Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken? What Are the Risks Involved in Feeding Cats Raw Chicken?

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Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken

Can cats eat raw chicken? How about raw chicken bones and liver? Is it safe for cats to be on a strict raw food diet? What are the best ways of feeding felines chicken (raw) to ensure their health and safety?

We get it, as cat parents, you have a lot of questions about feline health and raw food diets particularly those that primarily include raw chicken meat.

Whether you are thinking of transitioning your cats completely from canned cat food and kibbles to homemade raw foods or just feeding them with some raw treats once in a while, this article will help you make an informed decision.

Is it Okay to Feed Your Cat Raw Chicken?

Eating raw chicken or even undercooked meat and poultry isn’t good for humans because of the parasites and bacteria it can contain such as E Coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium perfrigens, etc. And besides, can you even imagine how it tastes like?

So, for humans, it’s a big “No,” to eat raw chicken, but how about for our feline companions? Can cats eat raw chicken? How about raw fish, raw bone, or other raw meat that is readily available in the market?

Answering the question “Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken,” may seem simple, but the more you know about it and other related topics, the more you will realize that it’s not as easy as you initially expected it to be. Answering a critical question that can put the health of our dearest cats at risk is no walk in the part.

However, to give you a short and technical answer, cats can eat chicken raw. Cats can tear through raw and somewhat rubbery chicken meat, fat and muscle tissue.

Their digestive tract is also short and acidic, so this means that raw meat can be digested inside their digestive system in around 12 hours. With this amount of time, there wouldn’t be enough time for bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning.

If you are thinking of switching your cats to raw chicken diets, you must weigh first the health benefits and health problems that come along with raw feeding.

And it’s also crucial to know the safety measures that you need to observe to ensure your cat’s health and safety.

Cats Hunt in the Wild…So, Shouldn’t We Just Let Them Eat Raw?

Most, if not all people, would say that cats hunt for their prey in the wild, so it should just be fine for them to eat raw meat.

In their natural habitat, cats rely on the nutrients contained in the animal tissue. They feast on prey with a high amount of animal protein, moderate fats, and some carbohydrates.

However, in domestic life, cats have adapted to eating commercial cat foods from cooked wet food in cans to kibbles, and occasional treats. Domestic cats have adapted already to eating commercially available foods.

As such, we can say that house cats (especially indoor cats) prefer commercial diets as their prime source of nutrients and proteins.

Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken

What Are the Risks Involved in Feeding Cats Raw Chicken?

Safety has been and will always be the primary issue for cats when it comes to eating raw chicken. Although cats are carnivores, it is still not advisable to feed them with raw chicken every day.

According to studies, raw chicken is one of the leading causes of bacterial infections in cats. There was even a study showing that a cat died from salmonella as a result of consuming raw chicken.

Also, recent studies by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that 3.8% of young chicken samples that they tested were contaminated with salmonella.

Although farmers and companies have implemented stricter protocols in the handling and distribution of raw chicken to reduce the occurrence of salmonella, still the risk is there. And below are even more risks that go along with a raw chicken diet for cats:

1. Raw Chicken Lacks Taurine

Cats need taurine, cysteine, arginine, and methionine for their body to function properly.

Compared with high-quality cat foods, raw chicken doesn’t contain that many vitamins and nutrients. In particular, raw chicken lacks an amino acid called taurine, which is essential for a cat’s optimum health.

Taurine helps cats prevent hair loss, and maintain a healthy reproductive system.

2. Salmonellosis in Cats

Despite having an acidic and shorter digestive tract, cats can still get salmonellosis from eating raw chicken. Younger and older cats are also more at risk because of their weak immune system or immature GI tracts.

Cats that are under antibiotic therapy are also more at risk because there may be an imbalance in the healthy bacteria that line their digestive tract as an effect of the medication.

The common symptoms of salmonellosis in cats are the following:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Mucus in stool
  • Abnormally fast heart rate
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Skin disease

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should consult a local vet immediately.

3. Listeriosis in Cats

Listeriosis is an infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes, food-borne bacteria found in animals, water, and soil. The condition affects a wide range of animals including cats and dogs.

Cat foods, including raw poultry, beef, and canned goods can be contaminated with the bacteria if they were not washed, pasteurized, or cooked properly.

Symptoms of listeria include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Muscle Stiffness
  • Decreased in appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Facial nerve paralysis

If left untreated, listeriosis can lead to death. So, if you notice any of the above symptoms, consult your nearest vet immediately.

Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken

Common Concerns of Paw-rents

Is It Safe to Feed Cats With Commercially Available Pet Food That Contains Raw Chicken?

Feeding your cats with commercially available cat food that contains raw chicken is different from feeding them with raw chicken.

These canned cat foods are usually manufactured using high-pressure pasteurization processing (HPP) or flash-freezing, which kills harmful bacteria in raw food.

Is Raw Feeding Cats With Home-Made Cat Foods Okay?

Using organic chicken is preferred if you are planning to prepare your cats their raw chicken food at home. It’s also fine if there’s no available organic chicken just make sure to buy the freshest raw chicken as much as possible.

And to prevent the growth of bacteria in raw chicken meat, you should handle it minimally and carefully. Once the raw meat reaches room temperature for a few minutes, it already needs to be discarded. So, it’s a big “no,” to leave the raw chicken exposed in the air for your cat to eat later.

Can Kittens Eat Raw Chicken?

If an older cat can eat raw chicken, then, a kitten can also eat raw chicken once he or she has been weaned already. However, you should also remember what was mentioned earlier – younger and older cats are more prone to salmonellosis due to their poor immune system or immature GI tracts.

Compared with older cats, kittens also need a more specialized diet that is rich in proteins, amino acids, calories, vitamins, and minerals. So, feeding them raw chicken at this early age may not provide them with enough nutrients that they need for proper growth and development.

If you are really keen to introducing raw food diet to your kittens, make sure that you do it properly. Hence, you may want to ask your vet for advice, or better yet, ask him if he could come up with a raw diet for your kitten.

Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken Bones?

Many vets and cat experts would recommend that cats be allowed to chew on breakable chicken bones for their teeth, dental health. and mental stimulation. Bones also provide cats with nutrients, especially calcium.

Experts also prefer raw chicken bones over cooked bones because the latter can easily splinter inside the cat’s GI tract and can potentially cause internal injuries. 

If you are planning on adding raw or cooked bones into your cat’s diet, the safest thing that you could do first is to ask for your vet’s advice.

Once you’ve decided, be sure to monitor your cat’s reaction after eating their chicken bones, whether raw or cooked. Make sure to check their next bowel movements.

Watch out for indigestion, and the presence of blood. Also, if your cat is vomiting, and having trouble with gas, and other issues, then, consult the nearest vet and don’t feed your cat with bones again.

Also Read: Can Cats Eat Eggs? What are The Benefits and Precautions?

Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken Liver?

Cats can get a lot of nutrients from chicken liver and other chicken organs compared with other types of raw meat. Hence, you can feed your cat raw chicken liver while still following the same safety precautions in handling raw chicken meat.

Raw chicken liver for cats contains plenty of B vitamins, protein, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, and other essential nutrients that they need.

However, no matter how packed with nutrients organ meats are, you should not feed your cat raw chicken liver in huge quantities because doing so may cause diarrhea.

Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken

Tips on How to Feed Cats Raw Chicken Safely

If you are concerned about the above-mentioned risks in feeding raw chicken to your cats, then, you can simply cook the chicken breast first or feed them with commercial cat foods, instead.

However, make sure to remove the chicken bones because cooked bones can easily splinter inside the cat’s digestive tract, which can potentially cause internal injuries.

If you want your cats to get the calcium content from chicken bones, you can ground the bones first until they reach a sawdust consistency. Mix the ground bones with the deboned cooked chicken meat, and you can also add oil and vitamins.

We strongly recommend feeding your cats with cooked chicken meat so you won’t place them at risk for acquiring bacterial infection. Also, like what was mentioned earlier, older cats are more prone to these infections because of their weaker immune system.

When that time comes, you would also have to switch to cooked chicken, anyway since raw meat would make your senior cats even more susceptible to infections.

However, if you still want to try feeding your cat raw chicken, make sure to observe extra precautions starting with minimal and safe handling procedures.

Safeguard your cat’s health and protect them from any accident or injury caused by feeding your cat chicken bones, and raw chicken meat.

Again, make sure to remove small or sharp bones in your cat’s meals. Some small bones or bone pieces can cause complications such as GI tract obstructions, airway obstructions, and oral injuries.

If possible, give your cats raw chicken as treats, and not as a meal to reduce their risks of getting sick. If you are wondering what type of raw chicken can cats eat, you can stick to purchasing chicken that is really intended for a cat’s raw food diet. Stay away from those sold at grocery stores that are intended for cooking.

You can check out local fresh poultry at a farm or local butcher to ensure that you are getting fresh chicken meat. Other options include buying frozen raw chicken diets that were prepared by pet companies for pet consumption. These meals are safe for your cats to eat, and they are salmonella-free.

While it’s impossible to eliminate all risks, following these things can still help in keeping your cats safe while feeding them with a raw diet. Below are additional ways that you can observe to ensure your cat’s health and safety:

  • Wear gloves when handling raw chicken meat
  • Prepare the food in a contained area of the house. Clean and sanitize the area thoroughly after. You can use 1:32 bleach to water solution if possible.
  • Buy raw meat ingredients from a reliable source.
  • Feed your cat in an area that is easy to clean (no upholstery or carpet nearby).
  • Sanitize the food bowls immediately. Scrub and clean the bowls, and use 1:32 bleach to water solution. And then, rinse and dry the bowls.
Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken? What Are the Risks Involved in Feeding Cats Raw Chicken? 1

How Much Raw Chicken Meat Can You Give Your Cat?

According to local vets, this is the most commonly asked question about raw chicken food diet, just next to, “Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?”

In answering this question, you should also take into consideration several factors that need to be looked into such as your cat’s activity level, age, sleep time, health, as well as genetics.

Also, the raw chicken meat that is meant for cat consumption has different nutritional values compared with those that are available for us or other people in our locality, in other regions, and in other countries.

To answer this question easier, you can follow the general guidelines in feeding your cats raw while ensuring that they are getting a good amount of raw chicken meat.

These guidelines are applicable for cats that are over one year old. Pregnant, nursing, younger cats and kittens will need twice the amount of food per pound of bodyweight since they need more nutrients.

Vets recommend that you feed your cat 2% to 4% of raw chicken meat from their total body weight every day. Hence, if your cat weighs 10 pounds, you would need to feed him 4.8 ounces (3%) of raw chicken meat per day.

You can also do this calculation by yourself. First, get the weight of your cat in pounds and multiply it by 16 since there are 16 ounces in 1 pound. And then, multiply it by your preferred percentage (e.g. 3% or 0.03).

Therefore, if your cat weighs 10 pounds, the computation would be 10 x 16 = 160. And then if you want to work out 4%, multiply 160 by 0.04 ounces, which will give you 6.4 ounces.

Feed your cat raw using the above formula, and don’t forget to weigh your cat regularly. You can adjust the amount of raw chicken depending on whether your cat is gaining or losing weight. The goal is to maintain your cat at his ideal body weight.

Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken

My Cat Ate Raw Chicken – What Should I Do?

The primary risk for cats from eating raw chicken meat that wasn’t prepared for them is bacterial contamination, particularly by salmonella.

If your cats ate a bit or even licked the raw chicken that was left unattended on top of your counter or kitchen sink, watch out for symptoms of sickness, such as the following:

  • Diarrhea (often bloody)
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

Immediately seek veterinary attention if you notice any of these symptoms as salmonellosis can be fatal for cats, and they can also pass the infection into humans through their stool.

How to Prevent Your Cat From Accidentally Eating Raw Chicken?

Cats are sneaky and curious creatures. That is why as a cat owner, it’s important to cat-proof your home. And if you are preparing your food, make sure to have your eyes on your cats at all times.

If you can’t, then, at least put them inside their room or cage first while you are doing your thing. By doing this, you can prevent them from running around with a chunk of raw chicken that isn’t intended for them to consume.

At the end of the day, what you’re doing is all for your cat’s safety. You don’t have to feel bad or guilty at all.

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