Converting to a Raw Cat Diet

Many owners have switched to a raw cat diet because the diet is more similar to what cats eat in the wild when they are able to hunt. Fortunately, making the transition is generally easy on your cat—and cats often prefer it to commercial cat food.

Features of Raw Diet

Switching to a raw diet isn't as simple as feeding your cat raw hamburger meat from the supermarket. Because animals have trouble digesting the chemicals used to process human meat, it's best to find organic meat or prepackaged raw cat food, which is made by several companies such as Bravo, Primal and Oma's.

Since cats aren't likely to prey on cows in the wild, they might not even eat leftover ground beef. They often prefer poultry and fish protein sources.

When devouring prey in the wild, cats will eat a combination of muscle meat, where they get the majority of their protein, organ meat, which provides additional nutrients and enzymes, and bones, which provides nutrients such as calcium. The advantage to buying raw meat packaged primarily for pets is that muscle meat, organ meat and bone are all combined in the mixture. If you choose to feed a homemade raw diet, be sure to add muscle meat and bone meal or supplement with the vitamins that cats would receive.

Converting to a Raw Diet

When switching between brands of commercial cat food, it's important to do so gradually, adding in the new food during a period of weeks. However, that's not really possible with raw meat. Fortunately, cats usually adjust relatively quickly to raw meat since it doesn't have the chemical preservatives that commercial food has.

The most important thing when switching to a raw diet is to make sure your cat is receiving all of the nutrients he was receiving in his commercial diet. Don't worry about the additional protein and fat sources. Though cat food usually only consists of 26 percent protein and 9 percent fat, cats get about 47 percent protein and 33 percent fat in the wild, so their bodies are set up for the increase.

Nutrients that may need to be supplemented are vitamins A, B-complex, D, E and calcium, which can be given in pill form or acquired other ways. Vitamin A can be found in cod liver oil, and calcium is present in bones, which can be added in the form of bone meal to the food.

Cats also require linoleic acid, arachindonic acid and taurine, all of which may need to be supplemented in a homemade raw diet. Lineolic acid can be found in safflower, sunflower or corn oil as well as some fish such as sardines and tuna, and arachindonic oil can be found in cod liver oil. Taurine is found in organ meat, such as heart meat as well as tuna, mackerel and clams.

As long as you have done some research, the transition to raw diet is relatively simple. Cats usually make the switch easily as long as the right protein source is chosen.