When thinking of switching to a raw diet, the #1 question people ask me: "will my cat get salmonella?" The reality is, YOU are more likely to get it than your cat. 🙀
The FDA declares a raw diet as unsafe and unhealthy but truthfully, this is because you can't leave raw meat out around kids (1). 👶 In all honesty, salmonella doesn't only affect raw chicken. It could be on ANYTHING that's touched or been cross-contaminated with the bacteria, including fruits, veggies, nuts, etc. and cooking these items doesn't always kill it (2). 😮
Your cat COULD get salmonella from coming into contact with other cats that have it, infected feces, contaminated soil/grass, or even eating kibble whose meat was contaminated with it (3), but the likelyhood of them getting it from raw food is low. Let's see why... 🤔
A healthy cat has an acidic digestive system; so much so, that they're able to break down (uncooked) bones. A raw fed cats' stomach has a pH of 1-2 (1 being most acidic while 10 is completely basic) but when they eat a high carb diet, they secret less, making their stomach more basic (4). This acidity plays a key role 🔑 in killing and disintegrating bacteria, including salmonella; their stomach and short digestive tracts are not hospitable enough for bacteria to really grow (4, 3).
Salmonella is more likely to sit on the outside of meat, so grinding disseminates it. That's why pre-ground meat from the grocery store can be dangerous. Beef has almost always been found to contain fecal matter 🤢 and is made with the intention of humans cooking it before consumption, so it's handled with less care (5, 6). But bacteria like e. coli and salmonella shouldn't be present in whole cuts that are intended for people.
Just use human standards when handling raw meat (for both you and your cats' safety), wash your hands with hot water and don't let it sit out or thaw on the counter, as this encourages bacterial growth. Be responsible and you and your cat with be salmonella free! 😁
Sources in comments.