Cat Nutrition: BARFen – That’s How it’s Done!

The cat’s natural food is the mouse or prey of a similar size. In the case of their larger relatives, the big cats, the food rations are correspondingly more generous, but the commonality remains: cats are carnivores. You can also provide your domesticated house tiger with cat food that has as high a meat content as possible. With BARFing, production-related processing of the meat is excluded: The BARFed animal only gets fresh, raw meat in its bowl as well as other important ingredients such as vegetables, herbs, and oils. This is the only way to ensure that the cat gets all the important nutrients.

What exactly does BARF mean?

The acronym BARF came up in the American-speaking world in the early 2000s and stands for “born again raw feeders”. In Germany, the abbreviation was transferred to “biologically appropriate raw feeding”. The concept of BARFing, i.e. feeding raw meat and other animal components, was originally developed for dogs but is also finding increasing support among cat owners.

The advocates of BARF see this feeding method as a genuine alternative to ready-made feed that is beneficial to animal health. Above all, non-meat ingredients in the ready-made food are viewed critically by some supporters of BARFen, since plant-based components are not adequately utilized by the carnivore cat’s metabolism. With homemade BARF food, the pet owner has absolute control over the ingredients provided and can, if necessary, adjust the composition of the components precisely to the needs and preferences of the cat. This is particularly beneficial for cats with nutritional sensitivities.

What do I have to consider with BARF?

If you BARF your cat, this requires a certain knowledge of nutritional basics and food science. It is not simply done by feeding the animal raw meat. In order to provide the pet with all the necessary nutritional components, it is also important to ensure a balanced relationship between proteins, bulk and trace elements, amino acids, and vitamins. This means that the sources of these substances must be identified and added in the right amount so that there is no over-or undersupply. Before you dare to change the feed according to the BARF method, you should carefully familiarize yourself with the relevant literature and acquire the necessary knowledge.

In addition – as with any handling of raw meat – absolute hygiene is also required for BARFing, including a cold chain that is as uninterrupted as possible and working with clean hands and cutting boards. It is advantageous if you have a freezer available. You can get the individual components both fresh from the butcher and frozen from specialist retailers. It is advisable to mix BARF food in large quantities and freeze portions. Depending on the source of purchase, BARF nutrition can be slightly more expensive than conventional high-quality ready-made food.

When switching your cat’s diet to BARF, be patient. What the cat doesn’t know, it initially examines with skepticism and may only slowly become enthusiastic about the new food. BARF initially on a daily basis alternating with the usual food to get the cat used to it. Another indirect advantage for you as a cat owner: the metabolization of raw components usually improves the consistency and smell of cat feces.

Why an online BARF calculator for cats doesn’t make sense?

On the Internet, you will find numerous different tools that can be used to calculate the ideal BARF composition. It is not advisable to use these calculators, because they do not take into account the individual health of your animal, which should definitely be consulted. Your veterinarian will provide you with information on how to calculate the individual nutrient levels and how to balance the BARF ingredients.

What ingredients go into the BARF recipe for cats?

A complex challenge in BARFing is that the ingredients of a piece of raw meat bought from the butcher are not identical to the prey you have caught yourself. Due to the lack of blood, there are not enough salts and moisture, vitamins and other nutrients are decomposed by the storage of meat, bones are missing or the meat is too lean, the calcium and fat content is too low in relation. In addition, predators usually eat the innards or the fur of the prey and thereby get the necessary roughage. Appropriate supplementation of BARF food for cats with substances that cannot be supplied via meat is therefore essential. In particular, you have to take into account the adequate supply of the amount of taurine that cats need for life, which is naturally provided by the consumption of mice, when BARFing, these supplements are commercially available in mixtures.

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