How to Prepare Your Sweet Feline for the Raw Diet She Needs
The pet food industry has done an amazing job of convincing us that we don’t have any idea what food is best for our cats, that we need “expert” advice on the subject, and that our pet cats are different from the cats that naturally hunt and eat prey (aka raw meat).
But, they’re wrong. Inside that cute little cat beats the heart of a finely tuned hunting machine. The proof is in your cat’s teeth, her digestive system, and all the adaptations she still has even after being domesticated. Put all that together, and it means that your cat doesn’t need kibble or canned food. She needs a raw diet.
Transitioning your cat from a kibble or commercial diet to a raw whole prey diet can be overwhelming and intimidating. It’s not something that we as pet owners have considered a “typical” diet in recent decades, so information about it isn’t as in-your-face as the Fancy-Feast situations we see readily available at the store. (Which really isn’t fancy at all, is it?)
PREPARING YOUR CAT FOR RAW
Before you get started on this life-changing diet shift, we’ve got to make sure that your head is in the right space. Yes you, fur parent! There are likely going to be some physical changes during the process, and it’s important for you to not stress about it. It’s a big change for you both–what your process to feed her is and how her body processes it–and cats are insanely in tune to our emotions. If you are stressing over the food bowl, she will too, and she will start dreading feeding time.
So the cooler you play it, the more at ease she will be. Just like with anything, the process will take time, have setbacks, and even plateau. But that’s okay! Our bodies do the same when we go on a diet or start a new workout routine. We’re here for you, little feline!
Along with not overly stressing about it, go at your cat’s own pace. Every cat is different and has her own wants/needs (I think every cat owner knows that!), and it’s important not to stress her out by pushing her too far too fast. While some cats might be down for new food and adjust without any issues, other cats may be wary and need to do the dance a little more. Kibble can also be addicting (because of the additives and fillers), so patience and support is key here.
IMPORTANT: Do not force your cat to eat the raw food or starve her to “get her to eat it”. Cats are susceptible to a a serious and potentially fatal disease called hepatic lipidosis, or “fatty liver disease” that is caused by starvation. It can be triggered in as little as 48 hours, so do not let your buddy miss more than a couple meals. Offer her whatever she needs to get her eating regularly again and then start the transition over at the point she began refusing the raw food. If you move at your cat’s pace, she will feel comfortable and confident, knowing that you are taking care of her every step of the way.
One of the biggest problems you may face making this transition would be if your cat gets the all-you-can-eat-all-day kibble diet. A cat that is never actually hungry has no reason to start trying something new. If this free-feeding is something your cat is used to, the first step is to get your cat used to scheduled meals–3-4 meals for adults; 4-5 for kittens. If you don’t free-feed but only feed them once or twice daily, add the extra meal or two!
Did you know… The frequency of meals has an impact on your cat’s health? There is a lot of confusion about how often a domesticated cat should be fed, despite the fact that cats have evolved to spend the majority of their time hunting, eating 8-12 small meals every day. If a cat eat too much food too quickly (like a cat who eats only once or twice a day) because she is hungry, she can vomit from discomfort. On the flip side, before she gorges herself, the bile acids from hunger can also cause nausea and regurgitation. The frequency of meals can also affect your cat’s pH in her urine. After a large meal, the pH increases so much it actually causes painful and potentially deadly struvite crystals. So smaller meals are better for cats all around!
Smelling food all day long–like in a self-feeder kind of situation–triggers a cat’s digestive system to start working, which means that all of the cat’s energy is spent being “ready to eat” all day long instead of putting energy into the other important systems. This imbalance can cause issues like poor coat quality, chronic cystitis, and early aging. It’s also physiologically important for cats to actually feel hunger because it helps control the regulation of waste movement; this can cause discomfort, hairball regurgitation, and other digestive problems. I don’t know about you, but this answers so many of my questions!
To learn about why raw food is so beneficial for your cat, read about it here!
To read about how to start the raw prey diet, check out our article here!
For more information and for support if you’re struggling with getting started, check out www.CatCentric.org.
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Disclaimer: All information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only. It is not provided to diagnose, prevent, or treat any disease, illness, or injured condition for any human or animal, and Mother Nature’s Truths, as well as the author(s), contributor(s), publishers, and owners accept no responsibility for such use. Anyone suffering from any disease, illness, or injury, or who has an animal suffering from such, should consult with their physician or veterinarian. The statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.