Final report, Winn grant W09-002
Nutritional adequacy and performance of raw food diets in kittens
Investigators: Beth Hamper, Claudia Kirk, Joe Bartges
University of Tennessee
The researchers in this study investigated the effects of raw diets on health and well-being of kittens. While both benefits and costs have been claimed for raw diets, little work has been done on specific effects of the raw diet on cats. In this study, kittens were fed either a commercial processed diet, commercial raw diet, or home-prepared raw diet.
Growth performance was similar on all three diets. Nutritionally, there was neither an advantage nor disadvantage among any of the diets, as all three were nutritionally adequate. The raw food diets were associated with higher digestibility and decreased fecal matter, although a direct health benefit of this difference was not observed. Overgrowth of fecal bacteria was noted in cats fed both control and raw foods. Salmonella spp. was definitively isolated from the feces of one kitten fed the homemade raw diet and undetermined in another instance. Exposure to pathogenic bacteria from raw foods and contaminated commercial diets have been reported in other studies Future research on methods to reduce pathogen load while minimizing processing of animal tissue proteins is recommended. [MK]