Cat owners already know that their beloved pets are obligate carnivores, i.e. that they need to eat meat in order to survive and thrive.
However, the question we may then ask ourselves is “what kind of meat should we feed our cats?”. Is what they get from their cat food enough, or can we perhaps feed them other kinds of meat as well?
Specifically, can we give our cats raw chicken? Is it a really good source of protein, or can it actually be harmful to our furry companions?
Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?
Yes, cats can eat raw chicken, provided that it is fresh. It contains plenty of protein, and a cat’s teeth have been specifically designed to handle raw meats.
The owners of domesticated cats often wonder if their pets can still eat raw foods. If you think about it, no one cooks the rodent or bird a street cat catches itself for dinner. Similarly, our house cats are still able to both chew and digest raw meat.
However, their diet should probably not consist of raw foods alone, no matter what raw diet supporters claim. Today’s cat food contains all the minerals and vitamins a cat needs, so raw chicken, a great source of protein, can be incorporated into their diet on occasion, but should not be its focal point.
The one issue that can arise from feeding your cat raw chicken is that meat that isn’t fresh or that hasn’t been stored correctly can contain bacteria, specifically salmonella, which can be very harmful to a cat.
As long as you watch your cat while they eat, make sure there are no small pieces of bone in it they might choke on, and are sure the meat is fresh and healthy, feel free to give your cat raw chicken.
Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken Bones?
Yes, cats can eat raw chicken bones, as long as you ensure there are no sharp parts the cat may cut themselves on, and monitor them while they eat.
Cats have no problem tackling raw chicken bones. In fact, this is what they would naturally do in the wild. Chicken bones are also great for their dental health, they are full of calcium, and are also great for mental stimulation.
Chicken bones are also much less likely to splinter when raw, so you can refrain from cooking them before giving them to your cat.
The key is however to keep an eye on your cat while they eat. Cats want you to watch them eat anyway, so they won’t mind the attention. If they are having difficulty eating them, remove the chicken bones.
Also keep an eye on your cat for a couple of hours afterwards. If they vomit or look ill, or if there is blood in their stool, consult your vet and don’t give them raw chicken bones again.
Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken Liver?
Yes, cats can eat raw chicken liver. Just make sure you give it to them in small portions, and not too often, as it may give them diarrhea if they eat too much of it.
Raw chicken livers are full of nutrients. In fact, they are better than the actual raw chicken meat, as they contain protein, calcium, iron, magnesium and plenty of vitamin B.
As long as you give your cat small amounts of raw chicken liver, they should enjoy all the benefits and see no side effects, the worst of which is that they may get diarrhea.
Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken Necks?
Yes, cats can eat raw chicken necks, as long as you keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t accidentally choke on any of the bones.
Chicken necks also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, like calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Their only downside is that they are all full of small bones that may be a choking hazard, or that may prove a bit difficult for your cat to digest.
When you give your cat raw chicken necks for the first time, make sure to monitor how they react. If they are fine afterwards and have no digestive issues, feel free to repeat this meal. Just keep an eye on them while they chew, to prevent a bone going down the wrong way.
Can Kittens Eat Raw Chicken?
Yes, kittens can eat raw chicken in small quantities. Make sure to remove all the bones, and cut it up into very small pieces for your kitten.
Raw chicken will be just as good for a kitten as it is for an adult cat. All those nutrients will help them grow into healthy and fit adults. Consult your vet to make sure you are giving your cat the right amount of food though. They can help you calculate how much of their regular kitten food you can replace with raw chicken.
Cut it up into small pieces for them and watch them while they eat. They may be a bit confused when they get a raw meal for the first time, but their instincts will soon kick in, especially if their mom is there to help them.
How Much Raw Chicken Can I Give My Cat?
Cats should eat 2-4% of their total weight per day, and the same rule applies to raw chicken. If this is the only food you are giving them on a certain day, you can easily calculate just how much they need.
If you are substituting one of your cat’s meals with raw chicken, ask your vet how much you should be giving of which item. You want to make sure they get plenty of nutrients, but that you also don’t overfeed them.
Bear in mind that kittens need twice the calories adult cats do, as do pregnant and nursing cats.
How Often Can a Cat Eat Raw Chicken?
Despite the nutritional benefits, a cat should only eat raw chicken a couple of times a week. This will be enough to keep them healthy and their diet balanced.
Feeding your cat exclusively raw chicken is a bad idea, as they won’t get all the nutrients they need from it. If you are considering a raw-only diet, consult your vet, and come up with a meal plan that will ensure they get all the macros and vitamins and minerals they need, from different sources.
Can Cats Get Sick Eating Raw Chicken?
As long as the raw chicken you give your cat is fresh and has been stored properly, they aren’t likely to get sick. However, raw chicken can be infested with different parasites and bacteria that can make a cat sick.
If the raw chicken you give your cat is infected with salmonella, listeria or E.coli, your cat can get sick from it. This is why feeding your cat cooked chicken is a better option.
However, if you have a trusted butcher who can guarantee the quality of their product, an occasional raw chicken treat should be just fine.
What Are the Risks of Giving Raw Chicken to Cats?
While giving your cat raw chicken shouldn’t make them sick, there are some risks you need to be aware of:
Raw Meat Can Contain Parasites and Bacteria
Raw meat can be infected with different parasites and bacteria, which can be harmful to both humans and cats. However, since our felines have shorter digestive tracts and their stomachs are filled with more acid, it is less likely they will get sick from eating contaminated meat.
If you buy fresh meat, disinfect the surface you will be cutting it on and wash your hands before and after, the chances of infection are very small.
Raw chicken alone is not enough to provide a balanced diet for your cat. You need to either also give them commercial, quality cat food, or incorporate other raw or cooked ingredients that will ensure they get all the nutrients they need.
Bone Pieces Can Be Dangerous
The small pieces of bone in raw chicken can injure your cat’s gums, tongue or digestive system. Before giving your cat any, make sure there are no sharp bone pieces in it, and watch them while they eat.
Is Cooked or Raw Chicken Better For Cats?
Cooked chicken is generally considered better for cats. Cooking chicken will kill any bacteria in it, and it can be kinder on a cat’s digestive system as they get older.
While there is nothing wrong with giving your cat the occasional raw chicken treat, you can also consider cooking it, to make sure it is perfectly safe.
How To Prepare Raw Chicken for Cats
If you want to make raw chicken for your cat, consult your vet first. They may advise against it, based on their specific health condition. If they give you the green light, here is what you need to do:
Always Buy Fresh Chicken
Only buy chicken from reputable stores, and give it to your cat on the same day. You can prepare the rest for yourself.
Keep It Clean
Cut the chicken on a clean, dry surface with a clean, dry knife. Only give your cat enough for one meal, and throw out anything they leave in their bowl immediately. Wash the bowl with soap and warm water. Any raw chicken that has reached room temperature should be discarded.
Ideally, you want to give your cat a bit of raw chicken and prepare the rest of what you have bought for yourself.
Clean the surface you have prepared the chicken on, and wash your hands thoroughly.
Wrapping It Up
Raw chicken can be a great treat for your cat, as long as you buy it fresh and watch your cat while they eat it, to make sure they know how to chew it. Don’t forget that cats need a balanced diet, so always supplement the raw chicken with quality cat food, or other raw ingredients that have been approved by your vet.