Food: Diet and Nutrition

Nutrition is the basis of health!


Since writing this page in 2005 I have adhered, with some slippage for "convenience," to the raw meat with supplements diet described here. I have since come to appreciate the Raw Meaty Bones diet advocated by Tom Lonsdale, a vet in Australia. I strongly recommend it to you. It is described on its website,

The best diet for your cat is raw meat with supplements. Serve a variety of meats, poultry, and fish including organ meats like liver—so puss doesn't get bored. Choose supplements—natural as much as possible—to provide nutrients missing or insufficient in meat:

The incentive for feeding your cat the best diet is that the cat enjoys robust health and disease is prevented.


The earliest member of the cat family—Dinictus—evolved about 50 million years ago. The Felidae, from which our modern cats are descended, developed 15–1 million years ago.

All cats are carnivores! Their teeth are designed for biting and shearing, not for chewing or grinding. Pieces of meat are swallowed whole and are digested in the stomach by gastric juices.

Throughout history, cats thrived on a diet of animals (including birds and fish) caught by themselves or their mother and eaten when fresh. They ate the organs, including the contents of the stomach, flesh, bones, and skin; the hair and feathers of their prey provided fiber, while bones and cartilage provided calcium, protein, and fat.


There are three basic defects of commercial pet foods that cause them to be hazardous to the health of cats:

It is my opinion that today's health problems in purebred cats—hip dysplasia, HCD, et. al.—are the result of a poor diet. Most cat breeders feed dry foods, generation after generation.

Household pets—non-purebred cats—who go outside may be healthier than purebred cats because they supplement their dry food diet with fresh raw meat—lizards, mice, and birds.

Hip dysplasia in dogs was successfully treated by Dr. Wendell O. Belfield with large doses of vitamin C. Dr. Belfield is a veterinarian who practiced in San Jose, California and embraced Dr. Linus Pauling's philosophy of orthomolecular medicine—administering optimal (often mega) doses of vitamins and minerals to achieve optimal health. Dr. Belfield was the original wholistic vet. He also successfully treated feline leukemia with a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.

And what about the pet food packages that declare the pet food contained within to be complete and balanced and that it meets the nutritional requirements of some organization and warn you not to supplement it? Don't be fooled. It's just hype.

Feline nutrient requirements have been defined by the Subcommittee on Cat Nutrition of the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council (NRC). In 1962, the NRC said flatly that it was impossible to describe how much of which nutrients cats needed. They repeated themselves in 1978, but continued ". . . the levels established are presumed adequate to support maintenance and growth of the cat." I think that presumption is wrong, witness the growing number of ailments that plague cats fed on commercial foods.


In the first half of the 1900s Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr. operated an hospital in Monrovia, California specializing in treating lung disorders. From 1932 to 1942 he conducted a feeding experiment to determine the effects of heat-processed food on cats. This study has become known as "Pottenger's Cats" and is documented in a book of the same name.

Dr. Pottenger found that only diets containing raw milk and raw meat produced optimal health. Cats on the all-raw diet had good bone structure and density, wide palates with plenty of space for the teeth, shiny fur, and freedom from parasites and disease. They reproduced with ease and were gentle and easy to handle.

Cooking the meat or substituting heat processed milk for raw resulted in heterogeneous reproduction and physical degeneration, increasing with each generation. Kittens of third generation cats failed to survive six months. Vermin and parasites abounded. Skin diseases and allergies increased from an incidence of five percent in normal cats to over ninety percent in the third generation. Bones became soft and pliable; calcium and phosphorus content diminished. The cats suffered from adverse personality changes. Females became more aggressive while males became docile. The cats suffered from hypothyroidism and most of the degenerative diseases encountered in human medicine. They died out completely by the fourth generation.

Dr. Pottenger tried to return degenerating cats to health. He found that it took four generations on raw meat and raw milk to bring the kittens of second-generation degenerating cats back to normal. This experiment could not occur with third-generation degenerating cats because they could not give birth to viable offspring.


Our diet reflects the findings of Pottenger's Cats and is influenced by Dr. Ian Billinghurst (Give Your Dog a Bone), Dr. Wendell O. Belfield, and Juliette de Bairacli Levy.

How Often and How Much?

We feed kittens up to 4 months of age four times a day, older cats 2–3 times a day. We feed enough to fill them up, using the emptiness of the plate as a guide. If the plate is emptied immediately, we feed more. If the plate is empty after 30 minutes, that is enough. If there is still food on the plate after 30 minutes, it is too much. As a guide, a Maine Coon cat will eat about one cup of meat a day. It is natural for their appetite to vary from day to day. It can also be helpful to feed only a little food once a week; one day a month, you can feed only water fortified with a little honey.

Meat and Supplements

The cornerstone of our diet is food that is fresh, well-balanced nutritionally, raw, organic, and varied. In addition, we respect the habits and likes of each cat, without sacrificing quality.

We feed our cats on tempered glass plates and bowls; avoiding plastic, metal, and earthenware with a cracked finish. We serve meat at about 100 degrees F. after heating it in a toaster oven (NEVER USE A MICROWAVE OVEN).

Because cats are carnivores, the basic food in our diet is flesh. We also feed animal fats, some vegetables, and dairy products.

Flesh foods include poultry (we rely on turkey and think highly of chicken necks and chicken liver), lamb, rabbit, beef; organically-raised pork is fine. We prefer poultry with the skin and fat left on; similarly, we prefer meat marbled with natural fat. We also include organ meat, especially but not exclusively liver, in an amount that is about 1/5 to 1/4 of the total flesh consumed. Fish is great several times a week: canned fish for people and fresh fish you've caught yourself (anything else is not likely to be fresh enough); we like canned sardines and mackeral, in water with their skin and bones, unsmoked, and with as little added salt as possible. We feed raw flesh chopped in 1/2" squares (for adult cats, smaller for kittens), avoiding ground because cats benefit from using their jaw muscles to chew their food (but hey, we feed ground meat if that is all there is). (You can feed larger pieces to cats, but they may drag the pieces to undesirable places.) Kittens raised on raw meat take kindly to poultry with the bones intact, like a chicken breast with most of the meat removed for human consumption and chicken necks.

We supplement a day's servings of meat (but not canned fish or liver) with:

We adopted dried cereal grasses some time ago and have been happy with both the easiness and results. They are rich in vitamins, minerals (especially iron and calcium), protein, chlorophyl, and fiber. They were developed in the 1930s by a group of people near Lawrence, Kansas. We buy the products made by Pines International. We combine them in equal proportions.

Cod liver oil is a valuable supplement. You need to be aware of the quality issues to get a truly beneficial product. Avoid the cod liver oil sold without the oil-soluble vitamins A and D. Avoid the flavored oils.

We also serve the following foods in addition to meat or in place of it:

Revision: 1-15-2015.
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