When we first switched our cats to a raw food diet, nine times out of 10 the reactions from friends and other cat owners were about the perceived cost of feeding raw cat food. Our vet, who is moderately supportive of a raw food diet exclaimed: “that must cost a small fortune!”
Is Raw Cat Food Expensive?
Raw feeding isn’t necessarily the cheapest option, but 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 be a false economy if it leads to health problems for your cat in the future and results in expensive veterinary bills.
Keeping Raw Food Costs Down
Whilst you can control the costs of preparing raw cat food, we recommend that you only buy from reputable suppliers. Here’s how you can save a few dollars at your supermarket or butcher:
- buy raw meat in bulk
- take advantage of discount offers
- opt for less expensive cuts of meat
Before Switching to Raw Food
Prior to switching our cats to a raw food diet, they were eating premium quality commercial canned foods. We bought in bulk (20+ cans 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. That’s a daily meal cost of A$2-3 per cat, based on two meals per day.
There are many cheaper commercial canned and kibble foods available but we don’t include these in our cats’ diet.
What Does a Raw Food Diet Really Cost?
We use quality human-grade meats sourced from our local supermarket or butcher and follow a balanced raw cat food recipe that also includes a vitamin supplement. One batch of raw food makes 18 individual 55gram meals.
Standard Australian supermarket prices for raw meat (per kg) range from:
- $9 for chicken and turkey
- $14 for kangaroo and beef
- $21 for lamb
- $32 for duck*.
*Duck is often discounted to $15 in our local supermarket, so when that happens I tend to clear the supermarket fridge shelves.
For raw organs (we use lamb), the price per kilogram is usually:
- $5.50 for liver
- $6.50 for heart
- $7.50 for kidneys.
In addition to raw meat and organs, the recipe includes a vitamin supplement mix, egg yolk and salmon oil.
Cost of Feeding Raw – Chicken or Turkey
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.
The cost breakdown of feeding our cats chicken or turkey raw food is:
- $8.32 for the meat and organs
- $6.05 for the vitamin supplement
- 58 cents for the organic egg
- 80 cents for the salmon oil.
When we fed our cats a commercial canned food it cost $2-3 per cat per day. There is a significant cost saving for us when feeding our cats a raw chicken diet.
Cost of Feeding Raw – Other Meats
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.
- Duck is expensive if you buy it at the full price (we wait for it to be discounted) – $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 the cost of feeding raw cat food more or less expensive than you first thought?