Why We Feed Raw

Why we feed Raw Diet at RubyClaw Bengals

We feed a home-made raw diet to all our cats; they THRIVE and excel on this diet!  We’ve reviewed the diet composition with our veterinarian (and tweaked content and process as a result of the discussion), we’ve analyzed the ratio and proportions from a nutritional standpoint (helpful to have a spousal unit who is a Registered Nurse/Microbiologist), and we’ve made a commitment to feed what we think is the best possible energy source to our cats.  I’d like to describe a little bit about the “how and why”.

 #1: Cat’s natural DESIGN.  Cats are OBLIGATE CARNIVORES, which means they are OBLIGED to eat meat.  Also, they are opportunistic feeders - they hunt, they eat.  They wouldn’t, and save prey for later.  If they are hungry they hunt, they eat, they sleep.  Simple.  When a cat does the ‘burying action' over his dry food is evidence of this; the food is there and represents a risk to invite unwanted animals who could threaten him (thinking like a cat in a natural state).

 #2: The digestive tract of the cat when left to its own 'natural' environment has a duration of appx 12-18 hrs from point a (mouth) to point b (poop-shoot).  That is VERY fast when compared to some other mammals.  In a natural state, the proper moisture content (appx 70%) comes from animal flesh (think about it, most mammals have a body content of 70% water).  Dry food has a moisture content of about 10%, THAT’s why manufacturers make a point to remind cat owners to have water available.  It is VERY rare that a cat who is fed a raw diet has any urinary tract issues, cysts, crystals or anything of that nature.  Raw and canned food is appx 70-80% moisture.  Also, be VERY cautious about mixing dry food with ANY kind of wet food (canned or raw).  Apparently, the surface coating mfg's put on the dry food to entice cats to eat it can grow bacteria more rapidly when mixed, than only dry food with slobber on it, or wet food without the catalyst of the dry.   Leaving out a bowl of dry food is like letting your kids snack on Doritos all day long – they’ll get chubby.

#3: Usable and Digestible:  Because there are no “fillers” or “additives” so to speak in a raw diet, practically 100% of the diet is used fully as building block and energy source for the cat.  The result is that a raw fed cat poops less frequently (every 18-36 hours in our experience), the poops have ZERO smell and the cat never strains with a dry, hard poop; all poops come out like tootsie rolls.  This is BEST for the cat’s small and large intestine.   Loosely described, the purpose of the stomach is to break down the food.  The purpose of the small intestine is to extract nutrients and convert to usable building blocks and energy to fuel the cat.  The purpose of large intestine is to extract moisture after processing and prepare to eliminate the unusable content.

#4:  Natural Metabolism:  Cat’s body is naturally adapted to metabolize nutrients found in animals, high protein, moderate fat and minimal carbohydrates.  Many of the commercially prepared dry foods (and some canned foods) rely on plant based protein and have carbohydrate content which exceeds 10%, I believe this is nutritionally dangerous for a cat, and can lead to obesity.

#5: Short duration digestion tract: Because the natural tract is “so short” a duration, that naturally protects the cat from potential toxins in what they ingest because the food/by product is not in their system ‘long enough’ to cause problems.  When Raw (or canned wet) is mixed with dry food (either mixed together or fed together so it mixes in cat’s belly), the dry food takes moisture from the raw or canned food…and that SLOWS DOWN the process.  Conceptually the longer the food is in the belly, the longer (potentially) it can cause problems.

#6: Dental health (and other connective tissues): From my personal experience, I had one cat who at a young age (fed solely dry food diet) started to have bad breath, and had gingivitis, and the beginnings of periodontal disease.  The vet had already begun telling me it was time to schedule regular teeth cleanings (for my year old cat!).  Right around that time, our mentor Mark Pennington really started getting into the minute details asking what we were doing and why; with cat food being the biggest issue.  “I’ve got 3 kids in this house and I don’t want raw chicken spreading salmonella all over the place” was my argument.  When we spoke about the upcoming dental problems in the young cat, he convinced me to *try* it for 6 weeks.  It was over a summer time, so I had a little more time to try and keep raw chicken from running amok in the house.  The transformation was unreal!  The young cat’s coat got even more slick and beautiful, her breath didn’t stink, her energy level (and imp-ish nature) was boosted, we never noticed the stench of the litter box (switched to looking to scoop daily rather than when the green-funk-stink came out of her toilet). 

Although she didn’t grow back the tooth she lost (LOL), she CLEARLY was feeling superior on this new ‘fuel’.  So we stuck with raw food.  When she was back at the vet for another annual check up – he walked in the exam room and started whining at me about ‘why haven’t you scheduled her dental work’… and he stopped mid sentence when he started the exam; clearly stunned and speechless at her transformation.  The proof was when he looked in her mouth and saw those shinny white teeth and those beautiful pink gums – he looked up and said “WOW, gingivitis is fully reversed and she LOOKS GREAT! What are you feeding her?” I smiled and said “a raw diet’.  Lead balloon… That vet HATED the notion of raw food early on (likely why I was so hesitant to feed raw in the first place now that I think about it) and I’m thinking that he hated even more that he attributed young cat’s improvement to a change in diet… and then he HAD to admit it was the food.

My intent in providing this info:  I won’t magically “change” anyone’s mind to gung-ho switch to raw diet, and I’m certainly not intending to disparage ANYONE for how they take care of their pets.  For my pet buyers, my strong preference is feeding a raw diet, but I know it won’t’ work for everyone, and some of my pets have done really well with commercially prepared foods. 

I’d just like to suggest some of the ‘philosophy’ behind feeding raw so you can make the best decision for you, your family and your felines.  If you need any more info or resources, I’m VERY happy to share, just let me know.

Dr. Pierson has written extensively on appropriate diet for cats.  Her work has been reused on pet web md site.  Although I disagree with partially cooking some of the food, the concepts she present are solid based on great scientific fact.


Lisa Stacholy/RubyClaw Bengals