Thursday, October 25, 2012

Transitioning Your Cat to Raw Food


Bagged kibble may be convenient and easy to serve, and your kitty may love her crunchies, but more and more veterinarians are concluding that we are not doing our cats (or dogs) any favors by feeding them kibble.  Cats on kibble are more likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, urinary tract blockages and kidney problems.  Cats need a diet high in both meat (min. 90%) and moisture (min. 70%), and raw food provides both.  If your cat is like my Quetzal, the transition won’t be easy, but in terms of her health and well being, it will be well worth the effort.

The kibble makers add strong-smelling flavor enhancers to their products.  When presented with a milder smelling food, like raw or canned food, your cat may not exactly respond with gusto.  Try these ideas to overcome kitty’s “finicky” ways:

  1. Pick up food after each meal and introduce a new food the next meal. A cat who is free-fed and thus never hungry has little biological incentive to try something new, especially if it doesn’t smell like food or if it’s a different texture. So, after each meal, remove all remnants of food, wash the dish and leave the feeding area clean. For the next meal, introduce a small amount of canned or raw food. Use a flat dish, not a bowl, for easier access
  2. Begin the transition with a strong-smelling moist food, like Green Earth Pet Food Savory Salmon which has salmon added for smell/flavor.  Fish-based or gamey flavors are best. You may need to try different brands, flavors and textures, as minor differences in ingredients can make a big difference to a cat’s palate. For example, Quetzal eats pate and flaked tuna, but turns her nose up to anything called "stew" or "cutlet."  Later on, try to mix in different meat sources to avoid a diet of exclusively fish-based food.
These two steps will work for most cats, but if you have a stubborn case (ahem...I’m looking at you, Quetzal), you may need to go a step further.  Here are some more ideas:
  • Start by mixing canned or raw food with their dry food and decrease the amount of dry food in the mix over time and/or crush some of the kibble and sprinkle it on top of the raw food.
  • Release the scent of raw food by adding some warm (not hot) water or raw goat’s milk that your kitty can lap up like gravy.  (I serve Answer’s brand raw goat’s milk and Quetzal LOVES it.  LOVES it!  And it's got additional probiotics for belly health.)
  • Sprinkle some Bonito flakes or freeze-dried salmon or liver treats over the new food (Ask at your pet store for treats or even samples.)
  • Add the juice from a can of your favorite tuna.
  • Sprinkle some nutritional yeast over the new food – some cats love it.

The transition may work overnight, or it may take days, even weeks, depending on how long your cat has been eating dry food and whether or not she’s ever been exposed to wet food.  But you can do it, and your kitty will be all the healthier and happier for your efforts.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to contact us if you have more questions. am I going to brush my teeth?

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