Despite thousands of years of domestication, your cat’s body is still designed to digest raw meats for their naturally carnivorous diet. What has changed though, it how easy it is to get safe raw meat for your cat to eat.
Any raw chicken that you buy now has the chance to be contaminated with bacteria which can harm your cat’s digestive system and cause all sorts of problems for their health. Although there are certainly ways that cats can benefits from eating raw chicken, the risks are often not worth it.
Is it safe for a cat to eat raw chicken?
When cats in the wild eat raw meat, it is as fresh as possible. This means that even if the meat is contaminated with a harmful bacteria, it has had less time to grow and has less of a chance to harm the cat. A cat’s digestive system is also made to handle contaminated foods. They have strong stomach acid and short digestive tracts which creates an unwelcome home for pathogens and passes food through quickly.
Raw chicken that we buy now has a higher chance to have moreharmful pathogens in it because we tend to keep chickens close together which lets bacteria like salmonella to spread much easier. Its estimated that about 4% of chicken bought in the US is contaminated with salmonella.
Larger chicken bones can also become lodged in your cat’s throat and digestive system. Although raw chicken bones are softer, they can still cause an obstruction which will need the care of a vet to be removed. Leaving large bones to pass naturally may cause further problems like fatal internal damage through cuts.
If your cat manages to steal some raw chicken while you are cooking on a single occasion, they will most likely be okay. There is a chance that the chicken they ate wasn’t contaminated or they passed it through their body before it became a problem. In the less likely but completely possible event that your cat does get food poisoning, you will need to keep an eye on their behaviour and litter box for signs of their health and recovery.
Can cats get salmonella?
Although cats are equipped to eat raw meats, they can still get salmonella. If your cat does get food poisoning, you should keep an eye on them and bring them to a vet if they have been suffering for a number of days in a row. The biggest tell that your cat has salmonella is diarrhea. This diarrhea might contain some mucus or even blood. Other less common symptoms will include a reduced appetite, drooling, and foaming
There’s also a chance that your cat will recover from their salmonella in a couple of days by themselves. To be safe, you should make sure that your cat stays hydrated and has rest while they are recovering.
Should cats eat raw chicken?
Raw meat diets have become a popular form of high-end meals for carnivorous animals including cats. Raw meats are closest to the most natural way a cat would eat which many pet owners see as a benefit to their cat’s health.
Raw chicken needs to be carefully sourced and stored to be as safe as possible for cats. Even then, the risk is not zero and raw food diets may be contaminated with salmonella and other pathogens. Although cats can pass small amounts of pathogens like salmonella through their body without getting ill, there is always going to be a risk of them becoming sick.
Cats will happily eat raw meat, but they will be just as comfortable with traditional domestic cat food. Most high-quality cooked cat foods offer your cat a healthy diet so you should consider if this is a necessary risk you want to take for the reward.
If you find a raw chicken pet food provider that you feel like you can trust you could consider them for your cat if you aware of the risks that are present and have spoken to your vet. It may be dangerous to feed a raw chicken diet to cats that suffer from long term illnesses or are immune compromised.
If you aren’t feeding your cat a specific raw meat diet, its best to avoid feeding them raw chicken as a treat. There aren’t any healthy benefits that regular small bits of raw chicken will offer and instead it just poses a small health risk to your cat. You should particularly avoid giving your cat older chicken meat which can contain more harmful pathogens before being cooked.
Although cats can eat raw meat, they are designed to eat it as fresh as possible. Chicken bought for human consumption has been stored for several days before it has gotten to you and has a high chance of carrying pathogens that can harm your cat like salmonella.
If your cat has eaten a piece of raw chicken its most likely that they will be okay. If they do get an upset stomach it should pass by itself in a few days. Make sure that your cat is hydrated with water and has rest during these days. If diarrhea or any odd behaviours persist you should contact your vet.
Raw diets for cats that contain chicken have become popular and may offer some small health benefits. You can decide if the risk is worth the reward when it comes to feeding your cat a raw food diet but you should consult with your vet before you make big changes to a cat’s food.