There are many ways to switch a cat to raw feeding and this subject creates a lot of debates in the raw feeding community. That’s why I’m starting a series of articles on how to start to raw feed your cat! I will present different methods to switch to raw, tips for picky cats, common issues your cat may have, and finally my personal experience, as an example, of how I switched Néline and Praline to a prey model diet. In this article I present several methods to transition your cat to raw feeding, depending on their age, their addiction to industrial food, their digestive capacity. The first two methods are for cats that are older than 6 months old. The first one is a “direct transition” method, for cats that are not too much addicted to kibble, or that are still young. The second method is more progressive and suited for older cats, or for cats having a sensitive stomach. I will finally explain a way to transition kittens between 3 and 6 months old to raw feeding.

Foreword

For adult cats, I recommend feeding them at least 2-3 times a day. Before starting to feed raw you need to determine how much raw food your cat should eat per day. In order to do so, read my blog article on how much to feed your cat when you start raw feeding. You also need to determine what should be a balanced raw diet for your cat! I advise you to read my blog article on the prey model diet. For kitten younger than 3 months, I will dedicate an article on how to wean kitten to raw food.

Method 1: direct transition for easy cats

In this method, you switch your cat cold turkey from industrial food to raw food. It means that from one day to another you go from feeding industrial pet food to feeding just raw meat. Then, progressively, you introduce new ingredients, such as organs or fish, to reach a balanced diet. It's important to introduce any new elements one by one in case of allergies, so you can know which type(s) of meat your cat is sensitive to. In the beginning, you won’t be feeding all the necessary elements to have a balanced diet! Don’t worry about it, as deficiencies take months before appearing. Recommend for: This is a method for cats older than 6 months. This method is better for cats that already occasionally ate raw meat, or for younger cats that are not yet addicted to kibbles. Pro: Faster transition, no mix of raw food and industrial pet food. Con: May not work for every cat. two bowls with raw meat
Example of a meal with only muscle meat.

Steps

After having determined how much raw food your cat should eat per day, you can follow these steps. Day 1-5: Start with only meat and bones coming from the same animal. You’ll feed 70% of meat and 30% of raw meaty bones or, depending on how you count it, 90% meat and 6-10% pure bones. The two proportions should result in quite similar results: for more details on the percentage of bones, you can read my blog article on raw meaty bones. I recommend starting with either quail, rabbit meat and rabbit ribs, or young chickens. Day 6-10: Introduce a type of red meat. You’ll still feed 70% meat and 30% raw meaty bones. Introduce the new meat progressively, while keeping the same raw meaty bones. For example, you can start with 15g of beef and then progressively add some more. Any red meat is fine: beef, veal, lamb, duck... Day 11-15: Introduce an organ that is not liver, kidney for example. Some cats can be really sensitive to organs. That's why I would advise you to start with 2-3 grams of kidney. You’ll now be feeding 30% raw meaty bones, 5% organs, and 65% meat. Day 16-20: Introduce the liver. Some cats can be really sensitive to liver, and that's why I would advise you to start with just 2-3 grams of it per day. You should now be feeding 30% raw meaty bones, 5% organs, 5% liver, and 60% meat. Day 21-25: Introduce small oily fish to introduce all ingredients for a balanced diet. You can start for example with sardines or sprats for example. You should now be feeding 30% bones, 5% organs, 5% liver, 10% fish and 50% meat. You can then add more meat, organs, raw meaty bones, etc to provide a diverse and balanced diet. Don't forget to go slowly every time you introduce anything new, and especially liver, which is very rich in vitamins and can be difficult to digest. For example, if your cat needs 20g of fish start with 10g, then 15g, then 20g. Before going to each new step, always verify that your cat is having well-formed stools. An alternative version of this method is to start with a daily ration composed of 100% meat, and then follow all the other steps normally. cats with raw meat bowl

Method 2: Progressive transition for picky cats

In this method, you will progressively go from feeding kibbles to raw feeding. The transition will go through intermediate steps, such as feeding wet food at regular mealtimes. Recommend for: This is a method for cats older than 6 months. This method is more adapted for an old cat, that doesn’t like to have his habits changed, a kibble-addict cat, or a cat that is stomach sensitive. Basically, this is the “picky cat method”. Pro: It makes raw feeding possible for stubborn cats. Con: It may take a very long time before reaching a full raw feeding diet, and it includes a period when you’ll mix raw food and industrial pet food. After having determined how much raw food your cat should eat per day, you can follow these steps.

Steps

Stop free-feeding kibbles
If your cat is free-fed, start by feeding it with kibbles at fixed times, 3 or 4 times a day. To do so let the kibbles out and, after one hour, put them away. Your cat will slowly understand that it needs to eat at fixed times. You can progressively reduce the time to only 15/20 minutes, for example by reducing it by 5 minutes every day.
Introduce wet food
At the same time, or after having finished introducing timed meals, start by adding wet food to the kibbles, in order to progressively switch to a wet-food-only diet. Be sure that the wet food you feed is complete (balanced). You can start with ¼ of wet food, or ⅛ … Adapt the quantity based on your cat’s response: find the smallest quantity your cat accepts to eat and progressively go to 100% of wet food.
Introduce raw meat
After having finished transitioning your cat to only wet food, you can start adding raw meat to the wet food. Like for the introduction of wet food, you’ll need to find the smallest quantity of raw food mixed with wet food that your cat accepts to eat. For example, you can start by having an ⅛ of minced raw meat mixed in the wet food, so that the cat won't notice it. Progressively introduce more and more meat. You can also slowly add bigger pieces of raw meat instead of only giving minced meat. When your cat doesn’t have any problem with the raw meat you can then follow the same steps as the method 1 (direct transition for easy cats). This method involves a brief transitioning, nutritionally unbalanced period, as meat only does not constitute a balanced diet. That’s why, as soon as your cat accepts to eat raw meat, you should follow the method 1, to reach a balanced diet. cats with raw meat bowl
4-month-old Praline eating a quail leg.

For 3/6-month-old kittens

Kittens should start directly with a complete raw diet ration. In fact, it's important that they directly have a balanced diet as they are still growing. Kittens are generally easier to switch to raw, as they are less addicted to kibbles and more open to new things: going directly from industrial food to raw food should not be a problem. Moreover, young kittens are said to be less susceptible to get an allergy than older ones, so having an entire ration from the start is ok. Start the first week with a complete ration composed of 30% raw meaty bones, 5% organs, 5% liver, 10% fish and 50% meat. Keep feeding the same ingredients for the whole first week. After the first week, you can start introducing different kinds of meat and ingredients. Introduce them one by one, in case of allergies.

Final words

It can be very difficult to switch your cat to raw feeding, and you should be determined when doing so. Surely more determined than your cat: don’t quit if it’s not eating one meal! Remember that each transition is different and depends on each and every cat. That’s why you should adapt this guide to your own cat: don’t hesitate to wait longer for an introduction if your cat has difficulties to digest a type of meat. If you see that your cat digests everything well and has well-formed stools, you can shorten the introduction time. I have many more tips to share with you, and I will dedicate an entire article to help you transition picky cats. Be aware that some cats may have issues while transitioning to raw food, such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation: stay tuned for a guide to troubleshooting all these small issues!