Many responsible cat owners eventually wonder what the best diet is for their cats. One type of diet that has received a lot of attention over the last several years is the raw diet, where cats are fed primarily raw (uncooked) meats, perhaps along with bones and even other animal parts. While there are dozens and dozens of websites that promote raw diets for cats and dogs, we have not been able to find even a single example of such a website that provides balanced, fact-based information that would allow an intelligent cat owner to make a rational choice about raw vs. commercial diets for their cats. The information provided here is intended to help people understand what is and is not known about the benefits and the risks of raw diets for cats, and to make it clear how flawed and unscientific the arguments put forth by the majority of raw food advocates are.

Here is a quick summary of the most salient conclusions we have drawn from looking at currently available research and other information:
  • There is no scientifically valid evidence for raw diets being superior to high quality commercial cat diets in terms of improved health or increased lifespan.
  • Raw meat (including meat in the human food supply) has a significant probability of containing pathogens that are capable of causing disease (and even death) both in cats and in their owners.
  • The nutritional sufficiency of self-created raw diets is obviously uncertain, and cats' biology makes them extremely sensitive to some deficiencies.
  • While there are reasons to worry about the healthiness of low quality dry commercial cat foods (that contain significant grain/carbohydrate components), there are now many high quality commercial cat foods made from mainly meat, with very low carbohydrate levels.

Further research may find that there are indeed some advantages to raw diets--or it may turn out that there are absolutely none. Or perhaps raw might benefit only cats with certain conditions, or only certain very specific raw diets may have any advantages. Of course even if some health benefits from certain raw meat diets were to eventually be proven, these benefits would have to be weighed against the definite risks with raw diets. The real world tends to be complex, with numerous trade-offs that must be considered. You should be extremely leery of taking advice from people that claim to be providing information but then do it in the form of highly oversimplified slogans like, "raw is what they evolved to eat." Even if raw diets may have some advantages, slogans certainly provide zero evidence that this is true since they ignore a vast array of relevant facts and potential tradeoffs. Engaging in sloganeering is the opposite of trying to inform and educate.

Finally, we want to make it clear that this site should not be misinterpreted as being an anti raw site. What we are is a pro science, pro facts website. We want to be able to make truly informed, rational decisions for our cats. Unfortunately, the "pro raw community" has repeatedly shown that it has no interest in such an approach. Daring to suggest that the superiority of raw diets has not been proven or that raw diets might not be perfectly safe, results in immediate denunciation regardless of how much factual/scientific evidence one presents. A sad situation, but not a surprising one given the sorry state of science literacy in the world today. While most people claim to be interested in knowing science relevant to their decisions, the reality is that the instant science contradicts their biases and preconceptions, many many people immediately reject the science and rationalize away its relevance. This certainly has been repeatedly demonstrated to be the case for the vast majority of people associated with the pro raw pet diets movement.