Over the years, I’ve been party to many discussions on the topic of total transparency at the vet’s office. Do we tell our vet we raw-feed our beloved kitties and risk the censure that’s likely to result, as well as the more serious probability the raw diet becomes a focus for every future malady while the true diagnosis remains undiscovered and untreated – and potentially worsens?
The general consensus seems to be, “don’t tell!” Personally, I’d verify the practices’ stance on raw-feeding up front, anonymously via phone if I could, and if the clinic is strongly anti-raw, I would take my cats elsewhere. Only if there really was no alternative would I engage in a somewhat cloak-and-dagger relationship with a veterinarian treating my cats.
Unfortunately for many, that is the only available option. Too few veterinarians have sought outside the hallowed blinkers placed upon them by the pet food manufacturing companies during their training, then kept there by the never-ending stream of promotional items, “prescription food” profit streams and well-tended sales/vendor relationships. Regardless of their final choice, raw-feeding cat owners – just trying to do right by their cats – are often left in barely tenable positions.
On the other hand, I’ve seen a steady, if slow, growth in the numbers of pro-raw and holistic veterinarians, which should make it increasingly easy for cat owners to find a clinic with which they are comfortable. It may take some time to locate an office, and a commute might be involved, but the ability to discuss your cat’s nutrition openly with your vet is worth the extra time. Nutrition is the stream that fuels every system in the body and it is important to be able to discuss what you’re feeding with the veterinarian within whose hands your cat’s care resides.
Another reason you might want to make the extra effort to find a pro-raw vet is the impact raw-feeding has upon the results of the standard tests used to measure our cats’ health. I came across a recent study, Effects of Dietary Protein Content on Renal Parameters in Normal Cats, that compared several renal-related values in cats fed a high-protein kibble versus a low-protein kibble, and the differences in those values were labeled “statistically” and “clinically” significant (though all values remained within the normal range). Some of the results were surprising to the study authors, ‘though that may have had something to do with the grainy sources of protein in the two products studied, especially in the low-protein kibble where the only source of animal-based protein was a fish meal that placed a whopping seventh on the ingredients list.
Because the study was conducted using highly processed and hard-to-digest grainy kibble, we can’t use those test values to even vaguely postulate what a raw-fed cats’ normal creatinine, urea nitrogen, etc. values should be. Even if we had those numbers (and there are several feral cats studies that may be applicable), it is very desirable to work with a veterinarian who can help determine your particular cats’ normal value range. Although cats fed a balanced, species-appropriate diet remain far healthier than their canned and kibble-fed counterparts, it is still important to have this information; it could make a critical difference in a future diagnosis or treatment.
So while I understand the difficulties raw-feeders face, finding a veterinarian with whom we can partner open and honestly in the care of our cats is important, could very well be vital, and is worth every bit of the extra time and effort it costs.