Switching your cat to a raw cat food diet may seem like a daunting task, but it’s simpler than you might think. From a cat that’s prone to allergies, to improving your kitty’s overall health, a raw pet food diet may be just what your cat needs.
Read on to find out why a raw diet might be the choice for your cat, and how you can introduce it into your cat’s routine.
Health Benefits of The Raw Food Diet For Your Cat
The main reason why pet owners consider switching to raw food is because of the diet’s pure, streamlined ingredient list.
Many regular dry or canned cat food have a long list of ingredients, both necessary and unnecessary for a healthy cat diet. While there are plenty of high-quality cat food brands and products on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to find the right one and check every ingredient list.
Having a raw diet for your cat can be especially helpful if your cat is prone to food allergies. A food allergy is one of the most common allergies for cats.
Some of the most common food allergies for cats include:
Cats can also react to filler ingredients in their regular diet, like grains or a particular vegetable. So having a raw diet helps to avoid potential allergens, known or unknown, that they may otherwise get in a regular cat diet. If you do know your cat’s food allergy, it can improve your cat’s well-being immensely to avoid the ingredient. A raw cat food diet can be one of the simplest ways to cut out potential allergens.
Many people also advocate its benefits for non-allergic cats as well. It’s the closest way to give them their natural diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, and in fact use protein for energy, not carbohydrates like most animals (including humans). A raw diet means they’ll get all the protein they’d normally get in the wild, without the extra fillers that can make them lose energy and gain unhealthy weight. Plus, many believe that it can help with other chronic issues, like recurring bladder issues, diabetes, digestive issues and more.
It can also help to improve your cat’s overall quality of life. There are signs that it can give your cat a healthier, shinier coat and cleaner teeth, along with more energy and to help avoid an overweight cat.
Of course, the main benefit of switching your cat to a raw food diet is to cut out unnecessary ingredients or simplify your search for a diet that’s less reactive for your sensitive cat.
A Tastier Diet for Your Beloved Pet
It only makes sense that the best tasting diet for your cat would be the one that is most similar to their natural diet in the wild. As carnivores, the tastiest thing for your cat would be a fresh slice of meat. So why not give it to them?
A raw cat food diet is not only purer in ingredients, but purer in taste. If your cat is particularly fussy, a raw food diet may just pique their interest. Because the taste and texture are as natural as it gets, a raw diet aligns well with their instincts. The flavour will be much richer than most canned or dry foods on the market, especially without all the usual additives in regular food.
A raw cat food diet may just be the thing to either spoil your cat, or to help encourage your pickier pet to eat.
Important Considerations When Choosing Your Cat’s Diet
While a raw cat food diet can be tastier and has many health benefits, there are some important things to keep in mind when giving your cat a raw diet.
1. Potential cross-contamination:
Because you are handling raw food, there is the possibility of cross-contamination. Handle all food with care, and clean your hands, dishes and all surfaces that touch the food thoroughly after preparing or handling the food.
Because it is raw and the bacteria doesn’t get cooked out, there is the possibility of spreading bacteria to you or your cat. It’s important not to leave raw food sitting out too long at room temperature in order to avoid bacteria growth. So portion out only what your cat will eat right away, and store your raw food in the freezer, or fridge if you plan on using it soon, in a clean, air-tight container. Always keep food safety in mind when dealing with raw meat. In Canadian food safety, it is advised to not leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours.
3. Portion out food and make sure your cat is getting all the necessary nutrients:
While a raw cat food diet has many health benefits, it’s important to consider your cat’s age, size, and health when portioning out their food. Check with your veterinarian if you need help with portioning out your cat’s food correctly. You’ll also want to ensure they are receiving all their necessary nutrients:
- Protein from meat or fish
- Amino acids, like taurine and arginine (from their protein source)
- Fatty acids
4. We strongly recommend using a commercially prepared raw food product:
Because of the risk of bacteria growth and cross-contamination, especially with pet owners new to the raw diet, we recommend using a commercial raw diet. This lessens the risk of bacteria or other issues that can happen when preparing the food yourself. There are many options, such as:
- Dehydrated raw cat food
- Freeze-dried raw cat food
- Frozen raw cat food
Dehydrated and freeze-dried raw foods are generally easier to store, but need to be rehydrated. They can also be more expensive. Frozen raw food is the most natural form, but requires lots of space in your freezer or fridge.
Here are some of the raw cat food brands that we carry and recommend:
Products carried in-store can vary by location. If you have any questions regarding our brands and raw food products, our store owners and staff can help. Please contact your local Bone & Biscuit store to find out what raw cat food products are available in-store near you.
Tips To Switch Your Cat To A New Diet
As with switching your cat to any new diet, you’ll want to be careful. A sudden change in their diet can upset their stomach, and lead to stress, vomiting, diarrhea, or other reactions.
Take it slow. Add the raw food in small amounts to their regular diet to begin. The transition should be gradual so their body and digestive system can adjust at a healthy rate. Start by adding small, bite-sized amounts to their diet. You’ll want to start with this small amount for at least three to four days. Then gradually increase the amount of raw food, and remove parts of the old food to accommodate the change. With each increase, you’ll want to allow your cat three to four days to adjust to the amount before adding more. The whole process should take about two weeks.
You’ll also want to keep it to one protein source to start. Again, this is to avoid any adverse reaction. If you keep it to one protein source, you’ll be able to tell more easily if your pet has an allergy to the protein. Stay on a specific protein for at least a week and watch your pet for any allergic reactions. For instance, after you’ve made the switch, stick to only a fish protein diet for at least the next week before trying a new protein source, unless you notice a persistent reaction to the ingredient.
Allergic reactions in cats can include:
- Skin itchiness (which can display as overly scratching, rubbing, bum scooting or shaking their heads)
- Sneezing, coughing, or wheezing frequently
- Vomiting, diarrhea, gas or bloating
If your cat is exhibiting signs of an allergy to the protein, cut out the ingredient from their diet. You’ll want to revert them to a diet their bodies are more adjusted to, and start the switch with a different protein source. You should also inform your veterinarian of the potential allergy.
Having a raw cat food diet can really help to pinpoint an allergy, and following the advice from above can help you more accurately pinpoint what might be making your cat react. It’s also the best way to transition your cat to the new diet without overwhelming their system.
“Should I Switch My Cat To a Raw Cat Food Diet?“
Of course, there are many excellent, high-quality cat food products that cut out the fillers and carbohydrates, and are allergy-safe for your cat. You may not need to make the switch over completely and could look into supplementing your cat’s diet with raw food instead. Speak with your veterinarian to find out if a raw cat food diet is right for your pet. While a raw cat food diet may not be the only option for your cat, it is one of the most natural, purest and tastiest diets, and has been seen to help improve a cat’s quality of life.
Looking for more information about the raw food diet for dogs? Check out our two posts: “What to Expect When Switching Your Dog to A Raw Diet” and “Health Considerations and the Raw Diet”.