There have been recent recalls of thiamine-deficient canned cat food. Is a raw meat diet safe from being thiamine deficient since it's not cooked?
In the past five years, there have been many recalls in the USA, and recently even in Australia, of commercial pet foods for various reasons. Some of these recalls have been related to the diets being deficient in thiamine, also known as vitamin B1. At least three of these recalls involved canned food. None of these diets have been raw commercial diets.
Thiamine is a water soluble B vitamin important for helping the body to utilize carbohydrates as energy through a process called the TCA cycle. Thiamine is a necessary co-factor involved in this energy producing process. It is especially important for healthy functioning of the nervous system and heart. Deficiency of thiamine can cause neurologic signs, abnormal heartbeats, and gastrointestinal signs. Thiamine is naturally found in various food sources some of which include whole grains and vegetables, legumes, and brewer's yeast. But, it is also present in muscle tissue of animals, particularly in the liver and heart. The mere presence of thiamine in a food may not correlate with its activity or bioavailability. Several factors may affect the bioavailability and/or activity of thiamine in processed foods. As much as 50% to 100% of the thiamine present in raw meat can be inactivated by one or more of the following processing methods: heat, high amounts of sulfur based food preservatives, i.e. sulfur dioxide, and certain thickening additives in canned foods which may alter the pH of the food.
Raw meat diets are not exposed to heat as canned and dry diets are, therefore the thiamine in these diets remains intact. These diets also do not use any of the additives or preservatives used in canned foods.
Dogs and cats are unable to produce adequate amounts of thiamine and therefore need to consistently consume it in their diet. Cats require three times as much thiamine in their diet as dogs do.The recommended daily allowance of thiamine per day for cats is 0.33 mg. Note that this is for an approximately 250 kilo-calorie diet, which is about what a 4kg cat would eat per day. A cat will typically eat about 100gm - 120gm of meat per day. You can easily meet the minimum recommended daily allowance for thiamine by feeding a variety of meats and including hearts and liver. Plus, you can be certain that the thiamine in this diet has not been inactivated by processing. Raw Meow meals all contain both heart and liver as well as being supplemented with vitamin B1 to ensure your cat is getting adequate amounts of Thiamine
Many canned and dry cat food products have high percentage of fish. You may not even see it on the label, but it is often there as a cheap filler. Often, the fish used contain an enzyme called thiaminase which inactivates thiamine .
This is why fish is not a good choice of food for cats. Many of the species used in these canned and dry products are larger species which also contain unhealthy levels of mercury. For these reasons Raw Meow products do not contain fish. Sardines are the exception to the rule. One or two sardines a week is a healthy addition to your cats diet (Raw Meow contains Green Lipped mussel instead which is safe and beneficial for felines)
Raw meat diets also have little to no carbohydrate content. This type of diet requires less thiamine because there is little to no need for carbohydrate metabolism and therefore much less requirement for the enzyme involved in the TCA cycle. High carbohydrate diets such as most dry and canned cat foods require more thiamine as it will need to be used in large amounts to metabolize the carbohydrates.