Transitioning Your Cat To A Raw Food Diet
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For cats, a fresh, meat-based diet can have a profound impact on their health – even more so than for dogs.
Because of cats’ carnivorous nature, they are biologically adapted to obtaining their water requirements from their food, and feeding fresh food can help avoid many of the problems associated with hydration imbalances often caused by dry food.
Here are some tips to help you transition your cat to a raw food diet.
How to Transition Your Cat To A Raw Food Diet
Cats can often imprint on particular smells and tastes of the food they ate as kittens. This can mean transitioning to new foods, especially those with unfamiliar textures and taste, can take longer than transitioning dogs. Each cat is unique, and some cats take immediately to their new raw diet. However, if you have a finicky cat, it’s not uncommon for the transition to be a gradual one. Be patient, and go at your cat’s own pace!
Establish Regular Feeding Times
The first step in transitioning to a raw diet is to create and maintain a regular feeding schedule. Before introducing raw food, start by stopping free-feeding your current food and create a specific meal time.
Give your cat a limited amount of time to eat his meals. We recommend 20 minutes. If they do not eat in that time, pick up the food and put it away. Your cat will quickly learn to eat his meals when served. This will be essential when you make the switch to fresh food.
Make sure during this stage your cat continues to eat. You can incentivize meal time with treats or other bribe foods like sardines. A tough love approach is not recommended as cats, unlike dogs, will starve themselves if they don’t like their food. If your cat isn’t taking to his raw meals or to his new feeding schedule, take a step back and give him more time to acclimate.
Transition Very Gradually
The key to successfully transitioning to a new food for cats is to go very slowly. In most cases, start by mixing in a thumbnail size portion of Darwin’s with their current food – just enough to enable them to get used to the sight, smell and taste of the new food.
Then, very gradually, increase the amount of Darwin’s, while proportionately decreasing the amount of their current canned or dry food. Most will make the transition within around 10 days time, but don’t fret if this takes longer.
Your patience and perseverance will be well worth the effort for the benefit it brings to your cat’s health!
- Cats prefer their meals served warm or even closer to body temperature. Warming the meals releases the flavors and aromas. Cats choose their food by smell, since a warm aromatic meal is more appealing than a cooler food.
- Use a flat food dish so it does not interfere with your cat’s sensitive whiskers and put them off their food.
- If your cat was a kibble-eater, try transitioning them first to wet food to get them acclimated to new textures. You may also want to cook Darwin’s for the first few weeks to achieve the same result.
Transitioning Cats with a Compromised Immune System
Many things can disrupt the healthy function of your pet’s immune system, including disease, chronic stress, medications (such as antibiotics), and even vaccines.
If your pet has a compromised immune system, we recommend lightly cooking Darwin’s Meals by sautéing in a pan over medium to medium-high heat for 8-12 minutes to minimize any risks associated with feeding raw foods. Remember not overcook as the bones can become brittle.
In addition, it is always a good idea to talk with your veterinarian before making the switch if you have concerns about their health, such as if your pet suffers from a disease