Can my cat eat raw chicken?

You will no doubt have read countless articles about how cats require high-quality, animal-sourced protein in order to fuel their nutrient-dependent bodies. 

One of the best sources of protein is undoubtedly chicken. It provides strength and energy, boosts immune systems, and can help repair cells and tissues. And felines love the taste. 

With all that in mind ‘Can cats eat raw chicken?’ seems like a more than reasonable question.

The answer is ‘yes’, felines can be fed raw chicken as part of a complete and well-balanced diet.  

Raw animal meat is bursting with protein, contains vitamins and minerals, and can be easily digested by cats. On top of that it’s also high in moisture, which may aid cats suffering from urinary conditions. 

Cats in the wild are predators. They catch their prey, they eat it. Domesticated cats may be slightly more timid than their roaming relations, but they are still carnivores, and they do share the same DNA. And so by their very nature they are biologically designed to eat raw meat. 

Despite all this, raw food diets can be a divisive topic and there are a few other factors to consider when contemplating a change. 

Are there any issues with a cat eating a diet rich in raw chicken?

  • Bacteria. Uncooked meats can contain parasites or bacterias like salmonella and E. coli. Cats actually have smaller digestive tracts than humans so harmful germs like these don’t usually stay around long enough to cause sickness. However, a cat with immune issues can be at risk of an upset stomach, or even serious illness. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, and a loss of appetite.
  • Small bone pieces. Bones, even tiny ones, are a potential hazard when feeding cats a raw food diet. Choking is the obvious danger, but splinters from bones have been known to cause internal damage while chewing on the bone itself can lead to dental problems.
  • Nutritional imbalance. Raw chicken contains a whole lot of goodness, but on it’s own it may not cover all the nutrients your cat needs to stay fighting fit. If you are feeding your cat a raw chicken only diet, thus running the risk of creating a nutritional imbalance, you should consult with a vet first.
  • Risk of cross-contamination. It’s not just our cats who could end up ill from raw chicken. Handling large quantities of raw meat does increase the risk of cross-contamination in the household, so if you are considering feeding your cat raw chicken, be sure to take the necessary precautions.

Is raw chicken part of a balanced diet for a cat?

Raw chicken can certainly be part of a well-balanced diet for cats. 

It’s naturally low in fat, contains high-quality protein, and is rich in vitamins and minerals such as B6, B12, D, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

We do need to be sure they’re getting as many essential nutrients as possible though, which is why we always recommend serving up a complete diet that combines high-quality dry and wet food, made with natural ingredients.

How to start feeding your cat raw chicken

While cats can eat raw chicken, it’s important to ensure they do so safely.

Always buy your fresh meat from a source you trust, wash your hands when handling it, and disinfect surfaces that have come into contact with it.

Introducing raw food to a cat that’s never eaten it before can be potentially dangerous. If you are thinking about changing up their diet, the process needs to be gradual. Start with a small bowl of raw chicken, slowly increasing the amount over the course of a week. Keep track of their reaction, and if you do have any concerns make an appointment with your vet.

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