Transitioning Your Cat to a Raw Diet

Expect resistance: Pets are like children – leave them to decide what they would want to eat and they’ll opt for the animal equivalent of burgers, pizza and chocolate every time! If they’ve developed a taste for the artificial flavors in some commercial pet foods you’ll need to wean them off their ‘junk’ food addiction and onto a fresh meat diet. 

(Dr. Syme DVM)

Establish Regular Feeding Times

The first step is to establish regular feeding times in a quiet low traffic area. Stop free feeding. Put them on a feeding schedule of morning and evening before introducing their new raw food. Limit or stop treats. Use a mat or washable rug for them to eat on because it could get a little messy at first. Some pets will play with their raw food before eating it.  We also recommend using a ceramic or stoneware (lead free) small plate instead of a bowl. Bowls can irritate your cats whiskers and distract them from enjoying their new food. A ceramic plate is also easy to warm so their new food is closer to body "prey" temperature and comfortable to their mouth. Food given straight from the refrigerator will deter them from eating it. 

After removing all of their other food, serve them a small amount of the Nourished Pet Raw Food on a warmed (never hot) plate. If your cat willingly eats the new raw food then the transition is complete. Yahoo! Continue to feed them only small amounts gradually increasing and keep your eye on their stool to make sure they are normal and firm. Raw prey is their natural diet and should fully agree with them. If your cat does NOT eat the food then a gradual transition will be necessary. Never switch a sick animal’s food without the consent of a veterinarian with significant nutritional training. 

Transitioning Gradually

Some cats just do not like change. For these cats the key to successfully transitioning is to go slowly. Start by mixing in a very small amount of raw food with their current food – just enough to enable them to get use to the sight, smell and taste of the raw food. Commercial pet foods have a tremendous amount of aroma to make it attractive and raw food does not. Gradually increase the amount of raw, while proportionately decreasing the amount of their current canned or dry food. Continue this process for a couple weeks. Offer only raw treats or snacks but not enough to replace their needed meals. None is better. Most will make the transition within this time or sooner but if your cat continues to show resistance, just slow down the transition. It could take more than a month for some cats to make the full transition. Tip: If your cat has been eating only dry food and is resisting eating the raw food, you may need to first transition to a wet canned food to get it familiar to the new texture. Use the same gradual transition process over a couple of weeks to move to canned food. Once that is successful, do the same to gradually move to the raw cat food. Be sure not to over feed through this process. Most pets are addicted to the coating on dry kibble and persistently beg for it. Don't give in! Your patience will be well worth the effort for the benefit it brings to your cat’s health.  

If you have multiple cats it’s important that each cat eats its portion of food since they are no longer "free" feeding. Give your cat a limited amount of time (15-30 min) to eat its meal. Your finicky cat will learn to eat its meals when served. This is essential when you make the switch to fresh raw food. However, make sure your cat does continue to eat. A “tough love” approach will not work with cats and can be risky to their health. Be sure your cat is eating each day; a small amount of food twice a day will typically be sufficient to prevent serious issues during transitioning. Our older cat will eat a small amount and walk away for a short while (sometimes to use her cat box) and then she returns to eating. We give her plenty of time to finish. You will know your cats behavior best.

Patience

While you may be fortunate to have a cat that will immediately switch to its new raw diet, some cats will be wary of any changes. Transitioning your pets requires patience. Remember to choose a low traffic quiet place in your home to feed them (away from their cat box) until they are comfortable with the new food and routine. We feed our pets on a raised surface simply using a large thick book for even more convenience. The long term benefits from feeding your pets fresh raw food will outweigh any inconveniences transitioning may briefly cause you now. 

Never switch a sick animals food without consulting a veterinarian with significant nutritional training.