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C2004-06

Dear Christopher Cat

My friend includes raw meat in her cats’ diet, and she recommends I do the same. What do you think of a raw food diet?

Christopher Responds

The only time I would eat raw meat is when I killed it myself. I would eat my prey immediately, before bacteria had time to multiply.

When people feed their pets raw meat, they are also giving them the bacteria that have multiplied in and on the meat.
Bacterial counts are especially high when the meat has been ground because each little piece of ground meat can pick up bacteria from the processing equipment and the air.

A report in the November 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association documented the deaths of two cats from Salmonella bacteria in the raw beef of their home-formulated diet.

According to the authors, Salmonella commonly contaminate beef during processing.

In the reported cases, Salmonella bacteria were found in samples of the raw beef the caregiver had been feeding her cats.

After the cats died, the same bacteria were found in the 14-year-old cat’s liver, lungs, spleen and kidney, and in the 10-week-old kitten’s lungs and small intestine.

The raw beef contained additional bacteria, including E. coli, Proteus, Pseudomonas, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and 10 other species.

Salmonella bacteria can infect humans when they eat food prepared on surfaces contaminated by raw beef or when they clean their infected cats’ litter boxes. Children and the elderly are at highest risk of disease.

So stick with a cat food made by a reputable manufacturer – for your cats’ health and yours too.

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