Questions to Ask your Veterinarian about Species Appropriate Diets for Cats
Updated: Mar 23, 2022
Edited March 20, 2022 by .JFK
Here is a series of questions to ask your vet to evaluate if they are equipped to advise you on a raw diet. You can send these questions in email, ask the receptionist, or directly ask the vet. You don't have to give them the answer if you don't want to, but use the answers as a reference to help you decide on the vet's raw feeding qualifications. If you do decide to give the vet the answers, you can consider it an opportunity to instill knowledge on the topic.
*These questions also can apply to ferrets and dogs.
Do you support raw feeding?
Have you ever fed a raw diet?
The obvious answer should be yes. If one has never fed or researched a raw diet, how can they truly understand it?
What kind of courses or schooling did you have in vet school and who taught those courses? (Number of courses, hours, is it a teacher, a veterinarian, a nutrition specialist, a pet food company etc.)
What kind of carnivore is a cat?
What does this mean?
They are obligated to eat meat, organs, and bones (no carbohydrates including fruits, veggies or grains).
How does anatomy define a cat's diet?
The brain is fueled by fat and protein.
They have sharp teeth for gripping, tearing, and ripping (not flat for grinding and food break down).
The mouth opens wide (does not move side to side like an herbivore).
Stomach acid between 1-2 pH to break down raw food, bone, and destroy bacteria.
Short digestive tract to break down foodstuff and eliminate waste fast.
Extremely limited amylase production (for breaking down carbohydrates like fruits, veggies, and grains) and no production of cellulase (to break down the plant cell wall).
Fiber not required for peristalsis.
Small to nonexistent cecum.
Waste production is small, less frequent, and scentless when on a raw diet
(4, 5, 6).
Can cats digest carbohydrates like fruits, veggies, and grain? Why?
No. Their digestive tract doesn't contain the right enzymes in the proper quantities and it is too short to have time to break down the foodstuff (4, 5, 6).
Do you sell a specific brand of pet food in your practice? If so, what? What makes it species appropriate?
Is kibble an appropriate diet for a cat?
No. It is loaded with carbohydrates that a cat cannot digest, and it only contains 7-10% moisture which is not enough to keep a cat properly hydrated. Even given access to water, they only drink 50% of their daily requirement, typically.
Can kibble diets contribute to health problems in cats? If so, what problems?
Yes. Cancer, dental disease, kidney failure, pancreatitis, diabetes, obesity and more. (9,10)
What did animals eat before pet food?
Table scraps from the family, hunted on the farm or in the wild and before that, strictly what was found in the wild.
When was the pet food industry created?
In the common household in 1941, about 77 years ago around World War II. (11)
How long does it take a species to evolve?
More than 80 years. Even tried and true breeds including dogs have changed little, even after 2000 years of observation.
What is a biological species appropriate diet?
The diet that an organism is designed to eat anatomically and physiologically, that is the commonly observed diet in the wild.
What is the NORMAL pH of a cat’s stomach acid?
1-2 pH (a commercial fed animals pH is 4-5, a humans is 1.5-3.5. Each pH level is 10 more acidic than the next higher value)
Can cats get sick from eating a raw diet?
No, only in the following circumstances:
the food is not prepared correctly
the food is not stored correctly
the food is not disposed of properly
heavy use of pharmaceutical drugs including medications, flea, tick, parasite, deworming products and vaccinations that impair the immune system and body. (12)
If your veterinarian cannot properly answer these questions, they should NOT be advising you on your obligate carnivore's dietary needs.
The best thing you can do is provide your cat with the best diet possible. Many veterinarians and other professionals believe raw feeding to be a fad or a diet backed only by anecdotal evidence. Ask any raw feeder and look at their raw fed pets; THEY are the proof that these diets work and that our companions are healthier and happier for it. Don’t be bullied into feeding a diet that is not species appropriate, that only perpetuates raw feeding myths, that causes illness and disease, and that only allows the pet food industry and the veterinary community to make money off of sub-par food and dying pets.
1 Legrand-Defretin, V (1994). "Differences between cats and dogs: a nutritional view". Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 53 (01): 15–24. doi:10.1079/pns19940004
2 Stevens CE, Hume ID. Comparative Physiology of the Vertebrate Digestive System. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2004
3 de Sousa-Pereira P, Cova M, Abrantes J, Ferreira R, Trindade F, Barros A, et al. Cross-species comparison of mammalian saliva using an LC-MALDI based proteomic approach. Proteomics. 2015;15:1598–607. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201400083
4 The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Digestion.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 8 Apr. 2016, www.britannica.com/science/digestion-biology.
5 Morris JG. Idiosyncratic nutrient requirements of cats appear to be diet-induced evolutionary adaptations. Nutr Res Rev. 2002;15:153– 168. [PubMed]
6 Morris JG, Trudell J, Pencovic T. Carbohydrate digestion by the domestic cat (Felis catus) Br J Nutr. 1977;37:365–373. [PubMed]
7 Adolf, E. F. 1939. Measurement of water drinking in dogs. Am. J. Physiol.125:75-86
8 Chew, R. M. 1965. Water metabolism of mammals. Pp. 43-178 in Physiology Mammalogy, Vol. 2, W. V. Mayer and R. G.VanGelder,eds. New York: Academic Press.
9 Hodgkins, Elizabeth M. Your Cat: A Revolutionary Approach to Feline Health and Happiness. 1st ed., Thomas Dunne Books, 2007.
10 vet Caldwell, G. T. 1931. Studies in water metabolism of the cat. Physiol. Zool. 4:324-355.
11 Institute, Bathroom Reader's. Uncle John's Unstoppable Bathroom Reader. Bathroom Reader's Press, 2004.
12. Beasley, DeAnna E. et al. “The Evolution of Stomach Acidity and Its Relevance to the Human Microbiome.” Ed. Xiangzhen Li. PLoS
ONE 10.7 (2015): e0134116. PMC. Web. 24 Feb. 2018.