How To Encourage Cats To Enjoy Raw Food
I recently received the following enquiry from a reader of this website. If you need to ask a question, please use the Ask Dr Susanna form.
Making Raw Food Palatable For Cats
I have three cats. One is a female cat aged 16 with very bad arthritis in her hips for which is is taking 4.5mls of Metacam every day - awful.
Another is a female cate aged 11 who is on one quarter of a 5mg tablet of Ovarid for the constant itching she has, licking her fur off with the resultant hairballs.
My third cat, my tomcat is fine.
I had the female cat with arthritis on raw food (Nature's Menu) for about two months nut then she refused to eat it. She is now back on the dry Felix and James Wellbeloved.
The female cat with the skin complaint eats only raw chicken fillets from Sainsburys (she won't eat it from anywhere else) and the James Wellbeloved. She will not touch Nature's Menu. She is a great hunter for mice and birds, but never eats them.
I've tried all my cats on Nature's Menu (my dog eats that) and they won't touch it.
I would love to get my two girls off the pharmaceuticals. Do you have any suggestions how to wean them onto the raw food as I did try for about 2 months but overall, it didn't work out.
It's great to see that you recognise their health complaints are all diet related! Well done for having a go at feeding them raw food.
However, an alternative is to add PET Plus for Cats to their processed food which would provide them masses of much needed nutrients. I have found this to be a completely successful approach in numerous situations, many of which are described elsewhere on this website.
There are lots of raw pet food manufacturers around now, so you have plenty to choose from. If they don't like one, try another. Cats are much choosier than dogs, if one can generalize.
My preference for raw cat food is wild rabbit for many reasons.
- The wild rabbit will have spent its life eating a natural, raw diet of wild grown grasses and herbs, which are much more nutritious than anything cultivated or manufactured.
- Clean rain water, dew and maybe the odd lap from a stream are much more hydrating sources of water than the chemical laden tap water farmed rabbits have to endure.
- Wild rabbits live a natural life, exposed to plenty of sunlight and exercise, only natural stresses and a happy, sociable life.
- The majority are then shot with one clean shot in the head, minimizing the trauma of slaughter and therefore the amount of adrenaline in the meat.
I think this is all more ethical and vastly better than the farmed rabbit's pitiful existence, terrifying travel to the slaughter house and absolutely traumatic demise.
If you're in any doubt, just visit a rabbit farm, look at the poor caged rabbits whizzing along the motorway to the slaughter house and visit a slaughter house!
This is why cats and dogs prefer wild rabbit as the quality of the meat is so much better.
As it is seasonal (January - May generally), you need to search for it. I use Farmers Choice and have found my own pets enjoy it the best.
Temperature and Smell
Make sure the frozen minced meat and bone has had a chance to thaw naturally and reach at least room temperature or slightly more.
Then it smells more appetizing and tastes more natural to the cat. However, never ever microwave anything as this completely destroys any nutrients in the food.
Mixing a bit of warm chicken stock to the minced up raw meat and bone helps as cats are designed to catch and eat their kill while it is still warm and wriggling.
Some people have had success mixing a little bit of kibble or Parmesan cheese in with the raw minced meat and bone, then over a few weeks, gradually reducing the kibble or cheese, so the cat enjoys 100% raw food from then on.
You could take the things your successful hunter catches and give them to the other cats. At least then the killing wasn't wasted.
Remember they like things to be moving so I throw the dead bird or mouse for the other cats to 'catch'.
You could try whole raw fish too. In the Autumn, Winter and early Spring, sprats are a favourite!
Raw chicken wings are great exercise for their jaws and keep their teeth and gums clean and healthy. Never ever feed cooked bones of any description as they can splinter and are totally indigestible as all their enzymes and nutrients have been destroyed by cooking.
Raw eggs are a very useful food. Cats usually only eat the yolk, whilst dogs wolf down the whole lot!
Minced green tripe and offal is often enjoyed by my cats, but not every day. They also sometimes like minced lamb too.
I recommend adding Pet Plus to whatever you're feeding as it provides all those fantastic micronutrients which are otherwise missing from our attempts at mimicking the wild diet.
If your cats aren't happy about having greens added to their meat, don't worry! It's all in the Pet Plus! And if they prefer their Pet Plus with a few dried biscuits, that's a fine compromise I think!