Very often, it can be quite difficult to make a cat eating raw food for the first time. One of the reasons for that is that cats are neophobic, meaning that they don’t like or are scared of new things. This applies to any new food: that’s why it can be very difficult to make your cat change diet and eat raw food.
I will present in this article some techniques that can help you make your cat eat raw meat, when you are doing a transition to raw feeding
For every tip that I propose to you, try it at least two or three times before going to the next one if it doesn’t work.
Tips for meat
Sprinkle something that your cat loves to eat on top of the food.
This will work with many cats, but sadly sometimes the cat will only lick what you sprinkle on top.
The idea is to cover the smell of raw meat. Raw meat is not as smelly as kibbles, which are made to be addictive for a cat.
When your cat accepts to eat raw food with the topping, try to reduce the quantity of it at each meal. So, in the end, your cat will only eat raw meat.
Example of food that cats generally like (to be sprinkled on top):
- Nutritional yeast, also known as brewer’s yeast.
- Fortiflora, a probiotic. Néline, for example, goes crazy for it. Though it can be expensive.
- Its favorite treats. Sprinkle it on top if it’s possible: don’t put entire treats. I often reduce in powder and sprinkle the freeze-dried chicken treats of Néline and Praline.
- For really previously kibble-addicted cats, you can sprinkle a bit of kibble powder on top.
- A bit of juice from a can of tuna can for cats that love tuna.
- Other toppings could be parmesan cheese, bonito flakes...
Mince the meat in very little pieces. Cats that have always eaten only wet food and kibbles may not be used to the texture of the pieces of raw meat. Mincing it will give it the texture of wet food and will be less disruptive for your cat. You can then progressively introduce bigger chunks of meat.
Be sure to give the food at least at room temperature. In fact, cats naturally would eat prey after having hunted it, which means it would still be warm when the cat eats it.
When you take the food out of the fridge, it will be too cold and not smelly enough for your cat.
If there are no bones (cooked bones are dangerous), in the meal you can slightly heat up the food. Be sure not to cook the meat, just make it warm! I advise against using a microwave that would cook it very quickly. To heat up the meat you can, for example, put it in a plastic bag and then submerge it in warm water.
Sometimes playing with the food can reveal the instinct of the cat chasing its prey and make it eat! You can try to move a piece of meat in front of it: sometimes before eating the cat will poke the pieces of meat and play a bit with it.
In a hot pan, lightly cook a piece of meat very quickly on each side. Let it on the hot pan just for a few seconds, so it can have a “cooked” taste, but the inside will still stay raw.
Do not use this tip with bones, as cooked bones are dangerous.
Néline and Praline eating
Tips for bones
Your cat probably never actually used its jaw before, so it can be difficult to chew and eat the bones for the first time. That’s why you should start with easy bones such as the ones found in quails, or rabbit ribs, or young chicken wings.
You can hammer the raw meaty bones with a meat tenderizer. It’s generally not recommended to cut the bones as it will create splinters, but hammering the bones is fine because the bone will still be surrounded by meat.
Put the kibble bag(s) away from your house, if you still have some. Cats can smell it and might refuse to eat raw food as they know that there some other food they’re used to available in the house.
Feed your cat at the same place that you were feeding kibbles or wet food, in order to help it understand that the raw meat is actually food.
Tough love is when, if your cat doesn’t want to eat raw food, you put the food back in the fridge after 20 mins and give it again at the next meal. Keep repeating this until your cat eats it.
This is not recommended for every cat: not eating for a long amount of time can cause hepatic lipidosis, also called feline fatty liver syndrome. That’s why you should never use this tip with an overweight cat, a kitten, or any sick cats.
This tip generally works for a cat that already accepted to eat something one time but is refusing to eat it another time. This method will make the cat hungry and, therefore, more willing to eat the new food. Don’t let your cat without any food for more than 24 hours, otherwise it could start being at risk of hepatic lipidosis.
This paragraph is a tip aimed directly at the cat owner. It is said that animals like cats are able to sense if you are stressed or confident. Therefore, if you stay near your cat when it is eating and you are stressed about the fact that it may refuse to eat, you may transmit your stress to your cat! Likewise, if you are confident about raw feeding, your cat may feel it and be more inclined to eat.
If you can’t stop being stressed about it, don’t stay near your cat when it eats. You can go in another room, or watch it from far away.
I hope these tips will help you with your picky cats! If you have any tips you would like to share please feel free to contact me and I will update the article.