New to Raw--are Chicken Necks Okay? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-07-2009, 08:54 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2009
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New to Raw--are Chicken Necks Okay?

Are you sure? lol. Call me an overprotective mom...

Here's the background:

I am interested in supplementing the cats' diets with some raw meat. Currently they eat Innova Evo canned, and a small amount of Wellness Core dry (although I'm considering getting them off kibble entirely). I know that there are many benefits to feeding raw, but the main reason I want to supplement is for dental health.

Gizmo came to us with some tartar buildup. There are medical reasons that prevent us from getting him a dental cleaning (in the interests of brevity I'll leave it at that but can expound if you want).

We just got back from the local raw pet food store (a bit weird, yes, but there is one right down the street). The woman there was very nice and gave us a couple samples of some ground chicken and turkey, just to see if the cats will even eat raw meat. As far as dental hygiene, however, she suggested chicken necks.

Here's where I'm a nervous mother. I know cats are supposed to be able to eat raw bones, but are you absolutely positive it's safe? I've heard that chicken bones are particularly prone to splintering. I do realize that raw bones are more flexible than cooked, but is there any chance that it could hurt him? And is there any alternative to giving him whole bone? Would chunks of deboned meat still benefit his teeth, or is the bone really the crucial ingredient?

Also, have any of you seen actual improvements in dental health after feeding raw? Clearly a raw diet will maintain dental health, but I'm wondering if it can actually reverse some of the damage that's already done?
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-07-2009, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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Re: New to Raw--are Chicken Necks Okay?

PS: I just now let them try the samples we were given (Rad Cat is the brand, if anyone has heard of it--it's ground up), and it was a HUGE HIT. They both loved it, Gizmo especially. This might sound like a silly thing to get excited about, but I am. I would love to eventually get them on a 50% wet and 50% raw diet, and now I can see that they would probably love that too. I've never seen them lick a plate clean like that before .
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-07-2009, 10:28 PM
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Re: New to Raw--are Chicken Necks Okay?

My plan was to give Willie a raw meaty bone every few days for dental health. Then while reading to find out how safe it was (and finding out how hard it was for me to just give him a RMB and have him eat it) I ended up going half raw half kibble (he doesn't eat canned).

As far as chicken necks, they are very safe for cats. Other than chicken bones there really isn't much you can give your cat in the way of bones (unless you want to buy rodents), most are too big. Are they safe? As safe as anything I guess. I'm not going to sit here and tell you there is absolutely nothing that can go wrong, that would be a lie. But I also will not say your cat can't be killed by kibble, that's a lie as well. I'll say I don't think it's any MORE dangerous than feeding kibble.
I don't know (by "know" I mean communicate with on here, on the yahoo raw cat group or in person) anyone who has had problems with bone hurting their cat and I know MANY raw feeders. Teeth breakage I hear about usually occurs in dogs who are given non-edible bones to chew on (recreational bones or "wreck" bones), never heard of internal injuries (if you look on anti-raw websites you will of course find "cases" of this but god knows what sorts of methods were being used to feed the animal (they are never stated), no one I speak to has had problems), choking has always been my biggest worry until I saw the cat actually eat the bone, it would be hard to choke until they get to the very end, they are more likely to choke on meat IMO than bone but I would always watch a cat new to raw feeding when he eats. but again I don't know of any cases of choking that the cat did not quickly fix himself by regurgitating.

It's important to remember the insides of your domestic kitty is the same as that of a wild animal, coming fully equipt to break, chew, swallow, digest and utilize the nutrients from bone. For a newbie cat you might want to smash the neck with a mallet and cut it in half to make it more manageable, their jaws have not strengthened properly due to a diet of soft kibble (compared to bone) and canned food.

I understand being worried, I'm a very worried person myself. My cat has choked once on raw pork (just meat, he was new to the diet) but he quickly hacked it up and continued eating. Considering he had choked over four times on kibble, one of which caused him to panic before finally regurgitating and then run away from the remaining food, that wasn't too bad. All my fears of broken teeth and bacterial things have gone away. I no longer worry about internal injuries, the cat chews that bone up quite well, crunches just like kibble. My fear of choking is almost gone, but not entirely, could happen to any of us.

So I think you should feed the bones but keep an eye on the cat, especially while he's new to it, for optimal safety. If he gets to the end of the bone and tries to swallow without chewing then toss that part. I also wanted to mention that vertebrae found in chicken necks are nice and round, even if raw bones splintered (they really don't) vertebrae would be pretty safe.

As for oral health, I have indeed noticed and actual improvement in my cat's teeth but it took quite a few months and I fed 50% raw diet, not just occasional bones. Meat too cleans teeth to an extent (rubs all the way up to the gums) but that does more prevention (rubbing off plaque), bones are what actually can remove built up tartar. Other than bones the only thing that removes tartar is a dental cleaning.

So my summary: I think properly sized raw bones are extremely unlikely to harm your cat. Injuries to a properly raw fed animal are rare, in fact I don't *personally* know of any. Watch the cat while he eats to be on the safe side but remember every aspect of the cat is designed to find, stalk, chase, kill and eat whole animals, bone and all.

I was just wondering how bad the cat's teeth actually were? If they are causing him pain then eating the bones might hurt and make him unable to do it.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-07-2009, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
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Re: New to Raw--are Chicken Necks Okay?

Thank you very much for the detailed reply.

The shelter vet and his first vet said he has only mild tartar buildup. The third vet we took him to said his gums are inflamed around one of the teeth. I'm not a trained eye, but looking at his mouth I do see obvious tartar on a couple of teeth but no redness of the gums. As far as I can tell they don't cause him pain, but it's hard to know with cats. When he eats kibble he does chew it and it doesn't seem to bother him. His face structure means that eating can be a challenge though; bowls don't work, and he tends to push the food and/or plate around the kitchen trying to get a good bite . His breath is also a clear indicator of his bad teeth. I've smelled worse--it isn't enough to knock you out--but it's worse than it should be.
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