Thoughts on Raw Food Diet

monkeymind

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Wanted your thoughts on raw food diet both in terms of brands or mixes for vitamin content. Until reading your article I did not know about the AADFO(?) so that may be helpful.
With raw food diet is it only safe for younger cats or seniors as well? We had switched our senior cat to the raw food diet and she seemed more energetic, fur softer than ever, no dandruff, etc. She ended up passing away really fast with impact on kidneys and gallbladder. Having already lost a cat to CKD I realized maybe putting a senior on protein rich diet was dangerous. Her previous kidney panel had been normal but she was 3 months overdue for her 6 month panel check up. I want to make sure we are doing the best for our younger cats but also know changes that may need to happen as they age?
 

dr rachel

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The controversy and advocacy around raw food diets in cats in very confusing.  I know many stand by it, but I in general do not.  I worry about food born illness and there is a lot of research which highlights the risk in cats (that also exists in humans).  Wild cats that hunt eat their kills fresh, while domestic cats that are fed raw meats bought at the store are not eating fresh kills.  The warning labels the FDA places on chicken, for example, that chicken should be cooked before consumption and to clean areas in contact with raw chicken--reflects the level of concern for bacterial contamination. Animals recently killed and consumed do not have, in general, the level of pathogenic contamination that packaged meats do.  Cats are as susceptible to the affects of Salmonella and other pathogenic enterobacteria, they do not have immunity against it any more than we do.

So. To your question: I worry a lot about feeding raw food to animals that are immunocompromised.  Cats with advanced kidney failure, the aged and those with cancer are likely just that, so feeding those cats a raw diet may not be the best choice. In this case, the protein content does not worry me as much as the potential for bacterial contamination and sepsis.  

I know many brands are coming out that are prepared, supposedly balanced raw food diets. I have also seen the kibble that have raw freeze dried additives. I have seen many diet recipes, but I don't have any useful opinion on these.  My recommendation is that only  immunocompetent cats should be offered raw diets.  
 

Anne

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Just to add something that I recently learned about salmonella. Apparently, freezing meat does not kill salmonella. There have been outbreaks of salmonella which were tracked back to frozen meat. 
 

msserena

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Dr Rachel,

What do you think about the Pottenger cat food study?
 

dr rachel

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HIs non controlled, long term study was highly flawed and to my mind, not much can really be gleaned from it. He adrenalectomized cats--a procedure which has considerable mortality and morbidity, and then fed them diets which were low in taurine. It was not until several decades later that the importance of taurine in the feline diet was identified.  Much of what he found was more due to inadequate nutrient supplementation (taurine) in the cooked diets that showed itself over time, rather than some intrinsic superiority of raw foods.  Today it is well known that cooking meats leads to taurine destruction, that cats can not synthesize it themselves, and so it must be added back after cooking.  
 
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