TRANSITIONING YOUR CAT TO A FRESH, RAW DIET
Hi, there! If you're wondering how to get your cat off kibble or canned food and onto a cleaner, less processed diet, you are in the right place! Whether you're already in the process of transitioning or still thinking about it, read on.
UNDERSTANDING AN IDEAL FELINE DIET
There isn't one perfect way to feed your cat. but cats are obligate carnivores and need animal protein and hydration. We love pre-made, balanced raw food for cats, always making sure it says something like "complete nutrition". This means the cat food is a complete meal, containing all the proper nutrients. Visit Favorites to check out the food brands we've used and like.
Cat Nutrition Resources
WHAT'S IN YOUR CAT'S FOOD?
EXAMPLES OF COMMERCIALLY PREPARED CAT FOODS
Just add water
Ingredients typically come from the human food supply. Shelf stable.
Pour from bag to bowl
Ingredients vary wildly. Not species appropriate. Typically WAY too many carbs. Most kibble uses feed grade ingredients.
Open and serve
Ingredients come from the human food supply. Less processed than canned. No rendered ingredients.
Open and serve
Ingredients vary wildly. Some are human edible, most are poor quality, feed grade. Good moisture level. Processed.
Warm slightly and serve
Ingredients typically come from the human food supply. Formulations vary. Minimally processed.
Just add water
Ingredients typically come from the human food supply. Shelf stable, powder form. Minimally processed.
STEPS WE TOOK TO TRANSITION OUR CATS TO A HEALTHIER DIET
There isn't one magical way to transition your cat to a better diet and there is really no perfect diet. If it's new to them, they'll likely resist at first. Cats are skeptical and yet simultaneously curious. The idea is to get creative. What works for one may not work for another. Kittens are typically very excited to try new foods, but adult cats may require a slow transition. This process could last a week or months.
Remove the "all you can eat buffet"
If you leave a bowl of kibble out, remove it entirely and put the empty bowl away.
Feed cats at specific times, typically 2-3 times a day. Limit these mealtimes to 15-20 minutes. Try again in a co couple hours.
Get Kibble Addicts on Canned
For many, it's easier to transition your cat to a canned food first, then to a fresh diet.
Dehydrated or Raw for Transitioning
Put a small amount of raw, like Darwin's, in a bowl. Then cover it with a canned food they like. Or, drizzle 1/2 tsp of a dehydrated food like Honest Kitchen onto their current food. Another option is to put a small amount of the new food on the side and let them sniff it.
Transition with tiny amounts of food. Look for changes in bowel movements. Don't rush it. If they'll eat 1/2 tsp of new food in their current food, stick with that for a few days, then increase the amount of new food and decrease the old food, slowly.
Mixing Canned or Kibble with Raw Foods
Be mindful of mixing. Some cats that eat raw and canned together experience GI upset, some don't. This is why using small amounts or a dehydrated food for transitioning is sometimes helpful. In our experience, using a small amount of raw covered in their favorite canned is a great way to entice!
Consider small snack sized meals
Smaller meals allow for more opportunities to try new foods. Plus, small size is less intimidating, both for us and the cat.
Increase the New Food
Whether your end goal is raw, cooked human grade, dehydrated, canned etc, gradually increase it until your cat seems cool with the new food. At this point you might be at 3/4 canned and 1/4 new food. If they're doing well, try serving only new food. If they eat it, consider it a success!
Frozen raw, balanced food is the least processed. Dehydrated and freeze dried foods are also an option. You may need to try a few foods and approaches. Some cats will instantly eat raw!
Move slow. Get creative. If they decide they love raw one day and don't like it the next, take a step back, try a new brand, re-try the brand they didn't like the day before and remember to move slow. Celebrate the small steps and don't give up!