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Author Topic: Are there bacteria risks with raw feeding?  (Read 10235 times)
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Auntie Crazy
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« on: October 18, 2009, 07:09:31 AM »



bug, since feeding about 50% home made there has been a noticeable improvement in their appearance and energy level. They seem more alert and happier too. I was surprised because they were getting good quality commercial food before.(Or was it?)  But I have backed off raw for the time being and now cook sufficiently to kill any bacteria. I need to get a better understanding of the risks involved for our cats and my family before I go back to raw feeding.

Hi, Mark T! A bit off the original topic, but replying to your raw-food comment... have you heard of, or taken a look at the Feline Nutritional Education Society's website? Feeding raw to cats is actually less dangerous than feeding commercial is, not to mention (as you noted) so much healthier for them.

I'm sure you're supplementing to balance the nutrients removed by the cooking process, but you might find you're doing more work (first cooking, then supplementing) than you need to.

Here's a couple of articles that might be helpful:

(Removed after learning a bit more about the FNES site.)

I hope something on the site reassures you and you can return to feeding your beautiful cats simple raw foods.  :-)
« Last Edit: January 11, 2010, 09:44:11 AM by Auntie Crazy » Logged

AC & Crew: Allen, Rachel, Meghan, Spencer, Heather & Ralph

CatCentric.org
: Raw feeding, feline nutrition & related health blog, article and resource site.
catbird
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2009, 11:46:44 AM »

This thread has now gone into three different topics.  Of course, that is not a criticism--that's how conversation flows!  But to make things easier for someone who may come looking for info about white flecks in Instinct, I'm going to separate it into different threads--one for the original NV topic, one for MarkT's gorgeous kitties in the Den, and one for the raw feeding question. 

If anyone has the thread on "notify of moderation actions" you will get a lot of messages about split, merged, moved, etc.  Please ignore them!

I'll also have to cut a few posts in two or three pieces by using quotes--there is no other way to do it.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2009, 01:21:06 PM by catbird » Logged

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Mark T
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2009, 12:35:06 PM »

catbird, thanks so much for separating this off. I was just about to start a thread on the bacteria subject.

Auntie Crazy, thank you for these links, I'll peruse them tonight. You are right I do supplement their lightly cooked food and it is more work to figure out the supplementation levels. I'd much prefer to go back to raw.

In the same vein as the articles you mentioned, another reference that addresses the benefits of raw feeding and the risks of contamination is Elizabeth Hodgkins book "Your Cat", specifically Chapter 25 "Feeding Raw Meat too Your cat - Is it Safe and Sensible?"  She is a vet and her view is that it is very safe and she explains why.



edited to add last paragraph
« Last Edit: October 18, 2009, 01:37:39 PM by Mark T » Logged
Mark T
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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2009, 02:02:18 PM »

AC, yes, I had seen the fnes website, but I revisited it again and re-read the section "Raw Feeding"

I agree the risks of feeding raw are less than those of commercial food. But are the risks of feeding raw much greater than cooked homemade?

I am not so concerned with surface bacteria which, I guess, accounts for the majority of contamination in poultry and can be caused by processing. I can deal with it by:

-washing
-searing or baking briefly to heat the meat surface to at least 160 deg F
-not buying ground meat but grinding the meat myself

But my main worry is how much poultry is sold that is infected with a strain such as e coli serotype O157:H7  which can cross the gut wall? In that situation the meat will be infected throughout and surface sterilization will not work. Moreover, it is just this type of infection that would cause a problem in cats. And humans too. My guess is this is rare in store bought meat but I really don't know. I would love to see some test results that address this.

When, in human food,  they say to cook till the center of the meat reaches 160F for ten minutes, it is to cover this type of situation where meat that is infected throughout.

Another link on the subject that I found interesting:  http://raingoddess.com/vetmed/vetmed.html
specifically:
http://raingoddess.com/vetmed/rawfood.html
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lesliek
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2009, 03:43:31 PM »

Good find Mark,thats a great article.
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bug
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2009, 06:33:42 PM »

Yeah, Mark -- great article! I think that as long as you can maintain a sanitized kitchen and avoid cross-contamination, so long as you don't have little kids around, you'd be OK. I think I've only found two instances in the literature about cats who've suffered from salmonella infection and I believe those cats were immunocompromised (don't quote me). All the online literature suggests that salmonellosis in cats is extremely rare. Logically, it should be that way, considering what their natural prey is.

This is from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website (http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/concen/cause/ecolie.shtml)

E. coli bacteria can sometimes contaminate the surface of meat when animals are slaughtered, despite precautions. In highly processed or ground meat, the mechanical process can spread the bacteria through the meat. Raw fruits and vegetables can become contaminated with pathogens while in the field, by improperly composted manure, contaminated water, wildlife and poor hygienic practices of the farm workers.

Nowhere have I read that 0157:H7 is present throughout muscle meat that has not been ground. That's why we can eat steaks blue-rare and still be OK. I've also never heard of it contaminating raw poultry that wasn't ground. I did a quick search for the reason why we need to cook poultry all the way through and really couldn't find any studies that supported the thought that salmonella typhimurium or e. coli was more than a surface pathogen, which shouldn't be there in the first place. In fact, in other countries, they serve chicken sashimi and rare to medium-rare chicken and they aren't suffering from any major outbreaks. I think the key here, though, is that these chickens aren't mass processed like what you find on store shelves. They are fresh-killed and cooked up soon after, much like squab, duck or game hen. You will find those cooked medium rare in restaurants all over the world.

I'm comfortable searing my cats' meat, then cutting it into pieces. They don't seem to like it ground. Sometimes, though, they'd rather have it cooked all the way -- roasted. A cooked diet is definitely less risky in terms of spreading any bacteria if the cats are dragging it around the house, but if you're going to process the meat yourself, then cook it, I think the risks to you are the same in terms of preparation.
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Mark T
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« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2009, 06:49:22 AM »

Thanks for that site, bug. One of the better descriptions of the risks. I found it both sobering and reassuring at the same time. Reassuring because if handled properly the risks are minimized.

You make some other good points too. I have not tried searing but my method is similar: When I get the meat home I cut it into pieces no thicker than an inch, wash and pat dry. Then I freeze it till needed. This takes care of parasites if any.

Then I heat the oven to around 400deg and put the frozen meat in it. I do not thaw first. I turn the meat several times over 7-8 minutes. When I take it out, the outside layer is cooked but the inside is starting to thaw. I cut up about about a quarter of it, grind the rest and mix it all together.

As I grind I add water and supplements as required. Lastly I spoon into 1/3 cup glass containers with plastic lids and freeze. I used to use plastic baggies but the containers should pay for themselves over time and glass is safer than plastic. The idea of those meat acids leaching chemicals out of the plastic worries me. 

One more link on the subject which I have added mainly for the last paragraph under e coli. I have read this elsewhere too, that treating e coli in cats with antibiotics is questionable. It appears that antibiotics can make the situation worse. Some articles state that e coli is untreatable in cats and has to run its course.

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=2232&S=1 


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bug
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2009, 08:51:18 AM »

I would have never thought to use antibiotics for any of these conditions. Rather, I would be giving them probiotics and supplemental fluid therapy (including sub Qs or IV if it was really bad). You have to make sure you wash after scooping litter boxes, etc. but isn't that common sense?

You also have to put these pathogens into perspective. I just finished reading an article yesterday on the pathogens that are present in dried pasta -- and they include salmonella and e. coli -- though they are not the only ones. You'd think that the water activity of pasta is so low that it couldn't support pathogenic activity, but those little buggers are very tough. Even the boiling process doesn't destroy all of them. Cereal products fare better, as does bread, but they also have their issues.

So, if you really wanted to think about all of the stuff that could potentially make us sick, you probably wouldn't eat anything from anywhere. All you can do is be informed, take reasonable precautions and keep your eyes peeled for any problems.
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Auntie Crazy
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2009, 07:06:38 PM »

I'm not sure if a reply is necessary at this point, so I'll just add, in all the research I've done and all the folks I've spoken to who have researched this issue more deeply and for longer than I have - I've never come across a single documented instance of either a cat or it's owner becoming ill from feeding raw food products. Conversely, in the last year alone, there have been several instances of owners (but not pets!) becoming sick from Salmonella-contaminated commercial kibble.

Parasites and/or contamination was something I thought about when I initially considered the raw diet, but my research has completely allayed those fears.
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AC & Crew: Allen, Rachel, Meghan, Spencer, Heather & Ralph

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: Raw feeding, feline nutrition & related health blog, article and resource site.
Mark T
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2009, 07:38:52 PM »

After reading some more about it I feel fairly reassured now. Selecting good meat, then handling and preparing it with care eliminates most of the risk.

I prepared about 6 lbs of raw chicken today to the kitties delight. Trying to keep them away from it was the only problem I encountered.
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Auntie Crazy
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2009, 09:23:10 PM »

...I prepared about 6 lbs of raw chicken today to the kitties delight. Trying to keep them away from it was the only problem I encountered.
Funny, funny.

Hopefully you didn't feed it to them all at once?  Grin Cheesy
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AC & Crew: Allen, Rachel, Meghan, Spencer, Heather & Ralph

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: Raw feeding, feline nutrition & related health blog, article and resource site.
Sandi K
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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2009, 07:38:35 AM »

I'm not sure if a reply is necessary at this point, so I'll just add, in all the research I've done and all the folks I've spoken to who have researched this issue more deeply and for longer than I have - I've never come across a single documented instance of either a cat or it's owner becoming ill from feeding raw food products. Conversely, in the last year alone, there have been several instances of owners (but not pets!) becoming sick from Salmonella-contaminated commercial kibble.

Parasites and/or contamination was something I thought about when I initially considered the raw diet, but my research has completely allayed those fears.

AC, that is a good point, I dont think I have ever read of anyone's cat getting sick from raw feeding...but I do know someone who's dog got sick here locally.  I wonder if cats have more immunity to something like that than dogs do?  It was a local trainer/naturopath who had always fed her dog raw food and then she said it got very sick from a batch of meat, so sick that she wont feed raw anymore, she's just too afraid, but she does homecook.  Im not saying raw is bad or anything, just wondering if cats maybe have more immunity than dogs do?  I should also add that where we live, we dont get the freshest of meats like one could in the lower 48 so that for us is perhaps an issue that others dont deal with.   
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Auntie Crazy
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« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2009, 01:52:18 PM »

Dogs are omnivores, while cats are obligate carnivores - the cat has one of the shortest (if not the shortest) digestive tract per body size in the animal kingdom, as well as specific enzymes, etc., for processing raw meats quickly and completely.

Based on this, I'd say cats are more clearly adapted for a diet of raw prey animals than dogs, but I don't know enough about the canine digestive system to be rock solid about this.
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AC & Crew: Allen, Rachel, Meghan, Spencer, Heather & Ralph

CatCentric.org
: Raw feeding, feline nutrition & related health blog, article and resource site.
sharky
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« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2009, 03:49:39 PM »

Dogs are omnivores, while cats are obligate carnivores - the cat has one of the shortest (if not the shortest) digestive tract per body size in the animal kingdom, as well as specific enzymes, etc., for processing raw meats quickly and completely.

Based on this, I'd say cats are more clearly adapted for a diet of raw prey animals than dogs, but I don't know enough about the canine digestive system to be rock solid about this.

One correction... Dogs are indeed carnivores just not the obligate sort ...

canine GI tracts  are about 3 ft longer than a felines , so they have the ability to digest things a bit better but also allows for some additional risk in bacterial overgrowth...


I have heard and seen documents stating raw food causing death in cats and dogs .... also heard first hand about animals getting sick ... DO I say Extra caution ... Yes but now I say that with kibble and bones( like the dog ones at the store as they have also been linked to bacterial issues ... I would use FAR more caution with big box or reg grocery meats but I dont deal with those much .. Freeze thaw cycles and how the meat is kept from pt a to likely pt d

Now personally I have a immune issue that puts me at great risk for bacterial issues .... I nor my animals have gotten sick from raw food ....
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« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2009, 10:02:42 PM »

I'm just posting this because I came across it while looking at articles about raw food feeding and, since the questions presented for this thread is whether there are bacteria risks with raw feeding, I thought this article should also be included here since it presents a slightly different point of view than what has been posted.  I have no problem with anyone's personal choice to feed raw, but those considering it should look at all the pros and cons.

           http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FKA/is_6_67/ai_n13788104/
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