There are lots of smart, wonderful, and yes–sane–people out there feeding raw food to their cats. Some are vets. I learned from, and continue to learn from, many of them. Vets and lay people alike! I continue to benefit from feedback on raw feeding from website visitors and from those I’ve come to trust on the issue.
You can run an Internet search for “BARF” (an acronym for “biologically appropriate raw food” or “bones and raw food”) and you may be overwhelmed with the sites, chat rooms, and egroups out there. Some are terrific. Some are not.
Each person or group or company has, understandably, their own unique reference point and strong opinion of what’s good and what’s bad. I’m certainly no exception! The opinions and emphasis each person, company, or group has is based on their own past experience (their ‘baggage,’ if you will).
I strongly encourage folks to think twice about any recipe that contains grains or vegetables or relies on plant-based sources to supply vitamins, minerals, amino acids, Essential Fatty Acids, or other nutrients.
The range of passionate opinions on whether to feed raw—and how to feed it if you do—is vast.
I’m still learning as I go. Over the years, I’ve made some adjustments to the recipe I use as new information has come to light or something I simply had not thought about before suddenly rises to center stage.
An early example is the iodine source for homemade food. For many years, I relied on kelp as the source – until it became clearer to me that different brands and types of kelp have widely varying amounts and ranges of iodine content listed on their labels. Since iodine is such a critical nutrient to get right for a cat – and even that is an imperfect science since the data on how much is too much or too little is a bit fuzzy – I was persuaded to start using iodized salt as the source, since there was consistency and specificity in the amount of iodine in it. The salt is there for iodine – and for sodium and potassium. The blood of prey food contains sodium and potassium and most of us are feeding relatively “bloodless meats.”
Later on, I was persuaded that many raw diets, including the one that I was feeding, contained more bone than needed and that some of the early information suggesting what the right calcium-to-phosphorus ratio was might not in fact be “right.” And so I began to reduce the proportion of bone in the recipe.
All of this, for me, goes to show that try as we might – we have still not fully deciphered Mother Nature. Those of us who feed raw to cats using ingredients and sources from something other than what a small cat would kill and eat on her own are wise to never assume we have Mother Nature all figured out.