Raw meat diets are becoming more popular with cat owners. That’s because commercial cat diets often contain more sodium or saturated fats than your cat needs. This can result in dietary and health issues that you do not want your cat to endure. Among the top choices for meat, raw chicken is a favorite.
Cats can be fed human-grade raw chicken. Raw meat contains harmful pathogens, which can make your cat ill if not properly prepared. Many veterinary nutritionists recommend freezing or freeze-drying raw meat.
You must also combine the raw meat with other prescribed nutrients that the chicken itself might lack. Cats should avoid eating the bones or organs of a chicken. Avoid chicken fat as the high fat content may overwhelm your cat’s delicate gut flora. Pregnant cats should avoid eating raw meat as the pathogens may target their growing litter.
Is Raw Chicken Meat Bad for Cats?
Chicken meat is often added to a variety of cat foods, both wet and dry. This is because cats are obligate carnivores, which means their diet mainly consists of protein. Of course, certain cat foods may also have artificial preservatives and additives that you won’t want your cat to consume, either.
You might then want to opt for a more natural diet that you and your veterinarian can control. Of course, this then begs the question: Can cats be fed raw chicken? Wild cats often feed on raw prey, so it makes sense that your cat will also be able to eat:
- Raw chicken breast
- Raw chicken wings
- Raw chicken necks
- Raw chicken livers
- Raw chicken hearts
The United States Department of Agriculture finds that chicken is one of the leaner meats. Still, it provides a good number of natural proteins. As with all meats, you will still need to monitor the fat and sodium intake.
|Part of Chicken||Protein||Fat||Sodium|
|Breast||20.8 grams||9.25 grams||63 milligrams|
|Wings||17.5 grams||12.8 grams||84 milligrams|
|Necks||14.1 grams||26.2 grams||64 milligrams|
|Liver||16.9 grams||4.83 grams||71 milligrams|
|Heart||15.6 grams||9.33 grams||74 milligrams|
According to The National Academies, the average 9-pound cat should have a total of:
- 12.5 grams of protein
- 5.5 grams of fat
- 42 milligrams of sodium daily
Nutrients aside, owners new to a raw meat diet might still want to know if raw chicken is safe for cats to eat.
Is It Safe to Feed Cats Raw Chicken?
Eating raw chicken will have both its pros and cons. Let’s explore the benefits your cat might reap from eating raw chicken. The risks cannot be understated, so we’ll take a closer look into those as well.
Benefits of Raw Chicken for Cats
Raw chicken can provide your cat with health benefits that commercial diets lack. This mainly includes portion control, as well as oversight into what exactly your cat’s meals include. Other advantages of a raw meat diet include:
- Healthier coats
- Higher energy levels
- Improved dental health (if allowed to chew on bones)
Raw chicken is believed to alter the internal microbiome of your cat’s digestive tract. This improves stool production and boosts good gut flora.
However, there have been no thorough scientific studies that have looked into the benefits. It is possible that these listed benefits may differ on a case-by-case basis. Far more studies are conducted on the various risks that raw meat diets can introduce to your cat’s health.
Can Cats Get Worms from Raw Chicken?
Freeze-drying the meat won’t get rid of all the possible pathogens on the meat. This means that your cat may develop worms or other health concerns after eating raw chicken.
Even raw meat-based diets that were properly prepared have pathogens on the meat itself. According to the Journal of Small Animal Practice, various Salmonella species were found in fresh-frozen commercial raw diets.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that salmonella could cause your cat to display these symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
- Excess salivation
- Diarrhea (with blood or mucus)
The chance of your cat getting worms from eating raw chicken meat is quite low but not altogether unavoidable. Worm or parasite eggs tend to latch onto the stomach and intestines more than other parts of a chicken. This means you should avoid feeding your cat these organs.
You should also ensure that the meat you select is fit for human consumption. This grade of meat is thoroughly inspected for parasites, worms, and animal GI parts. That will lower the risk of your cat falling victim to pathogens.
Can Pregnant Cats Eat Raw Chicken?
Pregnant cats require more protein and fat in their diets when compared to non-pregnant cats. The mother is looking after more than just itself, after all. Developing kittens take a lot of nutrients.
Even still, giving raw chicken to a pregnant cat exposes it to the possibility of cross-contamination, harmful bacteria, and pathogens. It’s safest to only feed your pregnant cat chicken that has been thoroughly cooked.
You cannot risk the litter’s health, no matter what the potential benefits might be for the mother.
How to Prepare Raw Chicken for Cats
Consult your vet about a shift in your cat’s diet before implementing any new dietary regimens. Your veterinarian will be able to develop a more comprehensive raw diet plan that best adheres to your cat’s unique health needs.
They will often recommend that you freeze or freeze-dry the meat before thawing and serving it raw to your cat. Keep in mind that bacteria and pathogens are likely to grow on the meat during this defrosting process. Even thoroughly freezing meats will not eliminate every pathogen and bacterium likely to grow on its surface.
Freezing raw meat reduces the amount of taurine in it. Taurine is a protein that boosts eye and cardiovascular health. Without enough taurine in its diet, your cat may experience severe health issues. You may also need to ask your veterinarian for additional health supplements, such as:
- Vitamin B Complex
- Vitamin E
- Egg yolk
- Kelp and dulse (aids digestive health)
- Glandular supplement
The exact amount of each supplement may vary, depending on your cat’s weight and current health. Once you mix these ingredients, you should then thoroughly grind up the meat, as well as any bones, into raw chicken mince. Mix that into the supplement mixture, then freeze. When it is time to feed your cat, warm up the food in a bag and serve.
You cannot just feed any part of the chicken to your cat. The excess fat and bones of the chicken might prove to be a problem. That’s especially true if your cat already has digestive issues.
Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken Fat?
Chicken is low in fat compared to other types of meat. However, this doesn’t mean that you should feed raw chicken fat to your cat, either. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raw chicken fat contains 68 grams of fat per 100 grams. This far exceeds the recommended daily intake for cats.
It is best to cut out chicken fat where possible. The meat itself will already have some fat and sodium, so offering the fat itself is unnecessary.
Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken Bones?
Because dogs are commonly given bones to chew, some cat owners wonder if it is alright to feed chicken bones to their cats, too.
However, bones of any kind, whether cooked or not, can shatter when being eaten. The shards that break off might lodge into your cat’s throat and cause it to choke.
It is best to either thoroughly grind the bones down during processing or to get rid of them altogether. You can add a calcium supplement to the cat’s food as a substitute for bones.