The domestic cat is descended from the North African wildcat and remains closely related to them in size, shape, behavior, and physiology. Like all cats, the domestic cat is a carnivore and is adapted to a hunting lifestyle. Cats are extremely well-adapted predators. They not only eat meat but have become dependent on a meat-heavy diet. They actually can’t thrive or survive without meat in their diet. This is why it is important to be careful when choosing the best meats for your cats to eat.
This is a simple and understandable adaptation for a hunting animal like the cat. There is no need for them to have special enzymes or metabolic pathways to digest and convert nutrients in plants to what they need when present already in the animals they prey on.
However, this adaptation to become strict carnivores means that cats have several special dietary requirements that don’t apply to many other animals. This means that feeding a properly balanced diet to a cat can be much more challenging.
Most pet owners are opting for natural foods for their pets. If you’re also someone considering making your own cat food, it’s important to know what foods are best for them. Cats are carnivores, and their primary food source should be meat. Let’s look at some of the best meats for cats to eat.
Chicken, Turkey, and Duck
Poultry is an excellent source of protein for cats. Most protein in a cat’s diet should come from skeletal muscle like the breasts and thighs, rather than organ meat. Chicken and turkey breast are classified as lean meat, which is the best calorie source for cats. Duck meat is also safe but has higher fat content, so it should be fed more sparingly. When feeding your cat chicken, turkey, or duck meat, always ensure that the poultry is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any pathogens.
Another popular and affordable meat option for cats is beef. Ground beef is easy and cheap to prepare and is also easy for your cat to digest. Beef organ meat can also be used, although organ meat should only make up a small portion of a cat’s diet. Beef must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered safe. Ground beef must be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pork is considered safe for cats to eat. Still, you should avoid feeding them ham and bacon. Smoked meats have a higher sodium content and can contain sulfites, which are not ideal for cats. Pork should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lamb and Veal
Lamb and veal are both safe for cats to eat, although they are more expensive than most other meat options. Lamb is often fatty, so it should be fed in small quantities only. Alternatively, you can trim the excess fat off the pork before feeding it to your cat. When feeding your cat lamb and veal, make sure that you cook the meat to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Just about all fish is safe for cats to eat in small quantities. Canned tuna and salmon are affordable options for cats and can be served as an occasional treat. Canned fish has a much higher sodium content than cat food, so it should be fed sparingly. Also, carnivorous fish such as tuna and salmon contain higher levels of mercury, which is dangerous to your cat if it accumulates in the system. Smaller fish like cod, flounder, and halibut are safer for cats to eat because their flesh contains less mercury.
If you’re willing to splurge, you can treat your cat to many other types of seafood, like shrimp, calamari, and scallops. Small sea creatures are considered to contain much less mercury compared to large ocean fish. Oysters and clams can also be served in small quantities. Seafood must be cooked until the flesh is opaque. Start small when feeding your cat seafood for the first time and watch for adverse reactions after eating, as some cats can be allergic to seafood.
Can Cats Eat Raw Meat?
Giving your cat a raw diet is a controversial topic, and there can be genuine health risks to you and your pet. If you decide to try raw-feeding, it is best to discuss the new diet with your vet first. They can give you advice on responsible raw-feeding, ensuring that your cat receives a suitably balanced diet, and highlight some of the health concerns that need addressing.
Raw-feeding refers to a diet that includes raw meat, sometimes containing raw offal and bone, and other uncooked ingredients such as vegetables. A raw diet can be homemade or commercial, with the latter being subdivided into complete and complementary diets. A complete diet will contain the correct balance of nutrients that your pet needs to be fed solely on this food.
However, a complimentary food item should be fed in combination with another diet, in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Homemade diets can be variable in terms of whether they adequately meet your pet’s requirements. This means they should be fed under specialist guidance and are likely to need additional supplementation to avoid deficiencies.
There are purported benefits and drawbacks to raw-feeding, which contribute to both sides of the debate on whether cats should eat raw chicken or any other raw meat.
Our Final Thoughts
When picking out meats to feed your cat, you must pay attention to its caloric content to ensure that it will form a staple part of your cat’s diet. We have outlined some of the best meats that you can feed your cat regularly. These are the best meats for cats to eat and ensure that your cat has a healthy and balanced diet, essential for your cat’s overall health.
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