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Transitioning a Cat to Raw Food Diet:
QUESTION: Hi Kirsty, Just wondering if you are able to give me a few pointers? I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on changing my cat over to a raw food diet.
In my readings, I seem to be running into a lot of conflicting advice and am not really sure how to start. Is it best to mix the food and change to raw food slowly, or bite the bullet and jump right in? Any suggestions of yours are welcome. Allannah and Venus
Hi Allannah and Venus!
Congrats on this momentous decision! Your kitty will thank you for it and especially in her later years – which is when the years of poor diet really start to show.
As always, please remember that I am not a professional anything and any suggestions I offer are to taken with that in mind. I prefer not to refer to “giving advice” but rather just to share my thoughts. And also share how I actually do things here myself for my own Ragdoll Cats. So onwards …
Yes, you may read on websites that it is best to go about transitioning a cat to raw food slowly. Well, that just depends on who you are following. If you prefer to go that way – then by all means do so.
Personally, I don’t think it is a good idea to mix raw cat food together with either dry or canned food in a single meal. The digestion times and internal processes are vastly different and can cause tummy upsets.
My Method of Transitioning a Cat to Raw Food
I just go cold turkey (chicken actually) with new cats. Almost all the cats I have bought in for my breeding program have been raised on a dried food diet.
In fact, one of my stud boys appeared to never even seen real meat at five years of age, if you can believe that. (Now that is a really funny story I will share some other time!)
I have found that some cats are so addicted to whatever “attractant” they put into dry cat food, that trying to transition to raw food slowly gets frustrating and just drags things out.
One thing you need to remember, and this is especially important if your cat is overweight: And this is that you should never let a cat go totally without food or try to starve her into eating raw food. Never, Ever, Ever … OK? There is a liver condition called Hepatic Lipidosis that may be a result. More on this in another post, at another time
However, I personally am OK with a day or two of very short rations to encourage a healthy appetite. I am quite firm about it and have never had any problems.
If your cat will not even look at raw food, then there is very little likelihood she will even try it – if she already has a full and satisfied tummy.
Starting A Cat On Raw Food:
The first step is to just see if your cat will eat some meat. Go to your shop and get a bunch of little pieces of different meats and offer them to her individually at meal time. She may take to raw food like a duck to water. She might show a definite preference for chicken meat over rabbit/sheep/beef.
Or alternatively … she may have no idea that it is even food and she is supposed to eat it!
I have had that happen, the poor cat looked at the food on his plate like it was a piece of cardboard “Huh? … But where is my dinner?”
My action in this instance is to finely mince some meat until it is quite slushy, and even add a little water. Scoop some up onto my finger, open the cats mouth and quickly wipe it all around inside. Then gently hold the cat’s mouth closed.
The cat’s first reaction is usually to try and get spit out. But as they try to spit it out, the flavor hits them. You can see a little light come into their eyes at the second they realize it tastes pretty dang awesome!
From that point you should be OK with transitioning a cat to raw food. Or, you may even have to do this a number of times before your cat gets it. However, don’t ever make this an upsetting process, though, for either the cat or for yourself. Just do it quickly and gently, and if you don’t get it right the first time just let it go and try next meal time – no big deal.
If you are successful, then you can let kitty eat the rest of the mushy stuff.
With my boy that wouldn’t look at raw meat at all – it took about a week of me doing this. He had a real aversion to anything that was not dry. But just when I was starting to wonder about giving up, all of a sudden something clicked and he almost went wild.
Not joking, it was as if the wild cat in him suddenly woke up from a dream, and he just could not get enough. It was actually quite dramatic – almost like a switch was flicked on, and he started “wolfing” the meat like he was ravenous. He never looked back and went on to eat anything at all in the way of raw food that I offered him.
If you have to wipe some of your slushy minced meat onto some kibble to get your cat used to the taste, then just do that too. If you have to mix it 50 / 50 with canned cat food, then do that too. Whatever it takes – just don’t make it hard on either yourself or your kitty!
Good luck with Venus, and please keep us posted as to how you get on.
Check out my page where you can see photos of my own Ragdolls, and some of the things they eat in their raw food diet.
An Easy Raw Food Stand-By
There is now a fantastic range of RAW cat food on the market – both frozen and freeze dried. How is that for convenience!
These products also makes the handling part of feeding a raw diet to your cat easy to start off with – especially the organ part! Take a look at some of the product line here – I think they are pretty awesome and am tickled to see this type of raw food product available, as healthy choices for our cats.
Frozen Raw Pet FoodComplete Ground TurkeyRaw Chicken HeartsFreeze Dried Green Beef Tripe ChunksFreeze Dried Complete Beef Pet FoodFreeze Dried Complete Chicken Pet FoodFreeze Dried Chicken TreatsFreeze Dried Beef Liver Treats