Every transition to a raw diet is different from cat to cat and that’s why I wanted to share my personal experience with Néline and Praline. This post is part of a series of articles that will help you out with starting to feed your cat following a raw diet. In the previous article of the series I presented different methods to switch to raw, tips for picky cats, and common digestive issues your cat may have.

Néline

Before raw feeding

When Néline arrived home she was eating only kibbles. We then started feeding her with wet food in the morning and evening, in addition to the kibbles. We progressively stopped feeding kibbles entirely: Néline was then only eating wet food, two times a day, at fixed times. In addition to that, we were occasionally feeding her with raw chicken, to add a bit of fresh food to her diet, but also as a treat as she totally loved it!

The transition

As she was already used to timed meals and we knew she liked raw chicken, we decided to switch her cold-turkey to raw feeding. I started to feed Néline raw in January 2018: she was 9 months old at that time. Her first raw meal was a quail, half a body if I remember correctly. I was very worried about the bones and was almost certain that she wouldn't have eaten it! Néline, however, ate it like if it were the most normal thing in the world! We then progressively started to introduce more proteins. When we introduced the liver, and any type of new liver, we always needed to go very slowly, almost 1 gram by 1 gram, or otherwise Néline would have had soft stools. One of the only difficulties that we had when switching Néline to raw food was with the fish, that she didn’t like much. We used her favorite treats as toppings, to make her eat it. Another way to make her eat it was to vary the type of fish, to avoid making her bored and refusing to eat it. I’m not entirely sure of the order, but we progressively introduced quail, chicken as the first type of white meat, pork as a red meat, rabbit as another raw meaty bone, beef, chicken liver, pork kidney, little fish… We went quite slowly in the introduction of each element, to be sure that she would digest everything without any issue.Néline didn’t have any problem digesting new things, except when we went too fast with the liver. However, I don’t recall she had any episodes of diarrhea. In terms of quantities, we started with an initial daily ration of 5% of her weight, as at that time she was still a kitten. This translated to around 200 g (7 oz) as she was weighing 4.1 kg (144 oz). However, since she wasn’t managing to finish to eat everything, we went down to 180 g (6 oz), and it worked well for her. cats eating chicks
Néline and Praline eating chicks

Issues

In our raw feeding journey, we did also some mistakes! We tried to give Néline some chicken wings as raw meaty bones, but they were too big for her at that time. We also tried to give her a rabbit head: she partially ate it but it was, again, a bit too difficult for her to eat. We also did several trials to find what was best in terms of the number of meals per day. Initially she was eating two times per day. At some point, we tried to feed her only once per day, in the morning. I can’t remember why we tried that, but I guess we had a good reason at that time. In any case, it didn’t work: Néline was eating her breakfast (her only daily meal), very quickly because she was very hungry, but then she was often throwing it up 5 minutes later because she ate it too quickly. After a few weeks of tests, we went back to three meals a day, and it worked very well. Don’t worry about making mistakes: that’s how you learn what works for your cat and what doesn’t.

Improvements

After a few days of feeding Néline with raw food, the improvements started to appear: after two days her stools stopped smelling bad, they were firmer and smaller. After one week, Néline’s breath stopped smelling bad and we could notice a real improvement on the tartar on her teeth. I can’t really talk about the improvements in Néline’s fur. In fact, as she was only 9 months old when we switched, she didn’t have her adult fur yet, so it doesn’t make sense to compare her adult fur with her kitten fur.

Praline

Before raw feeding

Before joining our family, at the breeder Praline was eating kibbles, wet food, and raw meat. We then expected the transition to be easy, as she was already used to raw meat.

The transition

We started feeding Praline raw as soon as she arrived home. She was a 4-month-old kitten at that time. As I explained in the article about transitioning a cat to raw feeding, for a kitten younger than 6 months I recommend switching cold turkey, directly with a balanced diet. This means that you should directly feed your kitten with meat, raw meaty bones, and organs: that’s what we did with Praline. We started by giving her rabbit ribs, beef meat, chicken liver and pork kidney. Then, after one week, we started introducing more types of meat and bones, one by one such as pork, quail bone, and finally I added fish, hearts, … After a few weeks, Praline was eating like Néline in term of diversity. Everything went quite well, as Praline never refused to eat anything! She didn’t have any diarrhea, and her stools were well-formed right from the first days, even if they were quite smelly at the beginning. Like for Néline, she occasionally had soft stools, when we were giving here new types of liver too quickly. Regarding the quantity of food, Praline was weighing 1.9 kg (67 oz) when she was 4 months old. We fed her at will, and this resulted in a daily ration of around 180-190 g (6.3-6.7 oz), so around 10% of her weight. kitten eating quail
4-months-old Praline eating quail

Issues

Rabbit ribs, the first bones we gave to Praline, weren’t the best bones for her at that time. She was a bit struggling to eat them, not because they were too hard, but because of their shape. We then substituted them with quail bones and she managed to eat them much better. We also had some problems which weren’t directly linked to raw feeding. Praline was a very curious and distracted kitten, so whenever she started eating she’d get distracted by absolutely everything and would then stop eating. In order to make her finish her bowl, we needed to put her back in front of it every couple of minutes. We especially had difficulties to make her eat pork, which she seems to not like much. We also had a period when Praline had difficulties to eat the raw meaty bones when she was teething, at around 5 or 6 months old. To help her eating the bones I was hammering it with a meat tenderizer, and it helped a lot. As I write this article, Praline is 9 months old, and she is now eating absolutely everything without any problem. I can’t really talk of improvements due to the switch to raw feeding, as Praline never ate kibble since we got her. To conclude, I think I have been quite lucky with both Néline and Praline as they ate everything most of the time! Each transition is unique and depends on the cat: what you should remember from this article is to really adapt to your cat’s needs.