How I transitioned my cat Leo from junk food kibble and wet to home prepared Raw!
Leo is our now 6 yr old Bengal cat, When we got him he was approximately 3 yrs. old and was brought up on cheap store bought kibble from the supermarket, his previous owners gave no special attention to diet and fed whatever was cheapest.
When we “adopted” him we made the switch to at least give him the best quality kibble and wet canned we knew at the time, I knew very little about cat nutrition at the time but knew enough that cats were predisposed to urinary and kidney issues resulting from a very dry kibble diet, cats do not instinctively drink water as they rely on it from the moisture in a natural raw diet.
So we at least tried to reduce the amount of dry food and feed him dry for one meal and wet canned for the next meal in one day. When my dog Emie was diagnosed with Cancer in the summer of 2017, I had just finished watching the film PetFooled on netflix, and I was appalled at what really went on in the pet food industry, I immediately switched my dog to a home prepared Raw diet and then went on to learn about Raw feeding for my cat. The dog welcomed the raw food and took to it instantly, The cat on the other hand was very difficult to transition to raw, but I will outline what worked for us to get him to make the switch.
When I first attempted to feed Leo raw I took raw chicken breast and chopped it up as fine as I could, and tried hiding a VERY small amount into the normal wet canned food he was used to. He would instantly smell it and refuse to eat it, no matter how small of the amount of raw chicken I tried to hide he would refuse to eat the meal.
What finally worked was when we decided to dry a dehydrated raw cat food (primal brand) he absolutely LOVED this food, but it was EXPENSIVE if we were to try and feed it all the time. But this food is what was able to allow me to start hiding the raw chicken into this new food. He started eating these meals with very small amounts of raw secretly hidden inside! Now, as the days and weeks went on I SLOWLY started increasing the amount of raw chicken while I was DECREASING the amounts of the dehydrated, until finally we were starting to feed the majority of raw. Now, it’s important to note that you cannot feed a cat just chicken, you need to bring in organs, bones, and other foods/and or supplements to make the diet complete. I was only planning on using the chicken breast for my transitional period only. And when he started getting picky as the meals were increasingly becoming more raw and less dehydrated, this is a key trick that worked great. I took some of the dehydrated raw food and crushed it up into a powder and then I used an old spice shaker bottle and poured the powder into the bottle, this powder became a very enticing “topper” I could sprinkle on top of his meals to get him to eat and this one little trick worked great for us. In fact, I still use this whenever he is picky. For example, sometimes when I make a new batch of raw food for him he will turn his nose up at the meal-for whatever reason, cat’s are picky!. I sprinkle just a little bit of the topper on and he goes for it. Now I actually dehydrate my own dog treat “jerky” using beef, so I take some of the dehydrated beef and run it through my spice grinder to make a powder and I use that now.
And it’s worth noting that when I first started feeding home prepared raw, I blindly followed what a LOT of others were doing, and thats feeding 80/10/10 ( 80% muscle meat, 10% organ, and 10% bone) but I quickly realized that this is NOT properly balanced for a cat or a dog. There are several nutrients that are either totally void OR very low. Namely Vitamin E, Iodine, Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Vitamin D, Iron, sodium and chloride.
I hope this can help others who struggle trying to get their cat to eat raw and are dealing with a picky cat. A raw diet is what these animals are designed to be eating and processed kibble and wet canned are just poor substitutes that can lead to serious health issues. Not to mention these foods are expensive and made and sourced with questionable ingredients with zero regulation in the U.S. Most of these processed diets are extremely high in carbohydrates which neither a cat or a dog should be consuming in their diets. Kibble pet food often rely on plant proteins which are now being linked to causing serious health and heart issues Simply put: These animals are simply being fed diets which are not species appropriate!
Want to read more about why these foods are so bad? click here for my section on that
In the words of Dr. Richard Patton PhD, renowned animal nutritionist- “ you wouldn’t feed a hummingbird steak” each animal needs to be fed what they were intended to be fed in order to thrive. Sure, our cats and dogs can live on processed foods but they will thrive on species appropriate! and so many diseases and illness in our companion animals are easily avoidable by Raw whole foods. Let food by thy medicine.
A few resources I’ve used to learn about Raw cat nutrition are listed below:
Websites with cat food recipes and info
Cat Lady Fitness
Some of the link to the vitamins no longer work, so you may need to do a little legwork on sourcing your own equivalents