When it comes to feeding, and raw food for cats specifically, often our feline friends tend to be a little pickier than our dogs. Sometimes we’re lucky, and our kitties take to a change in diet with no issues. More often than not though, cats are the epitome of “nobody likes change” and turn their noses up at anything outside the norm.
If you’ve been considering moving to fresh food for your cat, perhaps this is something that’s stopping you. But with the long list of benefits, it’s worth it to take a few extra steps to make the switch!
So, where should you start?
And why switch to raw to begin with?
Why Feed Fresh?
Your cat is an obligate carnivore. What this means is that she needs to eat meat to survive. Cats thrive on high-protein, high-moisture diets.
And sure, kibble may have some meat (we won’t even try to specify how much – or how little), but it’s also full of carbohydrates. Obligate carnivores don’t actually need any vegetables and carbohydrates in their diets. In fact, they can only tolerate carbs in small amounts. Too many carbs in your cat’s diet may contribute to various health conditions, including urinary issues and diabetes!
Meat used in highly-processed pet food is cooked at really high temperatures, so by the time it gets to your cat’s dish, it’s dead food. That doesn’t sound super appetizing (or healthy), does it? What’s more, cooking degrades the nutrients in meat, causing a loss of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. These are essential elements your cat needs, so they need to be added back in (and that means they’re going to be synthetic). Fresh, raw food is living food – with all of those naturally occurring nutrients.
Some of the other benefits of raw food for cats include:
- A raw meat diet naturally contains more moisture than dry or canned food
- If your cat has any sensitivities, a limited ingredient raw food diet can help clear up any food-related allergies
- Most owners note that fur becomes incredibly soft, shedding is reduced, and there are fewer hairballs!
- A change in the amount of waste your cat produces (yes, we mean poop) – and you’ll probably notice it stinks less! This is because much of the crude protein and crude fiber in most commercial dry and canned cat foods is not digestible and contributes to a higher volume of stool.
So, it’s time to make the move to raw. Here are some of the best ways to do that.
Raw Food for Cats: Tips for Making the Switch
Some people just dive right into raw feeding, moving from 100% kibble or canned one day, to 100% raw the next. For some cats, this approach works just fine. For others though, that’s a scary change and taking it slow can make it easier for you cat to accept.
Tip #1: Small and Slow – Kibble to Raw
This is easy for those cats who eat kibble only.
Each day when you put down your cat’s food, add a tiny bit of fresh food to her dish. She may not eat it right away, but keep trying. Eventually she’ll give it a shot. When she eats it, add a few more small bits the next day, removing the equivalent in kibble. Over time, the amount of fresh food will grow and the amount of kibble will decrease, and eventually you’ll be left with all fresh!
Tip #2: Gradual Kibble-Canned-Raw
This is another one for kibble-fed cats. With this approach, again you’re taking your time, and not only moving slowly but also changing up times.
If you currently free-feed your cat, meaning kibble is left out at all times, start leaving the kibble out for a specific period of time time and then removing it again. Start with an hour, let your cat eat what she will, then take the kibble away. Do this several times a day to get your cat used to to change.
After a few days of limited times, once your cat seems to have taken to the timed feedings, start adding in some canned food to the mix. Gradually move from all kibble to all canned.
After your cat is good with 100% wet food, you can start adding raw meat to the wet food. Again, start with small amounts of raw to give your cat time to get used to the transition. Eventually, increase the amount of raw and decrease the amount of wet until you’ve made ht move to 100% raw.
Tip #3: Flavors are Your Friend
Another approach, whether your cat eats kibble or canned, is adding new flavors throughout the day, either to kibble or wet found.Even offering these bites as treats can help get your cat used to new flavours.
Ideas to try:
- Sardines, or the juice from them (water-baked)
- Dehydrated treats
- Small bites of meat (cooked is easy to start)
The Veterinarious team is made up of pet owners, pet lovers, and pet experts from around the globe! We’ve banded together to create a community of like-minded pet people to give you the latest research and health advice for your beloved beast!