Does a raw food diet really cost a small fortune?
When we first switched our cats to an exclusively raw food diet, nine times out of 10 the reactions from friends and other cat owners were about the perceived cost of choosing to feed raw. The Pawesome Cats vet who is moderately supportive of a raw food diet exclaimed ‘that must cost a small fortune!’
Whilst raw feeding isn’t necessarily the cheapest option, there is a balance between cost and quality. It’s important to remember that budget cat foods (especially kibble based diets) often contain fillers, carbohydrates and grains that don’t cater to a cat’s specific nutritional requirements as obligate carnivores. Buying the cheapest cat food on the supermarket shelves may in fact be a false economy if it leads to health problems for your cat at some point in the future and results in expensive veterinary bills.
Premium Commercial Canned Food Cost
Prior to switching the Pawesome Cats family to a raw food diet, they were eating premium quality commercial canned foods, which we usually bought in bulk (20 cans or more at a time), taking advantage of pet store discount coupons (often 20% off).
On average, a single meal would cost us between A$1-1.50 per cat. Based on two meals per day, that’s a daily meal cost of A$2-3 per cat.
How Much Does a Raw Food Diet Cost?
Whilst you can save dollars by buying meat in bulk and taking advantage of discount offers we do recommend you only buy from reputable suppliers. Personally, we use quality human-grade meats sourced from our local supermarket or butcher and follow a balanced raw recipe that also includes a vitamin supplement.
Standard Australian supermarket prices for meat (per kg) range from $9 for chicken and turkey, $14 for kangaroo and beef, $21 for lamb, and $32 for duck. Thankfully duck is often discounted to $15 in our local supermarket, so when that happens I tend to clear the supermarket fridge shelves. For organs (we use lamb), the price per kilogram is usually $5.50 for liver, $6.50 for heart and $7.50 for kidneys.
In addition to meat and organs, the recipe we follow (which makes 18 individual 55g meals per batch) also includes a vitamin supplement mix, egg yolk and salmon oil.
A batch of the balanced raw recipe using chicken or turkey costs us $15.75 for 18 meals, which equals 87 cents per meal or $1.75 per day per cat. That includes the cost of the meat and organs ($8.32) vitamin supplement ($6.05), organic egg (58 cents) and salmon oil (80 cents).
When we were feeding our cats a commercial canned food we were paying between $2-3 per cat per day, so there is a significant cost saving for us in making our own raw recipe using chicken. Obviously, when we use more expensive cuts of meat the cost increases. Kangaroo and beef costs us $19.43 for 18 meals, $1.08 per meal or $2.16 for each cat based on two meals per day. Lamb costs us $24.59 for 18 meals, $1.37 per meal, which is $2.73 a day. If we were to buy duck at the full price (we wait for it to be discounted), then that’s when a raw food diet could become expensive – $32.70 per batch, $1.82 per meal and $3.63 a day.
It’s also important to note that preparing a raw food diet from scratch does require an investment of time as well as cost, but for us it’s worthwhile seeing the overall improvement in our cat’s health and wellbeing. We believe that’s time well spent!
How do these costs compare with how much you currently spend on your cat’s food bill? Is making raw food for your cat more or less expensive than you first thought?