Can Cats Have Raw Chicken: The Pros, Cons, and Safety Tips

icon September 7, 2023

Cats are known for their carnivorous nature, and their diet primarily consists of meat. It's no wonder that many pet owners wonder whether it's safe to feed their feline friends raw chicken. Raw feeding has gained popularity among pet owners seeking to provide a more natural diet for their cats. In this article, we will explore whether cats can have raw chicken, the potential benefits and risks, and essential safety tips to consider.

Understanding a Cat's Natural Diet

Before delving into the topic of feeding raw chicken to cats, it's crucial to understand their natural dietary requirements. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their bodies are designed to thrive on a diet primarily composed of animal tissue. In the wild, their diet consists of prey animals, which include birds, rodents, and other small mammals.

Cats have specific nutritional needs that can be met by consuming meat. Some of these include:

  • Protein: Cats require a high level of protein in their diet to maintain muscle mass, support growth, and keep their body functioning properly.
  • Taurine: Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats. It plays a crucial role in maintaining heart and eye health.
  • Fatty Acids: Cats need certain fatty acids, such as arachidonic acid, which is found in animal fats, for a healthy coat and overall well-being.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Cats need vitamins like A and B and minerals like calcium and phosphorus to stay healthy.

Given these dietary requirements, it's no surprise that raw meat, including chicken, is often considered by some pet owners as a suitable option for their feline companions.

Is Chicken Better For Cats Raw Or Cooked

Cooked chicken is generally safer for cats than raw chicken. Cooking eliminates the risk of harmful bacteria like Salmonella and makes the chicken easier to digest. However, it's crucial to ensure the chicken is plain, without seasoning, sauces, or additives. For a well-balanced diet, consult your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to determine the best way to incorporate chicken into your cat's meals.

The Pros of Feeding Cats Raw Chicken

1. High-Quality Protein

Raw chicken is an excellent source of high-quality protein, which is essential for a cat's overall health. It provides the amino acids cats need for muscle development, immune function, and other vital bodily processes.

2. Natural Enzymes and Nutrients

Raw chicken contains natural enzymes and nutrients that can benefit cats. These enzymes may aid in digestion, and the nutrients can contribute to a shinier coat, healthier skin, and improved overall vitality.

3. Potential Dental Health Benefits

Chewing on raw meat, such as chicken, can help clean a cat's teeth naturally. This action may reduce the risk of dental issues like plaque and tartar buildup, which can lead to dental disease.

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4. Weight Management

A raw meat diet can help some cats maintain a healthy weight. The high protein content in raw chicken can make cats feel fuller for longer, potentially reducing overeating.

5. Allergen Control

Some cats may have food allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients in commercial cat food. Feeding them a raw diet allows you to control exactly what goes into their meals, potentially reducing allergic reactions.

The Cons of Feeding Cats Raw Chicken

While there are potential benefits to feeding cats raw chicken, there are also significant risks and drawbacks that pet owners should consider.

1. Bacterial Contamination

One of the most significant concerns with feeding cats raw chicken is the risk of bacterial contamination, primarily from Salmonella and Campylobacter. These bacteria can cause severe gastrointestinal issues in cats and pose a potential risk to humans who handle raw meat.

2. Nutritional Imbalance

Creating a balanced raw diet for a cat can be challenging. It requires careful planning to ensure that the cat receives all the essential nutrients it needs. A poorly balanced diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies or excesses, which can harm a cat's health.

3. Bone Hazards

Raw chicken bones can splinter easily and pose a choking hazard or cause gastrointestinal obstructions. While cats in the wild consume bones as part of their natural diet, it can be challenging to mimic this safely at home.

4. Parasites

Raw meat, including chicken, can carry parasites like Toxoplasma gondii and Trichinella. These parasites can infect both cats and humans and cause various health problems.

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5. Cost and Convenience

Feeding a raw diet can be expensive and time-consuming. Sourcing high-quality meat, balancing the diet, and handling raw meat can be inconvenient for some pet owners.

Safety Tips for Feeding Cats Raw Chicken

If you decide to feed your cat raw chicken, it's essential to follow strict safety guidelines to minimize the risks involved:

1. Source High-Quality Meat

Choose fresh, high-quality chicken from a reputable source. Ensure that the meat is free from additives, preservatives, and hormones.

2. Handle with Care

Practice excellent hygiene when handling raw chicken. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching it, and clean all surfaces and utensils used in the preparation.

3. Freeze Before Feeding

Freeze the raw chicken for a few days before feeding it to your cat. This can help kill potential parasites and reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.

4. Balance the Diet

Consult with a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to create a balanced raw diet plan for your cat. They can help ensure that your cat receives all the necessary nutrients.

5. Supervise Meals

When feeding raw chicken, monitor your cat during mealtime to prevent choking hazards and ensure they are handling the meat safely.

6. Regular Veterinary Checkups

Schedule regular veterinary checkups for your cat to monitor their health and address any concerns related to their diet.

7. Keep Human Food Separate

Never feed your cat from your own plate or allow them to consume leftover human food. Keep their raw chicken meals separate from your own food preparation and storage areas.

8. Be Prepared for Rejection

Not all cats will readily accept a raw diet. Some may be resistant to change or have specific dietary preferences. Be prepared to transition back to commercial cat food if necessary.

Related Questions:

Is It OK To Feed A Cat Raw Meat

Feeding a cat raw meat can be risky. While cats are carnivores, and their natural diet includes raw meat, there are concerns with raw feeding. Raw meat can carry harmful bacteria like Salmonella and parasites, posing health risks to both cats and humans. It's challenging to create a balanced diet that meets a cat's nutritional needs, and uncooked bones can splinter, causing choking hazards. Commercial cat food is formulated to provide the essential nutrients cats require and undergoes safety measures like cooking to eliminate pathogens. If you wish to incorporate raw meat, consult a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist to ensure it's done safely and in a balanced manner.

What Raw Meats Can Cats Not Eat

Cats can safely consume many raw meats, but there are some exceptions and precautions to consider. Cats should not eat raw pork or wild game meats, as these may carry parasites that can harm them. Additionally, avoid feeding cats raw fish as it can lead to a thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency over time, causing severe health issues. Raw poultry and beef are generally safe, but there is a risk of bacterial contamination like Salmonella or Campylobacter, so handling and storage must be hygienic. It's essential to consult with a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist before introducing any raw meats to your cat's diet to ensure they are appropriately prepared and balanced to meet their nutritional needs.


Feeding cats raw chicken can be a divisive topic among pet owners and veterinarians. While there are potential benefits, such as high-quality protein and natural enzymes, there are also significant risks, including bacterial contamination and nutritional imbalances. If you choose to feed your cat raw chicken, it's crucial to follow strict safety guidelines and consult with a veterinarian to ensure your cat's diet is balanced and safe.


Ultimately, the decision to feed your cat raw chicken should be made with careful consideration of your cat's individual needs and your ability to provide a safe and balanced diet. Always prioritize your cat's health and well-being when making dietary choices, and be open to adjusting their diet as needed to meet their specific requirements.

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