Raw Feeding for cats: the basics!

Hey, fellow pet lovers! 

Today’s post is going to stick with our focus on raw feeding and is a fairly brief post, that talks a little about a lot.

This post is very similar to our Raw Feeding for dogs: the basics!

And some of the information written for that post has been added to this post since raw feeding models and percentages are the same. However, there are a few small differences when raw feeding our cats and we will discuss them shortly.

Let’s jump straight in and learn the basics of feeding a species appropriate diet to our feline companions.


What is raw feeding?

Well, raw feeding is when you feed a domesticated carnivore a diet that consists of:

  • Raw Muscle Meat.

  • Raw Edible Meaty Bones.

  • And Raw Organ Meat.


Raw feeding for cats: the basics!

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Cats are obligate carnivores, unlike dogs who do have some omnivore characteristics

This means they must consume a diet of raw meat, edible bone, and offal, as they are unable to survive solely on a diet of fruit and vegetable matter. Cats are able to process some vegetables and fruits but not as much as our pet dogs. As dogs have a slightly longer digestive tract than their feline friends.

In today’s society, our cats are not fed a diet that ensures they live a healthy life free of illness. Their food options, overly processed canned/pouched wet food or dry kibble are far from what they should be consuming!!!

Cats are far pickier than dogs and they need to be eating a raw diet to not only survive but thrive. They must consume more meals per day and also eat a moist diet to ensure they stay hydrated.

Let’s learn why it is so vital we feed our cats a species appropriate diet!


What should our cats be eating???

In the wild, our cats would hunt for their food and they would eat small prey such as:

  • Mice.
  • Voles.
  • Birds.
  • Rabbits.
  • Squirrels.
  • Small fish.
  • Insects.
  • And other small rodents that they can catch.

By feeding your cat a raw diet you are ensuring you are providing them with functional food sources that will benefit them from the inside out.

A raw diet is what our pets are built to eat!!

There are two main models of raw feeding and these are:

  • BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding or Bones and Raw Food)

  • And Prey Model Raw (PMR)

Both models are great but they do have some differences that we will discuss below.

Even though our cats are obligate carnivores they will still thrive on a BARF diet and the added ingredients such as various fruit and vegetable matter can do them good when fed in the right proportions.

Feeding either a Prey Model Raw (PMR) or BARF diet is by far better than feeding your pet an overly processed commercial diet of low-quality dry kibble or canned/pouched wet food.


BARF, Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding or Bones and Raw Food

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BARF is an acronym for Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding or Bones and Raw Food.

BARF feeders believe that it is fine to add:

  • Veg.

  • Fruit. 

  • And Dairy into their pet’s diet and believe there is no harm in doing so. 

There are two options when feeding the BARF method and these are:

  • The DIY approach, where you make your pets homemade meals from a variety of proteins, following the BARF percentages.

  • Or you can purchase commercially prepared raw food from raw feeding manufacturers and distributors.

For our cat Pooss, we started out making her food following the Prey Model Raw method but have moved to purchasing commercially prepared raw food that follows more of a BARF approach, as it does have some vegetable matter in.

She can be quite picky and refuses to eat a lot of whole prey!

I think this is due to the fact she only started raw feeding quite late in her life, as we did not get her until she was about five years old. Before that, she was eating an overly processed commercial diet of low-quality pouched wet food and kibble.

So Prey Model Raw (PMR) is not the best option for us when feeding our cat. However, every now and then she does get a chicken leg, wing or neck to have a chew on to keep her teeth nice and clean but I am not kidding you she rarely finishes it due to her laziness!!!

And sometimes we will stick a chick or mouse down for her but up until now, she hasn’t humoured the idea of eating it!!!

Maybe one day…

With this in mind, we get her a premade raw food that she loves!!! 


Feeding Percentages when feeding a BARF diet

Feeding percentages for cats when feeding the BARF method of raw feeding is the same as feeding our canine companions.

Since BARF feeders think it is fine to give their pet veg, fruit and dairy in their diet then the percentages are slightly different from feeding the Prey Model Raw (PMR) approach.

If you choose to feed your pet the BARF approach then you will feed them following the 70/10/10/10 rule, which will mean you will feed your pet:

  • 70% Muscle Meat.

  • 10% Edible Meaty Bones.

  • 10% Organ Meat (5% of this must consist of liver!)

  • 10% Veg, Fruit or dairy. 

This is what a BARF feeder would give their pet following this method.


Prey Model Raw (PMR)

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The ethos of this model is to attempt to replicate what our cats would eat in the wild, which we know is whole prey such as, mice, voles or birds.

The first difference between PMR feeders and BARF is that Prey Model Raw (PMR) feeders believe that their pets are true carnivores and do not require any:

  • Veg.

  • Fruit.

  • Or dairy in their diet and no supplementation unless completely necessary.

In this case, when feeding our feline friends this is true and I would say a Prey Model Raw (PMR) diet is the perfect model to go for when raw feeding our cats.

However, you can choose to feed a BARF approach and the premade raw food we purchase does have some added vegetable matter in and so far I have not seen any issues in my cat’s health since starting her on this food. I would say in fact that we have seen a definite improvement in her overall health and she seems so much healthier than before.

Since a PMR feeder does not give their pet any of the above, feeding percentages for this method is slightly different from feeding the BARF approach.

Just like BARF, there are two different approaches a PMR feeder can take when following this method and these are:

  • Feeding strictly whole prey.

  • Or Frankenprey feeding.

Frankenprey feeding is when a Prey Model Raw (PMR) feeder pieces together different proteins to reach the required ratios of whole prey. This is an easier way of feeding the Prey Model Raw (PMR) method, as not everyone can get their hands on whole prey with feathers and innards still intact.

An example of this is a PMR feeder giving their cat a whole Poussin from the supermarket and giving them offal and maybe some rabbit pelt on the side to mimic feeding whole prey.


Feeding Percentages when feeding a PMR diet

The feeding percentages for both methods are slightly different due to the variation in ingredients that can be fed.

Someone who takes a Prey Model Raw (PMR) approach to raw feeding will follow the 80/10/10 rule, which will mean you will feed your pet:

  • 80% Muscle Meat

  • 10% Raw meaty bones

  • 10% Organ meat (5% of this must consist of liver!)

This is what a PMR feeder would give their pet following this method.


Feeding guidelines for Adult cats

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Photo by Michael M Ringa on Pexels.com
  •  Active Adult Cat 3-6kg,  4% of their body weight.

An active cat that weighs between 3-6 kilograms should be fed 4% of its body weight each day.

  • Inactive Adult Cat  3-6 kg, 3% of their body weight.

An inactive cat who is between 3-6 kilograms such as a house cat who doesn’t go outside and gets little exercise should be fed 3% of its body weight each day.


Feeding Percentages for Kittens

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Just like there is a difference in feeding percentages when feeding a puppy in comparison to an adult dog, there is a difference in percentages when feeding a kitten and a mature cat.

Kittens need 5-10% of their ideal expected body weight. You should feed your kitten little and often and be guided by them, as they will have growth spurts throughout the growth period.

Kittens must be fed little and often as they require a lot of nutrients to ensure they grow into a strong adult cat, we will talk about this below.


Overweight cats

An overweight cat is susceptible to many health problems that can arise from being obese, this is why it is so important to ensure your cat is a healthy appropriate weight.

When trying to get your cat to lose weight you cannot just drop the amount of food you give them suddenly, the process must be gradual. You must ensure you are feeding your pet the correct amount of food for their weight and their current exercise level.

If your cat is a house cat like ours then make sure you play with them daily to ensure they do a bit of exercise, this will help an overweight cat lose weight a lot quicker.

You cannot starve a cat and expect them to just lose weight, this can have a serious effect on your cat’s health as decreasing the amount of food suddenly or fasting your cat can result in Hepatic Lipidosis.

Hepatic Lipidosis means your cat is suffering from Fatty liver disease, this is serious and if caught early can be treated but if left untreated your cat can die.


Feed little and often

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Cats must be fed frequently throughout the day and unlike dogs who can eat once every 24 hours and fast occasionally, cats cannot. This is why it is so important to feed your furry friend their meals little and often over the course of the day.

If your cat was wild they would solely rely on the prey they caught to survive and this would mean they would have to catch a fair amount of small prey such as birds, voles, and insects every few hours. Cats will voluntarily eat 12-20 meals per day at 15-30 kcal per meal.

This is very different from feeding our canine friends and why you must split your cat’s meals into small, frequent meals throughout, to ensure they stay happy and healthy.


Taurine

Firstly, cats require a lot more taurine in their diet than dogs and feeding an overly processed diet of low-quality dry kibble or canned/pouched wet food does not provide your furry friend with enough of their taurine requirements. This is because taurine’s structure is very fragile and susceptible to heat (120c) and processing. Overly processed pet food such as tinned or dry kibble has been heated to very high temperatures which means much of the taurine that has been added will be destroyed by the time it gets to your pet.

Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats, this means that their body is unable to synthesize taurine and therefore they must get it from their diet. Humans and dogs are able to synthesize taurine, therefore it is an unessential amino acid for us and our canine companions.

Taurine is essential for ensuring your kitten grows into a strong and healthy cat and your adult cat lives a healthy life. By feeding your cat a raw diet you are ensuring they are getting an adequate taurine intake, to keep them strong and healthy throughout out their life.

What are the Best protein sources with high levels of taurine?

The best protein sources that have high levels of protein are those muscles and organs that work the hardest, such as:

  • Heart.

  • Lung.

  • Organ meat such as the liver.

The general rule is the smaller or faster the animal is then the more concentrated the taurine will be.


Dietary moisture

Cats are designed to get most of their water from their food, this is because our now domesticated cats descended from desert-dwelling ancestors. They needed this important adaption to stay hydrated in this seriously hot and dry climate as they got their moisture from small animals and insects that they preyed upon.

When feeding your cat a diet that consists of dry kibble this can cause a myriad of health issues, due to constant dehydration. By feeding a raw diet you are supplying your cat with a variety of fresh functional foods that contain a much higher moisture content and this will result in a happier and healthier pet.

To learn more about dehydration and the risks it poses to our feline friends check out our Catit water fountain, product review.. This post talks about the Catit water fountain that we got for our cat Pooss when we found out she had a water infection.


Slowly Transition Your Cat onto a Raw diet

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My girl Pooss.

I am going to keep this section short as I plan on writing a post in the upcoming month on how to transition your pet on to a raw diet but I need to briefly talk about it to ensure you do it safely.

Transitioning a dog is a lot easier than a cat as dogs can fast so there is the option to let your dog go hungry for a day or so to try to persuade them to give raw food ago. For cats, however, this is not a good option as the transition to a raw diet must be gradual and you must take as long as your cat requires.

All cats are different, it took us a good while to get Pooss on to eating fully raw, your cat might take to it straight away or it might take months, the key is to be patient.

When we were first trying to switch our cat Pooss onto a raw diet we also wanted to switch her to a higher quality wet food. This was because we got her when she was five and up until that point she had been eating an overly processed commercial diet of low-quality kibble and pouched wet food.

I just couldn’t bring myself to open one of those pouches and feed her it, so we got her some holistic wet cat food that didn’t contain anything but lightly cooked meat. Once she was happy eating her new food we started to mix raw food into it.


Step One

  • The first step is to try to get your pet used to the smell and if they are feeling adventurous, the taste of raw food.

If your pet is currently eating dry food then it will be best if you try to switch them to a high-quality wet food as mixing your raw food in will be a lot easier.

The first step is to put a little bit of raw food on the side of your pets bowl for the first few days to get them used to the smell and taste if they go in for one. However, If they eat it then that is great but if not then that is fine as we just want to get them familiar with the raw food.

Just stick with one protein source for the first week and then once they are happy eating that, it is time to start adding more variety in.

However, do try your cat with just raw food first and see what they do as some cats do just take too it straight away. Most don’t but the younger the cat is the easier it should be, if you are getting a kitten and want to start it on a raw diet you shouldn’t have much of an issue.

If this is the case, then lucky you!!

Step Two 

  • Mix your cats current food with raw food, the aim of this is to find out how much raw food your cat is willing to eat.

The next step is to start mixing your cat’s raw food into their wet food, every cat is different but start with a little amount then work your way up.

Step Three

Decrease your cat’s wet food until your cat is fully eating just raw food.

Once you have successfully managed to get your cat eating one protein and they are happy to do so, you should focus on introducing new ones.

Step Four

Add chicken wing tips, necks or appropriate bones once your cat is happy with eating raw food. Remember to always supervise your cat when they are eating bones and never leave them alone. 

Feed your cat twice a day, more if they are a kitten to get them into a routine of eating, we give Pooss her breakfast in the morning and her tea when the girls get their one meal a day in the evening.

Stick around for a more detailed post on how to transition your cat onto a raw diet.


Where to find raw food?

There are so many places to find raw food for your furry friend.

Firstly, you could

  • Order online from a raw feeding manufacture or distributor. 

We order our girls food online each month and it really helps us, as we save time not having to prepare their meals. You will also get a lot more choice when ordering online than just going to your supermarket and getting generic meats such as chicken or beef.

Check out my post on Durham Animal Feeds, Raw Food Review.

  • Go to your local supermarket. 

When we first started raw feeding we followed the DIY BARF approach and made our girls meals at home by purchasing different meats from supermarkets or Pets at Home.

  • Go to your local butchers.

Going to your local butchers is a great option to get high-quality meat at a great price. If you ask, most butchers will give you their scraps or cheap cuts at a great price and these go a long way when raw feeding.


Raw feeding checklist

Here is a list of everything you will need to start your pet on a raw diet:

  • Freezer Space.

You will need extra freezer space for your pet to store all their raw food for the month. Most raw feeders will have two or more freezers, one for them and one for their furry friend. You can pick up second-hand freezers fairly cheap on Gumtree or eBay.

If you are only raw feeding one or two cats then a small freezer should do fine, if you plan on only keeping a months worth of food at a time.

  • Feeding Mat.

You will need to get a feeding mat to feed your pet, even if you feed your pet using a bowl it is always good to have a feeding mat on hand when feeding bone inside your home.

  • A good knife and knife sharpener 

This is one of the most important things on the checklist, when embarking on raw feeding you will find yourself cutting up things you never imagined and for that, you need a good sharp knife and a knife sharpener to keep it sharp at all times.

  • Gloves, if your fussy about touching raw meat or want to be extra cautious.

Some people don’t like touching raw meat and it is always handy to have a few sets of gloves in the house if you are a raw feeder. Especially for prepping meals or touching smelly tripe!!

  • A chopping board.

A chopping board is an essential item on your raw feeding checklist. We have a separate chopping board for our girl’s food as they eat some gross things, like green tripe.

  • Scales.

You will need a set of scales to weigh out and portion up your furry friend’s food.

  • Storage containers.

If you choose to feed your pet using the BARF method and DIY your pet’s meals, then you will need containers to store your portioned up food in. Please do not use freezer bags and always stick to reusable items such as tubs, as plastic food bags have a serious negative effect on our environment!

These are just about everything I can think of and if I have missed anything out please leave a comment down below and I will be sure to add it in.


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Thanks for reading this post guy!! 

It is so important that you feed a cat a species appropriate diet!!

Dogs can survive but not thrive on an overly processed commercial diet such as low quality canned or dry kibble but that is not true for our cats.

Cats are a lot pickier when it comes to their food so starting your kitten on a raw diet straight away is your best option. Introduce a verity of proteins so your cat has a varied diet and is willing to try new things later on. I cannot stress enough how important it is to feed our companion animals a diet that is suited to their genetic makeup.

I want to thank Honey’s Real Dog food for providing me with some great raw feeding information regarding feeding percentages for cats, kittens and so much more. If you haven’t checked them out be sure to head over to their Facebook page or website!

I hope you enjoyed learning about how to start your cat or kitten on a raw diet and believe me, they will benefit massively from doing so.

Be sure to check out our post which talks all about the Benefits of Feeding a BARF or PMR diet.


Thanks for checking in and be sure to follow/subscribe to the epoch.pet to never miss a post and follow us on social media, or get in touch with us on Facebook @epoch.pet

Weekly posts every Tuesday and Saturday!

 

 

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