When you are researching cat diets and the best options for your fur baby, you are sure to feel your head spinning. Moist food, dry food, feeding a raw cat food diet, and the list goes on and on. Deciding the best option for your cat, in the end, will be a mixture of your personal cat’s needs, veterinarian input, and your preferences and ability to source foods.
We will lay out some raw food options, but in no way are we condoning this diet, just as we don’t recommend dry food diets or a specific moist brand. Readers need to be informed to make the best choices for themselves and their sweet feline companion.
Our job is to lay out everything you might find on the market, the manufacturer’s claims, and the expert medical opinions. We strive to start constructive conversations on pet health to help our fur babies live the most productive lives possible.
Table of Contents
Raw Cat Food vs. Human Raw
When you talk about raw food, for felines, this includes unprocessed animal proteins. A cat’s dietary needs are very different from the vegetables and such that a raw diet for humans might include. Raw diets for cats must have uncooked meat, fish, and internal organs as staples.
Additionally, components to these diets can include bone for calcium and phosphorous. A raw diet must be monitored by medical personal and meticulously followed to ensure that everything a feline requires is included in this diet plan. Raw foods such as Sushi are eaten by humans, as is Steak Tartare. However, this is a world away from raw foods for cats, as cats need organs, bones, and other types of raw that would make a human ill. Cats are not vegetarians and are not meant to be!
Benefits of a Raw Cat Food Diet
Due to a raw diet being closest to the diet they would have eaten in the wild, there are many documented benefits of this diet style. Stronger immune systems, nicer-looking coats, and even more energy are benefits owners using raw meals documented they have witnessed in their felines. This is due to the nutrients packed into these diets, and additional oral health improvements have been noted from eating these styles of meals.
However, we would be remiss if we didn’t note that handling raw meals has a higher risk of contamination from bacteria commonly found in raw fish and chicken. Therefore, the handling, preparation, and feeding of these diets require much more regimented routines to help ensure no bad outcomes for your pet.
Homemade Raw Diets for Cats?
Raw diets to meet your cat’s dietary needs are tough. Not every feline’s needs are the same, and good, quality balanced raw recipes can be hard to come by even online. Then you have to stick with it and avoid cutting corners that might directly impact your cat’s overall health. The best raw diets should be commercially produced using the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Additionally, remember that not all raw ingredients are the same, so you still need to ensure that the ingredients are high quality and can be sourced consistently before you start down this path.
Raw Cat Food: Top Contenders for a Raw Diet
There are several raw cat food producers, though not as many options as standard dry or moist foods. For example, Darwin’s makes a raw cat food that comes pre-portioned, vacuum-sealed, frozen, and delivered right to your door. Thaw, open, and serve these responsibly sourced, quality ingredients with no hormones, steroids, antibiotics, grains, vegetables, or fillers. Another great option is Stella and Chewy’s Rabbit Dinner Morsels, Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food, which, being freeze-dried, helps cut down on some of the safety and handling concerns.
In addition, this type of foot can be reconstituted with water to help provide the moisture needed by your cat. Finally, Wysong Archetype Chicken Formula Freeze-Dried is one of the best raw foods listed for picky cats. The ingredient list is primarily chicken, chicken organs, and chicken bones but has trace amounts of other ingredients like blueberry, barley grass, chia seeds, broccoli sprouts, carrots, plums, whey, dried kelp, yeast extract, and probiotics to help with digestive concerns. This one is lesser known than some we found but had solid reviews and a little different take on raw than many we found.
Raw is Generally Free of Contaminants
No matter what the price you pay for prepared cat food either wet or dry, there is always the risk of Salmonella and other contaminants due to poor processing or storage. Ask yourself when was the last time you looked at the expiration date on the prepared cat food you are purchasing? Chances are not often or sadly, never. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) routinely posts recalls of cat food especially those with Salmonella infection as these can be deadly to any cat.
It is worth the while to do raw and avoid purchasing pre-packaged and prepared foods and not lose money on a lot that is earmarked for contamination, or worse yet, loses a beloved family member who inadvertently ingests a deadly contaminant.
Why Consider a Raw Diet?
It is the closest form of food to what cats would eat in the wild. Teeth, coat, energy, and other benefits have been noted from this style of diet. On the other hand, ensuring you get non-contaminated raw foods, quality ingredients, and purchase only from reputable sources is critical for your cat’s health.
Making your own at home is feasible but consulting a veterinarian or other nutritional specialist to ensure the ingredient mix meets all your cat’s health needs is imperative. Cats just like people can be sensitive or allergic to some foods, especially grains, and a consultation with your vet before trying a raw diet is highly recommended.
Some Cats Will Reject Raw
Be sure to do your research and read both pro and con blogs and articles on both sides of this subject to arm yourself with the best data possible. When researching, however, be certain that the source you are using for knowledge is also reputable and not someone’s personal opinion of a raw feline diet. Knowledge of these and all nutritional aspects of your cat’s wellbeing is your best defense for a wonderfully fulfilling, long life with your feline companion.
Since not all cats will eat raw food especially older ones who are not used to this regimen, knowledge on the subject needs to be amassed before proceeding. When deciding to try raw, it is best to start slowly with the introduction to this type of diet. Some cats take to it wholeheartedly while others will reject it outright, especially if fed commercial foods their entire lives. Although a raw diet is natural for cats, rejection of raw does occur if a cat has never experienced it before. It is foreign to those that are used to only commercial dry or wet food.
Credible Sources for Raw Food Diets
Researching incorrect information and then applying that information can lead to nutritional imbalances and cause digestive problems in your meow family member. Surprisingly enough, Web MD, which is internationally known for solid health advice, also broaches the subject of feline health when using a raw diet. Web MD does lay out the specifics of carbohydrates that should be consumed in raw diets, and those that either do little to nothing or can cause problems for your furry friend.
Corn and rice are rather unnecessary and can lead to digestive problems if eaten in large quantities. Cats are not ‘drinkers’ (they do not consume water much), and rice is soluble, meaning it absorbs water, so will absorb the water in a cat’s system.
Avoid Sites that Seem to Push Products
If you stumble upon information online that does not seem to meet any real veterinary requirements and just has tons of links to individual pet foods, even if a raw diet is a basis for the blog or website, run for the hills! The sites filled with Affiliate links generally are written not with your kitty’s health in mind but with the amount of income they can produce from your interest and concern in raw foods.
Many processed foods contain tons of unnatural ingredients such as rice or corn as fillers, and these may not be harmful to your puss, but they are useless and a waste of money. Pet products are big business and although all blogs need to make some monetary gains, websites and blogs that are glutted with nothing but links to products and little information can be a harmful way to start feeding a raw diet.
Quality Counts in Raw Food
No matter how expensive the cat food products are, this is not an indicator of nutritional quality. While most blogs and sites will have some Affiliate links, sites that have only these links with no reputable information mixed in should be avoided. Blogs keep themselves afloat via Affiliate links but if a site gives no real credible information and has an astounding number of Affiliate links, you can generally assume that not much thought was put into the actual research and that the information is sketchy at best.
Remember, raw food is raw meat in a cat’s diet. You can certainly try little portions of raw bits of chicken, fish, organ meats, and other meats and fish on your own and determine what works for you and your cat. Keep freshness in mind though, as serving older meats and fish raw is not something you eat yourself, so it is not good for your cat either. Buy a cheap meat grinder if you can and purchase products that are set to expire the same day as consumed. This will save money and help you to wade into the waters of raw food slowly.
Should Any Filler Be in a Raw Diet?
Although a small bit of rice, corn, or other fillers in a cat’s diet generally will not cause harm, cats are obligate carnivores which means they simply must eat enough protein for optimal health. Rice and other useless fillers are not only unnecessary carbohydrates but will only make your precious feline eat less protein. Purina foods have a great deal of information on rice and fillers in a cat’s diet also and spell out how much rice or other fillers should be given, with brown rice being better overall, and noting that all rice and other fillers should not contain spices or additives if fed to a cat.
Your cat might like rice or corn, or even noodles (some of our pickier felines have strange tastes, to say the least), but that does not mean we should give in to their whims all the time (just some of the time)!
Correctly Research Raw Diets
There is a way to find information that is correct on raw diets for cats and not just some ‘fluff’ that individual bloggers or non-professionals might publish. This is done by using proper keywords and phrases. An example of a correct keyword phrase would be ‘credible sources of raw food feeding for cats’, as opposed to simply the keyword phrase, ‘feeding raw food to my cat.’ Using the correct keyword phrases will bring up sites that are legitimate and value total transparency.
Before you search for sources from which to purchase raw prepared diets especially, you should check the knowledge and veracity that a site is sharing with you. You can do all this on your mobile phone or tablet in your spare time and once you find a good site with good info, it is a great idea to sign up for the newsletter to keep abreast of raw food feeding of cats and other cat-related issues or general updated info on cats.
Hidden Gems of Raw Diet Info
There are hidden gems to find in the quest to feed a raw diet if you find credible sources on this type of feeding. Sites exist such as The Simple Food Project, which is credibly sourced, transparent in all ingredients, and offer consumers new to raw food feeding alternatives in freeze-dried diets, and even organ meat treats.
Even for DIY (Do It Yourself) raw food feeders, this credible site features recipes and comparisons to other types of cat food which shows how many fillers and additives can be crammed into even the most expensive types of prepared cat foods. But if only using the words, ‘feeding raw food to my cat’ are used sites such as this generally will not appear, and consumers can easily be misled.
Raw Food Diet Food Kits
Yes, these exist. Just as all the new food kits and prepared healthy meal delivery services you see online now, some companies offer raw food kits that are prepared and delivered straight to your door according to a subscription service. One such company, Darwin’s Pet, which we mentioned before also offers a selection of raw food menu items the same as human delivery food service companies that deliver.
The selection is vast and fully explained with options on choices, and dates of delivery as well as how many meals are needed per week. Since each kitty is different, not every client needs the same amount of raw food each week, or the same type of raw food. There is a farm-to-table approach with this company, and every item is ethically sourced. There is also a wealth of information on the site if you are new to raw feeding or even if you have been practicing it for years and looking for more information and a more efficient way of feeding raw for cats.
Take Raw Food Feeding Slowly
This is the best advice in all manner of a change of diets for cats. Cats will willingly gorge on something if they find it appealing and this is not a good start for any change especially with a raw diet. We all know that cats will without warning ‘spew’ or regurgitate when either eating too much or eating too quickly.
There’s no way around this as hairballs also make regurgitation for all cat owners. However, jumping into a raw food diet too quickly might make regurgitation immediate, so a judicious introduction of a raw diet is recommended. Slow and steady like with everything wins the race in raw food feeding! If you get raw food feeding done correctly your cat will love you even more.
Jonathon Hyjek is an entrepreneur and cat-lover. He is married to Joy and they share their home with their 2 feline-friends, Franklin & Ollie. Jonathon is a self-admitted “Crazy Cat Guy”. He started this website because of his love for his own cats and their well-being.