So you have decided to make the change and feed your cat a raw, natural diet, but now you are wondering where to start?

First of all, follow our Transitioning to a Natural Diet rules.  These rules will assist your pet to handle the diet change without any gastrointestinal stress.

Secondly, check out the RawFedCats website which discusses natural diets for cats and how to transition even the most stubborn feline.  The Practical Guide is very useful.  The Feline Nutrition website is also an excellent resource for people wanting to feed their cats raw.

Now go out and buy your supplies.  A few weeks worth of Ziwi Peak air-dried and canned foods is a great place to start, and is available at The Natural Vets.  These foods will have a texture that is more similar to processed pet foods than raw foods, and may be more accepted by your cat in the initial stages.

Once your cat is happily eating the canned Ziwi Peak foods, it is time to start introducing raw fresh meats. Start with small amounts of lean meat that has either been minced or is cut very small (about the size of your pinky nail).  Suitable meats can include lamb, beef, chicken, turkey or fish.  You can also offer a simple complete meal such as the Organic Paws or Complete Pet Company frozen complete meals we stock at our clinic.  Offer it at the same time as offering some Ziwi Peak food.  Start with a small proportion and slowly increase the amount offered.  As your cat is accepting small amounts of fresh raw meats, you can then increase the size of the cut pieces as their jaw strength develops.

Over time you will also want to start including a portion of organ meats, finely minced leafy greens, and some soft, edible bones.  Organ meats provide nutrients that are otherwise missing from the diet, and be sure to source a variety that includes at the very least liver, heart and kidney.

Soft edible bones can be offered once your cat is happily eating raw diced meats and has the jaw strength to gnaw on a bone.  It is a good idea to have your pet’s dental health checked first before offering bones, as any dental disease will cause mouth pain that will likely impede the ability to chew bone.  Suitable bones for cats include chicken wing tips, or the rib bones out of a quail or rabbit. Some experienced raw fed cats can even handle whole raw prey items, such as those sold as ‘Frozen Feeders’ for reptiles.  Chicken necks are best avoided or fed only infrequently, as they are often constipating.

Leafy green matter is also essential, and can include wheat or barley grass, parsley, sprouts, edible weeds like chickweed, and sea vegetables like dulse, nori, and spirulina.  Include roughly 12% fresh leafy green matter (less if dried into a concentrated powder) in your cat’s diet once they are accepting of the change to raw.

Most cats also need some healthy fats in their diet, either in the form of an essential fatty acid supplement added to their meals, or a meal of some sardines or eggs a couple of times a week.  Coconut oil or finely shredded coconut can also be fed in small proportions, for example rubbed onto a bone.  Some cats will also relish a meal of things like broccoli tops or fresh corn kernels occasionally.

This is what a natural diet looks like for a cat over the course of a week:

Breakfast meals

You can feed raw or cooked free-range eggs one morning a week, oily fish two mornings a week, and Ziwi Peak air-dried or canned foods three mornings a week. Skip a breakfast meal once a week, or feed bone broth only in place of this meal, to allow your cat some detoxification and elimination time.

Dinner meals

Dinner meals should all be fresh raw meats, starting out with minced meats but building up to larger diced portions as your cat’s jaw strength improves.  Be sure to include liver, heart and kidney as well as fresh meat, aiming for 10% squishy organ meat and 75% raw meat of the overall diet (note that heart is a muscle meat). Vary the meats including red and white meats and small amounts of fish.  Feed small meaty bones four nights a week, aiming for 5% of the diet being bone.  Include a small portion of minced leafy green matter, which your cat may naturally graze on itself if you have pots of fresh grasses and herbs around the house or garden.  You can also add a pinch of powdered greens to the meals, using things like barley or wheat grass powders, alfalfa powder and dried kelp or dulse.

Add a fish oil or krill oil capsule to all of the meat meals.

There are many complete raw diet options out there for pets now as well, which can make life easier for people wanting to feed raw.  We stock Complete Pet Company’s Complete Meal for cats, and Organic Paws raw foods.

Be patient. Some cats will take months, up to a year even, to transition from a processed food diet to a healthier raw food palate.  Don’t give up after a week if your cat won’t try the raw foods.  Keep trying, it will happen in time.

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If you need any assistance transitioning your cat to a raw, natural diet, we are always here to help.