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We believe there are many benefits to feeding your cat a raw food diet similar to the one nature intended. We have raw fed our cats for almost a decade and have lived experience of how a raw meat diet has improved their lives.
There are pros and cons of feeding a raw food diet. We have done a lot of research and are convinced raw cat food diets provide better nutrition. Since starting our raw feeding journey, we have seen improvements in the overall health of all our cats. This has been most noticeable with Charlie who suffered inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and was the reason we originally switched our cats to raw food.
Cats are obligate carnivores, they need a meat based raw food diet to live a long, healthy and happy life. Let’s look at some of the benefits you can expect when you feed your cat a raw food diet.
Cats evolved eating a predominantly meat-based diet. Their bodies are designed to digest raw meat far more efficiently than plant-based carbohydrates. They have short, acidic digestive systems which means a raw meat protein meal usually only takes a short time (approx. 12 hours) to pass through.
Cats are not designed to eat and digest carbohydrates (often a mainstay of commercial pet foods) in the same way that humans or dog can. In fact, they don’t produce the enzymes required to efficiently process grains or vegetables. In the wild, the only carbohydrates cats eat are found pre-digested in the intestines of prey animals.
Feeding your cat a biologically appropriate raw food (BARF) diet is better for cats because it allows them to process food more efficiently and eat the way nature intended.
When pets are fed a raw meat protein diet, they are usually much more satisfied after eating a meal. If you have a greedy cat who always wants more to eat, you may notice a drastic change. When you switch your cat to a raw diet, they won’t beg for food so often, because they’re simply not as hungry.
Helps food sensitivities
Feeding your cat a biologically appropriate raw diet can help resolve food intolerances and gastrointestinal problems which are often a sign of an overloaded immune system. Digestive issues caused by food intolerances can include diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting, nausea or excessive hairballs.
When you switch to raw food, your cat is eating a natural diet with limited ingredients and packed with the essential nutrients they need. Feeding raw helps to rebalance your cat’s immune system and heal their gut inflammation.
A raw diet healed Charlie’s IBD
Charlie is a great example of how switching to a raw diet helps heal food sensitivities. As a kitten, he was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). He had a poor quality of life with frequent bouts of diarrhoea, as well as vomiting and nausea.
We did a lot of research and spoke to many people online who told us about the benefits of raw food for cats. They told us how it had helped their cat overcome gastrointestinal issues including IBD. Nothing else we tried had worked – commercial raw diets, novel protein diets or veterinary prescribed medication, so we had nothing to lose.
Getting Charlie’s health back on track was a slow process but we started to see improvement within a couple of weeks of switching to a homemade raw food diet. He continued to improve over the next 6 months with only a few minor flare-ups of his symptoms.
Today, Charlie is a happy and healthy adult cat with no signs of inflammatory bowel disease. A raw food diet has given Charlie back his quality of life.
Better teeth and dental health
Dental health in cats is part genetics and part diet. When your cat eats carbohydrate-loaded kibble (cat biscuits) as part of their diet, they get that furry feeling on their teeth which leads to a build-up of plaque and tartar, just like us humans.
Cats who eat a raw food diet usually have stronger jaws, clean teeth and healthier gums. They usually have better smelling breath too. When a cat tears and chews chunks of raw meat and eats raw meaty bones (we feed chicken wings and quail pieces) these act like a toothbrush. Think of it like brushing and flossing in one.
Oral and dental health is critically important, as bacterial infections that start in the mouth often spread internally to other organs and parts of the body.
Healthier skin and coat
Your cat’s skin will benefit from the fatty acids found in a raw food diet and their coat is likely to become softer and shinier. This was was one of the first thing we noticed after switching our cats to raw food. Our cats are all medium-haired, and their fur is luxuriously silky-soft like an angora rabbit.
Raw feeding is also said to reduce the amount of fur that cats shed and as a result reduce hairballs. This benefit of feeding a raw diet hasn’t been as obvious to us, although living in a warmer climate could be a contributing factor. As medium haired cats with thick fur coats, they continue to shed a lot of fur particularly between seasons.
Raw diets improve skin allergies
Food intolerances can also manifest as skin conditions, such as itchy or dry and flaky skin. Your cat’s skin may feel hot to the touch or may look red and inflamed.
Many cats are allergic to the wheat, corn or soy ingredients in commercial cat foods. By removing grains and starches from your cat’s diet and switching to raw food you can help to reduce the overall level of inflammation in their body. Skin allergies can improve or resolve completely when cats are fed a quality, balanced raw diet.
Smaller, less smelly poop
When cats are fed a species appropriate raw food diet, their bodies utilise more of their food. As a result, there is less waste to eliminate and less poop to scoop.
Let’s talk stools for a second. When our cats ate commercial, processed cat food their stools were bigger and smellier. They pooped in the litter box at least once a day.
On a raw diet, our cats stools are much smaller, and only half the size. Their stools are also drier, firmer and with minimal smell. They use the litter-box far less frequently to poop, only having a bowel motion on average every 2-3 days.
Have you ever felt lethargic and tired when you’ve eaten too much sugar or unhealthy food? And then, when you make a conscious change to focus on healthier food options, your energy levels improve — it’s no different for cats.
When your cat eats the diet that nature intended for them, they become physically and mentally more stimulated. A high-quality meat protein diet with the right balance of nutrients will give your cat much more energy than commercial pet food.
If you have a cat who usually naps in a sunny spot all day, don’t be surprised if they become more active and want to play. Our cats were still young when we switched them to a raw food diet. They are now entering their senior years and remain active. They still enjoy daily play sessions with Da Bird, the red dot or other toys they can chase along the floor.
Raw diets for weight loss
If your cat is slightly overweight, the combination of a raw food diet, increased energy and a reawakened interest in play may also help them shed those extra grams. Helping your cat lose weight if they need to, is another benefit of feeding a raw diet.
Increased hydration and fewer urinary problems
Unlike dogs, cats don’t drink a lot of water. Cats’ bodies are designed to get the water they need from their diet.
Whilst commercial canned foods usually have comparable water to a raw food diet, cats who eat dry kibble are often dehydrated. As they get older, this can lead to health issues including chronic kidney disease (CKD) and urinary diseases.
Raw food diets typically have a high water content of around 70%. That’s similar to the prey (e.g. a mouse or bird) they’d hunt and eat in the wild. When you feed raw, you know your cats are adequately hydrated. In turn their kidneys will function effectively and flush out any excess waste materials. You also reduce the risk of your cat developing urinary diseases such as cystitis, infections, bladder stones or crystals which can be very painful.
Since transitioning our cats to a raw food diet we have seen many of these benefits first-hand. That’s why we are strong advocates for raw feeding cats. We believe a raw food diet gives our cats the best chance to live a long, happy and healthy life.
Jenna Hughson says
I have fed my dogs raw off and on, but not the kitties yet. I like this post. Makes me want to try this with my own 🙂
We might have to try Ricky on raw again. He didn’t seem to care for it when we gave it to him last time.
Sweet Purrfections says
I’ve read a lot about the benefits of raw feeding for cats. I’m glad it’s working for some. I don’t have plans to switch at this time, but I do like to keep informed about it.
It is amazing what a species appropriate diet can do for a kitty! Cat food is slowly evolving. I think it some ways that slowness has to do with misconceptions that many people have about nutrition in general. All of the carbs that humans are eating these days aren’t good for us either. I love the idea of raw diets and it is something that I would love to be able to do, but to make a long story short, I’m doing the best I can with the resources I have.
Dash Kitten says
I am trying REALLY hard to get Dusty (14) to eat 100% raw but he won’t. I know its better for him so I try to make it predominantly Jimbo’s raw or Feline Natural freeze dried raw as a compromise. I know it’s a slow steady process transitioning to raw and you can’t just ‘do it’ – fair enough. I will keep trying with Dusty. Some of our others do not like raw at the moment, but others enjoy a portion!
Cathy Armato says
Great information thanks! I hate when people try to make their cats vegetarian. I’ve never tried feeding raw, but have tried freeze dried raw, my dogs love it!
The Daily Pip says
I have started adding a bit of freeze dried raw as a topper to Rosie’s food. She’s mildly interested so we will keep experimenting and see what happens.
I’m going to switch to raw for one of my dogs as soon as I can. The health benefits are amazing. It’s great to know it’s so good for cats too!
I love the idea of a raw diet, processed food just can’t be the best way to feed any animal, but I’m so worried about messing it up, especially since my pets already do okay with their kibble.
Tenacious Little Terrier says
Mr. N loves eating raw and we’ve definitely noticed a difference since we switched.
It's Dog or Nothing says
This is great info for anyone with a cat! All benefits are amazing, but I think my sister would say that her cat doesn’t need more energy ?
Three Chatty Cats says
These are such great reasons to feed a raw food diet to cats. I am looking into making the switch!
Rosa Silva (Cat Lady Confidential) says
I haven’t tried feeding my cat raw food yet. My main issue is preparing having time to prepare the food (and there are no freeze or dry raw food alternatives where I live).
We eat a partly raw diet, and it works great for us! It would be even better if we could always eat raw, but price wise, it’s prohibitive since my human doesn’t grind it herself. Binga does get a mostly-raw diet, because she has been helped the most by it.
Arby Abraamyan says
Raw diets are great, but I feel like there are many cat owners who don’t really understand what a complete raw diet entails. Many cat owners completely forget about the importance of feeding organs, bones (or replacements), and proper supplementation. There’s so many great resources out there, and many established recipes. If your new to raw feeding, please seek out these resources (there are many great articles here at pawesomecats)!!
The Swiss Cats says
Mum finally switched us to raw feeding three weeks ago, and we all love it : Zorro eats with pleasure, as if he had always been waiting for being fed raw, I love meaty bones, and Mum is delighted to see that we product small non-stinking stools. Joy is in the air ! Purrs
Kimberly Morris Gauthier says
I would love to switch Cosmo to raw, but he’s not interested. So I’ve started adding freeze dried raw to his meals and I’m working on transitioning him from kibble to canned. I bought several cases of Tiki Cat (through our co-op) and he’s barely interested. I’ll be trying Bravo next. He’s so frustrating, but I love him.