Cats in the wild eat raw meat all of the time, but is it safe for domesticated cats to eat raw chicken?
What should you do if your cat licked raw chicken and you’re worried about your pet’s health?
The majority of vets and scientists agree that it’s mostly safe for cats to eat raw chicken, so you probably don’t need to worry too much if your cat ate raw meat.
What Should You Do If Your Cat Eats Raw Chicken?
If your cat is young and healthy, the fact that he ate raw chicken is not likely to be an issue.
Cats are carnivores so their teeth are made for shredding raw meat.
They can easily cope with the task of tearing through fat, muscle tissue, and even bones as long as proper oral health is maintained.
While eating raw chicken is dangerous for humans, cats are in theory able to tolerate raw meat because they have a short gastrointestinal tract, which means meat passes through them faster.
The quick digestion and the acidic components in their stomach mean that bacteria don’t have enough time to grow, and this leads to a reduced risk of food poisoning.
What Could Happen If Your Cat Ate Raw Chicken?
Even if cats have fewer risks of food poisoning, eating raw chicken still leaves room for possible health problems.
The major issue with raw chicken for humans and cats is the same: raw foods are more likely to become a playground for different harmful bacteria.
The problems for cats are less pronounced than for humans, but they still exist.
In fact, your cat could get sick as a result of the parasites living in raw chicken, and this could cause a variety of problems that could even spread to humans.
There are different types of bacteria in raw chicken that could be dangerous for cats:
- One of the most common problems for cats is Salmonellosis, an infection caused by Salmonella bacteria. Raw chicken can cause two forms of salmonella: Salmonella gastroenteritis is the most common diagnosis and can lead to dehydration, caused by an electrolyte imbalance.
- The other form is Salmonella septicemia and has even more worrying symptoms: trouble breathing, drop in body temperature, and a swollen abdomen. If you think that your cat might have Salmonella, seek immediate help from your vet: humans and other animals can catch salmonella from cats.
- Another infection that might occur as a consequence of eating raw chicken is Listeriosis. Most cats process the bacteria without trouble, but if your cat is old, very young, or pregnant, Listeriosis might be a risk. Symptoms of this health issue might include stiffness in the muscles, high fever, vomiting, and facial paralysis.
- Another possible infection is campylobacteriosis, with symptoms like fever, diarrhea, sudden weight loss, and dehydration. This infection can also be spread to humans, so if you think your cat presents some of these symptoms, call your vet right away.
- Staph infections, caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, are also spreadable to humans. Symptoms of this issue are usually aesthetic and can include swollen skin, lumps, sores, and blisters. Left untreated, staph infections can become problematic, and also blood poisoning is likely to happen. If you’re worried your cat might exhibit some of these symptoms, call your vet.
Stomach upsets and food poisoning
Even if the raw chicken didn’t have any harmful bacteria, if your cat isn’t used to raw food, he might experience some gastrointestinal upset.
If your cat’s stomach cannot cope with raw chicken, the meat will be expelled almost immediately.
This will probably involve diarrhea and vomiting. If those symptoms last just for a few days, it’s not a major issue and you should just comfort your cat.
You can get your pet started on a bland diet and keep an eye on him.
If the symptoms last for more than a few days, or if you find more worrying symptoms like lethargy, fever, or loss of appetite, you should immediately contact your vet.
If your cat ate raw chicken, chances are that he might also have ingested some raw chicken bones.
Raw chicken bones are usually safe for your cat and they could even have some benefits: they can strengthen and clean your cat’s teeth, and they’re rich in nutrients like vitamins, calcium, and minerals.
The main problem with raw chicken bones is that they’re quite brittle.
They could splinter when your cat tears through them and cause damage to your cat’s stomach or mouth.
It would be better to give raw bones to your cat only if you can keep an eye on your pet.
If your cat ate raw chicken and you’re worried he could’ve eaten bones too, keep a close eye on your cat for any signs of discomfort and immediately call your vet if you think there’s anything wrong with your pet.
Is Raw Chicken Bad for Cats?
Since unprepared raw chicken might be infected with salmonella or other bacteria, it’s not safe for your cat to eat raw chicken that wasn’t meant to be fed to animals.
If your cat licked raw chicken, watch for signs of bacterial contamination such as diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, or unusual behavior.
Some of the bacterial infections caused by eating raw chicken can be fatal and can also be passed onto humans, so be sure to consult a vet if any of these symptoms occur.
If it’s not eaten by accident, having your cat eating raw chicken can also lead to a few benefits.
Cats need proteins and amino acids to stay healthy, and they can find plenty of those in raw meat.
Chicken meat is also low in carbs: this means it won’t cause weight gain or digestive problems for your cat.
Different studies state that feeding cats raw chicken can improve hydration because raw chicken contains more fluids than dry food.
A few other benefits, noticed by owners, are an improvement of the coat quality, improved digestion, and higher energy levels.
Raw foods have also been shown to increase cats’ immunity to diseases.
Raw chicken is bad for cats only if it’s unprepared and wasn’t meant for him.
If you want to feed your cat raw chicken, you can ask your vet or an expert about the safest way to do that, in order to avoid infections or other health problems.
Can You Feed Your Cat Raw Chicken?
As stated before, raw chicken is dangerous to cats only if it’s not intended for them.
If you purchase raw chicken specifically intended to be consumed by cats, preserved for freshness, you can feed your cat raw chicken safely.
If you’ve decided to feed your cat raw chicken, you should know which part of the chicken you can safely give to your pet.
- Lean muscle meat is the best choice: it’s rich in taurine, amino acids, animal proteins, and minerals. The meat from muscles is the most nutritious option for your cat.
- Raw chicken liver is another good choice, provided that you use it to feed your cat only in small quantities (otherwise your cat could end up with diarrhea.) Raw chicken liver is high in nutrients and it’s a great source of vitamins, iron, proteins, and magnesium.
- Other chicken organs and giblets. The organs are packed with healthy fats and provide great health benefits. They’re perfectly safe if they’re fresh and from a healthy chicken.
- Finely ground bones are a good choice because they’re packed with calcium and aren’t a threat to cats, as long as there aren’t solid bone pieces.
If you choose to feed your cat raw chicken, make sure the meat is not for humans and that it’s intended to be eaten raw by cats.
Make sure it’s free of bacteria and large bones, and remember to handle the raw chicken safely, washing your hands and everything that touched the raw meat.
Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?
Raw chicken can be eaten by cats only if the meat is fresh and bought specifically for them.
If your cat accidentally ate raw chicken, a good rule of thumb is to always keep an eye on your pet, regardless of age or other possible issues.
If your cat shows any of the signs of distress or sickness mentioned before, be ready to call your vet and ask for his advice on the matter.
Can Kittens Eat Raw Chicken?
The chances that some health issues might occur if a cat eats raw chicken are increased when it comes to kittens and older cats.
Older cats and kittens are at increased risk of infections like Salmonellosis because they either have poorer or undeveloped immune systems.
If you think your kitten ate raw chicken, keep an eye on him and check for any signs of sickness like diarrhea, fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Feed your kitten or older cat a bland diet (cooked chicken and rice) and wait for a few days.
If the situation improves on its own, you don’t need to worry. If the situation doesn’t improve, call your veterinarian and ask for their advice.
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