Myths About Feeding Your Kitten a Raw Meat Diet

Here are 10 common myths, as well as some uncommon facts about whether you should feed your kitten a raw meat diet:

MYTH 1: The benefits are proven.

FACT: No scientific studies have shown benefits of raw diets. Their appeal is based on word of mouth, testimonials, and perceived benefits.

MYTH 2: This is what animals eat in the wild.

FACT: Wolves and other animals in the wild do eat raw meat (in addition to berries, plants, etc.). However, the average lifespan for an animal in the wild is only a few years. Therefore, what is nutritionally “optimal” for a wild animal, such as a wolf, is not optimal for our pets that we hope will live longer and healthier lives.

MYTH 3: Dogs and cats can’t get infections from Salmonella or other bacteria in raw meat diets.

FACT: Dogs and cats can become infected with Salmonella, Clostridium, Campylobacter, and other bacteria found in raw meat diets, just as people can (especially young, old, or immunosuppressed dogs or cats).

MYTH 4: Raw food diet ingredients are human grade.

FACT: Even meats purchased at the best of stores for people can contain harmful bacteria, so purchasing “human grade” meat does not protect against the health risks of uncooked meats. (Would you eat raw ground beef?) It is also important to keep in mind that the term “human grade” has no legal definition for pet food.

MYTH 5: Freezing raw diets kills bacteria.

FACT: Most of the bacteria found in raw meat diets can easily survive freezing (and freeze-drying).

MYTH 6: As long as bones are raw, they’re safe.

FACT: Bones, whether raw or cooked, can fracture dogs’ and cats’ teeth. Bone also can block or tear the esophagus, stomach, or intestine.

MYTH 7: Cooking destroys enzymes needed for digestion.

FACT: All the enzymes that dogs and cats (and people) need for digestion are already in the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, additional enzymes from food are not required for digestion.

MYTH 8: Raw diets do not contain grains, because grains are added to pet foods only as fillers.

FACT: Corn, oats, rice, barley, and other grains are healthy ingredients that contain protein, vitamins, and minerals; they are not added as fillers and are unlikely to cause allergies. Although meat is an important component of diets for dogs and cats, grains can be part of a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet.

MYTH 9: Most commercial pet foods contain harmful ingredients such as by-products.

FACT: By-products are the animal parts that American people don’t typically eat, such as livers, kidneys, or lungs. By-products are organs and meats other than animal muscle. Note that some pet foods may actually list these ingredients (e.g., duck liver, beef lung), but these are really just “by-products.” Most commercial and many home-prepared raw diets also contain by-products.

MYTH 10: If bones or chicken necks are added to raw meat diets, they’re nutritionally balanced.

FACT: Most homemade (and even some commercial) raw meat diets are extremely deficient in calcium and a variety of other nutrients, even if chicken necks, bones, or eggshells are added. This can be disastrous in any animal but especially in young, growing pets and can result in fractured bones.