While humans advocate the virtues of a natural diet, adapted to our metabolism and free from industrial products, many find it difficult to adapt this healthy diet and this return to basics for their pets.
However, the cat, the most popular pet in French households, does not feed in nature with kibbles, pâtées or industrial jellies. Focus on the BARF “Bone and Raw Food” method or even “Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods” for our feline friends.
What is the BARF method?
The BARF method can be translated into French as “biologically appropriate raw food”. Developed by Ian Billinghurst, Australian veterinarian, the BARF method has since been studied by many professionals in the animal world and offers a particularly balanced diet for our carnivorous pets.
It is a diet that is suitable for cats, but also dogs and ferrets. It offers a natural and grain-free alternative, consisting mainly of raw meat, but also of fleshy bones, offal and some vegetables, while respecting the digestive system and the well-being of the animal.
The BARF method adapted to cats
While cooking has allowed humans to live longer due to the poor digestion of raw meat, it is not comparable for our tomcats. Indeed, these are carnivorous, unlike humans who are omnivorous. Their digestive system is therefore perfectly suited to 100% raw food.
In the natural or wild state, the cat therefore feeds exclusively on animal and fresh preys (rodents, birds, reptiles, etc.). It is a predator and its diet is therefore composed of meat, bones, viscera and against all expectations of some plants, because its victims are omnivorous and frugivorous.
It is therefore estimated that the natural meal of cats consists of the following:
- About 80% raw meat
- About 10% offal
- About 10% of plants
To feed them with the BARF method, it is therefore necessary to follow your natural diet and prepare homemade portions suitable for cats.
BARF type recipe for cats
The ideal is to prepare your recipes in advance and freeze the portions adapted to the weight, size, age and activity of your cat. The larger the quantities prepared, the more financially accessible the BARF diet will be.
Here is a typical BARF diet recipe for your cat, for 1.5 kilo of food:
- 500 grams of bone-in chicken or turkey meat
- 400 grams of chicken, turkey or lamb hearts
- 200 grams of chicken liver
- 300 grams maximum of grated vegetables
- 1 egg
- Fish oil and more particularly salmon
In the absence of a heart, you can sprinkle your cat’s meals with taurine. In the absence of liver, you can opt for fish (salmon is the most suitable fish). Note that you must not add any condiment: no salt, pepper, garlic, onion, etc.
Regarding fruits and vegetables, you can vary the pleasures. But it is necessary to inform yourself well before, some are not recommended because difficult to digest and others are completely prohibited because toxic.
First, opt for carrots, zucchini and peas, easy to find in stores and suitable for good digestion.
The preparation of BARF meals should not be completely chopped to avoid exposure to too much air that would increase oxidation and decrease the taurine content. It is recommended to cut raw meat roughly.
BARF food for cats: good or bad idea?
BARF cat food has as many followers as it does detractors. Some think this is dangerous, especially because eating raw foods can lead to parasites and disease. Others think this is great, since they bring the best of nature to their cat.
Without being for one school or another, we can just remember that the classic croquettes at a few euros per kilo are not the best food to bring to your feline: they are rich in fats and chemicals, but they are low in meat. .
The advantages of the BARF method
Here are the main advantages to be recognized by this type of natural diet:
- The quality of the ingredients: prepared for your care, you know exactly what you are giving your cat
- The quality of nutrients: by giving your cat raw meat, muscles, bones and vegetables, you provide them with essential nutrients preserved thanks to their freshness
- The absence of preservatives: by freezing the BARF portions in advance, you avoid all the industrial preservatives found in the majority of cat food and kibbles
- The absence of starch and flour: widely used to “bind” industrial kibbles, they are simply not suitable for the digestive system of felines
Owners of cats fed exclusively with the BARF method find their pet in great shape: strengthened immune system with less digestive pathologies, better oral health, healthy skin and shiny coat, etc.
The disadvantages of the BARF method
Raw food is not considered to be risk free, since pathogens can be found there. However, you should know that the cat naturally eliminates most parasites and that freezing previous portions limits the risks.
However, the drawbacks are more due to the preparation time and diligence in pursuing this type of diet:
- BARF must be introduced gradually and requires adaptation time for the cat
- The BARF requires having a little time and working with raw foods that can repel the masters
- The BARF requires a good knowledge of your cat’s needs to avoid dietary imbalances and deficiencies
- The BARF must be adapted with precision during periods of growth, gestation or lactation to cover all the nutritional needs of your cat
- BARF requires full control of the cold chain
- BARF can lead to food waste because food should not be kept too long at room temperature
As you will have understood, the BARF method is as attractive as it is restrictive, but has many advantages for your cat, as long as you do not blindly embark on the adventure. You will need to document as much as possible and get the right ingredients to provide a healthy diet for your cat.
If you want to put your cat on the BARF diet, veterinary follow-up is recommended and allows you to adapt the meat and food supplements chosen to your cat’s breed, its physical activity and any allergies. If you want a time-free and healthier alternative for your feline than the croquettes available in supermarkets, you can turn to the ready-to-use BARF dishes or the high-quality grain-free or “grain-free” croquettes.