Welcome to another installment of Ruff Life Club Adventures! Recently raw diets have risen in popularity bringing forth many questions from curious pet owners. So this week we'll be discussing the benefits of raw diets and the transition process.
Cats are obligate carnivores—meaning they must have a high-protein, meat-based diet to survive. While kibble, or dry food, offers a convenient feeding option, most kibbles offer only the minimum requirements of protein and other important amino acids (like taurine). Kibble is dry, requiring cats to drink more water, which can be an almost impossible task to achieve. One way to get more water into a cat’s diet is to supplement or transition to canned, freeze-dried, or raw food. As conscious pet owners, we want our pets to not just survive, but thrive in their lifetime with us!
One of the most popular, and divisive trends in the pet food industry is the transition of dogs and cats to raw meat diets. Proponents of the raw diet claim that raw meat (and other supplemental components that complete the diet) are closest to what our animals would eat in the wild, without any fillers or additives. Folks that are opposed to the diet claim that the raw diet is not complete and balanced, and eating a commercial diet ensures that your pet is getting everything it needs. While the jury is still out on which diet is the best, any animal, humans included, benefits from adding fresh, healthy ingredients to their daily nutrition. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to determine what diet is best for your pet, after all you know your pet best!
Below is a guide to transitioning your cat to raw food. For some, it might work best to stop after transitioning to mostly canned food. For others, they might transition all the way to raw. Again it depends on what makes sense economically and philosophically for the pet owner, and on what food your pet does best on!
How to Transition your Cat to a Raw Diet
1. Go slow. Transitioning takes time, sometimes months. Go at your cat’s pace. Start by slowly transitioning to just canned food, then freeze dried raw, then finally introducing the raw meat. The digestive process for raw meat and baked kibble is different and can be hard on the digestive system. Slowly provide less and less kibble, while adding a little wet food on top of kibble to start. Slowly increase the amount of wet food over the course of a couple days to a couple weeks, depending on how picky the cat is and how addicted to kibble they may be. Kibble is sprayed with animal digest, basically making it the pet MSG equivalent, so some cats can be stubborn and will crave kibble even when provided with delicious raw.
2. Try different flavors and textures. You don't want to get them stuck on one food. Try shredded, pate, or morsels. Make a little charcuterie board with different textures and take note of what they gobble up first. This might determine which frozen raw food will be what they gravitate to.
3. If your cat rejects a food, don't just eliminate it right away. Give them multiple opportunities to try a food before eliminating it completely! Cats typically are wary of new food, but that doesn’t mean they won’t like it after a couple of tries. Add some water, add tuna or bone broth, mush it up if need be. Entice your cat with a small amount of their favorite canned or freeze dried food or treats. Patience will be your friend.
4. NEVER let your cat go more than 24 hours without eating. Always have some canned food they are guaranteed to eat on hand to both encourage them with the new food and make sure that they are eating.
5. If your cat is addicted to kibble but you want to get more protein and moisture into their diet, try using freeze-dried food. If you choose to not re-hydrate the food with water, then the freeze-fried chunks can have a satisfying crunch and a familiar texture for your feline friend, while also being a stepping stone to raw food. Remember, patience is key and transitioning away from kibble could potentially take a couple months.
With some time, options, and a whole lot of patience, your kitty should move to eating raw food. It's important to note that this guide is just a suggestion. Every cat is different and so is every transition process. Cats are like children, they're super picky and as the parent, you want to give them what's best. We hope this helps you decide if you want to transition your kitty raw food. Thanks for tuning into Ruff Life Club and we'll be back with another informative post soon!