All images and text© Copyright of Jaffa’s Health Centre for Cats. Sed vulputate
Bacterial issues with raw minced meat-and-bone mixes
Our frozen cat food is raw, and will contain bacterial contaminants – as will any other raw food be it meat, vegetables, fish, or fruit. This is an unavoidable truth – but it is not a reason for avoiding raw food – the question is “what risk does this create?”
A low level of bacterial contamination does not mean a product is dangerous. Edwina Curry famously got egg on her face when she stated that the UK egg-laying hens were nearly all carriers of Salmonella – which they were. However, fresh eggs were not a health problem – unless you whisked them up into mayonnaise and left them for 3 days at room temperature. By the end of their ‘incubation’ those eggs then became very dangerous indeed. Otherwise there was no real issue.
Our raw food is all human grade, stored and prepared to the best hygienic principles. It should be defrosted and used within 24 hours, in which case there should be little chance of bacteria multiplying to dangerous levels.
You should remove uneaten food after mealtimes. If you do forget to do this, your cat is unlikely to eat it anyway as they are very particular about their food, and do not find stale meat appetising – unlike our doggy friends.
This is not to say the food is totally risk free – but neither is dry cat food, or tinned for that matter – they just have different risks.
Why raw isn’t such a problem:
So it’s one big virtuous circle where the right food promotes a healthy gut, which can resist nasty infections better.
Mincing and bacterial issues
Minced meats have any surface contamination mixed in by the mincing process, exposing much more of the food to bacteria. Mince therefore goes off much more quickly than meat on the bone
Conclusion: use within 48 hours of defrosting and pick up meals after mealtimes, especially in warm weather.
Top quality human-grade food is obviously more expensive than waste meats and trimmings, which may be handled in a less-than hygienic manner. Bacterial contamination of cheap mixes may therefore be higher, and having a trustworthy source is therefore essential.
Conclusion: Do not buy minced meat and bone unless you are confident of its origins and quality, and don’t buy the cheapest products!
Pro-biotics are ‘good’ bugs. For animals fed on processed starch diets, pro-biotics can improve the gut balance, but only whilst the pro-biotics are fed. As soon as they stop being given, the ‘good bugs’ disappear again.
Conclusion: just feed a food that allows the healthy bugs to thrive.
Pre-biotics are foodstuffs which favour the growth of the healthy bugs. Why buy processed, commercial pre-biotics when a raw meaty diet provides the perfect environment for the good bugs.
Conclusion:just feed the right stuff in the first place.
What are the risks of raw feeding?
Toxo is found in raw meats, and can be caught by humans. This is of no importance unless you are pregnant or immuno-compromised. Most humans catch toxo from lightly-cooked meats.
When a cat first becomes infected with toxo (from eating raw, infected meat) it will pass spores in its poo for a week or two. However, these spores have to mature for 3 days or more before they become infectious.
If you change your cat’s litter daily, it will never be infectious for toxo, even if your cat has the infection and is passing spores.
Conclusion:avoid raw or lightly cooked meats if you pregnant, and change your cat’s litter on a daily basis
Transferred drug resistance
In my opinion, this is a genuine potential negative against raw-feeding.
Bacteria carrying drug resistance can be fed to your pets, and whilst your pet may not suffer from any problems as a result, drug resistance can then be transferred to human bugs in the household or the wider world.
However, kibble can also be contaminated with bacteria - so do you avoid feeding kibble for the same reason?
Drug-resistant bugs are commonest in meat from animals given lots of drugs. Without pointing fingers, British-reared food-animals much less likely to have been treated with large amounts of antibiotics.
Conclusion: feed British-reared rather than cheap meat of un-known origin.
By using our foods, you understand and accept that there is a small risk, which you are prepared to take – very much the same situation as with anaesthetics.