Savannah Cat Diet
What Do Savannah Cats Eat?
A healthy diet is the key to a healthy pet! It helps them grow, maintain a good weight (when fed in the correct proportions), and keeps a pet’s immune system running smoothly. A poor diet leads to problems like obesity, diabetes, and even kidney or heart failure. This is true for humans and our furry family members! Higher quality food may cost a little more, but it will save in vet bills in the long run and pets will live a longer, more fulfilled life.
At Savvy Paws we recommend a high quality diet with no by-products, a low glycemic index, and few (if none at all) vegetables and grains. Cats are obligate carnivores and need meat to be healthy! Veggies and grains have no business being in a cat's food, however, people have taught cats over the last 100 years to tolerate it for convenience's sake. If possible, we highly recommend a partial or complete raw feeding/raw food diet with at least 32% protein and no by-products. Corn should never be on the ingredients list in your cat or kitten’s food. It is a filler that gives very little in nutrients and is the leading cause of food allergies, early kidney disease, UTI’s (Urinary Tract Infections) and diabetes in cats. Giving a cat a food filled with corn is the equivalent of a person eating fast food or junk food for every meal, every day, for the rest of their lives!
What We Feed Our Savannah Cats Here at Savvy Paws
Our Savannah Cats get a wide variety of foods here at Savvy Paws, which includes a combination of commercial raw meat diets (complete with bones and organs included), freeze-dried raw, and canned/wet food. Some of our cats even get whole poultry pieces as treats, with raw chicken wings and necks being a household favourite! We have taught our cats to like a variety of foods so their new families have a choice in how to continue feeding their Savannahs.
A home-made, raw meat diet is the most natural, healthy, and cost efficient way to feed ANY cat - not just a Savannah! We are happy to point interested people to the right sources to help them get started. Raw meat diets are not just random scraps of meat, but rather they mimic what a cat would get from catching whole prey. It should include 10% bone or bone alternative (for example, crushed eggshells), 10% secreting organs (such as liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, etc.) with liver being the most important/nutritious, and the bulk 80% of the meal should be muscle meat (dark or white) and non-secreting organs (including parts like giblets, hearts, and green tripe). Hearts are an important item to add to a raw meat diet as it contains the essential sulfonic-amino acid 'Taurine', which is incredibly important in the overall health of a cat. Taurine is needed for digestion, cardiac, immune, reproductive, and eye functions. Cats have an extremely limited capability to synthesize Taurine (unlike other mammals), and thus must receive it from their food. Some optional nutrition items can be include, such as eggs (both the yellow and white) and certain fish for omega (raw salmon, or sardines canned in spring water being the popular choices).
Savvy Paws F6 SBT Mojo helping his family with meal prep!
In the wild cats do not have ovens or microwaves to heat up their meals. There are no cooked birds or birds made especially for kittens or elderly cats - all cats will catch and eat the same raw meals! Omnivores and herbivores have long digestive tracts meant to ferment vegetables and grains to absorb their nutrients. Cats, being strict carnivores, have a short digestive tract that is meant to process and absorb the nutrients of raw meat. This is done so quickly that bacteria that would normally be harmful to a human is processed at a speed that would not be dangerous to a cat. Not only that, but a cat's digestive tract is also more acidic, which will kill most bacteria or parasites that come from ingesting their whole prey. The only veggies or grains a healthy cat will ever ingest on their own would be the stomach contents of their prey. This is a very small amount which has already gone through at least some of the fermentation process, and thus is now easier to digest for a carnivore. Often, a full stomach of their prey will even be rejected and left behind by the cat. The only time a cat will eat roughage (like grass) on their own is if they have eaten something to cause them an upset stomach. The roughage doesn't help them digest, it encourages them to vomit the previous meal.
While a cat can handle things like salmonella, it is important for a person to maintain good hygiene when preparing their pet's meals, just as one would when preparing a meal for their family. Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meat, and never use a pet's dishes to eat human meals. The same goes even when handling "cooked" pet foods such as canned food or kibble, as they frequently have higher percentages of salmonella then raw meat does.
We do, however, understand that not everyone has the time or stomach to prepare raw meat diets so we recommend at least some commercially prepare raw cat food (which can be bought at any pet food store), and/or canned food in the diet. African Servals (along with most wild cats) get most of their fluids from their prey and some from a running source of water. Most Savannah Cats (and many cats in general) still have this ingrained in their DNA and will not drink enough from a stale source. This can lead to dehydration as well as chronic urinary tract and kidney problems. Running cat fountains are also recommended, or at the very least a ceramic or stainless steal bowl to keep water cool longer.
Every Savvy Paws' kitten will leave our home with 1.5-lbs of Bold by Nature Chicken Recipe - which is a complete, locally made, commercial ground raw cat food. We recommend continuing this diet and rotating between proteins. Our kittens will have been eating primarily poultry (chicken, turkey, and duck), but will also have been introduced to beef, rabbit, and salmon. Our adult Savannahs are transitioned onto a mix of Bold by Nature, and Raw Performance with added Taurine. This gives them more variety. Freeze-dried, or gently cooked kibble, along with canned foods are offered occasionally primarily for variety, but cats will thrive on a full raw diet as long as the recipes are tailored to a cat's biological needs.
Pieces of raw meat with bones-in are not only a great treat, but help keep a cat's teeth and gums clean and healthy! Be sure to monitor your cat, especially the first few times they receive this treat to make sure they don't get overly excited and eat too quickly! Any meat given to a cat with bones-in should NEVER be cooked as cooked bones will splinter and become a choking hazard. Raw bones "crunch" and breaks down when a cat chews so are safe.
Check out the below video to watch one of our young F3 Savannah Kittens while learning how to eat whole food! Our handsome 5.5 week old Shiro is enjoying a finely ground raw chicken diet from Bold Raw, with added fish oils rich in omega-3 fats. Shiro's new family later reported that he was already 17lbs at 8 months of age, and not nearly done growing yet - wow! Shiro's going to be one big boy!