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Can Cats Eat Raw Meat? What Happens When They Do?

Can Cats Eat Raw Meat? What Happens When They Do?

When you have a cat, you tend to worry about feeding them, pet them, play with them, and take care of their health. A healthy diet is not always at the top of the list of necessities for you, and you might think that commercial food, which includes canned food, is good enough. But from time to time, you can feed them a few things outside this strict diet, which is totally fine if it is healthy for your cat, but what about raw meat? Is it safe for cats? What happens if your cat eats raw meat?

Although cats can eat raw meat, owners have to be extremely careful as this practice has some serious cons. Uncooked meat can contain bacteria that could cause food poisoning. In addition to that, raw fish can destroy thiamine, leading to severe neurological issues, causing convulsions and coma.

Let’s be realistic, it is impossible and not beneficial at all for your cat to maintain a vegan diet, so it is good to include some meat into their diet. It could be raw or even cooked. But like everything in this life, raw or cooked meat can have good benefits and some not-so-fun drawbacks. In this article, we will let you know the basics about feeding raw meat to your cat, as well as interesting facts about cooked meat. We encourage you to consult your cat’s veterinarian before deciding anything about your cat’s health and diet.

cat grabs plate of raw beef

Can Cats Get Sick From Eating Raw Meat?

Feeding your cat raw meat may expose them to certain risks. In light of this, you have to take into consideration crucial factors when thinking about feeding it to them. Some of these are:

  • Risk of bacteria. This is the most obvious one, and the first thing owners think about. Salmonella and E. coli are the most common bacteria cats can get from eating raw eggs or raw meat.
  • Raw meat parasites. Common parasites are toxoplasmosis, and trichinosis could be present in raw meats, such as raw venison, pork, lamb, and game animals. Some other less common parasites present in raw meat, especially the guts of prey animals, are roundworm, hookworm, or tapeworm.

In a few words, these bacteria and parasites can cause food poisoning. Additionally, when you feed your cat with raw fish, you put them at risk due to an enzyme present in it. This enzyme can destroy thiamine, a vital vitamin B for cats, and when this happens, it can lead to severe neurological issues, which can cause convulsions and even a coma.

When it comes to eggs, they are prone to induce food poisoning caused by E. coli or salmonella. Another thing in eggs that can put your cats at risk is a protein present in raw egg whites; avidin. This protein can prevent the absorption of vitamin B biotin, causing skin and fur problems.

Should Cats Eat Raw Or Cooked Meat?

As with most things in life, especially those where a decision has to be made, there are different points of view. Some say that cats are able to eat meat. Others will say raw meat, no matter how fresh it is, is not a good food option for your cat. But, what is the correct answer?

When deciding between raw and cooked meat, it will depend on your beliefs about the matter. This is a controversial topic on the internet, and verifying the pros and cons can help you make a decision. When in doubt, we suggest going to your veterinarian and consulting with them to know if your cat can eat raw meat.

Lightly cooked and unseasoned meat is a good idea. However, you have to consider that cooking meat transforms its nutrients and composition. That is why it is better to cook it with steam and not until the well-done point, always using a lower temperature.

Cooked meat can be beneficial for cats with very damaged or sensitive digestive tracts. Also, if your pet has diarrhea, vomiting, inflammatory bowel disease, or pancreatitis, it is better to feed them with cooked meat.

Some facts about feeding your cat cooked meat:

  • Reduces the thiamine up to 70%; this vitamin is heat-sensitive.
  • When cooked, the protein structure can be altered.
  • It takes less work to break down the protein; this means it is easier to digest.
  • Grilled, fried, or roasted over 310F can create heterocyclic amines (HCAs), a cancerous compound.
  • When cooked with high and dry heat, it can create Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs). This is associated with chronic diseases, like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, caused by oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Cooking can destroy suitable enzymes present in food.
  • Cooking the meat using steam or boiling water can prevent infections, bacterias, parasites, and food poisoning.
  • Cooked fish can be fed to cats but not often.

Do Cats Like Raw Beef?

Cats like meat without any distinction, so you can be sure your cat will feel drawn by it. It could be beef, poultry, pork, and especially fish and seafood. So do not be surprised if you find your cat digging deep into the groceries you just brought home, searching for the flap meat or fresh fillet you bought for dinner.

What Type Of Raw Meat Is Good For Cats?

For cats, the meat must be fresh. According to the pro-raw-food diet community, it could be chicken, beef, or even some fresh, never cured bacon. Some experts say that when it comes to raw food, meat can be good and highly beneficial for your cat, as long as you follow some instructions and tips mentioned below:

  • Meat should be as fresh as it could be.
  • Buy high-quality raw food.
  • Buy the meat from a reliable source.
  • Follow food safety processes.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling raw meat. You could also use single-use gloves and, after using them, dispose of them safely.
  • Disinfect bowls and surfaces before and after getting in contact with the raw meat.
  • Grind the raw meat yourself to reduce the risk of bacteria.
  • Do not use plastic bowls as they can harbor bacteria.
  • Keep the raw meat sealed and in the freezer, avoiding cross-contamination.
  • Wait until your cat is at least 20 weeks old before starting to feed them with raw meat. Kittens’ immune system is not well-built and will not be able to fight some potential pathogens.

cat tries to reach raw meat from freezer

Final Thoughts

When feeding your furry friend with raw meat, please keep them under observation to detect any irregularities in the digestive process and mood. By doing so, you will be able to get a diagnosis and treatment fast enough to prevent your cat from getting a more severe condition.

Try at all costs to avoid seasoning the meat and cooking it at high and dry temperatures. Cooking methods like roasting, grilling, frying, searing, baking, or anything that could be considered dry can create heterocyclic amines (HCAs), a cancerous compound, and Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs), which can cause oxidative stress and inflammation. This can even lead to severe diseases like diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

Try cooking meat in boiling water or steam. Cooking the meat can be highly beneficial for cats with a weak immune system and for those furry buddies with sensitive or very damaged digestive tracts, as well as when they are suffering from diarrhea, vomiting, and if they have an inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis.

So, in just a few words, giving your cat raw or cooked meat is up to you and the recommendations of your pet’s veterinarian, but keeping in mind that it has some risks.