Do you want to start to raw feed your cat, you have taken the time to learn everything about it, but some fears are still holding you back? I know this feeling, as I have been in this situation for a few months before starting. However, in the end, I managed to overcome my fears and everything went well. So, I hope that this article will help you make the jump to raw feeding!
Fear #1: An unbalanced diet
Many people are afraid that their cat will have some nutritional deficiency or that a raw diet won’t provide everything they need. It’s true that if you give your cat only raw muscle meat, the diet will be unbalanced. However, if your cat follows a diet based on a variety of meats, raw meaty bones, organs, and fish, following one of the classic ways to balance a raw diet, your cat shouldn’t have any problems! Like for us humans, a healthy diet is based on a variety of fresh and whole foods, respecting some basic rules.
If you really are afraid of not providing all the necessary nutrients to your cat, or if your cat has any special health concern, you can follow the nutrient requirements defined for the cats by the National Research Council to formulate a diet that satisfies these requirements. In that case, you’ll be 100% sure that the diet is balanced, as everything is calculated to satisfy the nutrient requirements. If you want to know more about this, I recommend you to check the Facebook group
and website Raw Fed And Nerdy
Fear #2: Bones
This one was my biggest fear! We all have heard everywhere how you should never feed chicken or rabbit bones to our pets. However, this isn’t actually true: what you should never feed are cooked bones. Raw meaty bones, which are bones with meat around and adapted in size to your cat, are a necessary component in a raw diet, as they bring essential nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus. When cats hunt mice and birds in nature, they eat them whole, including the bones, meaning that cats are naturally able to eat and digest bones. You shouldn’t worry about it if you take all the precautions to feed adapted bones. You can find more details on selecting the best bones for your cat in my article on raw meaty bones
Your cat may struggle to eat bones at the beginning because they are not used to eating them and/or their jaw is not strong enough. Some bones, though, are quite “soft” to start like, for example, rabbit ribs.
Fear #3: Food safety and hygiene
Rightfully, hygiene and food safety are amongst the main concerns of many people who want to start raw feeding. This concern can be broken down into two aspects: one about the safety of your cat to eat raw meat, and the second one about the safety of your family with raw meat around.
For the first one, eating raw meat is safe for your cat. In fact, cats are carnivores and made to digest raw meat. In order to handle the bacteria in raw meat, they have a very acidic stomach and a short digestive tract. Moreover, remember that your cat is licking its butt every day (arguably a worse source of bacteria) and in many countries, raw meat is eaten by humans too, like in a steak tartare dish. So, food safety shouldn’t be a concern for your cat.
About the safety of your family, if you respect all the basic rules of hygiene, you and your family will not have any problem. Feeding raw food to your cat is not any riskier than handling raw meat to cook for yourself. If you are especially worried about hygiene, you can use utensils (like a knife and a cutting board) that you dedicate only to the cat raw food preparation. You can even store them separately from the ones that you use to prep your meals. On top of this, you should disinfect the place where your cat ate, and everything which was in contact with raw food. Don’t forget to thoroughly wash your hands after handling raw meat.
Fear #4: Logistics
Many of you are convinced that you won’t be able to manage to do a raw food preparation as you see on Instagram or Facebook. But remember that what you see is generally people who have been raw feeding for years, and so they have found what works best for them. I, myself, took a lot of time to find the best way to prepare raw food, and I’m still improving the ways I’m doing it.
Logistics may look complicated, but you will see that after starting it won’t be that difficult. It’s a bit like seeing a recipe that looks very complicated, but after following it step by step, you realize it wasn’t that difficult after all. Moreover, remember that if you are able to feed yourself, you are able to feed your cat. If you do some mistakes or not everything is perfect at the beginning, you and your cat are still going to be ok.
Fear #5: Time
It may seem like prepping and feeding raw food is very time-consuming. However, on a day-to-day basis, feeding raw does not take any longer than feeding wet food! What can be more time consuming is the food prep that must be done in advance: I would say that this takes me about half a day every month. Of course, in the beginning, it will probably take you more time than that but after a while, you will certainly optimize your process and reduce the time you spend on it. If it seems like a lot, remember that you are investing some of your time into the health of your cat!
Finally, if you really don’t have any time, or you would prefer to do something else in your free time, you can still buy pre-made raw diet plans which will, however, be generally more expensive.
Fear #6: Price
Depending of where you live, raw feeding can end up being less expensive than high quality industrial pet food! In fact, you can often find butchers that will give you meat scraps for free or at a discounted price. To estimate very approximately how much it would cost you per month, you can take 3% of the weight of your cat, as a cat will generally eat this quantity. Multiply this amount by 30, so you’ll have the quantity of meat your cat will eat every month. Finally, multiply this by an estimate of the average price per kg (lbs) of meat in your area. For example, for Néline, she weights 4.7 kg (10.4 lbs) and I don’t buy any meat that costs more than 5 €/kg (or 2.50 USD/lbs). This amounts to (4.7kg x 0.03) x 30 x 5€/kg = 21.15€ (22.92 USD) per month to feed Néline. If you have an idea of the average price per kg (per lbs) in your area, this formula can be a good approximation. I also wrote a blog article
where I broke down how much I pay for Néline’s food every month.
Fear #7: Picky cats
Many of you are often afraid that your cat won’t like raw food. Don’t let your prejudice hold you back: many cats that are picky with industrial pet food like raw food! That was the case for Néline: she was refusing to eat any wet food, but never complained when we started feeding her with raw food.
If your cat is very picky, even with raw food, you can do a very progressive transition to make sure that your cat will eat it. By doing a very slow transition you’ll be sure to not disrupt your cat and with a lot of patience and time, your cat will end up eating raw food! I wrote more about transitioning a cat into raw feeding in this blog article
, and in this one I wrote about picky cats
So, you shouldn’t worry about the transition or your cat refusing to eat: it’s always possible to transition a cat with some patience.
Starting to feed a homemade raw diet can sound overwhelming and scary at first, as there has been a lot of fear-mongering around raw feeding, often coming from uninformed people! It is true that it is not as easy as opening a kibble bag, as there are many things to take into account and learn, but your cat’s health is worth the effort. Like for everything else, the hardest part is to jump out of your comfort zone and out of your routine. Take your courage in both hands and start: you will see that the theory seems very complicated but after starting everything will make more sense!