Switching Cats to Raw

Here’s my hardcore kibble addict’s (“kitty-crack-head”) switch over to health-food protocol.

First, move from free-feeding to feeding 2-3 meals per day using the kibble they are currently addicted to eating.

  • Allow for her to consume as much food as she wants to in 15-20 minutes for each meal.
  • Take away all food in-between meals.
  • Store kibble in an area where they cannot smell it (closed cupboard, sealed in a Tupperware bin, closet pantry, etc.)
  • Do not leave food out for longer than 20 minutes at a time.

This is a big step alone—so do this, and then let it set for a while.

Make sure your cat is happy and comfortable with this situation until you move on to the next step.

If, at any time throughout the switching process, your cat is begging for food in-between meals, allow for her to eat small meals of canned pumpkin or a little plain (unsweetened) yogurt as in-between meal treats – they, esp. the pumpkin, are filling and not too high in calories.

Next, you will want to s-l-o-w-l-y switch from kibble to canned food.

Continue to feed 2-3 meals per day. Use one the “better” canned foods—there are lots of choose from these days (Halo Spots Stew for Catsis my personal favorite; but there are others such as, Wysong, Wellness, Merrick, Nature’s Variety are a few).

Important: Select a canned food that does not have fish or seafood as an ingredient. Fish oil is okay, but no tuna, salmon, or other seafood meat should be on the label. Please read the labels-most cat foods add fish as an ingredient as a flavor enhancer, and the results include an addiction to foods with fish or seafood as an ingredient. It is also an especially dangerous ingredient for cats that have urinary issues such as FUS. The sooner you completely eliminate this ingredient from your cat’s diet, the easier it will be to switch them to healthy, raw, wholesome foods. It is usually a good idea to start eliminating this ingredient at the canned food phase.

  • Add only 1-2 tsp. per meal of the canned food to the kibble meals.
  • When increasing the amount of canned food, increase by only 1-2 teaspoons at a time each week or each day, depending on how well she accepts the new canned food.
  • As you add the canned food, reduce the amount of kibble being offered, tsp.-by-tsp. so that the meals consist of less kibble and more canned food as time goes by.

Once you get to the point where she is eating 2-3 meals a day of 100% canned food, then you can start adding some raw ground turkey.

Give her at least a week or two on the 100% canned food though, so things aren’t too abrupt. At each step, give your cat enough time to adjust and acclimate to the change. This is a slow process; it’s better to go slow and be safe and successful, than to go too quickly and fail, or put your cat into a health crisis.

I recommend the use of Rescue Remedy, Walnut and Crab Apple Flower Essences in your cat’s water throughout the switch process. You can also add these flower essences to the cat’s food, if they tolerate it well (obviously, if they turn their nose up to food with flower essences added, then don’t add it to their food!)

The best approach I have found in adding raw food to a finicky cat’s diet is to take about 1/4-1/2 pound of VERY fresh, plain raw ground turkey and make 1 tsp. sized “meatballs” out of it.

To make storing/feeding these little meatballs easier, I recommend placing 1 tsp. sized meatballs of the turkey onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets and place this in the freezer. Once the little turkey meatballs are frozen, toss them into a freezer bag for future use.

Add just one defrosted (defrost in the refrigerator, not the microwave, sink or counter) turkey meatball to the canned food per meal to start with.

– Mix the turkey ball into the canned food so that she can’t eat around the turkey meatball.
– Most cats (even the most anti-health food junk-food-junkies) will tolerate 1 tsp. of ground turkey mixed into a meal of 1/8 cup of canned food.
– If she eats more than a 1/8 cup per meal of canned food with the 1 ground turkey meatball in it before the 15-20 minutes feeding time is done, and she is begging for more – then you can offer a second helping.
– Allow for her to eat as much as she wants until the 20-minute feeding time is up.

Next, slowly increase the amount of turkey being fed—just one mini-meatball at a time.

Follow the same method you used to switch the cat off of the kibble and onto canned food – tsp.-by-tsp. – adding more raw turkey and less canned food until you arrive at meals that are 100% ground turkey.

This process usually takes a month to six-weeks to get to the point where a cat is eating 100% ground turkey and no more canned food. However, I have known cats that took a lot longer (a few even took up to a year, but this is uncommon). So long as you move slowly and keep at it, it will happen! Don’t give up!

Once you have her eating a 100% raw turkey meal, start to add a bit of bone meal to the ground meat.

Alternatively, you can quickly move to a ground bone, organ and meat product such as Primal’s Turkey Grinds. These are closer to a balanced diet than the plain raw turkey. You can switch to this product from the raw turkey over the course of a week or so.

Once she’s good with that, you can add some canned pumpkin or some oat bran for fiber; and then start to offer things like fresh raw or sautéed liver or hearts.

Start to add some of the Feline Future InstinctsTC food pre-mix, Healthy Powder, or build up to the full raw diet recipe found in Anitra Frazier book. Adding components of a complete diet to the plain raw turkey should take no longer than 2-4 weeks. Please do not feed just 100% plain turkey to your cat; this is not a complete diet for long-term use. It is only safe to feed this while you are actively switching to a complete raw diet.

Getting cats to accept raw meaty bones is “Raw Feeding 201” – just focus on getting your cat to eat raw ground meat to begin with (“Raw Feeding 101”).

Please be aware of a dangerous health concern while switching foods (from kibble to canned or canned to raw): “Fatty liver disease” (Feline Hepatic Lipidosis: http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_hepatic_lipidosis.html) is a serious health concern for any obese or overweight cat during any time of change or stress that results in anorexia. This can include changes in the household, illness or changes in their routine or diet; anything that results in an overweight cat suddenly not eating. Since the change in diet will cause your cat some stress, it is critical to go slowly and monitor her closely. Make sure your cat continues to eat regular meals; do not allow an overweight cat to fast. Use Rescue Remedy, Walnut and Crab Apple Flower Essences in your cat’s water throughout the switch; these flower essences will help them emotionally and physically in accepting new foods, and will help them in managing the stress of changes in their routine.

The Feline Future website has some good suggestions for switching cats to raw, too. These suggestions can be found here: http://www.felinefuture.com/products//#switch

Hope this helps!


Halo Spot’s Stew for Cats
It is sold in better pet stores and health food stores (Rainbow and Whole Foods both carry this product).