Feeding our felines raw is often overlooked. When we talk about feeding raw to our pets, most think about feeding our canine friends. Well it’s really about feeding a species appropriate diet to all animals. Our feline companions are obligate carnivores. So what does this mean? People refer to as cats as being obligate carnivores to put more emphasis on the fact there is little difference between them and any other meat eating predator. They need to eat meat to thrive.
So why do we feed our beloved furry friends kibble, biscuits, nuts (etc depending on what you call them) and/or wet food that is full of carbohydrates, sugars and other various added extras? They need meat. Fresh meat. We are told over and over again that we will become unhealthy if we eat processed meals, we need fresh foods. So why do we not think about this for our animals? Have you ever wondered why your kitty gets kidney failure, obesity, dental disease, urinary tract problems I could go on…. the majority of our pets ailments can be pinpointed back to diet. So why doesn’t your vet tell you? The simple answer is your vet isn’t trained in nutrition, just like your G.P isn’t trained in nutrition. So they aren’t to blame.
Let’s talk about how to introduce raw. I hear you, your cat is fussy, they will only eat fishy food in jelly, chicken based food in gravy etc. Yes I feel your pain. Kittens are easier to change onto a raw diet because they are more open to trying new things. Most cats become very suspicious of any diet changes after the age of ’16 weeksish’. This means if you haven’t introduced it by then, it could possibly take longer and a lot more patience, but it will be worth it.
Getting a smooth transition. I would highly recommend first of all having a look at what you feed. If it’s a low meat content food with various carbohydrates, various sugars and salt or worse it has illegible ingredients, the most important piece of advice I can give you would be move onto a high meat content wet food like ‘natures menu wet cat pouches’ (other brands are available). Introducing this into their biscuits/wet food or along side them. Start slowly. If they are asking for more that’s fab news. So you have now exclusively moved to a grain free, high meat content wet food for a couple of weeks. If not please be patient. Please bare in mind if I offered most children and/or most adults a fast food takeaway dinner or a chicken breast salad dinner which one would they choose? Once you have done the hard work please don’t slip back and offer them a Mc Donald’s type meal.
To indroduce raw why not just try some cut up chicken breast to start along side the wet. Some will take this immediately, some won’t. Fab news if they take it, if not keep offering them some small cut up chicken breast (always remembering that they are highly suspicious). If they take to it like a duck to water keep offering various fresh meats. There are now a lot of premade foods available. There are many on the website. We are ideally looking to feed a diet with lots of various proteins, and textures. This means chunks, minces, bones and offal. You can opt for a premade complete meal, or diy… see my getting started blog for more details, tips and ideas.
My top tips for the transition period are
1. Try feeding at room temperature or above, this doesn’t mean putting it in the microwave, but simply add it into a bowl, that is sat in a bowl with warm/hot water. This would replicate say a mouse’s’ body temperature. I would also say the majority of cats wouldn’t want to eat their food straight out of the fridge and would prefer room temperature or higher.
2. Mixing a little bit of raw food into the wet food, gradually increasing over time the amount you’re adding.
3. There is always the bribe technique… I would say only use this as a last resort. So you could add their favourite things on top of the raw i.e cat nip or some flakes of tuna etc.
4. Two bowl technique, this is placing a bowl of their wet food next to a small piece of ‘premade’ raw in another bowl. Keep this up at every meal until they show signs of being interested. Slowly increase the raw and decrease the wet. This can take anything up to 3 months depending on how suspicious they are.
I do not recommend ever starving your cat, this is not going to get them to eat the raw any quicker. Good luck.
Just a couple more points that I need to tell you about for a balanced raw diet. Protein from meat and fish, amino acids like taurine and arginine (from meat and fish) taurine is very important and not enough will make them go blind. Taurine is found in muscle meats, red meats and poultry (especially legs), particularly in heart, liver and kidney. It’s also found in shrimp and clams (its higher in them than any other animal protein), fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and lastly water. I will just recap what that means, feeding a varied raw diet to your cat or kitten is simply giving them everything they need.