I started feeding a raw diet to some of my cats when the medical management of each's particular problem seemed to not be working anymore.
Coober Pedy was being treated for Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome with twice daily Metronidazole and Prednisone. He was also on a particular diet of Eukanuba LB, which mostly worked well for him. He would still have periodic episodes of diarrhea, sometimes because of a known reason, sometimes unknown. He started losing weight even though he was on pred, which is unusual. So I decided I needed to do something.
Piper was being managed for 5 yrs worth of end stage kidney disease with Clavamox. She couldn't stomach any of the veterinary diets for kidneys. She was vomiting daily, losing weight, and seeming miserable. I took her off the Clavamox, which helped for a while with the vomiting. Then her kidney values rose above normal and she started vomiting again.
So I read some about raw diets and decided to try it for these at risk cats since they were having trouble anyway. They both love the food, which we introduced slowly. Since that change, I have weaned Coober off all meds and have been taking him to shows. Piper's bloodwork has returned to normal, even though her kidneys are the size of small grapes. She has stopped vomiting, except for hairballs, is gaining weight, and is HAPPY.
Cats are essentially desert animals. A desert animal will get most of it's moisture from it's prey. The cat mouth is built to tear meat, there are no real molars for grinding grain, which is more than useless to a cat. Those grains can lead to obesity and diabetes. A cat's gut is comparatively short, and is evolved to deal with prey only. That same short gut accounts for the way cats can deal with bacterial issues more easily than people or dogs. If the food is bad, it either comes up or goes out rapidly, without huge problem for the cat. The way a cat's mouth is built also does not allow for easy intake of large amounts of water, and evolution did not "hard-wire" the brain to even try to drink much water. So, many cats on a dry diet go through much of life being marginally dehydrated, which wears on the kidneys. I see this in the hospital as urine with high specific gravity. Kidneys won't show problems until they are 85 to 95% functionless. This is why so many cats from 10 to 14 show up with renal issues. I feed raw to promote long-term kidney health. If raw isn't feasible for some reason, the next best option is a quality, no grain, canned food.
UPDATE- Both Coober and Piper have passed on, both to cancer - very sad. Nothing to do with kidneys or bowel, and no connection to being fed a raw diet. Coober was 13 yrs when a primary pulmonary mass was found because of abscesses on his toes. Piper went blind at about 13 yrs, and developed cancer in one eye. Because of her kidneys, she was a poor surgery risk - I have seen too often that cats with poor renal perfusion die a few months after anesthesia, no matter what I do to keep their blood pressure up during surgery. She lived another 3 yrs before the cancer spread to her mouth. When she couldn't eat because of the pain, I knew that was the end. She was not made to wait until she turned into skin and bones.
I am starting the new kittens on it and having much less problem with diarrhea from unknown causes. They are all doing so well!! [knock on wood] I will sometimes start adding a bit of canned, no grain, quality processed food (Wellness)to get them used to the idea. They most often leave it, because they like the raw so well.
The recipe I use is from Feline Future. It is for using the whole, dressed chicken carcass. You can purchase the premade dry mix to add your own meat to here TC Feline
I have gotten my own grinder and make large batches, portion it in containers for the amount needed for meals, and keep it in the freezer. Remembering to get food out for the next meal can sometimes be the challenge! If I forget, I use what we call the quick-thaw, we float the frozen container in tepid water. Never microwave to thaw because if bone gets cooked it can be dangerous.
For a more in-depth article see FEEDING YOUR CAT: KNOW THE BASICS OF FELINE NUTRITION Lisa A. Pierson, DVM