Natural food by definition
The increasingly frequently used terms “Natural food” or “all-natural food” imply food that is not-ultra-processed, where ingredients are natural products (i.e. substances produced by living organisms, also found in nature). This relates to natural cat feeding as well as what we eat. Natural cat food is defined as not processed or processed to a minimum and not containing food additives, such as hormones, antibiotics, sweeteners, food colourants, preservatives or flavourings and still meets the cat nutritional requirements.
Wildness in any domestic cat
If we want to talk about natural cat feeding we need to first look at where does our cat come from? Who is its ancestor? For thousands of years, cats have been living in many different habitats, in every possible terrain and climate. They have been hunting in savannahs of Africa, plains of Asia and forests in Europe and the Americas.
All the cats we have right now come from wildcats called Felis Silvestris Lybica or in English the North African / Southwest Asian Wildcat. Not until the Near East Neolithic period so around 12,000 years ago, when humans first started farming, did it become domesticated and from that period onwards, cats have been living with us, helping us live and enjoy life by protecting our crops and being our good friend, in many cases a valuable member of our family.
Cats are true carnivores so in the wild they hunt for fresh small herbivores like rodents – mostly mice and rats, birds, reptiles and some insects and they cannot be vegetarian (even when the owner is vegetarian).
Cats eat the whole animal they hunt and in this way they gain complete nutrition. Their prey contains all the proteins and fatty acids that they need. It is possible to mimic a wild-type diet for cats within the home, but care needs to be taken to ensure it is a balanced diet and suited to the individual. Many people mistake raw pet meats and mince available from their supermarket or pet shop as being a complete food. This is often not the case, with many just being minced muscle meat only, severely lacking in the important minerals and vitamins required to keep a cat healthy. This puts your cat at risk of developing nutritional diseases. Some pet minces also contain sulphur-based preservatives which not only have been linked to asthma in cats but also inactivate some important B vitamins. Fish also contains some enzymes which can reduce the availability of essential thiamine in the diet.
With knowledge and help from a veterinarian familiar with raw feeding, cats can eat a raw diet which is balanced and healthy, and with practice, it does not need to be complicated. Also by offering a diet that cats were designed to eat we engage all their chewing anatomy encouraging good dental, digestive and mental health. A protein diet is normal for cats as they are unable to synthesise some essential amino acids like taurine for example without the right protein.
But we can find very few cats that truly live in the wild and hunt especially in the western world where we live in the industrialised countries where it is harder and harder for wild animals to survive. Most cats live with humans that take care of them and even those living wild in cities are usually supported by people who feed them regularly.
By feeding cats, those in the wild and those living with us, we very often forget that a cat has very specific nutritional needs and many of commercial diets do not provide this nutrition to an appropriate level. We have a huge choice of processed diets and they are convenient and easy to use but they do not provide the right nutritional balance.
A major force that drives the industry to use poor quality rendered proteins, many of them not even meat sourced or using carbohydrates as fillers of the diet is the cost of good quality protein.
It is possible though to imitate a wild-type diet for cats. One of the choices is so-called BARF – “Bones and Raw Foods” or “Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods”: in short – a raw diet. A BARF diet for cats can be a good choice but you have to make sure that this diet is balanced and meets has all the nutritional needs of the cat. A raw diet seems to be a good choice but there is always a danger of infecting your cat with some parasites like for example toxoplasmosis or bacteria such as salmonella, e-coli and isteria.
Cats can be directly exposed to pathogens when they eat a raw diet but the cat owner can also encounter such pathogens through direct contact with contaminated food. Who would not allow their cat to share their bed or not allow it to lick your face and hands? This can cross-contaminate and put your health in danger as well.
Homemade cat food
So how about making your own cat food at home? Cooked or raw, seems to be simple and many recipes on the internet show its popularity, especially in the USA. Or better, websites promoting vegan cat food for vegan owners of cats. Let us be a devil’s advocate – “if it doesn’t kill my cat straight away, surely it is good”? Cats, being complex organisms with specific needs, require a BALANCED and complete diet. Giving your cat too little vitamins or amino-acids, or too much, will not kill it straight away, but will have a negative effect on its longevity and quality of life.
At 3coty® we took a different route. We manufacture our food to the highest quality standards and by using only verified meat sources we are sure we supply our cats with highest grade proteins, amino acids and vitamins. We cook our meat, but slowly, at a low temperature for a short time, this way we retain all the good ingredients within the end product. So our product is 100% meat based, like in the wild, 100% natural – like in the wild and by adding all necessary nutrients we make 3coty® a complete diet for cats. There are no chemicals, there are no fillers, colourants or taste enhancers or carbohydrates. Our product is as close to a natural diet for cats as possible and is 100% safe – free of any pathogens, parasites or bacteria. For us, the healthiest way of feeding cat is the natural way. After all, a healthy diet is one which helps maintain and improve your cat’s overall health, thus improving the quality of living with your pet.