Unlike many processed cat foods, raw cat food should always use human-grade raw meats to ensure the ingredients are as high-quality as possible.
Determining the quality of a raw pet food brand can be tricky, though. If you’ve continuously fed your cat kibble or processed wet food, this can feel like walking into uncharted territory.
By doing proper research and considering the most critical factors of any raw food, you’ll be sure to find the best possible meal for your cat.
Top Picks For Raw Cat Food
This specialty diet for cats can be pretty pricey so it’s essential to pay attention to how much you’re willing to pay for the quality of ingredients you get.
Best Overall (Recommended)
Runner Up (Recommended)
- Only the good stuff! Cats naturally...
- Made in the USA - Stella and Chewy's...
- All-natural and minimally processed....
Best On A Budget
- Only the good stuff! Cats naturally...
- Made in the USA - Stella & Chewy's...
- All-natural and minimally processed....
Best Mix In
- FREEZE DRIED RAW CAT FOOD TOPPER WITH...
- GRAIN FREE CAT FOOD MIXER: Raw, whole...
- DRY CAT FOOD TOPPER OR CAT TREAT: Add...
Best Wet Food
- REAL MEAT, HIGH PROTEIN: Our Mackerel...
- GRAIN-FREE, LOW CARB & LIMITED...
- 10% HEALTHY SUPERFOODS: Z-Boost...
Best For Senior Cats
- High in meat. Low in carbs. Grain-free....
- Packed full of New Zealand wholefood...
- Inspired by nature, guided by science....
- REAL, RAW MEAT: Feed your little lion!...
- FREEZE-DRIED CHICKEN CAT FOOD: Intensive...
- NO GRAINS, ONLY GOODNESS: Our grain free...
What Is Raw Cat Food?
Common ingredients in raw cat food brands include raw muscle, ground bone, or organ tissue. The majority of diets on the market today use chicken or fish meat, adding eggs for added animal protein.
Raw diets mimic what wild cats eat in their natural habitat since they are uncooked and unprocessed. This diet can increase the cat’s lean protein and reduce the amounts of grains and additives your cat is eating.
Cats are obligate carnivores and built to digest raw meat, which makes this diet beneficial in many ways. With the addition of bones and other raw materials, your cat also consumes natural animal-sourced fiber.
This further reduces the added plant materials needed to encourage proper digestion.
Types Of Raw Cat Food
It’s common to find different types of raw cat food based on the protein type used in the formula. If you have a preference, it’ll be easy for you to identify if the formula utilizes fish, red meat, or chicken.
However, many formulas out there allow pet owners to make the diet at home. These can be sold in kits where ingredients are added or recipes that owners can make from scratch.
Pro Tip: Making your own Raw Cat Diet is very difficult and requires a lot of research and additional additives. It’s not as simple as feeding raw meat to your cat.
Homemade Raw Cat Food
Raw cat food is made up primarily of raw meats and eggs. Because these are ingredients easy to buy, many cat owners will get recipes online or from veterinarians for homemade raw food.
Unfortunately, when making raw food at home, it’s virtually impossible to get all of the nutrients and minerals that your cat needs.
These foods generally lack amino acids like taurine required for whole health in your cat. This can lead to malnutrition or other health issues in your cat.
Commercial Raw Cat Food
Commercial raw food brands contain a variety of raw meat, fish, and eggs. These are the primary protein sources used that are then enriched with vitamins and minerals for optimal health.
When searching for a good brand, always look for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label.
Any balanced brand will follow the guidelines put forth by the AAFCO, which will tell you that the diet is ideal for your cat. Since many raw diets are prone to bacteria growth and a lack of necessary nutrition, it’s vital to find brands that veterinarians and animal health organizations back.
Should You Buy Raw Cat Food?
Raw cat food is a great way to increase protein and nutrient density in your cat’s diet. This can be a real benefit if you’re able to find high-quality brands. However, raw cat food can negatively impact the body if it’s not well-sourced.
Dry food diets can lack bioavailable nutrients. Meaning that not all of the vital essential vitamins and fatty acids are readily absorbed into the body when the food is consumed. Because of this, your cat may not be getting all of the nutrition that the label promises.
This is where raw cat food shines. Since it’s not processed, dried, and broken down so extensively, it holds on to more of its nutrition. This makes it much easier for a cat to absorb and benefit from the nutrients in the food.
With less processing also comes a healthier coat and immune system. Pet owners may even find that their cat’s stool is less smelly once switching to a raw diet.
Since it’s easier for the cat to break down and digest, it results in less gas and bloat. With fewer fillers in the food, it won’t cause as much rotting inside of the stomach resulting in the foul smell some cats can produce in their litter box.
The shelflife of raw cat food is the major downfall and there is a risk of disease spread with raw meat in many raw diets. If your raw food has started to go bad, you must not feed it to your cat.
Raw food is going to be more expensive and requires commitment as you’ll have to buy more frequently to avoid rotting.
There are several benefits to feeding this type of food to your cat; however, it does require different preparation and maintenance from the cat owner. Because of this, you’ll want to be clear on exactly what you’ll need to do with each food before purchasing.
Check the shelf life of all food options before purchasing. Since some may not last long, it’s essential to consider if you’ll be able to use the food fast enough before it goes bad. Check to see if you can prolong the shelf life with refrigeration or freezing.
While some foods won’t specify anything about refrigeration and state that it isn’t necessary to store in a cold place, this can be useful. Therefore, do some research to ensure the food can be frozen or refrigerated, then use that method for storage.
If you choose to batch freeze, keep in mind that the frozen food will lose some of its nutrients by being thawed. However, if nutrient density isn’t your primary concern, this can be a good solution if you feel you won’t be able to make it through the food fast enough.
Raw diets are different to digest for your cat. Even if a primarily raw meat diet is healthy, it can be challenging for their system when you first make the switch. To avoid any bad reactions from your cat, pay close attention to the ingredients in the food.
Let your veterinarian know what’s inside the food and run an allergy or food sensitivity test if you haven’t before. This will reduce the chance of developing diarrhea, bloat, or uncomfortable gas. If your vet suspects some sensitivity to certain foods they might recommend a sensitive stomach cat food.
If your raw diet isn’t being refrigerated, it’s possible for certain pathogens to begin growing, which can cause flu-like symptoms in your cat.
If your cat starts experiencing severe diarrhea or vomiting, stop feeding the raw diet right away and consult your veterinarian. This may be an indication of salmonella or other bacterial growth.
Whenever you prepare this diet for your cat, be very careful of your health as well. Always use a powerful disinfectant and soap to wash up after. This will reduce any food poisoning or disease transmission.
Raw diets require a larger time commitment as a pet owner and may be challenging to keep up with at points. You’ll likely have to buy food weekly rather than monthly.
If your number one priority when it comes to your cat’s food is convenience, likely, raw food won’t stick around for long.
Some raw foods are more convenient than others based on the way they’re packaged. A diet with a week’s shelf life will be much less suitable than one with a shelf life of a month based on more practical packaging.
These are considerations that will impact the amount of time you have to put into feeding your cat.
Raw diets can be much more expensive due to the increased frequency of purchasing. When feeding a raw diet, each meal ends up being significantly more costly than when feeding kibble.
If you’re sold on a raw diet, it’s vital to find an option within your price range that still has the health benefits you’re seeking.
The main reason to switch to a raw diet is for the nutritional benefits. To ensure you’re getting the nutrition you seek for your cat, compare the nutrition labels on several different food options.
When looking at labels, consult your veterinarian to understand better how much of each nutrient your cat will be able to absorb from a raw diet versus a processed diet. By checking ingredients and ratios for each vital nutrient, you’ll be able to choose the most nutrient-dense diet for your cat.
How To Introduce A Raw Cat Food Diet
Introducing a new diet to your cat should always be taken slowly. If you rush the transition, they may experience digestion issues that can result in diarrhea or vomiting.
Once you’re prepared to phase out your old cat food, follow the necessary steps to get your cat onto a raw diet successfully.
Always do a small test to check if your cat has a bad reaction to any new foods. You can do this by placing a small amount of the new diet with their existing diet. By giving a minimal amount, you’ll be able to tell if there are any current allergies or intolerances you were unaware of.
If you use too much food to test this, you could make your cat sick. A test can also show you if your cat is opposed to eating this food at all. You’ll be able to see if your cat has an interest in the smell and taste of the new diet before committing to the transition.
Once you’ve tested the food on your cat, start to change your cat’s food ratio. Take a quarter of their current food out to replace with raw food. This way, they have three-quarters of old food and one-quarter new food.
After about a week like this, you can change the ratio again. Continue to make their meal half old food, half raw food. Keep doing this until you’re feeding your cat entirely the new raw food diet.
The benefit to taking it slow is that you won’t shock their system. Whenever an animal only eats one diet for a prolonged period, its digestive tract starts to get lazy because it’s always the same. If you give them too much too soon of new food, the digestive tract will have a hard time.
The right portion for raw foods won’t be the same as it was with processed meals. If you’re giving the same quantity of raw food as you were giving their kibble or wet food, you’ll find that you’re not portioning their meals properly.
This can be harmful to a balanced diet and can result in either obesity or malnourishment. Avoid this by paying close attention to the serving size of the raw meal based on your cat’s size and weight.
If you’re worried that your cat is gaining or losing too much weight on a raw diet, bring them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will be able to evaluate the body condition of your cat and make recommendations. Alternatively, you can look into specific cat foods designed for weight loss.
Best Raw Cat Food
Last update on 2022-07-02 at 10:04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API