This content is archived from the Feline Nutrition Foundation
Hi and welcome! If you've come to Feline Nutrition, you've already taken the first step on the road towards a healthier, happier cat. It's a lot to take in at first. I can feed my cat raw food and it can change her life? Scary, right?
Once you get started, you'll find it's pretty easy, with options to fit your lifestyle. We've assembled a core group of articles that are especially good for starting out. Read them and you will know the broad strokes without being overwhelmed by sheer volume. Feline Nutrition has helped tens of thousands of cat parents discover what their kitty companions should be eating. But, we go further. We will help you with the how and why, and show the science behind the food.
We have a ton of info for you. As you read beyond the basics, look for articles tagged with Stanley's Beginner-Friendly icon. Since you're new here, an introduction is in order. Stanley is Feline Nutrition's kitty ambassador. She was once new to a raw diet for cats, too. Now, she's your guide to better cat nutrition. Before you ask, yes, Stanley is a girl, despite the name. Long story.
Congratulations on taking the first step toward feeding your cat a healthier diet. Just making the decision to change to raw cat food can be the hardest part. For many people, realizing your obligate carnivore should be fed a diet closer to what it evolved to eat is a complete shift in thinking about cat nutrition. Frankly, it's empowering to take control of what goes into your cat. It's also a bit of a relief. No more mystery ingredients. No more worrying about what "by-products" really means. You now get to skip an entire aisle at the grocery store, well, except maybe to get some more kitty litter. Continued
I have started Tedders on a raw cat food diet and I've seen a lot of improvement in his health and energy levels. When I was investigating what I should be feeding him, I kept seeing cats described as obligate carnivores. What exactly is an obligate carnivore and how is it different from a regular carnivore? Are there other obligate carnivores besides cats?
People refer to cats as obligate carnivores when they are trying to emphasize the fact that cats are a little different than many other meat-eating predators. Continued
It is important to remove dry food from your cat's diet. This one change alone is a big step forward in improving cat nutrition and health. Dry food, be it premium, prescription or "natural," harms your cat's health. It consists mostly of starch and carbohydrates – it must be, as it can't be manufactured and extruded otherwise. The quality of the ingredients really doesn't matter – that's not the point. Simply that it is carb-laden and dry is enough to make it a terrible choice for cats. The carbs take the place of healthy meat-derived protein and fats that are vital for an obligate carnivore. All of these factors make dry foods detrimental to health.¹ Continued
All cats, small or large, are true carnivores, obligate carnivores. This means they must eat meat to survive. There are no vegan cats. Because they evolved to fill this top-predator niche, their bodies are specifically geared to process a prey-based diet. This is as true for a tiger as it is for the cat on your lap. Raw food is a way to feed cats a more natural diet. By natural we mean bio-appropriate. A diet that fits their true nutritional requirements. The benefits to your cat are enormous. And it isn't hard at all. Continued
Cats are predators. They evolved eating a prey-based diet, and more importantly, eating that food raw. Cooking degrades nutrients in meat, causing the loss of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.¹ Meat used in highly-processed pet food is cooked at high temperatures. The nutrients lost must then be added back in. This supplementation is not exact. There are nutrient losses that aren't always replaced. Cats in the wild often eat the entire prey animal if it is small, and will eat nearly everything except the intestines of a larger prey animal. Continued
There are now many easy raw food choices for the person on-the-go. In stores and on the internet, you can purchase frozen complete meals, frozen ground meat/bone/organ mixes and pre-mixed supplements that you just add to raw meat. There are a few national brands, and many smaller, regionally-available products that make it easy to feed a natural raw diet for cats. It's as simple as thaw and serve! We discuss some specific products here, but there are many others, with more being added as demand for easy-to-feed raw food increases. Continued
Transitioning to a raw diet for cats is something that the majority of us will have to do until the time comes when people grab a kitten from its mother's teat and start feeding raw food from the beginning! But in the meantime, it's a major issue in cat nutrition. This step-by-step approach, and patience, will work for nearly every cat. Kittens need no transition; they take to raw food like ducks to water. Special kitten food is not necessary. They eat the same food as adult cats, just more of it and more often. Continued
This article discusses the basic nutritional needs of your cat. Many nutrients have been studied individually in a clinical setting – in fact, they're examined more individually than in the food they came from. This is unfortunate because it's important to remember that the essential building blocks of health aren't isolated in nature. Whole foods contain a complex blend of synergistic compounds that work together to support optimal well-being. While that may sound complicated, it really isn't – if you simply use species-appropriate real food as the foundation for health. Continued
The Feline Nutrition Foundation is dedicated to educating people about the benefits of feeding their cats the right kind of diet. We want science-backed information to be freely available to everyone. That's a core part of our mission. We emphasize the freely part. Membership is free, all the information we offer is free and we don't have ads cluttering up the site. Everyone associated with our education and advocacy work is a volunteer. We are passionate about helping cats. But, passion doesn't pay the bills. Continued
Ready – Set – Go!
Now that you have the basics down, you're ready to dive into the rest of the site! Go to Nutrition if you want to see a make-at-home recipe or read more on food and feeding. Check out the Health section for articles on specific medical issues. Have a question? The Answers section has lots of articles on questions you may have. Visit Features for articles from people just like you. For insights and tips from Feline Nutrition's founder, visit the Blogs.
Stan says "Happy reading!"