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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Nutrition

Evaluation of four raw meat diets using domestic cats, captive exotic felids, and cecectomized roosters


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 91 No. 1, p. 225-237
    Received: Oct 18, 2011
    Accepted: Sept 4, 2012
    Published: December 3, 2014

    1 Corresponding author(s):

  1. K. R. Kerr*,
  2. A. N. Beloshapka,
  3. C. L. Morris,
  4. C.M. Parsons,
  5. S. L. Burke,
  6. P. L. Utterback and
  7. K. S. Swanson 1
  1. Division of Nutritional Sciences
    Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801
    Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha, NE 68107


Our objective was to evaluate raw meat diets for captive exotic and domestic carnivores containing traditional and alternative raw meat sources, specifically, beef trimmings, bison trimmings, elk muscle meat, and horse trimmings. We aimed to examine diet composition and protein quality; apparent total tract energy and macronutrient digestibility in domestic cats, African wildcats, jaguars, and Malayan tigers; and ME and fecal fermentative end-products in domestic cats. Because of variation in the meat sources, dietary proximate, AA, and long-chain fatty acid composition were variable. Our analyses indicated that all diets had essential fatty acid deficiencies, and the elk diet (i.e., trimmed muscle meat) was deficient in total fat. Standardized AA digestibilities measured using the cecectomized rooster assay were high (>87%). Using the NRC minimum requirements for the growth of kittens, the first limiting AA of all diets was the combined requirement of Met and Cys (AA score: 81 to 95; protein digestibility corrected AA score: 75 to 90). All diets were highly digestible (88 to 89% OM digestibility). There was no effect of diet or felid species on DM (85 to 87%), OM, and GE (90 to 91%) digestibilities. Apparent CP digestibility was greater (P ≤ 0.05) in cats fed elk (97%) compared with those fed bison (96%), and greater (P ≤ 0.05) in wildcats (97%) and domestic cats (97%) compared with tigers (95%). The diet and species interaction (P ≤ 0.05) was observed for apparent fat digestibility. In domestic cats, the fresh fecal pH and proportions of acetate and butyrate were altered (P ≤ 0.05) due to diet. Diet also affected (P ≤ 0.05) fresh fecal concentrations of total branched-chain fatty acids, valerate, and Lactobacillus genus. In conclusion, although the raw meat diets were highly digestible, because of variation in raw meat sources the nutrient composition of the diets was variable. Thus, compositional analysis of raw meat sources is necessary for proper diet formulation. The types of meat commonly used in raw meat diets may be deficient in total fat (trimmed muscle meat) and essential fatty acids (trimmings and muscle meats). Additionally, differences in raw meat source nutrient composition and digestibility affect the beneficial and putrefactive fermentative end-products found in feces.

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