Hug Explains… raw feeding cats
Switching to raw feeding cats makes complete sense. As obligate carnivores, felines are designed to thrive on raw, meat-based diets. Having evolved in deserts, their urinary systems are water-conserving powerhouses, better suited to fresh, whole foods than dry alternatives.
In other words, raw feeding cats is feeding them as nature intended – it’s better for their long-term physical and mental health.
The catch? You need to persuade your resident feline to make the change. Lovable but often aloof, foodies but often fussy, cats can be reluctant to adopt new diets. Think of it as a bit like trying to convince a teenager to pick a lovely salad over a takeaway.
Here’s your guide to making the move.
Raw feeding kittens
In our experience, you’ll have more success raw feeding cats if you serve raw meals from day one.
When transitioning an adult cat to raw, the hurdle comes in the form of suspicion ‘why is my pet parent suddenly feeding me different food?’ To us, this makes little sense: why be concerned about being offered a better quality diet? But felines are what we call neophobic, which means they’re fearful of anything new!
As solitary hunters, cats don’t hunt as part of a pack. To survive, they need to be self-preserving, remaining fit and strong with well-honed hunting skills – after all, they depend on themselves and no-one else to bring home the next meal. Being cautious about new foods ensures they don’t make themselves unwell – and therefore vulnerable – by eating rotten meat or poisons.
Kittens aren’t used to a set diet in the early stages, so they’re far likelier to accept a raw diet. If you have a young kitty, now is the perfect time to kick off raw feeding.
Setting the scene
To ease the transition to raw feeding cats, you need to set the scene a bit.
Unsurprisingly, cats also like to eat alone, in a quiet, safe place. With this in mind, strategically place their bowl – perhaps on a high surface or in the most peaceful room in the house.
Felines can be really picky about the bowl, too. Go for a saucer-shaped one to avoid contact with the whiskers, opting for ceramic or melamine for best results. Raw feeding cats little and often is ideal, as felines prefer to eat around 2-15 times a day.
The question of texture
The impact of texture on the feline appetite has been well-researched, so it’s another big factor to consider when raw feeding cats.
Mogs can be turned off by kibble’s shape alone, and texture preferences vary from cat to cat. Some prefer cooked meals, some are happy with minces, while others prefer chunks or ripping the meat from a chicken wing. The latter instinct can be beneficial for swaying these natural hunters towards raw dining.
Many cats will eat kibble, then happily go out and eat a freshly caught mouse or bird. We need to transfer that psychology to the bowl. Feeding raw cat food at body temperature (37°C) may help tempt your cat – but do serve it as freshly as possible, as any oxidation will put them off.
Raw feeding cats – it’s a waiting game
When making the change to raw feeding cats, it’s always worth simply offering a raw meal to see how your cat responds, as an avid hunter or kitten may just get stuck in.
If your cat is on a dry diet, a good first step is to introduce a wet diet as a precursor to raw. There is a considerable change in texture between dry and tinned food, so take it slow. Mix a teaspoon per meal of wet food to their current dry diet, and add an extra teaspoon every 3-5 days if all is going well.
However, more often than not, it’s a waiting game. You need to be invested for the long term, and it’s not unusual for the transition to take many months.
In the early stages of the move, you can expect your feline to sniff the new food. They are then likely to hesitate, take their time, and will not rush to tuck in. Cats also change their minds, maybe touching with their tongue or taking in one or two bites.
Next, apply the same strategy to the raw cat food, gradually adding it to the wet diet. Add a teaspoon into the regular ration, adding one extra teaspoon every 3-5 days if your cat is eating it without issues. If your friend doesn’t accept the new addition, just place the teaspoon of raw food to the side of their normal ratio – just being next to the new food is enough, to begin with.
Cooking before you run
Stuck at square one – or worried your cat wouldn’t even sniff at raw? Don’t fret: we have the perfect solution. Get cookin’.
A great way to ease into raw feeding is to serve meat cooked, mixing it in with your feline’s current meals. After they’ve grown used to cooked meat, gradually decrease the cooking time before each meal, eventually serving it raw, or, if your cat prefers cooked food, just keep on cooking!
It is important to note that you should not cook any raw diet that contains bone. Our completely cookable range gives you the best of both worlds, as it remains a complete diet, whether fed raw or cooked.
You may find it hard getting past a certain level or need to take a step back if there isn’t any success. Remember to keep raw cat food ultra-fresh, only defrosting very small amounts in your fridge and throwing away any that remains after 2 days.
Please note: do not let your cat starve herself during the transition. Those who refuse raw food will not give in, even if they are hungry. This can cause feline hepatic lipidosis (liver failure). Transitioning at a rate your cat is comfortable with is vital, whether it takes weeks or, in some cases, months!
Raw feeding cats – worth it
Yes, the move to raw takes time, effort, and, sometimes, a bit of cunning, but boy, is it worth it.
The benefits of raw feeding cats (and dogs) fresh whole foods have been demonstrated time and again. If you’re able to persuade them to eat like their pre-domesticated selves, you’ll be doing them a huge favour in the long-run.
We’re always here to support pet parents, so don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team of experts if you need any guidance.