Feeding a raw diet closely mirrors what cats would naturally eat in the wild and provides a broad range of benefits that include:
Healthy skin and coat - Many cats are allergic to grains, which can lead to pathologic skin conditions.
Naturally clean teeth - Many dry foods leave a starchy coating on teeth, which promotes plaque. Feeding a raw diet can lead to healthier teeth and gums.
Decreased litter box odor - Many pet foods include protein that is indigestible, which leads to an undesirable odor at the litter box.
Natural weight control - Cats are healthiest on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet.
Increased energy and vitality - Cat's digestive systems are designed to ingest raw meat and are healthiest eating what Nature intended.
Cats are designed by Mother Nature to eat high protein diets that are very low in carbohydrates. This dietary model is beneficial for cats because their digestive systems are quite specialized. They are very acidic and short, which means they have a limited amount of time to extract the nutrients they need from their food. They need to digest food quickly and effectively. Raw food is perfect for their specialized physiology because nutrients are in their most bio-available form (bio-availability meaning that nutritive substances are absorbed at a faster rate, reaching systemic circulation faster and therefore, are rapidly available for cellular use).
It takes very little energy to break down the proteins in raw meat and assimilate nutrients. Any cooking or pasteurization process changes the structure of proteins and requires more time and energy to digest. Due to cats’ short digestive and bowel transit time, some of these cooked protein sources are never completely digested. This can lead to compromised nutritional status and many symptoms associated with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
The high digestibility of raw diets is also due to the presence of natural, live enzymes that when ingested, aid in the breakdown of consumed muscle tissue, enhancing its digestibility. These beneficial enzymes are fragile in structure and are easily destroyed by the cooking process.
High temperature cooking also dramatically affects the natural nutritional value of food.
On the labels of cooked products, there is a long list of supplements that have to be added due to the destruction of the naturally present vitamins and other nutrients originally contained in the ingredients. Raw food diets should need very little supplementation, if any, if they are formulated correctly. All of the essential nutrients should come from whole food sources, wherever possible.
Grains are truly not a part of a cat's evolutionary diet and can often lead to health problems. Historically, cats were the guardians of granaries - they would eat the mice and rats and leave the grain. Many companies add grains as a carbohydrate source "for needed energy". Protein actually provides a more even and sustained source of energy. Also, cats produce only a limited quantity of enzymes that digest carbohydrates (sugars).
For example, a cat's pancreas is not designed to sustain production of the enzyme amylase. Eating grains tends to stress the pancreas and can lead to digestive problems. It has been suggested that this is a possible cause of pancreatitis in cats, especially if they are overweight. Also, there is a link between the high carbohydrate intake and diabetes in cats. The pancreas not only has to work harder to produce enzymes but also releases more insulin to counteract rising blood sugar levels.
When cats are allowed to graze throughout the day on high carbohydrate foods, their blood glucose levels spike, then drop, and repeat that cycle over and over, which is unhealthy - for anyone - cats and humans. For cats, high dietary protein is key to keep moderate insulin levels. It is digested more slowly and provides a sense of satiety for a longer period of time.
Grains also play a major role in many allergic reactions we see in cats. Dermatitis is a common problem seen in both cats and dogs and these conditions are often improved when grains are removed from the diet. Often, irritable and inflammatory bowel conditions can be linked to grains and diets that aren't easily digestible. When the digestive system is compromised, nutrients aren't optimally absorbed. Also, allergic responses to grains cause a low level of inflammation in the body, which can strongly tax the immune system, making it "work overtime". The result can be a general overall immune deficiency, which can leave cats open to contracting other forms of disease, including viruses and infections. This is the very same response that is seen in humans, as well.
There is a considerable amount of rhetoric about "predigested" grains resembling the stomach contents of prey and that the stomach is an organ that cats will eat. Ultimately, cats are opportunistic - especially in the wild. If they see a ready nutrition source, they will take advantage of it. In the reality of our back yard carnivores, the stomach and its contents are rarely consumed, if at all. Domestic feline hunters will consume the head, heart, liver, and flesh with some bone. What is typically left over is the digestive system (including the stomach), urinary, and reproductive systems. If the stomach is consumed, the amount of seed and possible grain (do birds and mice really eat oats and barley?) is about a quarter of the size of a dime, at best - not a significant percentage of a meal.
Today's domestic felines have been proven to be descendants of African wild cats, who are desert dwellers. When considering evolutionary diets, fish typically aren't included. However, our feline friends are opportunistic hunters and if water is all that stands between them and starving, they will fish! Most cats like the taste of fish simply because of its pungency, but it's not the best protein source on a regular basis. Fish may be fine as an occasional treat, but we, at Rad Cat, don't agree that it's something they should be eating daily.
We, at Rad Cat, are proud to provide a high protein, low carbohydrate, grain free product that provides optimal nutrition and high moisture content for the happiest, healthiest cats possible. Every cat deserves to be a Rad Cat!