Cats are carnivores. It means that they can’t survive without meat in their diet, unlike dogs and humans. It’s why some owners choose to feed their pets an exclusively raw meat diet. Other owners opt for cooked meat, including the food sold in pet and grocery stores (the cans, sachets, trays, etc.).
We buy our cat a high meant content cat food, but we don’t feed her a raw diet. We’re both vegetarians, and we wouldn’t have a clue about meat. Owners who support raw feeding will argue that it more closely mirrors what cats eat in the wild, but they’d even admit that you need to have a solid nutritional knowledge before making up the raw meals yourself. Still, it got us thinking about the different food options for cats. We wanted to find out can cats eat raw mince.
Can Cats Eat Raw Mince?
Yes, cats can eat raw mince.
But it’s not quite as simple as that. Owners need to be very careful about handling and storing raw meat. It can make the cat very ill and any humans in the house. It takes care and effort to support a cat nutritionally on a raw meat diet safely.
Is Ground Beef Good for Cats?
Beef is high in protein and contains several essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6 and B12, amongst others.
Unlike dogs and other domestic pets, cats are carnivores. They can’t survive without meat in their diet. Taurine is an amino acid and is essential to keeping a cat healthy. Cats can’t make taurine themselves, so they eat animal-based proteins for it. It’s common in dark meats, fish, chicken liver and other organ meats.
Cats would catch and eat their prey in the wild without much thought. They wouldn’t be cracking out the saucepans and boiling the duck they’d caught.
The problem is that meat is easily contaminated, and raw mince is no different. Parasites and bacteria in the uncooked meat can cause sickness in the pet and the person handling the meat. This happens in the wild too. Cats and animals get sick and die from contaminated meat – it’s one of the arguments against a raw food diet. Whatever your personal belief about shop-bought foods, it’s far less likely to cause serious illness in pets and owners. Cooking raw mince through will vastly reduce the chance of being ill. Salmonella and toxoplasmosis are two common pathogens.
Intensive farming can also make it easier for disease to spread amongst farmed animals. It’s essential that you only buy raw meat from a reputable source, ensuring that you’re handling the meat safely and adequately and that work surfaces, utensils, bowls and hands are cleaned thoroughly.
Ground beef also isn’t nutritionally complete for cats, so whilst raw mince is fine in small amounts, you can’t feed it to a cat exclusively.
Mince doesn’t contain bones, so, unlike other meats, it won’t crack teeth or cause obstructions in the throat or gut. Beef is also high in protein.
Before feeding mince to your cat, remove any excess fat. Ground beef contains a relatively high level of fat, which isn’t great for a cat’s health. Red meat also tends to be higher in saturated fat, so it’s essential to ensure you’re maintaining reasonable portion control. Looking for leaner mince next time you’re out shopping can help.
Make sure the mince isn’t seasoned with anything. It should be completely plain.
You may find that it’s best to feed raw mince in small doses, especially in the beginning, as it may be too rich for your cat if they’re not used to it.
Cats can eat raw mince, but it’s not necessary. Owners that do want to feed raw mince and other raw meats to their cats should be careful about contamination that can lead to sickness and, in some cases, death.
According to the VCA website, salmonella can live inside the cat’s stomach without harming the cat but can infect humans in the house. It makes raw feeding risky if people in the home live with certain conditions, including pregnancy or immune-compromised. It may be better to feed a cooked meat diet to prevent the risk of illness. Cooking does kill some of the nutrition inside, but at least you’ll be less likely to get sick.