Article for Hear Me Raw by Terri Griffiths, Health and Nutrition Coach

My first cat Mash was a beautiful Chinchilla Persian male who lived with me for nearly 18 years. At 7 years old he had to have multiple teeth removed and numerous fillings due to his teeth prematurely rotting. He also suffered with kidney infections on a few occasions throughout his life too. I had fed him on a specific kibble type of food as recommened by the breeder. The vet said his teeth was because he wasn’t eating bones and therefore getting his teeth cleaned. As a nutritionist and ex-dental nurse, I felt it was more to do with the possibility of not enough calcium in his food and also it made me wonder on how much sugar/carbohydrates were in the kibble food I was feeding him, as we all know sugar rots teeth. The vet said the kidneys seemed to be from bouts of dehydratation. When he died nearly 10 years later, he died without a tooth in his mouth. He also went blind in his last year suddenly, we never knew why. Maybe old age…maybe another diet deficiency. I’ll never know 100%. RIP Mash.
6 years later it was time for a new cat for me, and this time I found my handsome little Alfie. After months of searching for the right Sphynx male across the country…I found him on my doorstep just a 10-minute walk from home at Cairo Kitts. And just over a year ago he became my new companion and best pal. And the Cairo Kitts gang became my new good friends.

I had already decided and planned to make all Alfie’s food myself at this point. With my first cats’ health issues playing a part for this decision. I am a Nutritionist, a Health and Fitness fanatic and I believe in whole food, unprocessed, sourced locally, organically where possible, I grow my own veg/fruit, I have raw dairy and prefer to eat meat occasionally, and if I can go to see the field where they had previously been roaming. I didn’t see why my pet shouldn’t deserve anything less than the same respect I have for what I put into my body and my clients.

After a lot of online researching I had decided on the raw food diet. Mine would include raw meat including bird and game, offal, bones, fish, raw milk and dairy, with a small amount of fibre in a selection of veggies, a selection of good fats and some additions of taurine as its essential for a cat’s diet.

I read all about those that are for the raw food diet and those that are against it, but I couldn’t help thinking how right it seemed. Cats were all once wild carnivores. So why on earth could it be so wrong for them to continue to be so?

Cats are what is known as ‘obligate carnivores’ which means they have nutritional needs that can be met by mostly eating meat or animal tissue. An obligate carnivore needs at least 70-75% of their diet to be meat. Consider this if you are still buying tins of cat food. Most of these average about 40-55% meat. Even the top brands.
A raw food diet can easily match a cats dietary requirements as meats, fish and offal are super rich in proteins. Offal (internal organs such as liver, kidneys and heart) being rich in micronutrients like Iron, zinc and selenium as well as being full of iron, all part of a cats recommended daily allowance (RDA) of nutrients (see Page 58 of the FEDIAF Nutritional requirement for Cats) and of course bones, which are rich in minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. And as well as the calcium helping to keep teeth strong from the inside, chewing on bones not only entertains them, but helps to clean their teeth.

TIP: I always give Alfie bones like ribs of lambs or pigs, or turkey legs/necks to avoid small splinters. He loves them. Although he does like to drag them around the place showing them off!

Additional nutrients like taurine is also an essential for cats, and although their bodies can make small amounts themselves, but not enough, so need relatively large amounts of it included in their diets. There have been many cases of cats becoming taurine deficient which can effect cats’ vision and other negative health effects. This always makes me wonder about little Mash ending his life blind. 

So what is taurine? It is an Amino Acid. Protein is made up of 20 amino acids and taurine is one of them. So the raw meat you feed your pet is roughly 25% protein, and this protein is made up of 20 amino acids and one of these is taurine. So plenty of meat, will supplement your cat with the taurine it needs. Other amino acids such as Arginine, Histidine and Leucine, all part of the FEDIAF cat’s RDA’s (recommended daily allowance). The FEDIAF is the European Pet Food Industry Nutritional Guidelines for Complete and Complementary Pet Food for Cats and Dogs. Of which the UK still abides by these regulations.

Cats are also not big drinkers and are supposed to get most of there water from their food. Which is why a predominantly dry food diet isn’t ideal for cats. I was advised for Mash to eat mostly a dry food and interestingly he did have a few kidney infections, where the vet said he was a little dehydrated. Yet another great reason for cats eating raw! Raw meat or muscle tissues are about 60-75% water, therefore has a decent amount of water naturally. Cooking the meat reduces the water content. That’s not to say a constant supply of water isn’t needed. But raw does provide a good amount of fluid for you cat.

Raw food is also totally unprocessed. This provides a more efficient protein digestion because of this lack of processing. Cats can digest raw foods as they have a much shorter digestive track and more acid in the stomach to break it down. Outdoor cats will still bring you back a half-eaten mouse or bird if they can. They are natural hunters and cats gut bacteria is also very aggressive to handle this wild food when caught. Even if the cat is regularly fed tinned/dry cat food, they often have no problems digesting that ‘raw’ mouse or bird.

So armed with all this info, I started by creating my home-made meals. Alongside my friends at Cairo Kitts. As a team we shared recipes made of meat, offal, bones, birds from the butchers, I added good fats like fish oil, salmon oil, olive oil, grass fed butter and ghee and sometimes coconut oil as he loves the taste. I always use animal or fish fats or unprocessed fats like coconut and olive oil. Avoiding processed oils like vegetable or sunflower oils. These can contain trans fats and are super processed. I won’t eat them, so nor will my cat.

I also give him a small amount of mashed veggies for the very small amount of fibre needed. Although fibre can be found in bones, tendons, fur etc, there may not be quite enough of this in the diet I created. So although controversial, I did give him a teaspoon or so of mashed veg too. Adding sometimes, ground bone, nutritional yeast and spirulina too.

Alfie and the Cairo Cats loved their raw diet!

This was a great learning process, but also raw food making has some safety issues. In that preparing raw foods regularly in my home kitchen risked contamination with pathogens found in raw foods. And keeping everything clean and decontaminated was a massive job.

Then, after a few months, including breaking two hardcore blenders on bones, and a day of food prep which left my kitchen looking like a scene from Sweeney Todd, I gave into looking at companies that make raw cat food along with the Cairo Kitts Gang. We had all had enough of the raw meat prep leaving carnage in our home kitchens.

It was during our search that the Cairo Kitts Gang decided that it would be a great idea to start a raw food company themselves, and with that light bulb moment, then became the Hear Me Raw Team. They decided after this research period, to turn their business into a raw food pet company. It was a fantastic idea. And they took it to another level.

They got Hear Me Raw up and running based on the homemade raw recipe inspiration, cat adoration and motivation to supply a wider selection of varieties than seen before. This evolved into the most excellent selection of raw food made with quality meat, offal, bones and supplements. Along with the widest range of flavours to keep our cats interested and expand feline gut diversity.

And now I have a raw food supply that I can trust supplies the best quality for Alfie and the Hear Me Raw Teams cats and kittens. And, with a clean kitchen, and working blenders, I can watch my Alfie boy enjoying his dinner every day and know he is getting all the nutrients he needs. Thank you Hear Me Raw!

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