Raw Info for Cats
Cats are obligate (strict) carnivores. What does it mean to be an ‘obligate carnivore’? Obligate carnivores or "true" carnivores depend on the nutrients only found in animal flesh for their survival. While they may consume small amounts of plant material, they lack the physiology required for the efficient digestion of vegetable matter.
Go to this website for all the info you will ever need about feeding a species appropriate diet:. Feline Nutrition Foundation
Also, innovative pioneers, Anne Jablonski with catnutrition.org and Dr. Lisa A. Pierson with catinfo.org have laid out foundational roadwork for years and have a wealth of knowledge regarding feline nutrition in their websites linked below. Bookmark these links today.
How to Transition and Where to Start
How to transition a cat to a raw diet: http://feline-nutrition.org/nutrition/how-to-transition-your-cat-to-a-raw-diet
- Do your Homework and review the information in the link below if you have health related concerns: https://hare-today.com/resources
- Commitment to raw, once you switch it's best not to mix, with kibble that is. https://feline-nutrition.org/answers/answers-the-importance-of-gastric-acidity
- Know your Cat(s) and Start a Raw Food Journal
- A journal can help keep track of the weight of your cat, date proteins are started, bowel movements, etc.
- Determine where you will be feeding and keep in mind safe handling techniques, more information provided below under "Handling Raw Food".
- Don't be discouraged, cats can be stubborn and very picky. Warming meat a bit with a warm water bath can be helpful, make sure the meat is in a sealed container and place the container in warm water. This brings out the natural juices of the meat and helps to entice them to eat. NEVER cook bones or microwave. Make sure the meat is fresh, cats are very particular as far as freshness goes, 1-2 days in fridge.
Keep in mind that stools are good indicators of the diet.
Red meat can cause dark brown stools. When incorporating more red meats in your cat’s diet, expect the stool to become darker in color.
Also, multiple meals containing a lot of blood can result in black stool. Excess blood from the diet oxidizes in the colon, resulting in very dark stool.
White chalking stool can be an indicator of too much bone in the diet and on the contrary loose stools can be an indicator of too much secreting organ in the diet.
Quick links to help you with your Cat's Raw Diet:
- Ice cube trays are extremely helpful in portioning out your cat's meals. One standard ice cube is ~1 oz. Check out these trays as well which hold 3-4 oz. of raw meat per cube.
- Pyrex storage 2-cup round dishes provide a tight seal, keeping meat fresh, longer and are safe to use in the refrigerator and freezer. Each dish holds approximately 12 oz. of raw meat.
- This Pet Feeder, with ice pack included, makes feeding while you are away a little bit easier.
- Scale option.
Below are the basic guidelines for raw feeding:
- 83-85% raw meat
- 7-10% edible bones (https://feline-nutrition.org/nutrition/dont-let-calcium-phosphorous-ratios-scare-you)
- 5-10% organ meat (half of that being liver)
Review this resource to help with ratio calculations: https://hare-today.com/raw_food_ratio_calculator.
So many Options...
Most cats like *Rabbit the best, but also any type of Poultry can be fed. Natural prey such as *Mice and Cavies (Guinea pig) are novel proteins and can be offered as well. Some cats will eat red meats, but others simply will not tolerate it.
Here are a few ground products that I feed my cat on a normal basis, along with the meat/bone/organ percentages:
- Ground Chicken/Bones/Organs 80/10/10
- Ground Duck/Bones/Organs 80/10/10
- Ground Quail/Bones/Organs 88/10/2
- Ground Rabbit/Bones/Organs 75/15/10
- Ground Turkey/Bones/Organs 80/10/10
Don't forget to incorporate raw meaty cubes/strips and bones, but keeping in mind that Raw Meaty Bones (RMB) should always be given under supervision. Incorporating some small chunks of meaty bones for kittens, and larger pieces for cats, adds benefits from jaw exercise to teeth cleaning. You can also feed *whole prey foods for some meals. Adding in boneless cubes/strips and boneless ground products will also help balance your meat/bone/organs ratios.
*Please note that Whole Carcass products such as Rabbit, Mice, Cavies and Quail should be feed with a balance of dressed proteins. Whole Carcass fiber has shown to be beneficial in feline diets, but high fiber may lead to lower amounts of pancreatic enzymes which can decline nutrient absorption.
More information here: https://feline-nutrition.org/answers/answers-do-cats-need-dietary-fiber
A common mistake of many new raw feeders is to add too many new proteins at one time. When starting a new raw diet it is important to go slow and steady, adding one new protein at a time. Remember, variety is also important in terms of feeding different proteins, goal of 4-5 different proteins, over time, for max nutrition.
A variety of meats is crucial to a raw diet, more info here: https://feline-nutrition.org/answers/answers-are-exotic-meats-nutritious-or-a-novelty
Additional Feeding Information
Vitamins and Supplements: Cats need a few basic supplements, especially taurine. We offer the Alnutrin supplement for both boneless and bone in ground meats. Cats should also be supplemented with fish oil for the omega 3 fatty acids.
Why you'll love Alnutrin Supplements:
- They can be used in raw or low-fat cooked meat formulations.
- They are free of ingredients from China or India. All raw materials in our supplements are manufactured in the USA, Europe or Japan.
- They are made with human food grade raw materials.
- Made with mixed tocopherols (read more about benefits of mixed tocopherols bellow in Vitamin E section).
- They are free of controversial chemical additives like BHT, BHA, ethoxyquin and menadione.
- Free of non-essential ingredients like kelp, psyllium husk, flaxseed, soy, yeast, rosemary, garlic, fruits and veggies.
- They are made with amino acid chelates for better absorption of iron and copper.
- Formulated to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles.
A quick how to:
I would recommend putting one of our ground packages directly into the refrigerator in a dish or Ziplock bag. Allow to thaw for 1-2 days in fridge.
Once the meat is workable, mix together with Alnutrin, water and fish oil, following the instructions on the Alnutrin bag.
- Add water first in a large mixing bowl
- Then add Alnutrin and mix those together well
- Next add fish oil (or add at mealtime)
- Then meat
Once you have mixed and portioned your food, you can create a rotation from the freezer to the fridge.
How much to feed: Adult cats, 2-4% of their ideal body weight per day. Kittens up to 10% of their current body weight or feed based on projected adult weight. Adult cats can be fed 2 times a day, kittens will need more frequent meals. Feed calculator here
A note on bacteria: .Healthy companion animals can handle significant bacterial loads from food. Your cat's body is designed by nature to deal with considerable amounts of bacteria– the type of bacteria he or she would encounter by eating wild prey. Your pet's stomach is naturally highly acidic there aren't many organisms that can survive it.
Do not be fooled into thinking a processed kibble is safer there has been many recalls of kibble due to salmonella.
Handling Raw Food
Follow safe handling practices just the same as you do when preparing meat for your family.
Fridge time: 2-3 days
Freezer time: If a freezer stays at 0 F or lower, meats will keep for 1 year minimum
Defrosting: Do not defrost frozen meat and poultry products at room temperature. Keeping the products cold during defrosting is the key to preventing bacteria from growing.
Thaw in fridge. I find it is easier to open the chub bags while frozen by cutting down the side and putting the frozen meat in a bowl to thaw. You want to feed the blood as well.
To defrost meat or poultry products in cold water, do not remove original packaging. Be sure the package is airtight or put it into a leak-proof bag before submerging the product completely in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes so that it continues to defrost.
Wash hands thoroughly in hot, soapy water before and after handling meat and other fresh foods.
Wash all utensils, cutting surfaces and counters with hot, soapy water after contact with meat and poultry. If possible, use a separate cutting board for fresh meat and poultry products.
Keep fresh meat and meat juices away from other foods, both in the refrigerator and during preparation.
Questions and Answers:
Q: I was so excited to see the new 80/10/10 chicken and turkey blends [duck also], as this makes life so much easier. The recommendation is not to feed cats more than 5% of organ meat from liver, however. So this essentially negates the convenience of the 80/10/10 blends. Do you have plans to make the blend 5% liver 5% other non-muscle organ meat?
A: The new blends for Chicken, Turkey and Duck were created with the 80/10/10 balance in mind. Also, keep in mind that cats require three times as much thiamine in their diet as dogs. Liver contains the highest amount of Thiamine and dogs and cats are not able to produce enough amounts on their own so this is essential to their diet*.
You may be asking why the full 10% secreting ratio is all liver. This is due to other secreting organs not available in Chicken, Turkey and Duck so the full 10% secreting organ is liver. I do understand the concern that liver can cause diarrhea in some cats if fed too much**.
Although the 80/10/10 ratio works well for many, the higher liver content of the ratios may be too high for some cats. Ratios can easily be balanced with boneless meats, meaty proteins, etc. For example, I like to add boneless ground products or boneless cubes/strips for my cat. The boneless cubes are great because of the additional dental benefits.
If you feed even amounts, 1-1, of boneless meat to the 80/10/10 grinds, you would be at a ~90/5/5 ratio. A 1-2 ratio, respectively, could be favorable as well, resulting in a ~86/7/7 ratio.
Remember, you know you pet best so adjust as needed.
I created this link to help with Ratio calculations as well: https://hare-today.com/raw_food_ratio_calculator.
Q: Do you include raw fish into the diet?
A: I believe in feeding as close to what our creator intended as possible. So for seafood, I base that on how often they would catch fish, for example, in the wild. This would typically be seasonally. I do supplement with fish oil for the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. I follow the recommendations within our product description here: https://hare-today.com/product/other/unscented_sardineanchovy_oil_17_oz_bottle.
I typically will feed raw fish alongside both ruminants and poultry, feeding 1 ounce of fish for every pound of ruminant and 4 ounce for every pound of poultry, if fish oil is not already supplemented in the diet.
Also, check out this article: https://feline-nutrition.org/answers/answers-kitty-that-only-wants-fish