What is the first step I can take to introduce raw food into my cats diet?
The first step of feeding raw is educating yourself about what cats need in their diet. A great place to start is www.catinfo.org and www.catnutrition.org.
The next step is “accidentally” dropping a bite of raw chicken onto the floor to see if your cat will eat it. That is my favorite trick and works quite well in getting cats to try raw. (Don’t freak out… you can wipe the spot right after!)
Let your cat get a feel for the meat. The larger pieces the better. Just offer it up and see how they take to it and then go from there.
Remember that your cat may not, or more likely won’t, understand that meat is food because they have been fed “cat food” all their lives.
As a hunting wild feline, their mother cat would have taught them what was and was not safe food. So it’s logical that your cat may not appreciate that raw meat is a good food.
Some cats take to raw meat right away and will no longer eat manufactured cat foods at all… while others may need time, patience and bribery.
A great source of info from a vet on how to switch your cat to a raw meat diet can be found here:
Here’s Smokey eating straight from the grinder on cat food day. Noms!
When should I start Raw Feeding?
The best time to start is as soon as a kitten is ready for it’s first taste of “real” food, just like when it’s mother would bring it it’s first mouse in the wild. Between 4 to 6 weeks. Never feed a cat anything other than what nature intended if you are lucky enough to be given that opportunity.
I have not been that lucky yet. I started raw feeding a year after we adopted the 6 torties. I wish I had been a raw feeder before so that they never would have eaten manufactured foods. I look forward to the day we get to raw feed a cat it’s whole life.
Kittens get their teeth in very early and are ready to start chewing meat as soon as those first teeth come in. If you have even had your finger bit playfully by a kitten you know that they have super sharp teeth and it is very painful for them to gnaw on you. That’s because those teeth were engineered by nature to shred that finger of yours if they wanted to. So as soon as they get those teeth… it’s time to start feeding them raw meat. Don’t wait… you will be wasting valuable impressionable time that you can never get back.
Kittens learn what is and is not safe to eat from their mothers. However, when we take them away from their mothers it becomes our job to teach them what they should be eating. You don’t want to steer your cat wrong here. If you offer them only watered down kitten kibble, as so many so wrongly recommend, they will think that is the only safe thing. If you offer them only canned food, they will think that is the only safe food. So use this early time wisely. Offer a variety of meats and small crushed bones to your kitten.
Another important aspect that I have learned myself is that if you don’t have kitten hood to help your cat build up their jaw muscles you will run into issues trying later to get them to eat whole pieces of meat. It is such a priceless period of time during which a kitten learns to rip, shred and crunch up whole animal parts when they are growing and learning how to do these things also helps them have healthy teeth and gums throughout their lives. If a kitten is denied this precious window of learning, YOU are going to have to work 10 times as harder to teach your cat about what foods are safe and how to eat them as an adult. And we all know how hard it is to break adult habits, don’t we?
By feeding raw from birth you are building a priceless foundation of health for your cat. If you use kitten hood wisely, you are offering your kitty the best possible foundation for wellness there is. You wouldn’t feed a human child chips and hotdogs for the first 4 years of their life and then expect them to grow into healthy adults would you? Of course not. And you can make the same choice not to do that to your cat.
Any age cat can be transitioned onto raw, I have worked with 5 month old kittens all the way up to a 15 year old cat, but the earlier in life you start them the better and the sooner you start them the easier it is on both you and your cat.
Thanks for stopping in this Caturday! I hope you have gained some valuable knowledge for your feline companions today!
Until next time…
Carmen and the Primcats