We talk a lot about why cats live better if they only eat meat: their shorter digestive tract and reduced ability to absorb nutrients from other sources. But not all raw meat is the same.
Time from kill to plate
Not only do housecat-sized cats in the wild mainly eat small rodents, but they also eat their catch incredibly fresh. For most of us these days it is practically impossible to buy any meat that is as fresh as the mouse the cat just killed.
After animals are killed in EU-certified slaughterhouses, their carcasses are separated into distinct parts, each of which is then processed onward before it is available for retail sale. Even when bought from a local butcher, the meat will not have been killed just minutes before it is bought. Even if it was, it is likely to take more than a few minutes to get it home and feed it to your cat. Despite all efforts of refrigeration and cleanliness, the risk always remains that some bacteria or parasites remain or even reproduce between the time of the kill and when it is eaten.
When buying meat for our own food, this risk is not significant. The main reason is that the meat that people eat is usually cooked. This means any remaining pathogens are killed in the cooking process. Another is that there are some parasites which don’t affect humans much. Even if small amounts are ingested, our bodies are able to fight them off easily and there is no risk to our health.
If the meat is bought from the butcher for the cat to eat, it is often not cooked – after all, the meat the cat has caught is not cooked either. This means that some bacteria and parasites can remain in the meat. If they are still there, they could cause a lot more harm to a cat than to a human.
Humans rarely only eat meat. Although the recommended amount of protein a person should eat is about 0.8g per kg of body weight, that’s from any protein source. Not all of that will be or needs to be meat. Meat affected by such pathogens is therefore only likely to make up a small part of a human’s diet. If a cat eats 100% meat, which it should, then the affected meat would make up most of its diet. So the relative amount of any pathogen eaten is higher than it is for humans. And cats’ bodies are less well-equipped to fight them off.
What is a Pathogen?
According to the National Institute of Health definition , a pathogen is an organism causing disease to its host, with the severity of the disease symptoms referred to as virulence. Pathogens are taxonomically widely diverse and comprise viruses, bacteria as well as unicellular and multicellular eukaryotes and some parasites. Wikipedia will tell you, that a pathogen is “the oldest and broadest sense, any organism or agent that can produce disease”.
Tests for human vs animal consumption
These parasites are why EU meat hygiene standards are actually HIGHER for meat destined for animal consumption than that for human consumption. Additional tests for certain parasites must be passed before any food can be designated fit for animal consumption by the local EU-certification veterinarian. We may believe that the tests for food for our plates are the highest possible tests, but in fact, those for our beloved pets are even more stringent. Buying fresh chicken breast for your cat to eat raw could hide more dangers than you had thought.
Safe sources of meat for your cat
We want to reassure you that there are still ways in which you can feed your cat healthy meat that can be served in a bowl. The EU testing and certification process for meats for animal consumption is designed to ensure only healthy meat can be used for making pet food. If you can buy meat that has this certification, feeding it to your cat should be unproblematic. It is just often not available for retail sale.
Specialist BARF meat suppliers use shock-deep freeze methods to eliminate pathogens from the raw meat they sell. These methods have a similar effect to cooking meat and meat bought from them should also be fine for your cat to eat but even shock-deep freezing does not kill all the pathogens.
3coty® natural cat food is only made from meat that holds this EU certification and our gentle production process means that the meat in our tins is not only healthy but while the tin is still sealed has a shelf life of 24 months.
Raw feeding facts
- Meat suitable for human consumption is meant to be cooked. Pathogens which are killed by cooking are permitted in raw meat sold for human consumption.
- Meat suitable for animal consumption is expected to be eaten raw. Pathogens which are only killed by cooking MAY NOT be present.
- The only way to make meat sold for human consumption safe for animals is to cook it.
- Freezing fresh meat in a home freezer does not kill all pathogens. Numerous parasites will be killed, while the majority of pathogens hibernate and come alive again when the meat defrosts. No matter how long the meat stays in the freezer.
- Bacteria and viruses need high temperatures to be killed/destroyed. For example, Salmonella is killed in temperature +72°C, while Botulinum requires minimum of +85°C for certain time.
How to kill common food born pathogens
- Salmonella: heat at 72 °C for at least 10 minutes
- Botulism: heat at 85 °C for at least 5 minutes
- Campylobacter: heat at 70 °C for at least 2 minutes
- E. coli: heat to over 70 °C
- Giardia: heat to over 60 °C
Numbers you will find on each of our tins
PL1321121p pet food manufacturer’s certification. This means that we meet all the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 183/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 January 2005 laying down requirements for feed hygiene.
PL14218302 veterinary approval number of a petfood plant producing petfood from meat and animal derivatives. This means that we are registered and regularly inspected by our local EU-certified State Veterinary Inspector, Powiatowy Inspektorat Weterynarii, who ensures we continue to comply with procedures, hygiene and labelling requirements.