Evaluation of two raw diets vs a commercial cooked diet on feline growth

J Feline Med Surg. 2017 Apr;19(4):424-434. doi: 10.1177/1098612X16634388. Epub 2016 Feb 1.


Objectives The objective of this study was to determine if two raw feline diets were nutritionally adequate for kittens. Methods Twenty-four 9-week-old kittens underwent an Association of American Feed Control Officials' (AAFCO) 10 week growth feeding trial with two raw diet groups and one cooked diet group (eight kittens in each). Morphometric measurements (weight, height and length), complete blood counts, serum chemistry, whole blood taurine and fecal cultures were evaluated. Results Overall, the growth parameters were similar for all diet groups, indicating the two raw diets used in this study supported feline growth, within the limitations of an AAFCO growth feeding trial. Kittens fed the raw diets had lower albumin ( P = 0.010) and higher globulin ( P = 0.04) levels than the kittens fed the cooked diet. These lower albumin levels were not clinically significant, as all groups were still within normal age reference intervals. A red cell microcytosis ( P = 0.001) was noted in the combination raw diet group. Increases in fecal Clostridium perfringens were noted in all groups, along with positive fecal Salmonella serovar Heidelberg and Clostridium difficile toxin in the combination raw diet group. Conclusions and relevance The majority of the parameters for feline growth were similar among all groups, indicating the two raw diets studied passed an AAFCO growth trial. In theory, it is possible to pass an AAFCO growth trial but still have nutrient deficiencies in the long term due to liver and fat storage depots. Some of the raw feeders had elevated globulin and microcytosis, likely associated with known enteropathogenic exposure. Disease risks to both pets and owners are obvious. Additional research in this area is needed to investigate the impact of raw diets on the health of domestic cats.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / growth & development
  • Animals, Newborn / physiology
  • Cats / growth & development
  • Cats / physiology*
  • Cooking*
  • Diet / veterinary*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Treatment Outcome