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.