If you've found your way to this article it's obvious you're searching for help regarding your beloved felines health and feeding schedule. There are many ways that people choose to feed their animals, a raw diet debatably being the best for their health overall so below you'll find not only the raw facts about raw diets but tips and tricks on how to convert your cat onto the healthier ways of life.
Firstly, when it comes to our furry friends you have to think of their instincts and natural diet.
Yes, your little house cat might not the killer that it's cousin the tiger is, but it's still a cat, a carnivore, and a hunter.
Wild or feral cats get all of their nutrition from killing animals such as birds, lizards, and mice and need the balanced diet of flesh, organs, bone (or bone ground) and a small bit of vegetation.
Think about it, would a cat in the wild have processed kibble on hand every day? Or would cooked meat be their every meal? No. So the fact is, even though our domesticated cats can live on most food from the store, it's not necessarily the best option for them.
So why is raw food beneficial for your cat? Firstly, cats are more strictly carnivorous than dogs, so if you have your dog on a raw food diet, your cat definitely should be as well.
Feeding your cats a raw food diet increases the amount of amino and fatty acids your cat is consuming, which is vital for their health.
It also decreases their consumption of things like vegetables and carbohydrates, the things that cats do not need in their diets at all, and can only actually digest small amounts at a time.
The starches and sugars that come with carbohydrates can lead to health issues for your cats such as Inflammation, Arthritis, Urinary Tract Diseases, Diabetes, and Obesity.
Of course, Obesity is still a possibility while on a raw diet, but it is much less likely to occur as it is while eating a diet of processed and high carb food.
As for those good fats I mentioned, creating your own raw food diet for your cats allows you to control how much of each of these they are getting, for example, cats need around 125milligrams of Taurine in their diet regularly for them to achieve maximum heart health.
The compound is often damaged during the heating methods used in creating kibble or canned foods and therefore doesn't end up giving your cat the full amount they need.
But wait there's more:
Other than that their overall health is better it has also been seen that cats on a raw diet have cleaner teeth and shinier coats. So you'll actually be able to see the improvements your cat's health is making, and their breath will most likely smell 10x better!
However, before you think "Great!" and dive into a full raw food diet for your pets, it's important that you know about the risks that come with dealing with foods such as raw meats.
You need to keep in mind that raw meats can contain bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli, and these can lead to life-threatening illnesses or infections for you and your cats.
The easiest way to remove these bacteria is to coot your meat, that's why humans don't eat meat raw, however, that eliminates the whole point of a "raw" food diet.
That being said, cats have shorter and more acidic digestive tracts and can digest things faster, and better than human, so a lot of pathogens will pass through most cats without affecting them at all.
Approach feeding your cats with a raw diet cautiously, as not all cats will tolerate raw food.
It is very important to take great care preparing raw food for your cats, and it is advised to not be done in a household that houses immune-compromised people, as it can be easy for them to become sick.
It is recommended for people to work with frozen food rather than thawed, wear gloves while preparing, feed your cat in a contained and easily cleanable area, and clean all surfaces, bowls, and tools thoroughly and with a 1:32 bleach solution.
Remember that Salmonella poisoning in cats is a rare occurrence but you can never remove all the risks when on this diet, and it is a risk that can occur, even if you follow all rules and guidelines when preparing food for your cat.
On top of all this is it super important for an owner to work closely with their veterinarian while controlling their cat's diet, as it is very easy for your cat to become nutrient deficient, or not be getting all the vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy.
It is a big job making your own food for your cats, as you'll probably need to add in things like calcium, which can be done through supplements or small amounts of cat-safe dairy products.
*Fun fact! In case you didn't know, most cats are actually lactose intolerant to some degree, and things like cows milk can upset their tummies, so make sure when adding calcium you only use things that kitties are sure to able to digest!*
Now that you're well informed on the ups and downs of raw feeding you'll be wanting to transition your cat from what they eat now to their new diet. Please keep in mind that your cat needs to be at least six months of age for their digestive systems to be mature and be able to utilize this diet correctly.
Until this age, it is recommended that you feed them things such as home cooked meat, dehydrated raw, or canned food, again you should consult a veterinarian about this diet choice, and make sure you have a food plan in place for when they are old enough to move on to a more complex diet.
If you aren't starting from the beginning and want to transition your older cat to raw food going step by step always works. Some cats will be eager to start on raw food immediately but there are always cats that enjoying being stubborn and are a bit stuck in their ways, just don't give up on them too quickly.
You need to look at switching in steps, from dry to canned, canned to raw, and then adding meaty bones to the raw food (owners need to keep an eye on their cats at all times when they are eating bones to eliminate choking hazards. If you wish to have bone added into your cat's food quail bones are a good type to give them, otherwise powdered or grown is the safest.).
Cats tend to get addicted to dry food, so this change may be the hardest step but start with eliminating free feeding and feed them only two or three times a day, leaving the food out for around 20 minutes and then putting it away.
They will grow accustomed to the idea of meal times and associate feeding with a person (you), not just a place where they always find it. It's important that your cat understands meal times on a raw food diet because the raw meat they'll be eating cannot be left out all day waiting for them to eat it.
After transferring to a grain-free canned (wet) food you can transition onto the raw food, it may be easier for fussy cats to start with thawed, slightly warmed food to simulate that of a mouse or something they would catch in the wild.
To warm the food do not microwave it, this will cook the food and remove all the nutrients you're trying to give to your cat. Try putting it in a watertight bag and warming it in a bowl of warm water.
For especially picky cats start by putting a small amount of raw food on a plate next to their canned food, they may not eat it but the key is to get them used to the smell of it around them, and eventually, they will become interested.
Other methods include mixing the raw in with their canned food or feeding it to them with a "treat" or "distraction" food sprinkled on top, they'll be eating it before they ever notice!
The only thing you'll need to watch with the "treat" method is making sure your cat doesn't become addicted to the treats and doesn't end up eating the raw food without it there.
After these steps are mastered you're there! If you haven't already you'll need to add chunks to their raw food because it's important for cats oral health for them to be chewing and working their jaw muscles. Cats who have only ever eaten canned food won't have had to do much chewing and will need to be introduced to this slowly.
That's it! The in's and out's, the up's and down's of feeding your cat a raw food diet. Make sure you talk about this diet thoroughly with your local vet or even better, a vet dietitian. You cat might just thank you for it!
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