Raw feeding is still an uphill battle

I recently came across an article in a Canadian newspaper about Neal and Jo-Anne Cropper, a couple who opened a store, Growlies, which

Tekla knows what's good!

sells raw food for dogs and cats. They’ve been in business for four years and started their venture in response to the pet food recall of 2007. Better yet, they’re sourcing their meats locally.

For those whose heads have been buried in a bag of kibble, the pet food recall of 2007 caused many pet guardians to rethink their pets’ diets. Although 8,500 complaints were reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, only 14 were verified due to the lack of a centralized database. Kidney failure was the commonly cited cause of death. Analysis pointed to the presence of melamine found in wheat gluten imported from China, which was used to boost the food’s protein analysis. A resolution of sorts was reached in 2009. 

Many additional recalls have taken place since then, most recently ones in which the mold, aflatoxin, was found in dog foods.

All the while, veterinarians are still throwing up their hands and warning pet guardians about the hazards of feeding raw food. However, a growing number of people, fed up with the litany of recalls and mumbo-jumbo of marketing mavens, are taking the plunge. Suppliers and science-based information, through websites such as the Feline Nutrition Education Society (since this site is geared toward cats) are becoming more accessible.

What is striking about this article about a couple who left the rat race to pursue their passion is the virulent and ambiguous response from a local veterinarian, Chris Collis.

He says, “All pet foods are made from the discarded waste of the human food industry, including those contaminated with salmonella, e.coli and campylobacter. Commercial diet “cooking” destroys the infectious diseases and additional testing ensures the freedom of foreign material, mould and chemical toxins.”

But then he says: “The use of commercial diets are the safest, most complete and balanced way to feed 99 per cent of our pets.”

He concludes his tirade by describing raw diets as a fad, and hopes “that the catalyst for its inevitable demise is not the death of a toddler from a raw food feeding pet owner who thought they were doing the right thing.”

Excuse me?

On their website the Croppers politely respond to Collins, saying that even though his office is close to their store, he has never stopped by. They point out, as many who have been following the recalls know, “that kibble is a far more likely cause of a pet shedding salmonella than any food you recognize when you open that package as simply meat, fat, bone and organ…” And as those of us who feed raw know, safe handling rules are a given. I lose track of the number of times I wash my hands while preparing my own cat’s food.

Unfortunately, exchanges like this make it difficult to separate fact from fiction. With a little effort, pet guardians can find all the information they need to make the best choices for their pets. Hint: it’s not on the back of a bag of kibble.

Click here for a comprehensive list of resources I have compiled.


About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

9 Responses to Raw feeding is still an uphill battle

  1. Mary Dube says:

    It’s a huge struggle with cat owners to get them to figure it out. They are the catalyst to changing the meme – Not Vets or pet food makers.

    Most pet owners don’t want to understand the science – kitty’s are little lions. They also have a hard time believing Vets and pet food makers would lie to them.

    I say ‘hello? Billions of dollars on the line….!’ First, shorten their lives with dry food and sub-standard wet food and then, put them on a prescription diet for $5 a can. Pretty good business model.

    My 3-yr old kitty is eating Feline’s Pride. I also have the equipment to make his food – which I have done in the past. His coat is like mink.

    • Excellent point. It’s a matter of convincing one person at a time. I’ve been making my cats’ food for 12 years and I still get wide-eyed looks when I tell people. Kibble is kitty crack, but it’s so hard to get people to make the connection. Thank you for your comments.

  2. Hemlock says:

    I’ve lucked out in that my vet is NOT anti-raw. He admits that he doesn’t know much about it, but after seeing the changes in my cat after a diagnosis of the very early stages of CKD due to Idiopathic Hypercalcemia (we’ve almost completely halted the progression of both diseases) he’s even more supportive. I know that he has several other dog patients in addition to my dog that are on raw diets, and all of us have motivated him to learn more. Frankly, even the ‘naturopathic’ vets in my area don’t advocate raw… they simply tell their patients to buy a wheat/corn/gluten free diet for their pets.

    • My vet isn’t anti-raw either. I had an interesting exchange with a younger associate who was looking at Mollie. She was under a year at the time and I asked about her weight. He asked if she was still on “kitten food.” I said, no, raw. He said nothing. This was a scrawny little shelter kitty who couldn’t get enough of the “good stuff” when we brought her home. We could practically see her grow before our very eyes!

    • cory says:

      i love the new vets who GET IT~!!!! Thanks to them, maybe more old school crazies will get the hint. We need to treat them like the primal animals they are. We choose to be weak and deny them their true life as carnivores.

  3. Jessica says:

    Most veterinarians sadly are the most brainwashed victims of kibble diets. I went to a vet school with the intention of furthering my zoological studies and kibble brainwashing is rampant! My 4 year old son has done just fine around raw fed dogs, it’s mostly the lack of aesthetics and extra effort that are the turn off for most people I think, after learning the benefits and learning that it won’t kill their dog. I process meat when hubby is around to watch our son and he’s not allowed in the kitchen until everything is cleaned and sanitized. Simple.

    • It’s a matter of common sense and basic hygiene. We prepare our base mix in big batches and the kitchen is totaled by the time we’re through. Everything goes into the dishwasher on sanitize and the counters are swabbed down with bleach. Doin’ it for 12 years — no bugs human or feline. BTW, I always find it interesting when people raw feed their dogs, then “suddenly” realize that their cats can/should eat raw as well. Thanks for responding.

  4. Sally, I enjoyed this and will share. Feeding raw is optimum but I’d be happy if we could just reduce kibble use. We use it just as treats like having a candy bar or or junk food. Love my fellow Canadian’s choice for their store name: Growlies!

  5. Pingback: Monday Mentions: Thriller-icity, Writing & Pet Info « Amy Shojai's Blog

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