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Feeding Your Cat a Raw Diet? Raw Food Diet For Cats

Raw Food Diet For Cats

Humans aren’t the only mammals giving raw food diets a try — they’re becoming increasingly popular for cats as well.

What Is Classed as a Raw Food Diet for Cats?

A raw food diet for cats is exactly what it sounds like: you feed your cat uncooked food, including meats.  This includes muscle, organs, and bones from various animals. Advocates of these diets claim that cats thrive on them, but they require careful consideration and preparation in order to be safe.

Raw food diets are better know in association with dogs, but they can be appropriate for cats as well. Many proponents of raw food diets point to research done by Dr. Francis Pottenger between 1932 and 1942. Pottenger experimented with feeding cats both cooked and raw diets, and found that cats on the latter had less health problems, as did their offspring. Today the BARF — “biologically appropriate raw food” — diet is popular with people who support raw diets for pets, though any online search will quickly bring up several options for raw feeding, including recipes, nutritional supplements, and commercially-produced raw foods.

Cat groomer and expert Anitra Frazier is a proponent of raw food for cats, saying the diet improves the quality of their coats and their overall well-being. Raw foods provide high-quality proteins and plenty of moisture, she said, as well as the “alive” quality that is missing from heavily-processed commercial foods. “Since I started feed my raw food recipe, I’ve seen enormous health benefits in my clients’ cats as well as my own,” Frazier wrote in her book, The Natural Cat. “Now I would never consider feeding anything else.”

How to switch your cat to a raw diet?

Making the switch to a raw food diet is not an undertaking to approach lightly. Many cats are finicky and will resist any change in what they eat, requiring you to make the transition gradually by slowly replacing their current food with raw foods. Taking things slowly will also make things easier on your cat’s body; sometime temporary digestive problems like diarrhoea can occur while the system adjusts to the new way of eating.

This way of feeding may seem simple, but it’s not as straightforward as just putting fresh meat in your cat’s bowl. When you are no longer relying on pre-packaged foods with carefully balanced nutrient profiles, you must take care to ensure your cat is getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. In The Natural Cat, Frazier recommends adding calcium (to balance the phosphorus in raw meat), lecithen, and vitamins E, D and A to your cat’s raw food diet to ensure good health.

 

Switching your cat from wet food to Raw:

Follow the steps below, twice a day, morning and evening.

  • Days 1 & 2 Add 10% of raw food into your cat’s current wet food for 2 days.
  • Days 3 & 4 Gradually Increase the raw food by 10% and decrease the amount of the wet food.
  • Days 5 to 10 Carry on with this 10% more raw each day until you no longer need the wet food.

Switching your cat from dry food to Raw:

  • Ensure that your cat has a second bowl available for the dry food while you carry out the switching process.

Follow the steps below, twice a day, morning and evening.

  • Day 1 & 2 Put 10g of raw food into your cat’s food bowl, and add a few bits of dry food over the top of the raw food.
  • Day 3 & 4 Put 20g of raw food into your cat’s food bowl, and add a few bits of dry food over the top of the raw food.
  • Day 5 to 6 Put 40g of raw food into your cat’s food bowl, and add a few bits of dry food over the top of the raw food.
  • Carry on with this method until you are serving the full amount of raw food  and you cat is eating twice a day. The dry food can now be completely eliminated.

What quantities of raw meat and bone should you feed your cat?

  • The amount of raw food for your cat should be 2% to 3% of your cats body weight and spread over 2 meals, morning and evening.
  • As a kitten a cat can eat twice as much per gram of body weight than an adult while they are growing.
  • Decide on a routine of when you will feed you cat, for example in the morning and then the evening, its best if it kept at a similar time each day. If a cat is fed enough and at the right times it wont have a need to graze throughout the day.
  • Remove any uneaten food after 30/45 minutes, cover it and this can be stored in the fridge for later.

Following on from the last point, it’s important to be aware of the safety measures that will help to keep your pet — and everyone else in the home — free from food-borne illnesses. Cats aren’t as susceptible to bacteria like salmonella or E. coli, which can be found in uncooked meats, but there is still a small risk that they could become ill make sure your meat is always refrigerated — bacteria grows more readily in warmer temperatures. Don’t leave food setting out for longer than 30 minutes; toss whatever your cat hasn’t eaten at that point. Make sure you keep the food refrigerated and throw out after a couple days unfrozen, and clean everything your cat’s food touches with hot, soapy water.

Liz Palika, author of The Ultimate Pet Food Guide, points out in her book that our pet cats are no longer wild animals and have been domesticated for thousands of years. For this reason, she said, assuming that we can feed our cats as they would have eaten in the wild can be dangerous; a raw food diet today requires careful attention to safety and nutritional balance. But if you do plan to feed your cat raw foods, it can be successful with careful care and diligent attention.

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