By Jennifer Evans
My primary New Year’s resolution for 2020 is not for myself but for my cat. I want to introduce at least a partially raw food diet to see the effect on her health. A raw food diet makes sense to me because before animals were domesticated they hunted and ate what they caught and rarely cooked 🙂 Their systems are designed to process raw food, particularly organ meats and likely the stomach contents of whatever they killed. In the article “Dogs - The Omnivore-Carnivore Question,” two veterinarians conclude that a dog’s physiology is designed to primarily process raw meats. Dogs and cats have a hinged jaw with pointy teeth designed to tear and chew meat rather than a rotational jaw and the flat teeth of a cow designed to chew plants and grains. Dogs and cats do not produce the enzyme amylase, which aids in carbohydrate digestion. Their digestive tracts produce other enzymes that are geared to the digestion of protein and fat. Feeding them carbohydrates puts a large strain on their pancreas and digestive system. Given all this information, there seem to be few downsides to exploring a raw food diet for a time to see what happens.
The benefits of a raw, or partially raw diet are many. The first improvement you will likely see in your pet’s health is an improvement in their coat and skin. Almost half the protein a pet consumes goes to maintaining their skin and coat. A grain-based, dry food diet does not provide enough protein and animal fat to produce an optimally luxurious coat and truly healthy skin. Below is a picture of Hector, a dog raised on a raw-food diet. He positively glows with health!
I think most people now realize that a diet comprised primarily of refined grains, breads, and sugars causes weight gain in both animals and humans. A raw-food diet will likely allow your pet to naturally shed excess weight quite easily. Your pet will gain muscle and shed fat. The raw protein and fat in the diet are the building blocks of your pets fur, skin, and joints. Perhaps a raw diet may improve certain arthritic conditions affecting your pet?
Your pet’s dental hygiene will also benefit from a raw diet and this is the main reason I resolved to do this for my cat. Since dogs and cats do not produce the enzyme amylase in their saliva, the carbohydrates they consume in their kibble will turn to sugar on their teeth, causing tooth decay and gum disease. Raw food proponents recommend that dogs chew on raw, meaty bones to to help clean their teeth and create optimal dental health. My cat, who is only 5 years old, had to go to the vet recently because one of her teeth had decayed completely and fell out. The vet showed me that she had other teeth decaying and red, irritated gums. I feed her very expensive dry food (she is very picky) but I feel that the lack of raw enzymes provided by raw food is fueling her early tooth decay and hope a raw diet will improve this naturally without her having to go through the trauma of a dental operation on her mouth.
A raw diet can also improve your pet’s mental health! High carbohydrate kibble that is not broken down due to the lack of the enzyme amylase in the saliva and digestive tract produces chronically high blood sugar and high insulin levels in your pet. This has been linked to anxiety and depression in humans and your carnivorous pets.
So since I want to make raw food for my cat instead of purchasing it, I did some recipe research and found a woman on youtube who had done a lot of research and had developed a recipe for her elderly cat who has the beginning stages of kidney disease. She shares my philosophy that a raw food diet makes common sense. She worked with her vet and he gave her the go ahead to try a raw diet instead of the prescription kidney food which contained ingredients such as soybean oil, guar gum and other things that may not be optimal to bring her cat back to health. Here is the link to her video which has her recipe and the scientific nutrional analysis of her recipe! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbtoNxthGxA&t=185s
Here is her recipe:
- 50 grams chicken liver Per 50 g: 63 calories, 21 calories from fat, 31 calories from protein, 294 mcg folate, .9 mg riboflavin, 0.85 mg niacin, 8.3 mcg B12, 84 mg choline, 148.5 mg phosphorus
- 50 grams beef kidney Per 50 g: 51 calories, 13.5 g fat, 37 g protein, 46 mcg folate, 1.4 mg riboflavin, 4 mg niacin, 13.5 mcg B12, 128.5 mg phosphorus
- 1 cup water
- 6 grams ground eggshell - typically cats get calcium from the bones in meat in a raw diet, but in the case of kidney disease, we want to limit the phosphorus in their diet. Bone is made up of quite a bit of phosphorus so we use egg shell in its place.
Per 6 g 5400 mg calcium, 50.4 mg phosphorus
- 1 whole raw egg 71 calories, 44 calories from fat, 25 calories from protein 95.5 mg phosphorus https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/111/2
- 100 grams chicken heart 153 calories, 84 calories from fat, 66 calories from protein 177 mg phosphous
- 800 grams ground beef 70% protein/30% fat (can replace 100 g with egg white) Per 100 g 362 calories 271 calories from fat 61 calories from protein 132 mg phosphorus
800 grams ground beef 85/15 protein/fat per 100 g 215 calories
- 1 tablespoon sardine oil for omega 3 fatty acids
For cat portion control, I find it easy to make a big batch of your food and then fill up ice cube trays with the food. You can then just defrost one or two food “ice cubes” per day for your pet.
If you don’t have the time or energy to make raw food most supermarkets and pet food stores now sell it. Just be sure to look at the ingredients make sure they’re not sneaking grains into the food.
I also found the following blog: https://keepthetailwagging.com
Kimberly Gaulthier, the woman who started this blog, healed her border collie’s many health issues in two weeks after starting him on a raw diet in 2013. She has been feeding her five dogs and her cat on raw food ever since with great results! She also has raw cat food recipes on her blog. She transitioned her dogs and cats to raw food by first transitioning them to all wet food and then began mixing the raw food into the wet food. Her dogs went all raw but her cat still eats some canned food. It is a wealth of first-hand information that is a testament to the power of raw food to change you and your pet’s life.
Happy New Year and may you and your pet experience vibrant health through diet in 2020!