|About Raw Food
There are many websites that make the claim that a raw food diet will “cure” your cat of IBD and other
associated conditions. While there is no disputing the fact that raw food will greatly improve your cat’s condition
and even alleviate symptoms, there simply isn’t a one-stop cure for Feline IBD. Nothing would make me happier
than to be able to state that raw is the complete, once and for all answer. For some kitties it can do wonders for
controlling this disease. But recently we’ve seen a few of our case studies on this site have setbacks while being
fed a completely raw diet.
First, let me state that no one, including myself, is saying that the raw diet complicated or aggravated the cat’s
IBD. In fact, I believe if it weren’t for the raw diet, these cats would be in far more serious trouble. In Merlin’s
case, he had a very minor setback and with a slight increase in his medication he was able to stay on raw and
he continues to improve every day. In contrast, another kitty I used to know was on a raw diet already when he
was diagnosed with IBD and pancreatitis. So there’s no telling for sure yet how this disease actually gets started
and what the answer is for eradicating it. So far we only have leads on what the triggers are and how to treat
those triggers and avoid further complications.
Madison is a more severe case. When he was switched to a raw diet in November of 2008 he improved from day
one and continued to do well until July of 2009. He began vomiting bile several times a week until it got to the
point where it was obvious he was having pain and the raw was no longer working well for him. After several
tests and a thorough exam it was confirmed that Madison has pancreatitis.
There’s no way to tell for sure what brought this on but our best guess after reviewing some other cases is that
the larger bone fragments in the brand of raw that Madison was eating didn’t break down properly and caused a
backup of acid in his GI tract, which then proceeded to aggravate his intestines and then his pancreas. Normally
a healthy cat can easily digest small bone and has no problem breaking it down for elimination. In fact, it’s
important to have ground bone in raw food for calcium and other vital nutrients you can’t get anywhere else. But
for an IBD kitty that has a compromised organ system, there is nothing normal about how their intestines are
working. We also feel some of the herbs that are present in that particular food and are known to upset an IBD
kitty’s stomach and may have contributed to the whole issue. Again, there’s no way to tell for sure. As we all
know, IBD is always a diagnosis of exclusions and these upsets are no different. But unfortunately the initial
diagnosis and treatment of the disease does not guarantee that the regimen won’t change. That inflammatory
response is tricky and can change on a dime.
After switching Madison to a more palpable raw food, he seemed to do well with it for a day or two but by then
the damage had already been done and he needed to be put on steroids for the inflammation. Right now he’s on
a grain free canned food but at some point, his parent plans to try raw again when things have calmed down.
The important factor is that for almost a year, he not only tolerated the raw, but thrived on it. The problem now is
that the flora in his system has changed and for some reason, he’s not able to tolerate it well. Until his pancreas
has settled down and is no longer struggling to keep up with the rest of his stomach, he'll have to stay with
canned food. In the future, a raw diet will likely be instrumental to replacing those enzymes that have been lost
and damaged from his pancreas. Even if he’s not on a complete raw diet, mixing it with canned food will be better
than no raw at all and will certainly add those nutrients back into his system much quicker than just cooked food
Another case is a kitty named Boo. In July of 2009 he was diagnosed with IBD and pancreatitis, and he's been
on home made raw from the time he was about a year old. His mom cannot figure out how he developed these
conditions having been fed none of the "usual" IBD triggers and being fed a solely raw diet his entire life. It's a
mystery that's leaving her frustrated and wondering what to do next.
All of these different issues are the reason it’s important to have these case studies for review. We need to have
documentation on what’s working for different cats and what can still go wrong with this disease. I believe
strongly in a raw food diet and would still recommend trying it. It is without a doubt the most important tool so far
in seeing recovery in this disease and its symptoms. Even if there are setbacks, major or minor, it’s by far the
one thing that helps above all others. It has a higher success rate for keeping IBD in check and keeping their
system running on an even keel. It should never be used to forgo medication if needed and it should not be the
only tool used, especially when first diagnosed.
As far as worries of salmonella are concerned, I’ll bet it would surprise you to know that canned and even dry
food can just as easily contain salmonella and/or ecoli or fungal infections. Dry food sits in the warehouse,
trucks, stores, etc., and if there’s any leak in the bag then condensation can occur and you’ve got yourself a
recipe for poison.
A terrific site for information on how pet food is made and how salmonella can turn up in dry food is:
www.bornfreeusa.org/facts. According to the information on this site, the cooking process kills bacteria in the
ingredients, but the final product can pick up more bacteria during the subsequent drying, coating, and
packaging process. Getting dry food wet can allow the bacteria on the surface to multiply and make pets sick.
A cat's digestive system is short and acidic. It can handle and process meat, bones, and most bacteria very
effectively. But a grain-heavy or purely vegetarian diet spells trouble for a cat’s tiny fermentation system.
Carbohydrate rich foods, such as dry grain and plant material, are difficult to digest and can cause an imbalance
in the normal pH levels of a cat’s urinary system, potentially leading to irritation of the bladder lining and
increasing the risk for urinary tract infections.
Production of the digestive enzyme amylase becomes greater and the overworked pancreas becomes stressed.
Undigested grains and a pH imbalance create toxins in the kidneys and bladder and the weakened immune
system can’t fight off illness.
Animals in the wild have healthy digestive systems because they eat a variety of foods including prey flesh,
internal organs and stomach contents. The combination of these foods provides a diet that is rich in high quality
protein, enzymes, vegetation and vitamins.
Raw foods help your pet maintain a healthy PH and enzyme level in their stomach and digestive track. This in
turn helps your animal to maintain a naturally strong immune system which helps prevent degenerative diseases
from attacking their bodies.
Why is Raw the Best?
Raw Meats properly prepared and minimally processed are high in essential fatty acids. These fatty acids are
attained in the wild naturally from the carcasses of the prey animals. Live enzymes, phytochemicals, antioxidants
and friendly bacteria are also found in a readily absorbable form in raw meats along with predigested grains and
vegetable materials. Minerals are scientifically found in abundance and in nature's own ratio in the uncooked
bones of animals.
While the processed pet foods today are better formulated than in the 1930’s, they do not provide the live
materials that A FRESH RAW DIET can.
Top 10 benefits of feeding raw food:
1. Teeth brighten and lose plaque, eliminating the need for cleaning.
2. Breath becomes almost odorless indicating a healthy start to the digestive process.
3. Skin becomes healthy and vibrant and creates a hostile environment to most parasites.
4. Coat shines brightly and sheds minimally.
5. Stool is less in volume and much less offensive even in the litter box.
6. Optimal body weight is easily obtained and maintained. As a result, the vascular system is much less
stressed, allowing the best function of the heart, liver and thyroid.
7. Large breed animals have much less chance of growing too fast. Their joints can grow without undue stress
and their long-term quality of life is optimized.
8. Arthritic conditions are minimized and many geriatric companions feel rejuvenated and youthful. This is
greatly attributed to the natural essential fatty acids as well as the overall PH balance becoming normalized,
reducing inflammation. Glucosamine, chondroitin and collagen are a natural component in raw meat.
9. Quicker recoveries from infections or infestations as well as over-all healing occur. The strength of the
immune system is revitalized and better equipped to handle illness or injury.
10. The ravages of a degenerative disease seem to be decreased and overall chances for full recovery are
When it comes to handling raw food, wearing latex free vinyl gloves used for food handling while touching the
food and then disposing of them after each use will curtail any chances of contracting salmonella. Do not wear
the same gloves to handle different kinds of meat and/or foods. Keeping your working area completely clean and
washing it with Clorox or some other form of antibiotic cleaner or bleach, every time, is important. Make sure to
clean your cat’s dishes with antibacterial dish soap or use hot water in the dishwasher, and keep their food area
clean. We all know what slobs cats can be when they eat and there’s usually food strewn about their dinner area
to prove it. Don’t let food particles waste on the floor or carpet.
The amount of time leaving raw food out for them to eat is a controversial issue. Most say 30 minutes tops but
cats will play with their kill outdoors for hours, sometimes days before eating it and not have any problems. Cats
are natural grazers and nibblers. If left to their own devices, a cat will eat between ten and sixteen small meals
per day. Their teeth are designed to stab and tear through raw or tough food rather than chewing it. In fact, in
the wild, cats can swallow and digest food without having to chew it.
They have a higher acidic level for food break down and digestion and they metabolize it at a quicker rate than
humans do. Normally it takes us between 35 to 55 hours to fully digest our meals whereas it can take a cat
between 12 and 16 hours. Most of my friends and even vets will leave their cat’s raw meal out for a couple of
hours before removing it and tossing out any leftovers.
Depending on where you live in the country and if you have the A/C running while your cat is eating, 30 minutes
really doesn’t need to be the limit. I certainly wouldn’t leave the food out all day but a couple of hours in a cool
temperature shouldn’t cause any problems with a good quality food that’s been frozen for at least three days
first. If it’s a pre-made, frozen raw food, it’s been in the freezer since it was put in the bag at the manufacturing
plant. If you have to travel longer than 30 minutes to pick up the food, bring a cooler with a freezer pack and/or
some ice with you for the ride back just to be safe, especially in summer months.
Eventually switching up the raw food is as important as when you fed canned or kibble. Give them different
options of meats and organs to ensure they don’t become allergic. I’d even recommend switching up the raw
food supplements occasionally. Any time you use a product continuously, you run the risk of their flora becoming
too accustomed to it.
There’s a lot of different information regarding a raw food diet on the web and some sites suggest that when
feeding whole prey, you don’t need to supplement. That statement is in question by many experts and some
people I know who own a couple of holistic pet food stores say it’s nice in theory but can’t be 100% proven. They
use supplements no matter what just to be safe. When they use whole prey, they lessen the supplemental ratio
per meal. They’ve been doing this for many years and have never had a problem. Just make sure to read your
supplement labels and if you’re going to prepare raw food yourself, figure out your ratios for organs, bone, meat
and supplements accordingly. And be careful when adding liver as too much can cause an overload of vitamin A
and it can be toxic.
The use of bones is also in question and information on this subject varies as well. Small chicken wings with
bones seem to be the safe choice but it still doesn’t guarantee there won’t be any obstructions, though it's rare.
Ground bone for an IBD kitty especially is probably best but be aware of acidic backup or constipation.
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