Some myths about cats never seem to die and are quite difficult to correct. One of those myths is the belief that cats go wild, even wild, if they are fed raw meat.
This idea keeps popping up on lists, forums, Q&A sites, chat rooms, and yes, even in line at the grocery store when someone buys a large package of chicken and mentions it’s for cats.
“Aren’t you afraid your cats will go crazy?”
“You shouldn’t give that to your cats. They’ll go crazy, you know.”
Well, no. Not really. What they do, however, is sometimes grunt. This is a natural response and has even been observed in some cats when they eat a bowl of dry kibble. Perhaps it has more to do with “ownership” and serves as a warning to other nearby cats to wait their turn. It can also be a sign of pure enjoyment. After all, meat is their natural diet, the craving they were born with.
In our shelter, when cats in poor health, or strays who are clearly underweight, arrive, they are fed raw meat, if they accept it. In all cases, without exception so far, they have all improved quite quickly. Some grunt, some don’t. And that?
Those who were conditioned to eat only dry food took much longer to recover and seemed to need more help, such as medications and visits to the vet. Individuals fed raw foods flourished into friendly, adoptable cats in no time.
The biggest opposition voiced by traditional veterinarians is usually fear of salmonella. Well, not that we feed the cats an old, rotten chicken that has been discarded or was for sale because it was out of date. We use fresh human grade chicken. And while salmonella remains a concern for humans, requiring meat to be cooked thoroughly, cats have a different physiology than we do.
In the wild, predatory animals are specially prepared to eat meat that may not be safe for us. Their digestive tracts are shorter and their digestive juices are much more acidic, allowing meat to digest quickly and safely, unless someone has interfered with and poisoned it. But that is a different issue.
In any case, be careful when preparing raw meats for your pets. Wear rubber gloves and keep all surfaces and utensils, like cutting boards and knives, clean by disinfecting them when you’re done. This is more for your safety than the cat’s.
As for the grunts? Do not worry about that. Remember, the problem is with the owner, not the cat. However, it would be advisable not to touch the area with your hands. If a very hungry cat is feeling protective of its food, it might scratch it, but we haven’t seen that behavior very often.