Tuesday, May 4, 2010

why i feed my cats raw meat

i am a vegetarian. my cats are not. having natural predators for roommates and children poses interesting moral dilemmas for an animal rights activist. on the one hand i object to supporting the meat industry because i disagree with the way they treat the animals before and after their deaths. the concept of eating meat makes me a little nauseous but eating cat kibble would make me feel the same way. i really hate buying meat. i hate touching it, smelling it, trying hard not to think about the fact that this is a corpse of a living creature that thought and felt and did not have a happy life and now i'm chopping it up.
i also love my cats to the ends of the earth. they are my children and i want what is best for them. our vet suggested raw food to try to treat spook's bladder disease. after some 10 foods and 12 medications and nothing helping i was willing to try just about anything. even touching dead bodies. even homeopathy (i'm an herbal healer and even i think homeopathy is crap but it's working so i don't care why). after some research on how best to go about this i came across a lot of interesting studies on how much generally healthier cats were on raw food (i.e. REAL food) instead of kibble or packaged wet food. it makes a lot of sense. cats have only been domesticated a few thousand years. from an evolutionary standpoint that is nothing. their digestive systems are still very similar to small wild cats. have you ever read the ingredient label on cat food? 99% of them have some form of grain or carb as the first ingredient. that means they have more grain then anything else. what cat, in the wild, eats carbs? do you see lions raiding farmers fields and eating all the corn and rice? leopards digging up potatoes? cats are predators. they eat meat. the only grain or veggies they would naturally eat would be the stomach contents of their prey (maybe 1% of their diet?). as such their digestive systems were designed to live on this. we have this weird notion that cats should eat like humans and get their veggies and brown rice and such. cats need carbs like humans need fat; as the smallest component of their diet. giving your cat a bowl of kibble is pretty much the equivalent of eating a bowl of mayonnaise for dinner. your vet saying they should eat the prescription kibble? have you checked those labels? they're not much different from no-name stuff. that's like a doctor saying you should eat vitamin fortified mac and cheese for the rest of your life. it doesn't make good sense. drying or cooking the meat degrades it of a lot of the nutrients cats need. their systems were designed to handle eating scavenged, several day old kills. a little salmonella is not going to hold up under that immune system. as long as your meat isn't infected with parasites it really is the best thing for them. wet food has vitamins added so i do mix in a bit of it with the rest of their diet but it's made from the worst quality floor scraping meat and fillers possible. i think my children deserve better.
as much as i feel for the animals on feed lots, as much as i think the system is evil and wrong, i care about my cats welfare more. when it comes down to a choice my loyalty lies with those i have known and loved. i can only try to limit my impact by buying ethically raised eggs, meat, and milk, and be grateful that my cat is healthier on this diet then he's been in the last 5 years.

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