Picture this. You’re dicing up some store-bought chicken breast to cook up a colourful teriyaki stir fry for your fam. But you’re not alone. Standing next to you, eagerly looking up with doting eyes is your feline friend. Surely giving them a few chicken scraps to eat would be delicious and totally safe, right? Well, the answer to “can cats eat raw chicken?” may surprise you and that’s what we’ll be exploring today in this guide on everything cats and raw chicken. So read on to find out more!
Unravelling the Raw Feeding Trend
Before we get into the beak and feathers of “can cats eat raw chicken?” we first need to unpack the raw feeding trend. Over the past few years, raw feeding has gained popularity, with some brands adopting this form of cat food making it accessible in pet shops and supermarkets.
Raw feeding is exactly what it sounds like, feeding your cat raw uncooked ingredients. This includes raw meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables. Supporters of raw feeding believe it to be a more natural approach to pet food, resembling closer to what cats would feed on in the wild.
However, this trend is very controversial. As there is no cooking process in raw diets, harmful pathogens, parasites and bacteria including salmonella, E. coli and even TB, are not killed, which can cause infections and digestive upsets in both pets and their pawrents due to cross-contamination risks. As such, raw feeding is not recommended by vets or the PDSA.
Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?
So, can cats eat raw chicken? Technically, yes, cats can eat raw chicken. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they need to eat a diet high in animal meat to thrive. They need a high protein diet with the FEDIAF recommending 25g of protein per 100ckal of dry food for cats, as well as essential levels of fatty acids, taurine, arginine, and to a lesser extent carbohydrates (around 10-15% of their diet)
Raw chicken has high levels of protein and fatty acids, as well as healthy levels of arginine and taurine. Nevertheless, there are a few caveats and considerations to keep in mind before letting your floof munch down on some chicken scraps.
What are The Risks of Cats Eating Raw Chicken?
Parasites, Bacteria and Pathogens
Cats have much shorter digestive tracts than hoomans and higher levels of gastric acidity. This makes them much better adapted to eating raw meat as the acidity levels in their gut help to kill off pathogens and bacteria.
Nevertheless, cats are not immune to contamination, and feeding raw meat to your cat always poses a risk of infection with bacteria and viruses such as E. coli, Salmonella and even TB. This not only poses a risk to your floof but also to yourself as preparing raw food in your kitchen increases the chance of cross-contamination to your own food or cookware. If you have fed your kitty cat some raw chicken and they are showing signs of sickness such as vomiting and diarrhoea, have them assessed by their vet urgently.
Although raw chicken contains high levels of protein, fatty acids, and arginine, it lacks other essential vitamins and minerals that your cat needs to maintain their overall health. Cats need a variety of ingredients in their bowls at meal time which can be difficult to get right yourself if you have opted for a raw diet.
If your cat isn’t getting all the nutrients they need from their food, they can grow to have deficiencies. One such deficiency that can occur with raw feeding is a taurine deficiency which can cause eyesight loss and reproductive issues.
The easiest way to ensure your cat is eating enough taurine is to feed them a cat food from a trusted brand that is labelled as “complete”. The FEDIAF regulates all commercially sold cat food in the UK and to be allowed to claim that your cat food is “complete” it must contain adequate levels of taurine.
Another risk of regularly feeding your cat raw chicken is them gaining weight or developing obesity. If you are feeding your cat raw chicken on top of their normal meals, this will add calories to their daily intake which can lead to obesity which brings with it a whole host of health complications.
If you are feeding your cat anything on top of their normal meals you will need to adjust their feeding amount and monitor their weight and body condition score so that you are not overfeeding them.
Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken Bones?
Although tossing your cat a few tasty morsels of chicken is generally safe from time to time, you should never feed your cat any animal bones including chicken bones. Chewing on bones can cause fractures to your cat’s teeth and sharp bone fragments can inflict trauma to your cat’s mouth, oesophagus and the lining of their digestive tract.
Large bones can also pose a choking risk which can be deadly. Cooked bones are even worse than raw chicken bones as they splinter more easily increasing the risk of stomach punctures. Therefore bones should always be left in the trash no matter how much your cat meows for a taste.
Serve Scrumbles Gut Friendly Cat Food Instead
So now you know the answer to “can cats eat raw chicken?”. Technically, they can but you have to be mindful of contamination risk, nutritional deficiencies, obesity and the risk of bones.
If we’re honest with you, feeding your cat raw chicken isn’t really worth the risk. The best way to give your floof a tasty chicken meal is to feed them gut friendly chicken cat food instead!
We add prebiotics or probiotics to all of our recipes and leave out common allergens and nasties like artificial additives, preservatives and unnecessary salt and sugar.
With up to 77% human-grade delicious meat, FEDIAF-approved levels of impawtent taurine and all the essential vitamins and minerals your floof needs to keep them purring, it’s a no-brainer to switch to Scrumbles today!