Will Demand for Species Appropriate Raw Diets Influence Traditional Pet Food Manufacturers?

Cat stalking and sniffing prey
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Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

There has been an increasing emphasis on the importance of feeding cats a well-balanced species appropriate diet. As a result, many kitty guardians have discovered the majority of the popular well-known brands of commercially prepared cat food are falling short of meeting their cats’ essential nutritional needs. In part these nutritional discrepancies are caused by the heat processing required to meet Governmental standards.

What also remains a great source of concern to cat guardians are the number of cat-food recalls caused by bacterial contamination, a presence of foreign substances or excess minerals and an insufficient level of vitamins.

I often hear from people whose cats have become sick after being fed their regular brand of cat food. But upon checking the pet food label they discovered that the product carries a different bar code. They are wondering if this may be the reason their pet became ill and they immediately check the list of pet foods that have recently been recalled.

As a result of these concerns many people have now started considering switching their cats to a more “natural” food; a food that more closely resembles what they would eat in their natural habitat. They are considering feeding a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food; more commonly known as B.A.R.F. It simply makes sense that feeding better nutrition to our cats will result in their better health.

With the growing body of knowledge about feline nutrition cat guardians are becoming aware that many common medical conditions such as allergies, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, dental disease and poor coat condition is often the result of an inadequate diet. And while some commercial cat foods are being touted as the “best” possible nutrition, they often contain grain and other carbohydrate-laden ingredients that can trigger these conditions.

But there is a fly in the ointment. In spite of the growing number of pet nutritionists who consider raw food diets as an excellent alternative to promote better feline health; according to Veterinarian Karen Becker, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)’s current policy on feeding raw or undercooked animal-source protein which has not been processed to eliminate any pathogens is greatly discouraged since it puts pets (and humans) at risk of becoming ill.

In June 2014, Colorado State University veterinarians warned of the dangers of feeding pets raw diets, stating the risks of contamination and the possibility of the diet being nutritionally imbalanced. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) followed suit and issued its own warnings of the potential of food poisoning in raw food diets.

This said, there seems to be a real “head scratcher in the pet food industry” according to Dr. Becker. Why is it that although feeding raw food diets to our pets is a huge “no-no” according to main stream veterinarians, The AVMA and Government officials, the raw food community appears to be growing by leaps and bounds? That’s a question upon which to we might wish to chew.

According to Dr. Becker, PetfoodIndustry.com concedes that when it comes to commercial raw pet food, “Whatever the controversy, there’s no doubting these categories are on the rise in the industry.”

Based on the growing number of cat guardians who are feeding their pets a safe, nutritionally complete, species appropriate raw diet, this writer is greatly heartened by Dr. Becker’s prediction that the demand by consumers will eventually have to influence the “traditional” commercial pet food manufacturers to meet that demand. And if they do, our cats are sure to reap the benefits

What is your opinion? Have you considered feeding your cats a B.A.R. F. diet? Share your thoughts in a comment.

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13 thoughts on “Will Demand for Species Appropriate Raw Diets Influence Traditional Pet Food Manufacturers?”

  1. jmuhj,after I read Dr. Karen Becker’s interview with Dr. Lisa Pierson- both experts in feline nutrition, it only made me stronger in by beliefs that cats need meat! I just can’t get my head wrapped around feeding rodent meat to them.

    Unfortunately many premier brands of cat food proclaim that they are “grainless”- and these products may not contain grain per se, but they contain an inordinate amount of carbohydrates- from potatoes, peas, carrots, and fruit.

    I have yet to see or hear of a feral cat picking through a patch of blueberries, or chomping on carrots in the neighbor’s garden- but in the wild, they do get a small amount of grain products from the food that the rodent, small mammals, and birds consumed, upon which they prey.

    The by-products in the cheaper brands of cat wet cat food can actually be fairly nutritious, since brains and other protein rich substances are good for kitties, so they may even be preferable to those canned foods that have no by-products in them but are laden with carbohydrates. Dr. Pierson no longer has a huge problem with Friskies- for example, as long as it the canned variety. She strongly advise that feeding canned food is greatly preferable to any dry food.

    It certainly is quite costly to feed raw- but this said, saving on vet bills is worth it- and feeding cats what they enjoy.

    Sadly Dr. Hush Puppy refuses to eat raw turkey- so we feed chicken- which he loves. I must say that I have noticed that they seem to be doing extremely well- a huge reduction in vomiting which is great for them. Although they have some serious health issues now that they are geriatric kitties and I feel I may have contributed to that without feeding them the diet I am feeding them now- they are doing a LOT better. I also attribute this to the supplements that I am giving them now, such as Omega 3 and cardio/ kidney supplements, and probiotics which they seem to love as well. They think these supplements are “treats” and I don’t tell them any different:)

  2. forgot to add that the doctor’s prognosis for him was NOT good. she did not think he would live very long after his surgery, nor did she feel that his skin and coat would ever recover.

    a month later i took him back for his check-up and she couldn’t believe it was the same cat. his fur and skin was about 98% healed and his mouth had completely healed from the teeth extractions.

  3. a year ago i almost lost one of my then 11 year old cats. he began having grand mal seizures and by the time we got him to the vet — they also noticed that he had a bad case of damage from fleas.

    he ended up having to have 6 teeth removed. literally after he woke up from surgery he has not had another seizure.

    not only did i change his cat food to Natural Balance but i also faithfully give him flea medication every month [we live in the country, he spends most of his time living in the woods, and sometimes he wouldn’t come home for weeks on end].

    since his surgery, he spends more time indoors, and only goes out for a few hours each day. he’s back to sleeping with me each night — which was something he only did occasionally in the winter time.

    it took almost 6 months to get the other cats switched over to the New Balance. fortunately at the pet store where i shop i have a card which gives me a free bag after i’ve purchased 12 bags.

    all of the cats look a lot healthier since i switched them from friskies to the Natural Balance.

    for me – its worth the added expense of having switched to a different brand.

    i also took away their friskies wet food and replaced it with a brand called Feline Caviar and they absolutely ADORE that food.

    1. Annie, Thank you for your interesting comment. I found it enlightening. The connection between seizures and poor dental health, I found very interesting. And also the general connection between health and a better quality cat food is also nice to see. Your 11-year-old cat that you almost lost shows us that the domestic cat has this natural urge which I think is there all the time and which some cats succumb to, to go out into the wild and be wild again but they are ill-equipped to do it because they are domesticated. But because they have this built-in desire, we have an obligation to satisfy it in some other way by which I mean we need to stimulate them; create an enriched environment.

      1. t y michael. teddy had to have three teeth on the lower left side extracted and three teeth on the upper right removed. there was also a giant abscess on that side which apparently was pressing on his brain and caused the grand mal seizures. as soon as the teeth were removed, the abscess drained and there was no pressure on his brain. because i’m a good cat mama his heart murmur — which apparently he has also had for all these years but for some reason went undetected in his previous physicals, also improved. like i stated, when i took him back after a month the vet couldn’t believe it was the same cat – he had improved sooooo much in a month. the ladies at the front desk were also shocked to see such a change in his appearance in only a month. today — his fur is long and soft, and his maine coon ruff has returned for the winter. he is a beautiful, happy boy.

  4. AAAaaah there has been a lots a lots of discussion about the nature of cat foods and their qualities but quatity of per feed. But I am in a very different view because it is the habit of a cat from the begining she is a kitten, that which kind of food she is eagerly interested in like my different cats when they were kittens , they rushed towards the TUNA fish and then when they grew up they even did not look at that. And dry food is not bad and a cat can easily survive upto 21 years and there is no wrong in that. It is not a harmful if selected from a good brand and carefully fed to the cats. Ofcourse the cat needs chicken food specially and other than chicken some cats of my colony dare to eat raw red meat but not much.

    It is the selection of the cat not us, because cat’s natural instinct will go on towards such food or just deny it. Because we can not force a cat to eat this and that and I feel that cats are much in their own not like dogs.

    There must be a routine selection and a little bit turn over in the food like select the time table for feeding cats, in 2 weeks just a bit of liver, and then dry food, milk and chicken plus fish (with out any skeleton inside) its a choice, and we can serve different foods to a cat to see which she is eagerly eating and that can be repeated for a week and then a bit change.

    It is upto the cat but the dry food brands are popular and cats like them. It is my experience and they live long as my cats are not sick. 😉

    Great article <3

    1. My belief though is that cats can get used to dry cat food. Especially if they’re fed dry cat food at an early age. So I’m not sure that you’re completely correct when you say that a cat will not eat food that he or she does not like. I think a cat can get used to a food that is not necessarily healthy and if very hungry there will certainly eat almost any sort of cat food. I’m not saying by the way that dry cat food is necessarily automatically bad. I just believe that it should not be used as the sole source of food for domestic cats.

      1. I have to agree with Ahsan about cats refusing to eat something they consider unappealing. I’ve noticed all of my cats have a distinct preference for certain brands and flavours. Some brands they will ignore completely.

        Sophie is the fussiest of my 3 cats and if she doesn’t like something she absolutely will not touch it. It’s quite insulting to see her take a sniff of freshly served food and then walk away in disgust. I have on occasion offered her 4 different choices until I’ve discovered which one she will eat. Thankfully my other cats and a stray cat I feed are not as fussy, so nothing gets wasted.

        Michael I don’t know if you’ve tried Natures Menu but that’s a prettyg good brand of prepared raw cat food. I did try converting Sophie to this but she was having none of it. Another option, although not very palatable for owners, is to buy frozen mice from the pet store, dead turkey chicks etc.

        1. Thank you Michelle. I have a look at Nature’s Menu. I find that cats need variation in the food that we provide them with. I believe that cats can get bored with food that is both good and which they like. I don’t know whether you have found the same thing. I agree that cats have likes and dislikes when it comes to food. However, a big element as to whether a cat likes or dislikes food is whether they are hungry or not. It can be difficult to tell sometimes whether a cat dislikes food because they dislike the taste and smell of it or apparently dislikes it because they’re not hungry enough.

  5. In their natural state and habitat, cats’ prey is mostly small rodents such as mice, rats, and voles. Why these are not offered as cat food is a mystery to me. As to raw diets such as chicken, turkey, fish, lamb, beef, etc., I do not feed, and I am not planning on it. Realistically, the food supply worldwide is corrupt, as the land and water are corrupt; factory farming further corrupts those animals whose flesh is used for food by humans and companion animals; and certainly pathogens are present in this food.

  6. Having a mulit-cat household, the idea of a B.A.R.F diet is prohibitive. We love the idea but cannot do it. The cats are on a great and very monitored diet. I think we are doing Ok. No vet visits other than routine ones and our cats lie long happy lives. Currently the ages here are from 9 years old to 17 years old. We just lost or 26 year old this past spring. I would tell people that, if you can afford to do it, go with a raw diet.

  7. Michael,

    You are so right about preparing a correct and balanced home-made raw food diet for cats (and dogs).

    My husband and I actually tried that a couple of times- purchased a grinder, and made sure that the chicken thighs, hearts and chicken livers we used were free-range with no antibiotics or other “toxic” products added to the meat.

    We bought a commercially prepared supplement, and ground eggshells (for calcium- instead of bones) and packaged the food incredibly carefully and stored it in our freezer. It took us hours to get the mixture JUST right. We weighed everything we used to be sure not to overdose the cats with the liver.

    Even with that type of careful preparation I still was concerned that something might be missing. I consulted with my veterinarian who is very much into proper nutrition (bless her), but still had that nagging feeling that we may not have everything needed.

    So after the first two batches, I decided to go with an excellent commerically prepared diet- and after consultation with my vet, who agreed with this choice, we now get our raw food from Darwin’s.

    They love it- and I have noticed many positive changes in them since we started raw. We are happy with the product, and while it “ain’t” cheap, the cats are feeling better and we are saving vet bills as well.

    It takes a LOT of work to make a proper raw food diet- it isn’t something one can just whip up in a short time. But there are excellent websites for those that want to make their own food with recipes that are carefully prepared to follow.

  8. I want to try a simple home-made raw cat food diet using a premix and some raw meat from the butcher which could be chicken necks or some mince for example.


    I think one of the biggest problems for making a home-made raw cat food diet is (a) making sure that it is balanced and (b) actually doing it because people are in such a rush these days that they do not find the time to get involved with making a raw diet for their cat. These are barriers to doing it.

    In America you can buy a premix which you add to raw meat. This simple process should be enough it is stated.

    I wonder why the manufacturers don’t do this for us and then vacuum packed the product. Why can’t we buy raw meat diet for cats at the supermarket rather than from specialist suppliers on the Internet?

    Is all but impossible to buy raw food diet for a cat in the UK but in the USA it is much more commonplace but even there it is relatively difficult it seems to me.

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