Debunking The Risks of Raw Food For Your Cats

cat standing on two hind feet reaching for a bowl of raw food.

With a wide variety of cat food brands and various types of diets available, it’s understandable why ‘analysis paralysis’ can set in when you’re trying to choose the best food for your cat. Each diet comes with its unique set of benefits and considerations. When it comes to the raw diet, while many rave about the benefits of feeding raw, veterinary professionals tend to frown upon the raw diet for cats due to the risks involved, causing many owners to sit on the fence.

However, research done in the Canadian Veterinary journal in 2017 [1], showed that despite facing opposition from the majority of veterinarians and public health authorities, the trend of feeding dogs and cats a meat-based raw diet is steadily increasing. Additionally, advocates of raw feeding hold various beliefs regarding nutrition, generally viewing raw diets as superior and more aligned with cats’ natural needs compared to cooked diets.

Reasons Why Vets Discourage Feeding Raw Cat Food

Raw Food Can Make You And Your Cat Sick Due To Pathogens

One common argument vets have against feeding cats raw, is that raw food contains pathogenic bacteria that will make you and your cat sick. Raw meat can grow pathogenic bacteria when not handled properly.

Common pathogens are dangerous to humans and pets alike. Some of the more common pathogens are salmonella and e.coli [2]. When it comes to households with immunocompromised humans, or elderly and children, a raw food diet for a household cat would need further consideration. However, the key point to note is that raw food mainly poses a danger to households when improper handling and sanitation is at play or if the raw ingredients are not processed properly by the food supplier.

When feeding raw, every step of the process is important. You should not allow raw food to thaw at room temperature. The safest way to thaw raw food is to transfer it to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw overnight. Refreezing any portions of unfinished raw food once it has been exposed to air is also a no-go. After meals, it is important to sanitise your cat’s eating area, and even their bowls with hot, soapy water.

Raw Food Can Cause Worms

Another common misconception floating around the internet is that feeding raw food can cause worms to grow in your cat’s body, fueled by horrifying images of animals expelling worms and warnings from your veterinarian.

However, when raw meat is sourced ethically and companies ensure the quality of the meat is human-grade and correctly handled, a raw diet should not cause your cat to contract worms. Afterall, not all raw meat inherently contains worms. Sadly, this is not the case for some companies. In hopes to attract more customers with cheaper prices, some skimp on quality by incorporating lower-grade meats and ingredients, commonly referred to as “4-D meats” [3] sourced from dead, dying, diseased, or disabled animals. This lack of regulation has led some to believe that all raw pet foods contain such subpar ingredients. Hence, it is important to check with the company where their meat is sourced from and whether the meat is human-grade and ethically sourced.

At The Grateful Pet, all our ingredients are sourced from human-grade suppliers worldwide.  Whether it’s cage-free, grass-fed or free-range, our meats are of the highest quality to ensure your cat’s safety.

To ensure parasite-free pet food, we adhere to stringent freezing standards. Our raw food undergoes blast freezing at -30°C, timed freezing for a week or more. This measures ensure that any potential parasites missed during our rigorous food handling process are rendered inactive long before reaching your pet’s bowl. Your pet’s health and well-being are our top priorities.

Nutritional Imbalances

This is a common accusation from veterinary professionals when it comes to a homemade raw diet. While cats are obligate carnivores who thrive on a meat based diet, feeding them a singular type of meat every meal does not equate to a balanced diet. When it comes to certain minerals such as taurine, cats cannot synthesise it themselves, unlike dogs or humans. Ensuring your cat’s raw meal contains the proper levels of taurine that they need daily becomes extremely crucial.

Insufficient taurine levels can result in severe health complications in cats, such as heart disease and blindness. Taurine occurs naturally particularly in organ meats like heart and liver. Consequently, cat food containing ample named meat sources not only provides essential protein but also ensures adequate taurine intake. 

Another vitamin that needs proper supplementation in your cat’s diet is vitamin B12 [4], which cats also cannot synthesise. Without enough vitamin B12, symptoms such as  reduced appetite, dull hair coat, diarrhoea, lethargy, mental dullness, or neurological problems can crop up.

Balancing raw meals at home for your cat can be challenging and often overlooked by many owners who opt for a homemade raw diet or the wrong brand, leading to veterinary professionals warning against it. However, relying on a well known and reviewed brand that follows the AAFCO or NRC guidelines or consulting a proper pet nutritionist can address this common misconception. A well balanced raw diet should predominantly consist of high quality muscle meat, with correctly portioned amounts of organs and bones. Need help to choose the right brand for your cat? Check out this video.

Benefits of Feeding Your Cat A Raw Diet

Better Overall Well-Being and Immunity

A research study done in 2013 by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association [5] reported that owners who fed raw, found that their pets had a healthier body condition, higher energy level, shinier coat, cleaner teeth, and normal bowel movements. Being a less processed choice for your cat’s diet, raw food retains most of its natural vitamins and minerals to promote better well-being and immunity.

Compared to a highly processed diet such as dry food which uses high heat to make it shelf stable, raw diets are heat untreated and easier to digest. The high temperature used to create those dry pallets destroy natural nutrients, vitamins and flavour in the food, resulting in manufacturers having to add back synthetic vitamins and artificial flavouring at the final stage of production to make sure the meal is ‘balanced’ and appealing to your cat.

Another reason why some pet owners are resistant to raw feeding is that they believe a raw diet can lead to worse oral hygiene. This is not true as a balanced raw food diet contains ample enzymes to break down plaque that causes smelly breath and bad dental health. Gnawing on raw bones can also help your cat avoid periodontal disease. In fact, when comparing raw food to kibble, the latter worsens dental issues in pets due to its higher starch content, causing more plaque to form. We break it down further in our Secrets To Sparkling Teeth blog.

Furthermore, a 2002 study by the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California [6], found that kittens fed on a raw cat food diet had better stools. Being minimally processed and having higher digestibility, the kittens are able to digest most of the food, excreting less waste and having consistent healthy stools. Raw food also retains most of its moisture content promoting better hydration for a lesser risk of constipation [7] or urinary issues.

Factors To Consider When Feeding Raw

If you’ve decided on feeding raw, there are some things to consider:

  • Family situation

Extra precautions should be made such as using hot soapy water to wash and clean all surfaces and feeding bowls/utensils used if you have any family members who are pregnant, children under the age of 5 years old, or any immuno-compromised family members.

  • Cat’s facial hair length

After every meal, not only is it important to sanitise the area, but also to clean your cat’s mouth. Cats with longer facial hair tend to be harder to clean. Opting for a neater groom can solve this problem, however, wiping their mouth with a damp cloth after each meal will also suffice.

  • Nutritional or health history

Pets with significant health conditions such as immune-mediated disease, or any current medications can impact their reaction towards raw food. Especially for cats with immunity issues, consulting with veterinary professionals is important before making any diet change.

  • Time constraints

As mentioned, feeding your cat raw food requires safe handling, storage and proper hygiene practices. Time and your schedule is something to consider when feeding your cat raw as it is not recommended to have the raw food left out at raw temperature for more than 1 hour. Hence, leaving food out for your cat to free-graze is also not recommended.

At The Grateful Pet you can feed your cats raw food confidently with our high-protein, 100% heat untreated meals. Always AAFCO complete & balanced, these easy-to-feed meals are always safely prepared and packed in our easy-to-serve tubs.



[1] Raw food diets for pets – The Canadian Veterinary Journal, June 2017

[2] Presence of pathogenic bacteria in faeces from dogs fed raw meat-based diets or dry kibble – PubMed, October 2020

[3] Pet Food Regulations The Romance Is Over – Susan Thixton, 12 June 2014

[4] Vitamin B12 in Cats: Nutrition, Metabolism, and Disease – Animals MDPI, May 2023

[5] Current knowledge about the risks and benefits of raw meat-based diets for dogs and cats – J Am Vet Med Assoc., December 2013

[6] Raw diets for dogs and cats: a review, with particular reference to microbiological hazards –  Journal of Small Animal Practice, April 2019

[7] Diet and feline constipation –  Anton Beynen, September 2019