How to Transition Cats to Raw and Why They’ll Thrive!
A cat’s natural instincts are to hunt for food. Yes, even your lovable friendly housecat. If you have ever seen a cat consuming a mouse it has caught, you’ll understand how perfectly natural it is for these carnivorous animals to eat whole raw foods. Providing cats with a raw food diet not only taps into their feline instincts but keeps them healthy, strong and allows them to thrive!
What is an obligate carnivore?
All felines, including domestic cats, are obligate carnivores. All of these animals became obligate carnivores as a result of their ancestral diets. In your own research, you will have probably come across this term and you will often find it used to describe a cats diet. So what does it mean?
Obligate means “by necessity.” The dictionary definition is:
- Restricted to one particularly characteristic mode of life.
- Biologically essential for survival.
Combining ‘obligate’ with ‘carnivore’ and referring to cats as obligate carnivores essentially means that the nutrition they require to thrive must come from the meat, organs and bones of the bodies of other animals. For the cat’s particular anatomical and physiological design, the most ideal and natural way for them to consume that flesh and bone is in its raw state.
Your Cat’s Nutritional Needs: The Basics
Cats more so than dogs need less processed food. Some of the main reasons for this are because of the enzymes that they require to digest and also because cats do not produce Taurine. The more a product is manufactured the less taurine that is available to the cat for digestion. The less processed for cats the better!
Nutritional analyses have been done on several types of raw prey items and they do contain all the essential nutrients required by your cat companion. Here is an outline of some of the basic nutritional needs of your cat:
- Protein – Protein supplies essential amino acids and is needed for the manufacture of antibodies, enzymes, hormones, and tissues and for proper pH balance. It provides energy for cats and is essential for growth and development.
- Fat – This concentrated source of energy also provides essential fatty acids and aids in nutrient utilisation and transportation. It’s involved in cell integrity and metabolic regulation as well.
- Vitamins and Minerals – These are essential to the cat and are involved in almost all physiological reactions. Minerals contribute to enzyme formation, pH balance, nutrient utilisation, and oxygen transportation and are stored in bone and muscle tissue. While vitamins are essential for metabolism regulation and normal growth and function.
- Water – Cats are designed to fulfil most of their water requirements by eating fresh raw food, this means that they naturally have a low thirst drive. This can lead to health issues when they eat dry food products and treats because their natural “programming” may not encourage them to drink more, and their urine can become too concentrated.
How Do Cats Benefit from a Raw Diet?
Cats fed a prey model diet of whole raw foods are compelled to use their jaws and teeth for the purpose they were designed. This slicing and tearing action of ripping apart whole, raw meats and raw meaty bones provides a scrubbing and flossing action that helps to keep gums healthy, teeth clean and white, and jaws strong. A healthy mouth is vital to the overall health of any animal. Additional benefits of a raw diet include:
- Shinier, healthier skin and coat
- Firmer, smaller and less smelly stools
- Reduction in flatulence (gas)
- Better digestion
- Improved weight control
- Less shedding
- Reduced or eliminated need for veterinary dental work
- Decrease in abnormal hyperactivity
- Reduction of skin allergies, fleas and food allergies
- More energy and stamina
- Reduced visits to the Veterinarian, due to an overall healthier pet
- Less wax build-up in ears
Tips For Transitioning Fussier Cats
The best way to transition your cat will depend mostly upon them. Some cats will eat raw food right away, while others can be quite unwilling to eat anything other than what they are used to. Whether this is fast or slow depends on your cat’s particular situation. Refer to our blog A Simple Guide To Getting your Pet Started on Raw! for an overview on 3 different methods you can use to transition your cat to raw feeding.
For fussier cats here are some tips for transitioning. Of course, what you are transitioning them from (canned or kibble) may need you to reevaluate your strategy. Here are some tips for transiting from canned food to a raw diet.
- Mix a little of the raw into the canned – Start small, around a quarter teaspoon per meal. If this gets eaten, continue with this amount for 3 or 4 days and then increase it to a half teaspoon. Slowly increase the proportion of the raw cat food. Plan on getting them to eating 100% raw food over the course of 6 to 8 weeks.
- Put a little spoonful of the raw food next to the canned food on their plate or dish – They might not eat it at first. But if it is there every time they eat, they will eventually begin to associate the smell with mealtime. One day, they will probably surprise you and casually gobble it down.
- Be sure to try different meats – Cats who hate chicken might love other proteins.
- Try a plate – Cats often prefer to eat their meals from plates rather than bowls. Because plastic can be scratched and therefore harbour bacteria, it is better to use glass, stainless steel or ceramic plates. Another alternative is to use paper plates and discard them after each meal.
If it looks like your cats will require a longer transition, keep notes on the process. This can help you keep track of what they like and how things are progressing. You can also refer to our ‘extra reading’ section where you will find more resources to guide your cats transition to raw feeding.
Got something else that worked for your cat? Leave us a comment below to be shared with the Instincto community and help others transitioning to raw.
How Much Should I Feed My Cat?
The amount of food your cat needs will depend on its weight, size and age, so don’t always go by what your neighbour is feeding their cat! Obesity is quite common in cats and can contribute to a shorter life span, so always make sure you’re feeding your pet the correct amount of food.
You can use our Raw Food Calculator to get a recommended guide for your pets daily raw food intake. We will ask you a series of questions relating to your pets weight, environment, age, health and activity level to calculate and recommend the required combination of protein, bone and organ on a daily basis. Using the raw food calculator and providing us with information about your pet will ensure the most accurate daily calculation for your pet.
This is an example of what our recommendation will look like:
80/10/10 diet, not all chicken. This means in basic terms 317 grams a day, is distributed below:
- Meat: 254g
- Raw Meaty Bone: 32g
- Organ Meat: 32g
- Total: 317g
What Do I Need To Include In My Cats Diet?
In the wild, cats eat whole, raw prey. Their diet includes mice, rats, any other small rodents available, rabbits, insects, amphibians and birds. They usually eat the whole animal, meat, bones, brains, organs and fur. Their systems are uniquely set up to metabolise this diet which is high in moisture, high in protein and very low in carbohydrates.
Meat – Many different kinds of meat can be used in raw cat food. In fact, you should vary the kinds of meat you feed, not only for variety but also to be sure your cat gets a balanced diet.
Bone – Raw bone is highly digestible and provides calcium, minerals and enzymes. The marrow is nutrient rich. It is only cooked bone that is dangerous. Cooking makes bone sharp, brittle and almost impossible to digest. In addition to including the bone in ground food, small cuts of meat with bones such as chicken wings can be given to cats. Once they catch on to the idea, they will eat the whole thing, bone and all. It’s great for their teeth and jaws, besides being nutritious.
Organ Meat – Organ meats, such as liver and kidney, contain key ingredients your cat needs: B vitamins, vitamin A, amino acids and essential fatty acids. Heart is a particularly good source of taurine, a vital amino acid.
Why Instincto For Felines?
We know that many diseases start from the mouth and that a clean healthy meat and bone diet assists in keeping our favourite companions around for longer healthier lives, with fewer vet visits.
At Instincto, our fresh raw pet food range is processed 3 times a week and delivered around Brisbane with no:
We supply and deliver fresh preservative-free, raw pet food to people who care to feed a more holistic, raw diet to their companion animal. Our beliefs are based on what our companion animals would eat in nature.
Start Thriving On Raw!
Instincto is committed to helping you every step of the way to feeding your pet a raw food diet. Therefore, we are happy to discuss any questions with you and provide you with further information when required. We also have various helpful blog articles that are updated regularly to help you with all areas of your journey.
If you are ready to get started you can browse our huge range of fresh preservative-free raw pet food products via our online shop. When you are ready you can set up an Instincto account to purchase your products and choose a suitable time for delivery or pick up.