Can cats eat raw meat and bones?
BARF - raw meat feeding
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Content last updated on: December 8th, 2015
B.a.r.F. Is the abbreviation for "biologically alocal rohes F.utter "and represents the most individual and natural form of feeding for cats raw Recipe ingredients such as lean meat, offal, bones and other animal ingredients are fed to the cat.
The raw meat feeding of the cat brings with it the responsibility to deal extensively with the cat nutrition and to prepare the food for the cat independently. There are some manufacturers who meanwhile also offer "ready-made barf" for cats, but these are often dubious and declared more than inadequate.
A distinction is roughly made between three methods of raw meat feeding: Barps with supplements, raw meat feeding according to "Franken-Prey" and the "Whole Prey Model" (see "Methods & Basic Recipes").
Basic information on raw meat feeding
Advantages and disadvantages of feeding raw meat
The disadvantage is that it first requires a certain familiarization phase in order to become familiar with the subject matter, the nutritional requirements of cats and the procurement of the ingredients. The quality and balance of the meals depends crucially on the knowledge of the cat owner: a barf meal is as good or bad as the basic knowledge of the owner! In the long term, incorrect nutrition - as with ready-made food - can lead to poor supplies of the cat and thus also to diet-related diseases. Knowledge is a must here! A possible infection with pathogens and accidents during bone feeding are also possible (see next point).
Because you do not have to rely on pre-packaged and mixed food when you fish, - but put it together yourself - you can tailor your cat's diet to their respective tastes and needs (even with illnesses!). By chewing the large pieces of meat, the cat keeps its teeth clean and strengthens the jaw muscles. The cat's skin and coat health / appearance can also be greatly improved. Many raw-fed cats are happier, fuller and more busy - the strenuous chewing of the chunks of meat also keeps them busy.
Cats who suffer from certain diseases (e.g. diabetes, urinary stones, kidney diseases) can benefit from switching to - well-thought-out - Barf: it is not uncommon that the course of the disease is stopped, slowed down or the disease in question even cured entirely by switching over can. Overweight cats can lose weight in a healthy way, and underweight cats can gain muscle mass and body fat.
Raw meat feeding can also have advantages for the owner: the volume of the cat's feces is reduced, the time interval between the dropping of feces increases and the feces generally have a far less penetrating odor. Compared to high-quality food, raw feeding the cat is considerably cheaper (see "Example calculation: Is barf so much more expensive than finished food?"). In addition, the owner can also precisely control and determine which components are in what quantities in the cat's food: this is not only desirable for allergic cats.
Risks and dangers of raw meat feeding
With all of the benefits of feeding cats raw meat, there are also important points and "dangers" that should be addressed. Even if the risks are relatively low and often avoidable, they are still theoretically given. The dangers of handling and feeding raw meat meals primarily include pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, but also parasites and the risk of injury from bones. In the same way, incorrect supplies (shortage / oversupply) are theoretically possible with Barfen.
The transmission of the so-called "pseudo rage" (Aujetzk disease) is particularly often addressed6061. However, transmission of the bacteria Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Shigella, Yersinia, Clostridium botulinum, Bacillus cereus, Campylobacter, Listeria and Staphylococcus aureus are theoretically possible60. Protozoa such as Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum or sarcosporidia and worm species such as Echinococcus and Trichinella spiralis can also be transmitted through raw meat606162.
The Aujetzky virus can cause a fatal disease in cats and dogs that cannot be cured. However, the virus is only found in raw pork or wild boar meat and is killed by heating. In order to avoid the risk of infection, the cat must therefore strictly not be fed raw wild boar meat or raw fattening pig meat from an unsafe / not officially virus-free origin (more on this in the content area "Aujeszky's disease (pseudo rage)").
Toxoplasmosis, salmonella and other pathogens can theoretically get into cats through ingestion of raw meat. The adapted anatomy, the short digestive tract and the aggressive stomach acid of the healthy cat usually combat such harmful influences effectively enough that the cat does not show any signs of illness606263. A certain basic hygiene also ensures a reduced risk of illness. Old, very young or sick cats - as well as old, very young and immunocompromised people - can, however, have problems with these pathogens. For this reason, barf is often not recommended for very young kittens and immunocompromised cats.
The fact that the cat is attacked by worms / worm eggs through the consumption of raw meat is minor due to two factors - even if not completely impossible, at least -: on the one hand, the meat also passes through, which is ultimately fed to the dog, cat or ferret strict controls, on the other hand, freezing meat kills various worm stages and adult worms. If the meat is frozen at -17 to -20 for about a week, the various worm stages are killed, even single-cell organisms such as Neospora and Toxolasma are (almost completely) eliminated - but individual cysts could survive6063.
It is important to know that some of the pathogens transmitted through raw meat are zoonotic pathogens - this means that they can also affect humans. If the cat is affected, it does not necessarily have to show signs of it itself, but it can still infect the people around it. However, hygiene during preparation, feeding and cleaning of the litter box reduces this risk enormously6061 (see hygiene when feeding raw meat).
If bones are fed raw (heating makes them brittle and splinters), they can be a healthy and safe source of nutrients for the cat. However, it can always happen that bones become wedged in the cat's teeth, the cat swallows pieces that are too large or suffers other accidents with bones. Usually, however, feeding the cat bones involves little risk60. Up to 10% bones are usually tolerable for the cat - after getting used to it slowly.
If barf meals are not put together carefully, they can of course lead to an over- or insufficient supply of the cat - with all the diseases that result from it. However, this risk is very easy to avoid: acquiring the necessary basic knowledge and a lot of variety in the cat's diet can make Barf an all-round healthy and balanced diet for the cat.
Hygiene when feeding raw meat
Even if healthy cats usually have few problems with pathogens in raw meat and only rarely show signs of disease, a certain basic hygiene should be observed when handling and preparing raw meat - if only due to the fact that outwardly healthy cats also have certain pathogens can be eliminated and thus transferred to humans61.
It goes without saying that only the freshest possible meat should be processed and fed to the cat. If possible, the cold chain should not be interrupted - so styrofoam boxes, cool bags or cold packs can be used during transport67. Washing hands before and after preparing food is also part of basic hygiene656768 - Although disposable gloves can facilitate hygiene and preparation, they are not a substitute for hand washing and should also be changed during preparation. Disposable paper towels and boilable tea towels should be used, and rags, too, should either be boiled out or disposed of entirely646768.
In contrast to plastic chopping boards, wooden chopping boards are much more hygienic under certain conditions69: Bacteria settle in cut furrows in both materials, but they are (almost completely) killed in / on wooden boards697071. Boards made of pine or oak are particularly suitable here70. Regardless of whether boards made of wood or plastic are used: it is advisable to use different boards for processing poultry and other meat67. They should be cleaned with hot water and dried standing - damp cutting boards encourage bacterial growth6770.
Bacteria are not killed when they freeze, their growth is only stopped or slowed down, and their rate of reproduction accelerates from a temperature of around 10 degrees646668. For this reason, it is advisable to thaw the meat in the refrigerator and to store meat that is not required during the preparation phase or to freeze it again immediately656667 Poultry meat and eggs should be kept in the refrigerator and should not come into contact with other foods6566. Grinded meat is more susceptible to bacterial contamination due to the larger surface area, so strict hygiene should be observed here656768.
Officials recommend that the defrosting liquid - especially from poultry meat - not come into contact with other food and that it is disposed of6465666768. However, since this thawing liquid contains not only pathogens, but also important water-soluble nutrients (e.g. B vitamins, taurine), this point is viewed critically among raw feeders. The advice to rinse meat with warm / cold water before preparation is also controversial: on the one hand, low temperatures do not kill the bacteria - washing the dishes could even spread them around the sink - on the other hand, washing the meat can reduce the number of salmonella on the surface of the meat, for example .
However, the thorough cleaning of all equipment and affected surfaces after preparation is indisputable.6668. This can be done, for example, with hot water and washing-up liquid - special disinfectants are not necessary. Even official bodies advise against their use. If you would still like to use a natural disinfectant, you can dilute vinegar (essence) with water, spray it on the accessories to be cleaned and the corresponding surfaces (e.g. with a simple flower sprayer), let it take effect briefly and dry thoroughly. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant that kills a large number of bacteria, viruses and fungi and / or reduces the number of germs727374.
Divisible: the "magical 20% mark"
It is often recommended to first replace only about 20% of the feed ration (daily or weekly ration) with pure raw meat without supplements when switching to raw meat feeding. Since quite a few complete feed types should have an excess of certain nutrients, any deficiencies in the raw feed content should be able to be compensated for.
However, this recommendation is to be regarded as critical and in no way generally applicable. Since not only the absolute amounts, but also the ratio of nutrients to each other is important for the healthy diet of the cat, relevant disparities can appear here (see sample calculations divisible - .pdf download). Such shifts can lead to health problems in the long term. In addition, some nutrients can influence the absorption and utilization of other nutrients.
You cannot generally endorse this 20% limit, but you cannot reject it entirely if you pay attention to certain points, value variety and keep an eye on the nutritional values. It is at least advisable not to carry out unsupplemented feeding (even of only 20%) for longer than a few weeks.
Anyone who feeds more than 20% raw fresh meat over the long term should definitely add the missing nutrients to the meat through selected supplements such as offal, bones or powder (e.g. eggshell meal or algae lime). This helps to prevent malnutrition and the associated health diseases. In order to avoid digestive problems, there should be a period of 4-5 hours between feeding raw and processed food (industrially produced food such as dry or wet food). Raw food is digested differently than processed food. However, not all cats have problems with this and can sometimes tolerate a mixture of ready-made food and smaller pieces of raw meat.
The easiest way to implement a "raw meat day" every 5 days: the cat's digestion is not impaired by mixing the types of food and the owner does not have to laboriously convert the amounts fed ("Has the 20% mark already been exceeded or not?").
Ready-made barf: convenient or better not?
Ready-made beef in sausage form
There are already a few suppliers who offer so-called "ready-made barf" for cats: these meals are supposed to enable cats to have a simple, convenient and balanced diet of raw meat.
In fact, however, most ready-to-use barf products are more geared towards dog than cat nutrition and do not contain all of the necessary ingredients. However, almost identical compositions are offered for both animal species. However, since dogs and cats have different nutritional requirements, combinations of this type are less suitable for cats.
Often too large amounts of vegetable and vegetable oils and carbohydrates are contained. Even a poor declaration ensures that there are doubts about the balance. For starters, variety and exceptional situations (e.g. vacation or hospital stay), such products can certainly be fed at short notice - depending on their quality and composition.
For the exclusive diet of the cat, only those products are suitable that are composed appropriately for the cat and contain everything the cat needs. The label "complete feed" indicates that the product already contains everything that is important - a "supplementary feed" still needs supplements in order to be considered a full meal for the cat.
The composition ideally consists of more than 70% muscle meat (meat, heart, stomach), little offal (approx. 10% in total, liver should be included), a small portion of bones (5-10%). Rumen (stomach of ruminants such as beef or lamb) is often mixed in instead of stomachs, but many cats do not like rumen. Also, the udder and lungs should - due to their high proportion of connective tissue, which is difficult for cats to digest - only be contained in small amounts. Bones (necks, carcasses) are better suited for calcium supply than cartilage
What should you watch out for in manufacture barf?
- It not only contains pure muscle meat, but also animal by-products (organ meats such as liver, kidneys, spleen) and bones - if these are not included, the corresponding nutrients must be added to the menu, which should be broken down precisely
- maximum 5% vegetable (ideally vegetables, no fruit, no fruit)
- no vegetable oils, herbs, seeds, nuts
- no rice, no pasta or potatoes
- Exact declaration e.g. "x% beef, x% beef liver, x% beef spleen" - not "x% beef (meat, spleen, liver), potatoes, minerals"
- precise declaration of the analysis values (crude protein, crude fat, calcium / phosphorus ratio, etc.)
- Taurine should already be added
Barf / nutrition advisor - how do I find the right one?
Not every cat owner trusts himself to feed his cat (s) raw immediately. Some people would like to have tips or answers to specific questions: it makes sense to go to a specialized nutritionist or barf advisor.However, since neither the designation "barf advisor" or "nutrition advisor" is protected in the animal sector and so theoretically anyone - even without training - can offer advice, it is important to select a competent contact person. In addition, as in all professions, not everyone with a certificate or training is a good advisor.
It is important to note that, despite the advice, raw feeding itself also requires basic knowledge - this is the only way to adapt recipes accordingly and make raw feeding healthy and "safe" in the long term. When choosing the right advisor, it is unwise to pay particular attention to the prices: Competence, experience and training (in cat nutrition!) Are more important here. In the preliminary discussion, previous illnesses (e.g. allergies), peculiarities and preferences (e.g. tendency to constipation, refusal of certain foods) of the cat should be asked. The weight of the cat is important for calculating the cat's daily ration - its age is rather irrelevant, as kittens as well as adult cats and seniors can get the same recipe combinations. If your own cat suffers from certain diseases (e.g. kidney, pancreas or intestinal diseases), these must be taken into account when compiling the recipe.
If advice is required - and not just a compilation of prescriptions - the counselor should explain the different supplements, their dosages, precautionary measures and alternatives. It should also be mentioned which supplements should and should not be included in meals. It is also important to clarify the various methods of raw feeding, their differences and peculiarities. He / she explains how meals are put together, what is absolutely necessary and what individual decisions are made under which circumstances (e.g. "Dietary fiber - yes or no? Which?", "Which method of raw feeding suits me?" Etc.). The topic of "variety" should also be addressed in a competent consultation: "why is it important and how do you implement it under the individual circumstances?" In addition, a good advisor points out the short-term consequences of the change in diet (e.g. digestive problems, sore muscles) and gives tips on how these can be eliminated.
To make the selection of a suitable consultant a little easier, the following tips can be heeded, for example:
- He / she has special training in the field of cat nutrition - training only in dog nutrition is not enough to guarantee competent advice
- Dogs and cats have different nutritional requirements: the cat is not a small dog and should not be fed that way!
- He / she asks whether special requests should be taken into account when compiling the recipe - e.g. for weight reduction, in the event of certain difficulties in obtaining supplements, etc.
- The advisor not only advertises a certain nutrient preparation, but also mentions alternatives for balanced recipes
- Vegetable oils, dairy products, herbs and more than 5% vegetable products should not be part of cat recipes
- Questions are answered patiently and comprehensibly for you
raw food for cleaning teeth: the most natural toothbrush for cats
Quite a few cats have problems with plaque and tartar. Wet or dry food is not suitable for cleaning the teeth, as they do not cause any significant abrasion on the teeth and also sometimes promote sticky chyme that is deposited on the teeth.
In addition to the fact that raw feeding is species-appropriate and healthy, it keeps the cat's teeth and gums clean and resilient. By feeding on bones and sinewy, large pieces of meat, the cat is forced to chew its food for a long time. This improves the jaw muscles and keeps the cat's teeth and gums healthy and clean.
In this way, plaque can be reduced or even completely removed within a few weeks or months. It is important to know, however, that not all cats respond to this "natural brushing of teeth": dental plaque can also arise from genetic predispositions, diseases or over-mineralization of the food - these factors cannot be influenced by chewing large chunks of meat. For many affected cats, however, the intervals between tooth cleaning operations can be extended.
Raw feed with weight problems and with loops of feed
Barf can be fed as a "therapy" to overweight cats. On the one hand, the feeling of satiety arises more quickly if the cat first has to cut up its food itself and cannot swallow it ready to serve. On the other hand, the feeling of satiety lasts longer with species-appropriate food than with less species-appropriate industrial food such as dry food or some types of wet food.
You can also wean cats from eating large, raw pieces of meat by feeding them. Last but not least, the sometimes high amount of calories and carbohydrates in ready-made food is also responsible for the fact that cats become overweight. Dry food in particular often contains so many calories that normally active cats are provided with an excess of energy that they cannot work off.
About recipe compositions and recipe components
General prescriptions, basic structures and complete preparations
Various nutrient mixtures are offered as complete preparations to make it easier for cats to get started and change their diet. They are mixed with meat and bring the necessary vitamins, trace elements and minerals to meat. It is relatively easy to use because, in addition to the pure meat, usually only the appropriate preparation and a few other supplements are required to create a finished meal.
These complete preparations do not take into account the individual nutrient contents of the different types of meat or the needs of the individual cats. Meals that are mixed with such preparations should also be compiled with basic knowledge and in view of the manufacturer's instructions (see "Ready-to-use mixes and complete preparations").
In order to simplify the introduction, the variety and the creation of recipes, special blanket recipes or basic structures for raw meat meals can also be used. These indicate which component and which quantity must be in the meal in order to create a meal that is as balanced as possible. In the case of raw meat feeding according to Frankenprey, for example, a certain basic structure is permanently used on which all meals are based. The individual recipes differ, however, in terms of the meat parts, offal and bones - the respective quantities, however, always remain the same: 83-85% muscle meat / 10% offal / 5-7% pure bones.
If there is a lot of variety in the selection of meat parts, different innards and types of bones, the cat can also be permanently well fed from a mixture of general recipes, recipes based on the basic structure and recipes with complete preparations.
Supplements, what is it?
Rainbow trout and lamb liver
Put simply, supplements are the recipe components that the cat needs in addition to meat in order to be fed healthy and appropriate to the species ("supplement"). The palette ranges from offal such as liver, spleen, kidney, brain, bones or fish to powder (e.g. brewer's yeast, eggshell or bone meal, taurine powder, etc.) and drops (e.g. vitamin E drops).
There are also preparations available on the market that bring all or only some of the important nutrients to pure meat.
Smaller amounts of dietary fiber (e.g. cucumber, carrot or zucchini) can also be added to the meat. However, this is only necessary for those cats that produce too soft or hard faeces without fiber.
The addition of these supplements is imperative, as the pure meat alone does not constitute a balanced meal for the cat. If only pure meat is fed in the long term, the cat can suffer from poor nutrition and the associated diet-related diseases. More on this in the "Nutrients & Supplements" section.
Which meat, which innards?
Basically, one can say that apart from wild boar meat, any muscle meat is suitable for feeding cats raw. High-fat and stringy pieces of meat are best.
For example, the following are suitable for raw meat feeding:
- as Lean meat:
- Poultry such as chicken, turkey, turkey, duck, goose, ostrich, quail, pigeon, pheasant, partridge
- Artifacts and odd-toed ungulates such as cattle, calves, sheep, lamb, deer, roe deer, goat, llama (guanaco, alpaca), elk, reindeer, pig (see next section!), Horse, zebra
- Hare-like like (wild) rabbits, (wild, field) hare
- Heart, stomach / rumen, tongue
- as Innards: Liver, kidney, spleen, brain, testicles, sweetbreads, lungs
Feeding raw pork is controversial due to the risk of contracting Aujeszky's disease. This is a virus-induced disease that is excruciatingly itchy and ultimately kills the cat. Although this virus is considered to be extinct in German fattening pigs, a certain degree of caution is certainly advisable. Wild boars and pigs from non-verifiably virus-free countries of origin should not be fed under any circumstances (more on this in the content section "Aujeszky's disease (pseudo rage)").
"More exotic" types of meat, such as ostrich, zebra, reindeer, elk or kangaroo meat, are good options for dieting exclusion in the event of food intolerance. It is very important to feed a type of meat for which an intolerance can be ruled out, which is why it is not recommended to feed this meat to your cats as a normal meal. It is rarely found in conventional cat food and can therefore help to identify the cause of an intolerance. In the case of an exclusion diet, it should be considered a "safe" alternative food to normal cat food.
Important when feeding fish: Vitamin D, thiaminase and Co.
Fish is usually only used in small amounts (around 3% of the meal) in the raw meat diet of cats as a supplement to meet the vitamin D requirement. Pure fish recipes should be created and fed with care and basic knowledge. There are several reasons for this:
On the one hand, fish contain a relatively large amount of vitamin D, which can be overdosed. On the other hand, quite a few fish contain an enzyme called thiaminase, which breaks down and inactivates thiamine (vitamin B1)757677788081. Ultimately, fish also sometimes contains larger amounts of iodine and unsaturated fatty acids. All of these factors make pure fish recipes part of the menu that should be reserved for more experienced raw feeders.
If too large amounts of thiaminase-containing foods are fed, this can lead to a vitamin B1 deficiency in a relatively short period of time. Tests with cats after feeding large quantities of raw fish showed the first signs of deficiency symptoms after only 11 days7585.
Signs of vitamin B1 deficiency are, for example: loss of appetite, nerve disorders (tremors, cramps, ataxia) and emaciation. If such deficiencies occur, it is advisable to inject vitamin B1 and remove the raw (thiaminase-containing) fish from the cat's diet81.
Freezing does not destroy thiaminase; this enzyme continues to work during the cooling and freezing phases and continues to inactivate vitamin B1 - until none is contained in the entire meal808687. The thiaminase is only rendered harmless in the cat's digestive tract80.
Thiaminase appears to be largely inactive in living cells86. However, since the cat receives dead, raw fish when feeding raw meat, a certain degree of caution is required. Heating the fish at 100 degrees for about 15 minutes destroys thiaminase and thus the effect on the vitamin B1 contained in the meal76777885. The amount of thiaminase contained has no influence on the cooking time of the fish: the same amount of heat is always required to destroy the enzyme - the temperature can, however, vary79. Cooking, on the other hand, also destroys many other important nutrients - including vitamin B180. This method is therefore rather unsuitable for the "safe" feeding of fish to the cat.
Instead, care should be taken not to feed too large amounts of thiaminase-containing fish and also to use thiaminase-free fish for a change: as a rule, only long-term feeding of large amounts of thiaminase leads to vitamin B1 deficiency symptoms7981. However, it is also possible to offer two meals at separate times: fish containing thiaminase and a meal containing particularly vitamin B1 at intervals77.
Thiaminase appears to be more common in freshwater fish than marine fish77. The respective thiaminase content of the fish depends on its feeding, the season and also on the respective body part: entrails should contain thiaminase more often than muscle meat / fillet787982. Even predatory fish, which would actually be thiminase-free, can then also contain thiaminase when prey animals containing thiaminase are ingested77.
The following small table is intended to provide a quick overview of the most frequently fed fish and their thiaminase content. In the more extensive fish table, other varieties are listed and compared.
Bone feeding: do not feed heated bones!
Cats also find important components in bones: above all calcium and phosphorus. But also potassium, zinc and magnesium 37. They can and should also be offered with raw feeding.
However, we should expressly warn against boiling or frying the bones beforehand: Heating them up makes bones hard, brittle and easily splintered. This can lead to life-threatening intestinal and stomach bleeding. So bones please just raw feed to the cat!
Injuries and accidents, including those caused by / with raw bones, cannot be completely ruled out, but they pose a significantly lower risk for the cat. The following are suitable for adding bones to the cat, for example:
- Poultry necks (duck, goose, turkey, chicken, etc.)
- Poultry carcasses
- Poultry legs or wings
- Rabbit backs or carcasses
The switch to bone feeding should be done slowly and under observation by the keeper. It is assumed that the stomach acid of cats that have only received industrial food up to now is not (any longer) appropriately designed for the processing of bones: it appears to be less aggressive. In addition, many cats are initially a bit clumsy with bones. Last but not least, cats fed with ready-made food are often simply overwhelmed by how / whether they should eat bones.
The size and hardness of the bones fed should therefore be increased slowly. It should also be noted that if the amount of bone is too large (over 10% pure bone) or if the amount of bone is increased too quickly, many cats tend to have bone faeces (dry, whitish faeces) and constipation.
As an alternative to bone feeding, supplements such as bone meal (calcium and phosphorus) or eggshell powder or calcium carbonate, calcium citrate or algae lime (calcium only) can be used. Even bones that have already been ground make it easier for the cat to move and also reduce clumsy handling and the risk of injury.
Raw feeding with blood: disgust or species-appropriate?
Like many other components, the blood of the prey is important for the cat's diet. It contains iron, iodine, salt and liquid, among other things. However, many cat owners who want to offer their cat raw food shy away from preparing it with blood.
The fact that liquid, frozen blood is now being offered by many (online) barf dealers in clean and convenient bottles or as easy-to-dose thalers makes handling easier. Depending on the setting, clotted blood often looks daunting, but its quality is no worse than liquid blood. If you want to bring it back to a liquid state, you can stir it briefly in the mixer.
As an alternative to liquid blood, however, blood powders are also available, which bring all of the nutrients contained in the blood into the meal. They are preferred by some raw meat feeders because of the disgust for liquid blood (its smell / consistency). The spleen is also suitable for bringing iron and other nutrients into raw meat meals.
In order to be able to supply the cat with all important nutrients without blood / blood powder, other supplement compositions are also possible: Iron is contained in dark meat (beef) and spleen. Iodine can be supplemented with seaweed meal, for example, while salt is added to raw feed through small amounts of sea salt.
It should be noted that blood - without further processing, as it is used in raw feeding - is a very sensitive food that has only a short shelf life when unrefrigerated. Frozen (-18 degrees) it can be kept for about 6 months48. If it is thawed, it should be processed quickly and, if possible, stored in the refrigerator (up to 8 degrees) for no longer than 24 hours.
The cat's nutritional needs
Various institutions and scientists have published official figures for the individual needs of cats for vitamins, minerals and trace elements in the past. Depending on the source and type of determination, these figures differ greatly and sometimes contradict each other. There does not seem to be a "right" or "wrong" here, but instead broad ranges in which the amounts of nutrients can be described as "covering needs".
Another difficulty in transferring these official requirement figures to the catfish is that the determination of the figures cannot easily be applied to raw meals. For example, the absorption / utilization of various nutrients is impaired by a high content of plant-based ingredients: Barf without - or with few - plant-based ingredients does not necessarily have to contain the same (high) amounts of nutrients as plant-based "test food". Cooking the finished feed also destroys many nutrients: for example, far larger quantities have to be used in finished feed than in raw, unprocessed meals. Official recommendations, which refer to 1 kg of feed, do not have to apply to 1 kg of raw meat meals.
In addition, the cats on which such nutritional assessments (animal experiments) are carried out are usually kept in a much more stressful environment than "Otto normal cats": Stress can also increase the need for certain nutrients. Ultimately, the amount of nutrients that compensates for an (artificially induced) deficiency in animal experiments does not have to correspond to the cat's actual need.
Overall, it can be said that although there are official recommendations on nutritional requirements in cats, these are not always reliable and should only be viewed as a rough guide due to various factors. Under no circumstances do they have to be adhered to with milligram accuracy.
Loss of nutrients through freezing, storage, preparation?
When it comes to the preparation and storage of raw meat meals, the main question is to what extent nutrients are lost or destroyed in the process. Freezing itself has a preserving effect on nutrients and destroys them only to a very small extent and over a long period of time8788. The water-soluble vitamins (B vitamins, vitamin C) are also largely contained in the freezing process - the loss of B vitamins should be between 3-18% over 12 months, vitamin C seems to be the most unstable here (losses up to 38%)88. Only repeated thawing - cell walls are destroyed in the process - should result in a significant loss of the water-soluble vitamins.
Water-soluble nutrients (B vitamins, vitamin C, taurine) are mainly lost when thawing water is thrown away (loss 5-15%), fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K - but also B1, B12 and C - are lost Oxidation with oxygen87. Sorting out particularly nutrient-rich body parts (liver, kidneys, spleen) naturally leads to a loss of nutrients compared to the whole slaughtered animal87.
Nutrient levels in various supplements
As you can read in the "Nutrients & Supplements" section, certain pieces of meat, offal and supplements are used - in addition to the pure meat - to bring nutrients into raw meals. In order to be able to make adjustments to the individual recipes more easily or to bring variety to the menu, it can be advisable to know which supplement contains the larger amount of a certain nutrient.
The following list is intended to list various supplements for the corresponding nutrients (in descending order, based on 100g weight). Above all, those nutrients are taken into account that can be influenced by the choice of meat or for which the cat's need is high.
- Fat content (fluctuates greatly!):
Lamb42 > Goose43 > Duck44 > Chicken Breast45/ Turkey breast47 > (Wild) rabbits46
- Vitamin A:
Cod liver oil11 > Lamb liver4 > Duck liver5 > Veal liver6 > Foie gras7 > Turkey liver8 > Beef liver9 > Chicken liver10
- Vitamin D:
Cod liver oil11 > Anchovy12/Sprat13 > Rainbow trout15 > Salmon14 > Lamb heart16
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine):
Brewer's yeast17 > Pig heart18 > Veal heart19 > Pork belly20 > Beef heart21 > Turkey heart22 > Chicken heart23
- Vitamin B3 (niacin):
Brewer's yeast17 > Lamb liver4 > Beef liver9 > Turkey liver8 > Veal liver6 > Turkey breast47 > Chicken liver10 > Chicken Breast45 > Duck liver5/Goose liver7
Bone meal56 > Di-calcium phosphate55 > Brewer's yeast17 > Eggshell meal57 > Beef liver9 > Lamb liver4 > Veal liver6 > Veal spleen32 > Chicken liver10 > Beef spleen33 > Turkey liver8 > Duck liver5 > Foie gras 7> Beef kidney34 > Lamb kidney35 > Veal kidney36
Eggshell meal57 > Calcium carbonate53 > Bone meal56 > Algae lime59 > Di-calcium phosphate55 > Calcium citrate54 > Chicken necks37 > Turkey necks / chicken thighs37 > Chicken carcass37 > Chicken wings37
Bovine blood38 > Brewer's yeast17 > Beef spleen33 > Lamb spleen39 > Duck liver5 > Veal spleen32 > Chicken liver10 > Lamb kidney35 > Beef kidney34 > Veal kidney36
Seaweed meal40 > iodized table salt49 > Sea salt51 > Cod liver oil11 > Sprat13 > Anchovy12 > Table salt50 > Salmon14 > Bovine blood38 > Rainbow trout15
Taurine powder52 > Green lipped mussel powder58 > Lamb goulash41 > Chicken (dark)41 > Salmon fillet41 > Chicken heart41/ Chicken liver41 > Beef spleen41 > Beef liver41 > Beef heart41 > Chicken neck / chicken back41 > Beef (lean)41 > Lamb kidney41 > Beef kidney41 > Chicken Breast41
the calcium-phosphorus ratio in raw meat meals
As already mentioned in a previous point, not only the absolute amounts of nutrients are important, but in many cases also their relationship to one another. Many nutrients influence the absorption and metabolism of other nutrients - they are, so to speak, "opponents". Two of the nutrients that do this and play an important role in barfing are calcium and phosphorus. In healthy cats, they should ideally be present in the meal in a ratio of 1.1-1.3: 1 (1.1-1.3 times as much calcium as phosphorus), with ratios of 0.9-2: 1 being tolerable are. This ratio can be shifted into an unfavorable range (below 0.9: 1) through poorly thought-out recipe compilation. Long-term consequences of this can be inadequate care and illnesses - above all kidney diseases.
Meat alone usually contains much more phosphorus than calcium: the calcium-phosphorus ratio in pure meat is therefore unbalanced for the cat. For this reason, too, feeding pure meat alone - even up to 20% of the amount fed (see above or sample calculations divisible - .pdf download) - is not recommended.
Even an admixture of bone or bone meal / calcium phosphate does not have to automatically balance the calcium / phosphorus ratio (e.g. with the "Frankenprey method"). The Frankenprey percentage scheme provides 5-10% bone in the raw meal for the cat. Regardless of the amount of poultry necks mixed in: the cat's calcium requirement can rarely be achieved without a simultaneous massive oversupply of phosphorus and / or an unbalanced calcium / phosphorus ratio! (see sample calculations Frankenprey - .pdf download)
So it is advisable to mix in an additional calcium supplement with both the divisible and the Frankenprey method - of course also with the bar with supplements. In this way, the cat's calcium needs can be met without a massive excess of phosphorus or an inadequate calcium / phosphorus ratio in the meal. For example, 6-7g eggshell meal or 6-7g calcium carbonate or 7-9g algae lime or 11-13g calcium citrate per kilogram of meat are suitable.
important for the cat: taurine
Taurine plays an important role in the cat's diet. It is a beta-aminoethanesulphonic acid, which cats - unlike humans and dogs - cannot produce to the required extent. The cat is therefore dependent on ingesting taurine with its food. In nature this happens, for example, through the consumption of mice, because mice have a very high taurine content - based on 100g body mass.
One speaks of a daily requirement of around 9.9-60mg taurine per kilogram of body weight of the cat or 200-500mg taurine per day and cat. If your need for taurine is not met over a long period of time, deficiency symptoms such as heart disease, poor eyesight or reproductive disorders can develop.
Taurine is also an important topic for barfing, which must not be neglected. . Taurine is found in almost all parts of meat and offal, but the content fluctuates widely. Working muscles (e.g. thighs, heart) and dark meat should be particularly rich in taurine. Powder does not necessarily have to be used to meet the cat's taurine needs. More information on covering the taurine requirement can be found in the file "Covering the taurine requirement" (.pdf download).
Cats bared: interesting to know ...
Food animals: mice, rats, day-old chicks
Depending on the method of raw meat feeding (see Methods & Basic Recipes), feed animals are given either as a "snack in between" or as a meal on their own. These feed animals can be obtained in different quality in online shops or in specialist animal markets. They are available whole or minced. However, feeding them is not absolutely necessary for cat barfing!
However, if feed animals are only given as a supplement to the actual feeding, they do not have to be subtracted from the daily amount of nutrients. They do not have to be supplemented or included in the calculation of the cat's nutrients.
If the cat is to be fed exclusively with food animals, it should be ensured that only specially raised and fed food animals are suitable. Due to their living conditions, conventionally reared food animals have different nutrient compositions than naturally grown prey animals, which the cat eats outside in the wild (see "Feeding only food animals - is that possible?").
More on the subject of feed animals can be found in our blog post "Feeding day-old chicks, mice and rats: crazy, species-appropriate or cruelty to animals?".
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from our blog:
- "Simply Barf - Guide to Natural Cat Nutrition", Doreen Fiedler, ISBN: 978-3-7357-9105-4
- "Cat nutrition based on the model of nature", Doreen Fiedler, ISBN: 978-3-7357-9047-7
Sources / further information
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5: see "Duck, domesticated, liver, raw": ndb.nal.usda.gov
6: see "Veal, variety meats and by-products, liver, raw": ndb.nal.usda.gov
7: see "Goose, liver, raw": ndb.nal.usda.gov
8: see "Turkey, liver, all classes, raw": ndb.nal.usda.gov
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10: see "Chicken, liver, all classes, raw": ndb.nal.usda.gov
11: see "Cod liver oil": www.ernaehrung.de
12: see "Anchovy raw": www.ernaehrung.de
13: see "Sprat raw": www.ernaehrung.de
14: see "Salmon raw": www.ernaehrung.de
15: see "Rainbow trout raw": www.ernaehrung.de
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53: see "Calcium Carbonate (fine)": www.lillysbar.de
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55: see "Dicalcium phosphate": www.lillysbar.de
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58: see "Green-lipped mussel powder": www.lunderland.de
59: see "Algae lime": www.lunderland.de
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76: see "Comparative Study of Thiaminase in Headfoot and Hepatopancreas of Limicolaria flammea": sciencedomain.org (.pdf download)
77: see "Nutrient Requirements of Warmwater Fishes and Shellfishes", NRC, 1983
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84: see "A Rapid Method for Assaying Thiaminase I Activity in Diverse Biological Samples": www2.dnr.cornell.edu (.pdf download)
85: see "Thiamine Deficiency and Associated Clinical Disorders", McCandles, 2009
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