Are you considering feeding a raw diet to your kitten? Before you do, make sure you have the right information. Get the facts about 10 common myths associated with raw meat diets.
MYTH 1: The benefits are proven.
FACT: No scientific studies have shown benefits of feeding raw diets to kittens or cats. Their appeal is based on word of mouth, testimonials and perceived benefits.
MYTH 2: This is what animals eat in the wild.
FACT: Lynxes and other animals in the wild, like wolves, do eat raw meat (in addition to berries, plants, etc.). However, the average lifespan for an animal in the wild is only a few years. Therefore, what is nutritionally “optimal” for a wild animal like a lynx is not optimal for our pets that we hope will live longer and healthier lives.
MYTH 3: Dogs and cats can’t get infections from Salmonella or other bacteria in raw meat diets.
FACT: Cats, especially kittens, senior cats or immunosuppressed animals, can become infected with Salmonella, Clostridium, Campylobacter and other bacteria found in raw meat diets, just as people can.
MYTH 4: Raw food diet ingredients are human-grade.
FACT: Even meats purchased at the best stores for people can contain harmful bacteria, so purchasing “human-grade” meat does not protect against the health risks of uncooked meats. (Ask yourself: Would you eat raw ground beef?) It is also important to keep in mind that the term “human grade” has no legal definition for pet food.
MYTH 5: Freezing raw diets kills bacteria.
FACT: Most of the bacteria found in raw meat diets can easily survive freezing and freeze-drying.
MYTH 6: As long as bones are raw, they’re safe.
FACT: Bones, whether raw or cooked, can fracture your kitten’s teeth. They also can block or tear the esophagus, stomach or intestine.
MYTH 7: Cooking destroys enzymes needed for digestion.
FACT: All the enzymes dogs and cats (and people) need for digestion are already in the gastrointestinal tract. Additional enzymes from food are not required for digestion.
MYTH 8: Raw diets do not contain grains, because grains are added to pet foods only as fillers.
FACT: Corn, oats, rice, barley and other grains are healthy ingredients that contain protein, vitamins and minerals; they are not added as fillers and are unlikely to cause allergies. Although meat is an important component of diets for kittens and cats, grains can be part of a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet.
MYTH 9: Most commercial pet foods contain harmful ingredients such as by-products.
FACT: Byproducts are the animal parts American people don’t typically eat, such as livers, kidneys or lungs — in other words, the organs and meats other than animal muscle. Note that some pet foods may actually list these ingredients (e.g., duck liver, beef lung), but these are really just byproducts. Most commercial and many home-prepared raw diets also contain by products.
MYTH 10: If bones or chicken necks are added to raw meat diets, they’re nutritionally balanced.
FACT: Most homemade (and even some commercial) raw meat diets are extremely deficient in calcium and a variety of other nutrients, even if chicken necks, bones or eggshells are added. This can be disastrous for any animal but especially for young, growing kittens, and can result in fractured bones. For complete and balanced nutrition, feed your cat a high-quality kitten food like IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Healthy Kitten.
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Introducing a new cat into your home and life is a rewarding and fulfilling decision, one that requires some thought before you head to the shelter. So what should you consider before adopting a cat? Follow our tips to prepare for the best.
- What to Consider before Adopting a Cat
- Choosing the Right Cat for You
- Where to Adopt a Cat
- The Cat Adoption Process
What to Consider before Adopting a Cat
First, let’s explore some of the commitments you’ll need to make to ensure your new cat is content (and that you are, too!).
Cat-proofing Your Home
Make sure your home is cat-safe by eliminating or hiding away anything that could harm or poison your newbie. This includes:
- Household cleaners and chemicals
- Toxic plants, including aloe vera, azalea, rhododendron, lilies, chrysanthemum, mistletoe, philodendron, poinsettias and tulips
- Toxic foods, including chocolate, coffee and tea, dairy, raw meat, grapes and raisins, carrots, onions, garlic and alcohol
Cat Supplies You’ll Need
You’ll need a cat bed or hideout, toys, scratching mats, a cat tree or climbing tower, food and water bowls, litter and boxes, and, of course, well-balanced, nutritious cat food. IAMS™ provides a wide range of tailored, nutritional cat food to promote the health of your new cat.
Cost of Cat Care
Plan to budget for an annual exam (older cats or those with special conditions may need more frequent visits), medication and parasite preventives. It’s smart to save for emergency care, too.
Cat Exercise and Playtime
Providing daily play and exercise opportunities can keep your cat physically and psychologically healthy, and help strengthen your bond. Toys, feather wands and cat trees should be part of your regular rotation! And believe it or not, many cats can be trained to walk on a leash.
Not all cats are solitary or antisocial; however, they can become this way if they aren’t introduced properly to new experiences. Strange sounds, smells and even appliances in your home might make a new cat anxious, as can other family members and pets (more on this later). So be sure to help your new cat get accustomed to unfamiliar people, places and things, and reward and praise them when doing so.
Litter and Litterboxes
Make sure you have the necessary box, scoop and other supplies to keep things tidy. If you have a multiple-cat household, provide one box per cat, plus one additional box, to help quell territorial issues.
A Lifetime Commitment
Keep in mind that cats often live into their teens and maybe even a second decade if you’re lucky. Know that you’re adopting a true family member for the extent of their lifetime.
Choosing the Right Cat for You
A cat match made in heaven starts by asking some questions about yourself.
What Is Your Lifestyle Like?
If you are not home regularly or gone for extended amounts of time, a cat’s independent nature can be a great fit. If your life includes other people or pets, make sure their behaviors, personalities and lifestyles suit having a cat family member — both for their sake and the cat’s. Allergies can be a dealbreaker, so take note of anyone in your home with cat allergies and their or your willingness to take allergy medication, vacuum constantly and groom the cat regularly to alleviate symptoms.
Your home should also have the space for play and exercise and shouldn’t harbor anything dangerous to your cat.
What Cat Personality Suits You?
Cats offer a variety of distinctive personality types, ranging from puppy-like cuddliness to feigned disinterest. Some cats are constantly on the go, exploring and poking into this and that, while others are certified nap ninjas. Vocally, they can be chatty catties or more taciturn souls. In short, you have a wide spectrum of personality types to choose from — which is what makes cats such fascinating and easy-to-love pets.
Do You Want to Adopt a Kitten or an Adult Cat?
Kittens will need a lot of attention, direction and a fair amount of patience. Their size, energy and inquisitive nature means you’ll need to supervise them closely.
Adult cats often will settle more quickly into a routine once introduced to their new home. An older or senior adult cat may be even more comfortable interacting with children and furniture. And providing a real home for a cat in their golden years is a rewarding and noble gesture you can feel good about.
Fur Better or Fur Worse
All cats shed. This will affect anyone with allergies and could also cause health issues for your cat, like hairballs or matting. Long-haired cats need to be brushed more regularly, and not all cats love this, so you may have to train yours to sit through this daily ritual.
Where to Adopt a Cat
There are several reasons adopting a cat from a shelter or rescue organization is preferable to buying. More effort goes into matchmaking when you adopt, because shelters and rescues generally have more information about their cats. Plus, adopting your cat from a shelter or a rescue actually helps two cats: the one you adopt and the homeless cat who takes your cat’s place.
In contrast, buying can be much more expensive than adopting, and the practice encourages cat mills and increases the number of pets who need homes.
Adopting a Cat from a Shelter
At shelters you can often visit with more than one cat and breed. The screening process can be easier (many shelters allow you to take a cat home that day), and adoption fees can be lower than at a rescue. However, the vet services might not cover all that your cat needs.
Adopting a Cat from a Rescue
Rescues have some advantages over shelters. They often know more about candidate cats because they may be placed in foster homes and even trained for a home. So you could adopt a cat that is already litterbox trained, socialized with other pets and with kids, trained to keep off furniture, etc.
Depending on the rescue’s screening process, you might have to make an appointment to see one cat at a time. While the screening might take longer, it’s designed to match you to the right cat. Adoption fees might be a little higher with a rescue, but they often cover more vet care, too.
The Cat Adoption Process
While rescues and shelters have similar adoption processes, they do vary depending on the organization. But you can count on these basic steps:
Make sure to have a valid ID to verify age (most organizations require adopters be adults) and address. You might also need references, so it’s a good idea to email or call ahead of time and ask about the application and overall adoption process.
Some of the cat adoption questions you might be asked include:
- Do you own or rent?
- Have you had a cat before?
- Do you currently have pets? Are they spayed or neutered? How are they with other animals?
- Do you have children at home? Are they good with pets?
- Does everyone residing in your home approve of adopting a cat?
- Where will your cat be kept during the day and in the evening?
- What are your care plans for when you have to leave home for an extended period of time, such as for a work trip or vacation?
They might also ask questions about your health, occupation and personal life to help match the right cat to the right parent.
2. Home Inspection
A home and family meet-and-greet might be required to see how everyone, including other pets, gets along with your prospective new cat. And the organization will want to ensure your residence will be a comfortable and safe home.
3. Adoption Fees
As we mentioned, cat adoption costs can vary, with rescues often being higher than shelters. Fortunately, the adoption fee will take care of basic veterinary services you will need anyway, including vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and microchipping.
Adopting a new cat isn’t just rewarding — it can be life-changing. Taking stock of the commitments of cat ownership, and taking the time to find your perfect feline match, will help set you both up for years of joy.
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