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Can Cats Eat Raw Meat?

I have been a cat rescuer since 1992 and have had many different cats in my care throughout the years. I have run the gamut of different cat food brands, from the cheapest to the higher-quality and more expensive cat food products. I have also wondered at various times about giving my cats raw meat. I have always avoided giving my cat human food, and I never researched the subject of giving a cat raw food and meat until now.

I never thought that it was a wise idea. Since I compare humans to cats in many things, I assumed all these years that raw meat is not smart for cats to eat any more than it would be for a human. The flip side of this thinking is, when cats live in the wild, I assume they do not build a campfire to cook their catch; they eat it raw. Let’s find out what the professionals say and learn together.

Can Cats Eat Raw Meat?

Cats can eat raw meat supplemented with a daily balanced diet.

What Raw Foods Can I Feed My Cat?

There remains an ongoing debate about feeding raw meat and foods to cats. Everything in life has its negatives and positives.

*Always speak to your vet first. However, know that not all vets have the same opinion. 

While the following raw foods are OK to feed your cat, they should complement your cat’s balanced diet that contains all the essential nutrients they need to remain healthy. Human food does not have all of these nutrients, which could cause a nutritional deficiency in your cat.

The following are some negatives associated with your cat eating a daily raw food diet.

  • Parasites
  • Bad bacteria
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Bone pieces cause intestinal obstructions and internal damage

The other thing to think about is that domesticated cats live much longer than their relatives in the wild. I believe this is because domestic cats are fed more nutritional foods containing all the essential nutrients needed every day to keep them healthy. Whereas a cat in the wild must scavenge for its food and does not have the benefits of domesticated cats.

I firmly believe that cats are becoming more and more domesticated; they are getting away from their natural instinct of hunting in the wild for raw food. More cat food companies now produce increasingly healthier, grain-free, higher protein, lower carbohydrate canned, and raw food diets.

More companies are now making dry and moist foods that include meats or fish as the number one ingredient, meaning that the food you buy has a higher source of meat protein in addition to,

  • An array of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • No soy or soy products
  • No additives
  • No dyes
  • No preservatives
  • No grains, including rice

Many of these foods are safe for your cat and can be substituted for traditional cat treats. I agree that these foods are healthier options versus feeding commercial treats to your cat. Whenever you try a new food for your cat, gradually introduce the food into your cat’s diet. Before giving your cat fruits, wash them well and remove any seeds, rinds, pits, and skins that you will not eat.

Cat healthcare experts say the following list of fruits and vegetables is safe for your cat to eat and should be included in their daily diet. However, these safe foods must be limited to small quantities.

Safe Fruits 

  • Apple
  • Mango
  • Cantaloupe
  • Apricot
  • Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Orange
  • Cranberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Watermelon

Avoid the following fruits as they are toxic to a cat

  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruit
  • Persimmons 

Safe Vegetables

Cats can eat the following vegetables. It is advisable to steam or boil these vegetables for easier digestion for your cat. Many cat owners puree these vegetables before feeding them to their cats.

  • Asparagus
  • Peppers (green, red, orange, yellow)
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber (no seeds)
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini

Avoid the following vegetables because they are highly toxic to cats.

  • Avocado
  • Onions and onion powder
  • Garlic and garlic powder
  • Rhubarb
  • Wild Mushrooms
  • Corn

Pea-sized pieces of these (safe) fruits and vegetables can be included in your cat’s diet as a low-calorie snack. Fresh fruits are high in sugar content, some fruits more than others. Keep bananas, pineapple, and strawberries to an infrequent minimum.

*It is best to talk with your vet before feeding any human food, especially if your cat has health issues. 

How to Feed Your Cat These Fruits and Vegetables

You should gradually introduce new foods one at a time for a few days to ensure your cat does not have an allergy or adverse reaction to the food. The most common food allergens in cats are beef, corn, dairy, and fish. 

Allergen Symptoms of Human Foods

  • Sickness
  • Skin
  • Diarrhea

Do Cats Prefer Raw or Cooked Meat?

The digestive system in cats is more acidic than in humans. Therefore, cats can digest foods better and tolerate raw foods better. The exception to this is if your cat has an immune disease. *Speak with your vet first.

Since cats are natural carnivores, cats prefer raw meat, but can eat raw or cooked meats to supplement their diets except for fish. Fish should not be fed to your cat daily. Cats must have a high protein diet unless contraindicated by your vet. High protein helps to keep their hearts strong, have a sharper vision, and reproductive system healthy.

A cat’s digestive system is created to accept and digest raw meats. Make your cat’s raw meat plain and simple with no salt or seasonings. And, never give your cat spoiled meats or meats beyond the expiration date. Cats have a natural taste for raw meat. However, your cat can have cooked meat and will acquire a taste for cooking meat over raw meat given time to adjust.

High Protein Cooked Meat Choices

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey (I have been told never to give cats turkey, so this needs more research)
  • Lean Deli Meats

Can Cats Eat Cold Raw Meat?

Cats do not like food right out of the refrigerator. Cats prefer foods at room temperature. The following is an insight into feeding your cat raw meat at room temperature, as cats do not like any food that is chilled or cold.

Feeding your cat raw chicken presents some safety concerns as it does for humans. However, when you think about it, a cat in the wild that catches a chicken will eat it raw.

Can Cats Eat Raw Meat Daily?

From what I am reading, some cat parents are changing their cat’s diet to a raw food diet, which means that cats can eat raw meat daily as a supplement to their balanced diet containing all the essential nutrients a cat needs to remain healthy.

Cats need meat daily, and it is OK to feed your cat commercial brands of dry or wet food. You can also provide your cat cooked or raw, fresh meat daily in addition to their branded food. The only exception seems to be fish. Feeding your cat fresh fish every day is not recommended. Once or twice a week, I will provide my cats with a treat of water-packed tuna, but only a couple of teaspoonfuls.

Cats must have meat to get the nutrients they require. It is essential to learn to read the labels on cat food brands. Learn what is considered healthier for your cat. Many cats do OK on the cheaper brands of cat food. No cat food on the market that will kill your cat. However, the healthier your food choice may add extended years of life to your cat with fewer vet runs due to illnesses or disease processes.

Learn to read those food labels and make sure meat is the number one ingredient. While it’s perfectly acceptable to feed your cat commercial dry or wet food, most of the information I read says that you can supplement your cat’s diet with a variety of cooked or raw fresh meat daily.

  • Raw Bacon

Bacon is not a toxin to cats, and some cats love to eat raw bacon. However, it is not a good food choice for you or your cat. It is high in sodium and fat. A small piece is OK as a rare treat. The bacon must be fresh and uncured.

  • Raw Fish

Recommendations are not to feed your cat raw fish due to possible bacteria in the meat. This bacteria can cause food poisoning. You can buy a commercial raw fish diet.

  • Raw Beef

All raw meat carries the risk of food poisoning. The beef must be fresh and without any seasonings. According to cat professionals, raw beef in tiny amounts on occasion is OK.

  • Raw Pork 

While humans cannot and should not eat raw pork due to bacteria content, cats can eat raw pork. However, there still remains the risk for disease and parasites, even for cats if they eat raw pork. The choice is yours. There are too many risks in life already, and I do not want to add more risks to my cat. They do not need raw pork, so why risk giving it?