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Can Cats Eat Raw Beef? A Detailed Guide For New Owners in 2023
In the wild, cats have an instinct for meat. It can pique our curiosity as cat owners; therefore, you may wonder: can cats eat raw beef? Raw feeding has become commonplace in cat diets. However, you need to weigh the benefits and risks of a raw diet for your cat. Don't know what to do? No worries because we will help you unravel the mysteries of raw beef and its place in a cat's diet. Let's jump into the details!
Can Cats Eat Raw Beef?
Yes. Because cats are obligate carnivores, they can eat raw beef. In fact, as a hunter, these animals see raw meat as the primary part of their diet. Raw beef is good for water intake, dental hygiene, and weight maintenance. Yet, this food has some risks related to bacterial contamination and parasites. Hence, you must consider both sides before feeding your pets this food.
Can cats eat raw meat? Yes. Many cat owners include raw beef as a regular treat for their pets because of the following benefits:
- More water intake
Feeding raw food is similar to what cats would eat naturally. These animals transformed from felines who relied on their prey as a primary source of hydration. Please note that cats don't usually drink enough water for their needs. Hence, they choose raw meat to compensate. Unlike dry food with a mere 10% water content, an average prey animal consists of up to 70% water. Thus, feeding raw beef to your pets is a good way to enhance their hydration when they don't feel like drinking water.
- Improved dental hygiene
Cats' teeth have a plaque that should be removed. If not, they will turn into tartar and cause gum diseases. Luckily, you can prevent this problem by letting your cats eat meat. During their meal, they have to chew meat, which helps get rid of plaque.
- Weight maintenance
Dry foods are often rich in carbohydrates, and cats store them as fat in their bodies. Yet, cats prefer a protein diet to carbs. Obesity is a considerable concern in cats. Over half of cats in the US, the UK, and Australia are overweight. They may look cute, but there are tons of risks associated with obesity. So do not let your pets suffer. Instead of foods abundant in carbos, try to give them animal-based proteins. And that's how raw beef comes into play.
- High palatability
While not true for all cats, many of them prefer the texture and taste of raw diets to canned foods.
Unfortunately, raw beef may pose health risks for cats. Some potential problems can occur to them after consuming this food.
- Bacterial contamination
Due to their short gastrointestinal tract, cats digest meat quickly. Their stomachs can produce stomach acid to break down the protein and eliminate bacteria. However, there are always contamination risks in meat. Beef naturally contains bacteria, but some strains and high levels can lead to illness. The most common pathogens are E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. E. coli E.coli is in the gastrointestinal tract of most mammals. When cats eat harmful strains of E.coli, the bacteria will approach the body part that hosts it, causing big issues. Adult cats have stable health. Hence, they are less vulnerable to E.coli than kitties and old cats. Even so, when eating raw or undercooked beef, the bacteria will result in health problems for your pets. Most of them come with vomiting, fever, tender abdomen, diarrhea, and frequent urination. Listeria Cats get listeriosis when eating raw and undercooked beef. However, they won't show symptoms soon, and the signs of infection vary, depending on their health and affected areas. In most cases, your unlucky pets experience fever, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle stiffness, appetite loss, weakness, and facial paralysis. Salmonella Salmonella bacteria in raw meat causes salmonellosis. This infection can transfer from animals to humans, leaving your entire family at imminent risk. The symptoms of salmonellosis include high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lethargic behavior.
Toxoplasmosis gondii is a parasite that infects various warm-blooded mammals. In this case, cats act as the host where the parasite reproduces. Your pets may get infected in two ways:
- Eating meat containing the parasite's cysts
- Consuming cysts passed in their feces
In cats, the infection typically doesn't show symptoms. However, the concern lies in the parasite's potential to cause congenital disabilities in unborn babies if the mother gets infected when pregnant. You should also be aware of trichinosis. Your cats will get infected if they eat raw beef cysts containing this parasite's larvae. Thankfully, modern farming methods have eliminated trichinosis from meat. Now, your job is to select high-quality beef, so your cats won't suffer from the parasite.
- Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism
Feeding raw beef alone to cats doesn't necessarily lead to NSHP (Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism). However, your pets require calcium for their bone health, which you can't offer them with a diet consisting solely of raw beef.
- Vitamin deficiency
If you just focus on raw beef, your pets will lack essential vitamins for their growth. While this food contains certain nutrients, it's not enough. For example, raw meat's vitamin B9 (or folate) is low. Meanwhile, cats need this nutrient for various bodily functions.
- Yellow fat disease
The yellow fat disease results from a diet that lacks vitamin E while having a lot of unsaturated fatty acids. Although raw beef is not the direct cause of this disease, cats require more vitamin E than they can supply. It means feeding only raw beef to your four-legged friends is not a good idea.
Types of Beef Your Cats Can Eat
Can cats eat raw steak? Yes, but it's better to feed them these types of beef.
Beef Organ Meat
Imagine when wild cats enjoy their prey after aggressively chasing after them. They won't leave any parts of the prey, and internal organs are no exception. Interestingly, cats even prefer organ meat to skeletal muscle. They can't resist the rich content of vitamins, proteins, and minerals in beef organs. With that thought in mind, you should include beef organ meat, like heart, liver, and kidney, in your pets' raw diet. Yet, feed them in moderation because the hormones and toxins in the organs may cause diarrhea. Besides, do not boil or cook beef organ meat in any way. Otherwise, it will lose most of its nutrients.
As aforementioned, calcium is good for your cats. Hence, do not skip raw beef bones to improve your pets' bone health. Chewing bones is not hard for cats because they usually do it when hunting for their prey. This habit also helps strengthen their teeth. On the other hand, do not cook beef bones. The tough bones may also cause internal damage.
Ground beef is muscle meat. Your cats can eat the tiny bits of raw beef easier thanks to the grinding process. Cats can eat cooked and raw ground beef. Besides, since these animals can't tolerate spices, like garlic and onions, do not add them to the meat.
How Often Should Cats Eat Raw Beef?
It would be best to feed raw beef to your cats two or three days a week. Eating it daily can harm their health because of bacterial infections. Mixing raw meat with canned foods is a good idea. And if you want to feed your cats raw beef exclusively, ask for your vet's idea first.
How to Prepare Raw Beef for Cats?
Raw beef is only completely safe for cats if you know how to feed it to your pets properly. The following tips will assist you in your feeding job:
- Only buy meat from reliable sources.
- Drain the fat from the meat carefully. If possible, only buy lean beef.
- Start with a small serving, then observe for any adverse effects.
- Practice hygiene when handling the meat to avoid cross-contamination.
- Raw beef can't be the only food source for cats. Instead, you need to give them a balanced diet with essential nutrients for their development.
Can Kittens Eat Raw Meat?
Kittens, with their sensitive digestive systems, should avoid raw meat. Listeriosis and salmonellosis may harm their weak immunity system, too. The best food for kittens is their mother's milk. You can also use kitten milk replacers to relieve the burden on the cat mothers. Caring for kitties is challenging as they require a well-planned diet for their robust development. As a responsible parent, you have to give your pets sufficient calories to maintain their healthy weight. If you are struggling while planning the diet, consider the essential nutrients and the right amount of each for a kitten:
- Protein: 50% or more
- Fat: 20%
- Calcium: No more than 3%
Can cats have raw beef? Yes, but only in moderation. You must learn how to prepare the meat carefully to avoid bacterial infections and other health risks. Feeding your furry buddies is not easy. However, we believe that you can pull it off with your care and love for them. Thank you for reading!