/clinical/sacs/nutrition-about-us.php

And this is information in the more detailed final report I have: http://www.thecatsite.com/t/245431/dont-listen-to-tufts-university#post_3216259
 

carolina

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But in this summary, they mention the pathogens are present in COMMERCIAL food - not just raw food.
Now - whether they mean commercial raw food or other types of commercial food isn't clear. Either way - bacteria has been reported (as we well know from recalls) in ALL types of food - kibble, canned, commercial raw, etc.
What struck me was the word "recommendation" in conjunction with "minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins." :nod:
I don't get that at all -

Future research on methods to reduce pathogen load while minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins is recommended.
Read it again - what is recommended? Future research in reducing pathogen load while minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins.

You don't see any concern in there with the pathogen load?

Why are they calling for more research in reducing that pathogen load?

__________________________

Let me make this very clear -
On all the other stuff you posted, you a preaching to the choir - I am right there with you :lol3: :bigthumb: :clap::clap::clap:
I am a raw feeder, 100% believer, and SO not worried about the pathogen load :lol3: - I KNOW our kitties can deal with it, and frankly, I am way more scared when that bacteria in on kibbles than on meat :nod:

I am simply saying that I do not see that they meant what you both are seeing by writting that last sentence - not at all.
That is not an endorsement IMHO.
You can't ignore the sentence that immediately preceedes it, IMHO. That sentence clearly, IMHO shows a concern.
We are all raw feeders. I know, I have now doubt it is the best diet, but IMHO we also have to see things for what they are.
IMHO that is not an endorsement, as it is written.
 
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auntie crazy

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...    

Why are they calling for more research in reducing that pathogen load?
...
Because they're paranoid and uninformed?


That part of the recommendation doesn't phase me in the slightest; it's the same refrain heard over and over. *shrug*

Most of the studies - in fact, I dare say maybe even all of the studies - I've read over the years end with "further research is needed"; this is the first time I've seen "recommended" in reference a raw feeding study. And the fact they call out "animal tissue protein" and "minimally processed" as being the recommended research topic is... awesome.

Only time will tell how this will be received. I'll definitely be watching for Dr. Hamper's final essay.


AC
 

carolina

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Most of the studies - in fact, I dare say maybe even all of the studies - I've read over the years end with "further research is needed";
That is exactly right.... which means they are not recommending raw either; which is precisely my point, of what that sentence really meant.
 
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mschauer

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But in this summary, they mention the pathogens are present in COMMERCIAL food - not just raw food.
Now - whether they mean commercial raw food or other types of commercial food isn't clear. Either way - bacteria has been reported (as we well know from recalls) in ALL types of food - kibble, canned, commercial raw, etc.
What struck me was the word "recommendation" in conjunction with "minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins."
I don't get that at all -
Future research on methods to reduce pathogen load while minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins is recommended.
Read it again - what is recommended? Future research in reducing pathogen load while minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins.
I agree that reading it as an endorsement of raw feeding is a stretch. It seems to me they are just acknowledging that raw feeding might be an acceptable feeding method if the pathogen loads could be reduced.

Hopefully the final report will be more clear.
 
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aeevr

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"Overgrowth of fecal bacteria was noted in cats fed both control and raw foods"

a) Does this mean ALL the cats' poop had lots of bacteria? Too much bacteria?

Is the amount of bacteria in the poop important? No one is gonna eat the poop right?

Why aren't they discussing the bacteria levels in the food going in?

Are the cats getting sick? 

b) What the heck is the control group eating? It has to be the "commercial processed diet", right? 

I get the impression someone who is very (how to put this nicely?) unfamiliar with the topic wrote this article.

Edit: Followed the link on the bottom - that article made MUCH more sense.

http://winnfelinehealth.blogspot.ca/2012/03/raw-food-diets-for-kittens.html
 
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meuzettesmom

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A lot can happen to a kittens body in ten weeks.

I would like to see what they find out.

If nothing else maybe they will listen to up grade cats food.

Mine never would do the raw. My kitten will eat some cooked meats. But not enough to keep him alive. More of a snack.

The older cats, no way.
 

carolina

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A lot can happen to a kittens body in ten weeks.
I would like to see what they find out.
If nothing else maybe they will listen to up grade cats food.
Mine never would do the raw. My kitten will eat some cooked meats. But not enough to keep him alive. More of a snack.
The older cats, no way.
imho, and having dealt with, and transitioned lucky to raw, I am under the belief that if you want, any cat can be transitioned to raw. My opinion and experience only.... It might t!le a lot of work.... But it can be done, imho.
 
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emilymaywilcha

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I was thinking about this and got two ideas:

1. More research is recommended because 10 weeks is not long enough.

2. The study could have been done wrong because it was a dissertation.

Just my 2 cents.
 

ldg

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In the end, whether or not raw is recommended, I think a study indicating that home made raw is "nutritionally adequate" is a valuable piece. :)
 

emilymaywilcha

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In the end, whether or not raw is recommended, I think a study indicating that home made raw is "nutritionally adequate" is a valuable piece.
I think what we need to see is research comparing commercial and home-made diets. Does it make a difference whether you buy Hare Today chicken or your own chicken before cooking? Does it matter whether you use ground bone or eggshells for calcium? (I know it does for Bugsy but most cats don't have IBD.) Those are the studies we need and are not getting because researchers are unwilling to endorse any raw food for cats.
 
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