Are you thinking about switching your cat to a raw food diet?
A raw food diet for cats typically consists of uncooked animal products such as ground up bones, flesh, organs and muscle meat.
While it may not sound very appetizing to you, a raw food diet is highly beneficial for cats.
A Raw Food Diet Is a Natural Fit For a Cat
A healthy cat can easily digest raw foods because their digestive tract is short and more acidic.
For this reason, cats very seldom have any health problems directly associated with this diet.
However, if your cat has an immune disease or some other medical problem, discuss giving him a raw food diet with your veterinarian before switching from his current diet.
Once you make the final decision to switch to a raw food diet, there are two important steps you’ll need to take before beginning.
3 Basic Methods of Feeding Your Cat a Raw Food Diet
There are basically 3 ways to feed your cat a raw meat diet.
You’ll have to decide which method you prefer.
Then you’ll have to prepare him for the transition.
First, let’s talk about the three main ways to prepare and feed a raw meat food diet to your cat.
Method One: The Easy, Simple Way
The easiest and simplest way to feed your cat a raw food diet is to buy the meals already prepared and frozen (or freeze dried) for your convenience.
The ingredients used in these meals are correctly proportioned so your cat gets a balanced diet and the nutrition he requires to achieve good health.
By choosing this method, there is no need to concern yourself about whether or not he is getting a nutritious diet and what he needs.
There is a wide variety of these already to go meals to choose. The main proteins in these meals includes meat such as pure turkey, lamb, beef, chicken, rabbit, fish, bison and other exotic meats.
It’s not only fast, simple and easy to feed your cat frozen raw meat meals but it’s also cost effective.
Since all the grinding and mixing is already done, there’s no need to do anything, but thaw, measure up an appropriate portion and serve.
It really is that easy!
Check out your local pet store for available selection of frozen raw foods or freeze dried foods. Availability seems to vary from store to store.
My Assessment of PreMade Raw Food Meals
This is my preferred method of feeding my cats.
- Cost effective. These premade meals are not crazy expensive.
- I can buy at my local pet store.
- I am lazy, so I love the convenience. Thaw and serve.
- My brand of choice is BIG COUNTRY RAW (BCR). It’s readily available where I live and I have come to trust their quality. (BTW, I am not in ANY way affiliated with BCR.)
- I recommend adding appropriate supplements to these premade meals for your cat. Ask your vet what supplements would benefit your cat. **
Method Two: Use Pre-Made Powder
If you prefer to stay away from pre-made frozen meals but don’t have a lot of time to spend preparing the food from scratch, you may wish to consider using a pre-made powder mix.
This type of meal contains the same nutrients that you would find in a liver, meat and bone homemade mixture.
- Measured amount of the nutritious powder
- Egg yolks
- Fresh meat
After mixing the powder, meat and egg yolks together, the mixture will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.
If you want to mix up a big batch, you can divide most of it up into meal portions and freeze in measured portions for later.
This method is a little work than buying completely prepared frozen meals. But it is still easier than the third option.
My Assessment of Powder + Meat Mix Meals
- Can be slightly more expensive than ready to serve raw food meals, but it depends on the brands you purchase
- I feed TC Feline to my cats as a backup plan for meals (when I forget to thaw food for them!).
- This method is a good way to switch it up for your cats and make mealtime fun for them.
- It’s a super easy method of feeding raw. Just mix pre-made powder, water, fresh egg yolks and choice of meat and stir. Easy peasy.
- Highly nutritious. TC Feline sources their ingredients from very high quality sources.
- I recommend adding appropriate supplements to these raw meals for your cat. Ask your vet what supplements would benefit your cat. **
- TC Feline is available in Canada and the US. (under a different name). And no, I am not affiliated in any way with TC Feline. I just love their wonderful product.
Method Three: Purchase, Grind and Add Your Own Ingredients (Made From Scratch)
This method involves buying all the ingredients, including raw meat and supplements, measuring and mixing them together.
This method requires the most work, so It is necessary to have the time and patience to prepare the meals properly.
Start by purchasing the supplements or ingredients as outlined in a chosen reliable raw diet recipe. This includes fresh meats, bones, organ meats, etc.
Using pre-ground meat is not advisable due to bacteria issues.
To simplify, the meat is ground, along with the correct amount of bone and then supplements added which are listed in the recipe.
Once you have a nice big batch of food make, it’s best to portion it out on a flat tray and freeze the portions. Once frozen like hockey pucks, you can them drop them in a zip lock bag and freeze them.
Then, it’s a matter of thaw and serve, just like the ready made meals.
My Assessment of Making Your Raw Cat Food
- Can be very nutritious and beneficial for your cat, but it’s super important to have a proper recipe that your vet confirms is properly balanced. Not all recipes you find for making raw cat food online are good for your cat. **
- Can be cost effective, depending on the quality of meat and supplements you purchase for use.
- Can be challenging to source a quality meat source and obtain the right supplements.
- This method makes me a bit nervous as I always worried about making a mistake in measuring ingredients. (Could be harmful to cats).
- Lots of work to grind the meat and bone. (Gross too).
- Can be convenient to make in large batches and freeze in portions.
What You Should Know About Preparing a Raw Food Diet For Your Cat From Scratch (Pardon the Pun)
Preparing your cat’s diet from scratch is NOT to be taken lightly.
Don’t just wing it and throw together raw meat, ground bone and a few supplements.
Ask your holistic vet for a recipe that is sound and will be a good choice for your cat. There is a delicate balance of muscle meat, ground bone and organ meats that goes into the pre-prepared foods.
If you don’t follow a proper recipe you will make your cat ill as he won’t get the proper nutrients he needs to be healthy.
Not all raw food diet recipes for cats are suitable
If you find a recipe for making raw cat food, run it by your vet (preferably holistic vet), for approval. There are recipes on the internet which are NOT properly balanced. There could be an overabundance of some nutrients or an understated amount of nutrients of other nutrients, which will definitely cause health problems over time.
Can be difficult to find a good, clean source of meat.
I personally found it hard to find a good source of meat that I could rely on consistently, to make my own cat food.
Grinding meat and bone can be, well, kinda gross.
It may not bother you much at all, but grinding meat and bone through a meat grinder at home, is not the most pleasant task. It looks and also sounds gross. So this may be something you should consider if you find yourself a bit squeamish.
Tricky to Manage
If your cat doesn’t eat all of his raw meal within 10-15 minutes or so, the food should not remain at room temp and should be refrigerated and covered. If you are off to work away from home, this can present obvious problems.
If the raw food needs to thaw, time and planning are necessary so your kitty isn’t left licking frozen meat hockey pucks. Thawing food in your fridge, will also take up valuable space.
Risk of Bacteria
Raw meat is highly susceptible to bad bacteria if left at room temperature. It can make your cat very ill if not handled correctly.
However, do NOT be fooled into thinking that dry kibble is safe from bad bacteria or fungus! Kibble can be problematic this way too.
Takes Up Freezer Space
Whether you purchase ready made raw food or make your own, storing it can take up precious space in your freezer and fridge.
Which Method of Preparing Raw Food For My Cat Is Best?
When determining which method to choose, you should consider your lifestyle.
How much time do you have to put into preparing your cat’s food? If you have lots of free time, then you may not have a problem with doing a little prep work to get everything ready.
However, if time is limited, then you may want to choose the simplest method available.
Once you determine which method to use, it’s time to begin preparing your cat for the transition.
Here are a few tips on how to get started the transition.
How to Transition your Cat to a Raw Meat Diet
Switching your cat to a raw meat diet all at once isn’t healthy.
His body needs time to adjust to the change so it’s best to transition him slowly.
Your cat is also very smart so he may resist the change, especially if he’s a kibble fed cat, addicted to carbs (which many cats are.)
It’s not difficult to transition, but it does take time to get him ready so the transition will go as smooth as possible.
Here are a few great tips on how to transition your cat to a raw meat diet:
- Put your cat on a regular schedule – Cats on a raw meat diet need to be fed on a regular schedule, so it’s important to get them used to eating at specific times before you make the switch. Feed him once in the morning and then again late in the day (approx.. 4-6 pm)
If he doesn’t eat all of the food, remove it from his reach until his next feeding. Otherwise, it will be difficult to maintain a schedule.
- Feed him grain-free kibble food – If you’re not already feeding your cat a grain-free kibble food, make the switch now.
This will help his stomach and digestive system prepare for the high amounts of protein he’ll get on the raw meat diet.
- Then transition to wet canned food.
After being on the kibble for a couple of weeks begin adding some canned wet food in small amounts to his meals. (and reducing the kibble volume)
Then, throughout the course of another couple of weeks, start increasing the amount of canned food in the meal, and proportionately, reducing the kibble amount.
The goal is to eventually completely replace the kibble with the can food.
- Slowly begin adding the raw foods – Now, begin adding a small amount of the raw meat food to his canned food a little at a time while slowly cutting back on the can food. Continue this process for a couple of weeks until you have completely eliminated the canned food from your cat’s diet. Keep in mind this is a transition period so don’t get in a hurry.
I’ll admit that the change (the big switch) can be a hurdle, especially with cats who are on an exclusive dry kibble diet, on the 24/7 buffet plan.
But once you’ve found a way to make it work into your schedule and lifestyle, you’ll find it easy peasy.
Extra Feeding Tips When Transitioning to Raw Food
- If your cat is rejecting the raw food, try different brands until you find something he likes. If you’re still having problems, try feeding him when he is the hungriest, like first thing in the morning.
- The magic elixir. If your cat is picky and fussy, do try adding nutritional yeast to the food to help encourage him to eat. Just sprinkle a little over the food. Most cats like the smell and taste so they’ll eat it. My feline team absolutely adore it and will ask for it on their meals!
- Never leave uneaten raw meat food in your cat’s bowl. If he does not eat all of his food in a reasonable amount of time, put it back into a container and refrigerate to keep it fresh. Raw meat will begin growing bacteria very quickly if not kept cool.
- When grinding your own meat, always buy fresh, not ground meat. Fresh meat has a lower surface area so it’s less prone to bacterial contamination. You may also want to invest in a good set of kitchen knives and shears to make preparing the meals easier.
- Always practice safe handling techniques when preparing raw meat meals for your cat. Improperly handling raw meat can cause food borne illnesses in humans, so be careful and clean up immediately. You don’t want to take any chances of making yourself or your family sick while trying to improve your cat’s diet.
What If I Can’t Feed Raw All the Time?
For one reason or another, although you’d like to feed your cats a raw meat diet, you simply can’t
Perhaps you could feed your gang one meal/day or a raw meal a few times/week when you’re able.
The extra water in their diet and the nutrition from the raw food will pay off.
You may find this is a nice way to transition over to raw feeding, by helping you as the Cat Parent get accustomed to the process as well as your kitty!
My Personal Choice of Preparing Raw Food Meals For My Cats (+ Why)
Personally, I am a fan of METHOD ONE AND METHOD TWO.
Both are very easy, cost effective and excellent choices for the cat owner who wants to give their cat the very best care they possibly can.
Don’t feel that pre-prepared foods or the powder + meat methods are less than adequate for your cats.
In the past, I prepared my cat’s meals from scratch.
But over the past number of years, I have feed prepared raw food meals and mixed powder meals to my cat gang with outstanding health results.
I have my veterinarian do blood tests twice/year to ensure my guys are receiving the right nutrients.
The proof is in the pudding (or should I say in the blood test results). Their bloodwork is stellar.
I have peace of mind knowing my boys are healthy on their current diet.
And honestly? I couldn’t ask for more than that.