Can I raw feed my cat?
The simple answer is yes!
However, cats are a very different thing to dogs and can be a lot harder to persuade that raw is a good idea. Outdoor, bird chasing, semi feral types of cat will be simple, and are probably raw feeding themselves when they are out on the prowl, indoor cats who have been raised on kibble can be trickier and most definitely more stubborn than the average dog when it comes to changing their food and feeding routine.
The first type of cat mentioned can be easily transitioned onto a raw diet.
First, stop free feeding/grazing and get your cat used to set meal times, so you put out their kibble 3 or 4 times a day for 15/20 minutes at a time.
Once your cat has become accustomed to eating at set times introduce the raw food.
Start with a single protein, around 10% bone, Rabbit, Quail or Chicken are good starters. After 5 or 6 days, introduce a red meat, again around 10% bone. Begin by adding a little of the new meat to the original food, progressively increasing the % of the new meat included each day.
After 10/11 days , you can introduce your first offal meat, not liver yet, something like kidney is ideal.
This should be in tiny amounts, around 2-3g maximum, it needs to be around 5% of what your cat is eating.
Your meals should be 85% meat, 10% bone and 5% offal.
The next step, after around 2 weeks of the new diet, is to introduce liver.
Again, a tiny amount of 2-3g, no more than 5% of the overall diet. Your meals will now comprise of 80% meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, 5% other offal (kidney, pancreas etc)
You can now look at adding some fish to your cats diet, small oily fish like sprats are perfect, keep the fish content to around 10% of the overall diet.
With the pickier cats, who are not impressed by your loving efforts to improve their diet, a slightly longer winded approach is often needed.
- Again, start by ceasing free feeding/grazing.
- Food should be only available at set meal times.
- If the cat is purely kibble fed, start adding wet food to the kibble.
Start with 25% wet and gradually increase the % of wet to kibble until the cat is eating 100% wet food, at set meal times only. Now you can begin introducing a small portion of raw meat (rabbit or chicken perhaps) to the wet food. Start with a maximum of 10% raw to 90% wet food, increasing the % of raw slowly but surely until the diet is 100% raw. At this point, follow the transition steps outlined above.
Once the cat is transitioned, and happily eating raw, you can address the balance of the meals.
Firstly, is the cat getting enough Taurine?
Cats needed a little more than dogs, so most of our cat owning raw feeders cover this by adding some chicken turkey or duck heart to the diet, 2 or 3 a day is sufficient.
Dark turkey meat is also a great source of Taurine.
The average adult cat would be eating around 3% of its bodyweight per day, however your eyes and your hands will tell you if your cat is eating sufficient quantities of food.
Your common sense will take you a long way so don’t get too hung up on percentages when it comes to quantity to feed.
Kittens need a greater percentage of their bodyweight than adult cats, up to 4 months they need 10-13% of their weight per day, up to 8 months, 6-10%, up to 12 months, 3-6%, over 12 months feed as an adult. Certain breeds of cat do need a little more even in adulthood, the Sphynx cats and other hairless breeds have higher calorific requirements as their bodies are constantly using energy to keep warm. These cats can need up to 6% of their bodyweight per day to maintain their ideal weight.
With the larger breeds, like Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cats, Ragdolls etc these usually take a little longer to reach their full size, so will need to stay on kitten rations a little longer than their smaller cousins.
Processed cat foods were not created until 1958, and that was tinned wet food, kibble for cats appeared in the late 70s, produced by the same manufacturer that created the first tinned cat food.
Cats are obligate carnivores, this means they really do not need anything other than meat, no carbs are needed as the nutrients they require are not found in carbs and their bodies do not possess the physiology to digest plant matter.