OK to replace Canned Cat Food with Deli Meats?
August 25, 2018 4:17 AM   Subscribe

My indoor/outdoor cats will deign to eat canned food but much prefer roast turkey slices or fresh egg yolks or the leftover salmon skins I feed them. (I also feed them "Rawz" dry food and they catch a few things every week.) There's nothing particularly healthy in canned cat food (and even Whole Foods organic turkey is cheaper when considering price per gram of protein), so is there any reason not to just give them what they desire?
posted by Jon44 to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Deli meats usually have a ton of sodium in them, as well as nitrates, both of which are not good for kitties.
posted by jferg at 4:50 AM on August 25, 2018 [35 favorites]

I'm pretty sure that canned (and dry) cat foods have specific nutrients added to them that are things the animals need in their diets that aren't found (either at all or at the correct amounts) in human food.
posted by mccxxiii at 4:50 AM on August 25, 2018 [23 favorites]

Taurine is a critically essential supplement for felines, and necessitates either feeding cat food or adding the correct amount to their foods.
posted by vers at 5:03 AM on August 25, 2018 [33 favorites]

My husband makes our own catfood following most of this recipe - there are definitely supplements involved. (bonus: itt works out cheaper in the long run)
posted by stray at 5:46 AM on August 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

You can make your own wet food, there are tons of instructions on line to do so. It is alot of work.

Because your cats get dry food and some natural sources (are they actually eating their pray or playing though?) they aren't in as much danger, but you still don't want to introduce to much sodium or, to little of something.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:59 AM on August 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

There's nothing particularly healthy in canned cat food

My years of education towards and experience as a veterinarian disagree with you.

No, you shouldn't replace a balanced, canned diet with deli meat. I'm not a big fan of people preparing their own pets' food, but if you insist, make sure you're working with a veterinary nutritionist or a recipe that has been reviewed by one for balance.

You also shouldn't feed your cat raw food. Raw food is full of bacteria that are shed all over you, your kitchen, your cat's litter box, and everywhere your cat goes. Campylobacter, E. coli, Salmonella, everywhere. Fun. Then you or your cat or your kids or your grandma can then get a lovely GI infection from that bacteria. Awesome.

Outdoor cats are at higher risk of death. They are also at higher risk of contracting parasites, especially if they are predators. If you insist on exposing them to the outdoors, they should receive flea, tick, and heartworm preventative. Because cats can get heartworm, which cannot be detected by conventional tests. The first clues that they are sick include coughing, vomiting, and sudden death.
posted by Seppaku at 6:17 AM on August 25, 2018 [70 favorites]

Make cat food! Apologies to Seppaku above, but our vet has had our cats on a raw cat diet (similar to Rad Cat, but we make it at home) for 2.5 years. Their coats are more glossy, their poops are not stinky, they have tons of energy and play way more than they used to on dry Evo and they are at their perfect weight (not overweight as one was on Evo).

If you'd like my vet's recipe send me a pm. We make it every month or so and then freeze it in containers. Takes us about 30 minutes of prep time and costs about the same pound for pound as Evo (so, expensive, but not deli meat expensive) but isn't as expensive as Rad Cat.
posted by arnicae at 7:58 AM on August 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

FYI, Rad Cat issued a recall for possible Listeria contamination just this week. Listeria is a bacteria that is capable of surviving at low temperatures. You will see it in foods that are processed and refrigerated and contaminated, like lettuce and cut fruit and raw pet food:


I fed my cats a raw diet, too. Until all 3 got Salmonellosis, which is expensive even for a veterinary professional to treat. Then I read some studies comparing the physical and chemical composition of the feces of cats fed a raw food diet, and that same diet but cooked. There was no difference; the food had been digested to the same degree. This indicates that it ISN'T the 'rawness' of the food that provides the benefit you notice. It is the composition of the food. So feed your cat a homemade diet if you want. But make sure it is balanced, and FFS, cook it.

our vet has had our cats on a raw cat diet

You feed your cats raw cats? Seriously though, Dr. Pol and Dr. Jeff are vets, too, and they even have TV shows! Of course there are differences of opinion among veterinary professionals. But differences in opinion don't necessarily translate to differences in facts do they?
posted by Seppaku at 9:00 AM on August 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

Deli meat as someone said above is not at all healthy for cats and it's actually not even healthy for humans. Depending on the kind you get, mostly you get a bunch of sodium, nitrates, preservatives and other junk in there. Even the organic ones aren't healthy for us or animals to eat.
posted by jj's.mama at 9:25 AM on August 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Deli meats are typically seasoned. In addition to the sodium, onion and garlic are bad for cats. Deli meats and salmon skins are also very fatty, and too much fat can lead to feline pancreatitis. Please just feed your cats regular cat food -- and please don't let them eat what they catch. It's very easy to lose a cat to illness or poisoning that way, since you don't know whether their prey is carrying a communicable disease or has been exposed to pesticides.
posted by halation at 10:44 AM on August 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

Deli meat isn't good food for anyone long term. Way too much sodium & additives also possible ingredients that are dangerous to cats.
posted by wwax at 5:42 PM on August 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

I give my cats deli meat and other human food as an occasional treat, they love it. Otherwise they have wet food - you can get good stuff online that's far better than from supermarkets. Brands like carny, bozita, smilla. When they were kittens I fed them a raw meat diet and worked well but you have add extra organ meat yourself for the nutrients so was too much hassle in the end.
posted by JonB at 6:08 PM on August 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

" If you insist on exposing them to the outdoors,.."
Since this issue was raised, Vets have a horrible record as regards what's actually in the best interest of cats (e.g., vaccine-associated sarcoma's; pushing poor quality, low-protein food such as "Science Diet") and keeping a cat indoors should be prosecuted as cruelty to animals.
posted by Jon44 at 4:36 AM on August 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I mix it up: a little raw beef, boiled chicken, plain cooked fish-- all with no oils or spices or salt, and all sourced as carefully as possible. This is staggered with some regular canned cat food every day, because they need those specific supplements, and I am not putting my cat at the mercy of my ability or inability to judge those amounts correctly. (Also, I absolutely agree with your comment that forcing cats indoors --the ones who want to be outside-- is cruelty to animals. The idea that 'keeping the animal safe' is worth never letting it outside ever? It's a weird American thing that is unfortunately spreading. Keep fighting the good fight!)
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 4:50 AM on August 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

" Their coats are more glossy, their poops are not stinky, they have tons of energy and play way more than they used to on dry Evo and they are at their perfect weight (not overweight as one was on Evo). "
Thanks for offer--I might try. An easy way I've found to have some fresh, raw food for them always is egg yolks, which is the one food they'll always eat no matter how tired or if they have minor GI issues (and, of course, doesn't have the weird stabilizers, vegetable oils, fillers and other junk that's in even the best quality canned or dry foods).
posted by Jon44 at 4:50 AM on August 26, 2018

[Everyone, cut out the indoor/outdoor cat arguments. Ask Metafilter isn't for debate, and this isn't even the question posted.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:04 AM on August 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Vets have a horrible record as regards what's actually in the best interest of cats

I disagree from the standpoint of an education and collegiality with other veterinarians who understand what is in the best interest of cats (and people, because my oath includes a commitment to public health). As with human medicine, there are advances and practitioners who don't keep up with them. There are fringe elements and homeopaths and bad apples. There are people who, no matter how many times you spell it out for them, would rather believe what they read on the internet.

Since I'm a teacher as well as a doctor, I will say again that feeding an AAFCO certified commercial canned food diet is safest for pets and humans. If you want to feed your pet a home-prepared diet, cook it. And consult with a veterinary nutritionist, because most home-prepared diets are completely out of whack and can lead to chronic disease from nutritional deficiencies. Sure, their coat may be shiny because they are getting hunks of chicken from Kroger, but they may be shedding Salmonella and brewing hyperparathyroidism.

Want to know more? Here's an article about the [Current knowledge about the risks and benefits of raw meat-based diets for dogs and cats].

pushing poor quality, low-protein food such as "Science Diet"

Since the original question concerned nutrition, I will weigh in because I know a little bit. It is very important that if your vet recommends a prescription diet that is full of crap like carbohydrates and really low in protein, you go ahead and feed it anyway. Conditions that would warrant a recommendation include but are not limited to atopic allergies, constipation, gastrointestinal disease, kidney disease, liver disease, endocrine disease, and urinary disease. Non-prescription diets can be beneficial for weight loss, skin sensitivity and, dietary sensitivity. I recommend companies (including the big 3: Hill's, Purina, and Royal Canin) because I know they employ veterinary nutritionists. Any company can put a dog food on a shelf. I cringe when I see that you feed Rachel Ray or home-prepared or something I've never heard of. If money is ever an issue, Fancy Feast is GREAT.

vaccine-associated sarcoma's [sic]

[Here] is some information that is reputable.

We're done with indoor cats but I hope I can get this in. Lots of problems indoor cats have (especially the dreaded urinating outside of the box) can be mitigated by paying attention to what they need. [Ohio State University Indoor Cat Initiative]
posted by Seppaku at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2018 [14 favorites]

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