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Tell Your Cat to Chew on This!
- Updated: Monday, May 27, 2019 04:21 PM
- Published: Sunday, July 12, 2009 12:00 PM
- Written by Margaret Gates
I feed a combination of raw food for cats, including homemade ground chicken, farm-raised commercial rabbit and turkey with ground meat/bone/organs, to which I add supplements, commercial whole carcass ground rabbit with fur, commercial "complete" rabbit patties and whole chicken wings.
I want to feed a variety, so that over time, I'm sure they get all the nutrients they need as obligate carnivores. But nutrients aren't the only thing cats need from food. A mostly ground diet – while accomplishing my goals nutritionally – isn't enough. Cats need to chew. Cats' teeth are designed to rip and tear. They need to exercise their jaws and jaw muscles. Chewing on meaty bones, such as the chicken wings I give them, is a cat's natural toothbrush. It will help keep their teeth healthy and clean. Dental health is partly genetic, so I need to do everything I can to help, in case they are prone to dental problems.
Contrary to popular belief, it's not "natural" for old cats to lose their teeth. Twenty-year-old cats should have all their teeth. Look at big cats in the wild. Do you hear of tigers or lions having their teeth fall out from gum disease? They do lots of chewing, gnawing, ripping and tearing. Eating whole prey – bones, fur and all – helps keep their teeth clean.
Not all of my cats will eat meaty bones. It's something I'm always working on. When I make my homemade cat food, I always take the time to add meat chunks to the mix. This helps give their jaws a workout. Fortunately, all of them will eat the chunks. The lack of chunks is about my only complaint about commercial raw cat food.
The good thing is, that's easy to remedy! Be sure to add chunks if you make your own, or add chicken chunks to commercially-ground product when you add the supplements. You can always have some frozen, cut-up chicken in small portions in a baggie to add to a meal. Just thaw in a bowl of warm water. It doesn't matter if you're mixing different kinds of meat – your cat won't care! If she isn't used to eating chunks, start with small pieces and gradually work up to larger sizes as she gets the hang of it. You want to see your cat using her side teeth!
Margaret Gates is the founder of the Feline Nutrition Foundation.