Switching to a raw diet for your 'selective' Kitty Cat

Cat Food/Nutrition, last updated 24th, Sep 2020, B.A.R.F.

Cats are fabulous creatures and perhaps the first pets for humans. Unfortunately, cats have acquired the label of being finicky eaters. More so, if their regular brand of cat food is not available. The truth is that cats aren’t really finicky however, are ‘imprint’ eaters. What this means is that they remember the smell, texture, taste, and even temperature of the food that they are accustomed to eating. So when cats are offered something new, they often refuse to eat it since they don’t recognize it.


This can be a bit of a problem if you are looking to transition your cat to a raw food diet.

The first thing to remember when looking to transition your cat is patience. The transition can be fast or very slow, depending on each individual cat. But before you make the transition, try the cold-turkey method. Some cats love raw right off the bat, but some just don’t take to it. The following article will guide you on how to slowly transition and feed your finicky cat a raw food diet.

The slow transition to raw to help in feeding finicky cats.

If your cat is a picky eater, she needs time and encouragement. Doing the transition to raw in baby steps is the way to go.
 
Step #1: Create a feeding schedule
Is your cat used to ‘free-feeding’? Before actually starting on the transition, you must get your cat adjusted to eating on a set schedule throughout the day. Free feeding is not a great idea in raw feeding and this is an important step in the transition process.

Decide on when you will feed your cat and offer her meals only during those times for a limited amount of time, say 30 minutes. This way, your cat gets to rest between meals and will also get to experience the sensation of hunger. Hunger will encourage her to try something new at the next meal.

Moreover, when you feed on a schedule, your cat’s body will regulate the production of the appropriate gastric acid that is essential for raw digestion.
 
Step #2: Transition from dry food to canned wet food
Has your cat being primarily eating dry food? In this step you will get the car accustomed to eating wet meals. Start by substituting portions of the dry food diet with canned, wet food. Look for chunked style wet food and not a paste since that is closer in texture to raw food. Don’t substitute large amounts immediately. Start slow.

For the first few days, use 25% canned wet cat food mixed into dry food. Once your cat eats that without a fuss, increase the wet food amount to 50%.
Wait for a few days until your cat accepts 50/50 dry and wet meals. Then, increase the amount of wet food to 75% of the cat’s meal. Finally, begin feeding 100% wet food. Once your cat is happily eating 100% wet food, move to the next step.

At any point do not rush your cat. Some cats will transition quickly, while others may seem to take forever. Move at the pace of your cat and if they are acting fussy, don’t let them go without eating for more than 24-hours. If the cat is not accepting any changes in her food, make minor adjustments until she eats

Step #3: Introducing small raw chunks
Now that your cat is fully on wet food, introduce her to boneless muscle meat. Cut small, bite-sized pieces to begin with and add them to the canned wet food meals. Make the pieces such that they can be easily hidden in the chunked canned wet food. Once they are nicely coated in the wet food gravy, your cat will not discard them. 

Begin with 3-4 small, bite-size raw chunks. Once your cat is eating this mix, it’s time to increase the number to 6-8 small, bite-size raw chunks in her meal.
Like we did earlier with the dry food to wet food transition, continue increasing the amount of raw chunks daily.

As we said earlier, go at your cat’s pace. As you include more raw food, don’t forget to decrease the amount of canned food in the meal. Don’t switch to full raw just yet.
 
Step #4: Increasing chunked raw
Once your cat is comfortable with 50% canned wet food and 50% small raw chunks, you must start to gradually increase the size of the chunked raw pieces. As you increase the size of raw pieces, continue to phase out the wet canned food. 
Increase raw chunk sizes and quantity
As your cat gets familiar with larger chunks of raw food, you can continue to increase the size of the pieces and decrease the amount of canned wet food.

Make the full switch

When you notice your cat eating primarily chunked muscle meat with just small amounts of canned wet food added, you can take the next step to move to fully balanced 100% raw meals.

Remember to add a variety of protein sources when you are getting your cat accustomed to raw. Start with chicken and turkey in the initial days and then slowly begin feeding red meats such as buffalo and pork.
 
Still finicky?
If your cat shows signs of being finicky try adding some of these foods to encourage her to eat:

  • Canned sardine juice
  • Raw goats milk
  • Kefir
  • Packaged tuna juice
  • Warmed bone broth 

Remember, patience is the key to making the transition. Bon appétit!

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