I am a real fan of feeding cats rich, red meats, because if we wish to mimic what cats would eat “in the wild”, we should look how their prey lives and what its flesh looks like, rather than at their shape.
For the past 20 years I have fed my own cats predominantly on wild venison and pasture raised, grass-fed beef. Occasionally we have mutton for the cats.
Many caregiver like the idea of feeding chicken and rabbit, because cats would hunt birds and rodents. (By the way, rabbits are not rodents!). The error I see with this thinking is that meat chickens and meat rabbits are raised to an age of 5-8 weeks old, confined indoors without freedom to move, and in the absence of natural light and fresh air. They are maintained on commercially prepared pelleted feed based on cereal and soy which are grown as GMO monoculture crops for which forests were clear cut. The resulting meat is white, immature and not exercised, and is nutritionally not complete, not to mention the residual antibiotics it contains which were used to keep the animals alive until slaughter.
Any wild prey caught by free-living cats would would be free, well exercised, forage and grass-fed, and have lived a life on fresh air and natural light. All this has a marked effect on meat quality, nutritional composition of the meat, and its appearance. The meat of wild mice and birds, for example, is dark red.
The closest we can get in mimicking the meat quality of a cat’s natural prey is to select meats from wild animals, or domestic animals that were raised in an outdoor pasture environment. Meats like wild venison, elk, moose fit that description as do range raised bison and grass-fed beef, mutton, or goat.
It really doesn’t matter that a small wild cat would never catch a moose or cow itself. What matters is the nutritional nature, quality and composition of the meat, how it was raised, if it was raised ethically, and if it can be raised in a sustainable matter.
A single steer that lived for up to two years on the range eating grass and fertilizing the soil as part of a cattle herd will weigh up to 1,500 pounds (680 kg). When butchered, this steer will yield 375 pounds (170 kg) pure meat without bones which will prepare 1,888 daily portions of cat food or feed one cat for 5 years.
A fryer chicken or fryer rabbit with bone weigh between 3 and 4 pound (1.4-1.8 kg) each. Ground up with bone, a single frying chicken or fryer rabbit will feed one cat for 13-18 days. Without bone it will feed a single cat for 7-10 days. Over a year, a cat would need to consume 20-28 chickens or rabbits with bone or the meat from 36-52 chickens or rabbits. Over a 5 year period this could mean as many as 260 chickens or rabbits were killed to feed one cat. To many this may matter little until more light is shed on the cruel circumstances in which commercially raised chickens and rabbits are kept and how they are slaughtered. Commercially reared rabbits in particular suffer tremendously. Nothing about this process is in any way natural or better for your cat than eating the nutritious meat of a wild or pasture raised ungulates.