Our go-to consultant for all things pet health related, Dr. Marlene Siegel, is back with a new article outlining her tips and tricks for converting cats to a raw diet. We want to give a special thank you to Dr. Siegel for allowing us to share this with you all.
I trust by now, there is no disputing the fact that the F.S.O. (food shaped objects or otherwise known as processed pet food) are NOT species-appropriate, are NOT sustainable, and they are the number one contributor to the astronomical rise in today’s pet disease, including cancer.
This article will focus on how to make the transition from kibble or canned, processed food to a sustainable species-appropriate raw diet.
There is no exact best way to get a cat to transition to a raw diet, but through years of experience I have put together some tips I learned along the way. The Key is consistency, determination, and patience.
Converting older cats or dogs from a can food or kibble (dry food) may be challenging for several reasons:
- The microbiome and digestive “health” of these pets have been severely disrupted. Repetitive use of antibiotics, household toxins, tap water (loaded with over 65,000 toxic chemicals), and lack of supporting and or replenishing the microbiome (good gut organisms) leads to a myriad of digestive disorders resulting to “picky eaters.” The fact is they have poor digestive health, and they have a “yukky gut,” otherwise known as “leaky gut”.
- Feeding free choice (especially to cats), letting them graze all day, does not give them the incentive to want to try new food. Plus, it is not how their ideal digestion was designed. They NEED to fast between meals.
- The pet food industry has capitalized on the fact that cats and dogs are genetically wired to crave foods high in fat and salt. Cats also have “addictive” eating habits, meaning they get“addicted” to a taste or texture, and it is challenging to wean them onto something different. Cat food manufacturers add salt, fat, and sugar to enzymatically dead dehydrated kibble to foster that food addiction. Processed foods contain between 40%-60% carbohydrates. REPEAT… 40%-60% SUGAR! Cats even become addicted to the shape and texture of their food, making transitioning to a healthier diet challenging.
4. The microbiome (gut bacteria) drives food cravings and emotional behavior. Cats and dogs would have naturally replenished and supported their gut microbiome when they ate the intestinal contents of their prey. Pets that are not hunting and eating freshly killed prey are likely to have a poor microbiome.
Tips To Help Transitioning Cats To Raw
The same principles apply to dogs, though they are typically a lot easier to transition.
1. Stop free-choice feeding. Do not leave food available 24/7. If this has been your feeding practice, start by feeding twice daily only. No snacking either! Take a few days to get your cat used to the new feeding schedule. There is no incentive to try anything new when there is constant access to a bowl of the dry stuff they crave. Create “pockets” of hunger (not to be confused with self-imposed fasting).
2. Transition slowly, no sudden dietary changes. Once they are used to eating twice a day, begin introducing 15%-20% new food (or less) while reducing the old diet by the same percentage. The new food can be offered before the old diet (some will be curious and try it) or mixed into the old diet so they can’t pick around the new food. Do not put down a new food and expect them to eat “when they get hungry enough”. Unlike most dogs, a cat may starve itself if they don’t like the
food. Not eating for even 2-3 days can cause a life-threatening condition called Hepatic Lipidosis, also known as Fatty Liver Disease. Some cats need to go from kibble to can and then from can to raw. Some will prefer the texture of freeze-dried. Whatever you do, transition at the rate that keeps your cat eating, even if that is small changes once a week!
3. Be sure the raw meat is at room or body temperature. Defrost the meat in the refrigerator, but warm it before feeding it to your pet. Warming can be done by adding warm bone broth or putting the meat in a glass bowl and setting the bowl over hot water (like a double boiler), so the heat transfers through the glass and warms the meat. NO MICROWAVE and NO pan frying!
4. Build up the gut microbiome. Feed a fermented organic probiotic like Kefir (homemade fermented, not store-bought) or organic sauerkraut. Avoid long term use of commercial probiotics as studies have shown they inhibit gut diversity, due to the fact that they are flooding the gut with a limited number of varieties of organisms.
5. Repair the Leaky Gut. Ion Gut Health is critical to mitigating the damage caused by hormones, chemicals, and pesticides. Visit my website www.evoloveraw.com for links to this supplement. The dosage is on the bottle. Bone broth is another beautiful addition to the diet. Homemade, organic, using high quality filtered structured water and cooked several days is ideal. Many of the commercial bone broths are cooked at high temperatures and high pressure for a few hours, which in my opinion, does not result in the healthiest product. Feeding 1 ounce twice a day is sufficient.
6. How much raw to feed. With EvoLove Raw, the rule of thumb is 1 ounce of meat for every 5 pounds of body weight. A 10-pound cat would eat about 2 ounces a day (1oz am and 1 oz pm). Adjust up or down as indicated by the desired weight changes. If the cat is overweight (be honest…), feed them to a weight 3-5 pounds lighter. For more specific feeding quantities, contact Pasco Veterinary Medical Center 813-973-2929, and we can calculate the amount to feed.
7. Should I feed EvoLove 85/15 or 70/30? The 85/15 blend has more protein and less fat than the 70/30. Typically healthy active pets will do well on the 85/15. If they have trouble maintaining weight or seem to be starving all the time, consider feeding a little more or blending in some 70/30 to provide a bit more fat. The 70/30 may be best for animals with severe inflammation or cancer, and those individuals that need more calories to maintain their weight. Again, many times a blend of the two is ideal. Kittens and puppies should eat twice the volume (2 oz’s meat per 5-pound body weight divided into 3-5 meals) until they are six months old (for cats and medium-breed dogs) and one year (for large and giant breeds).
8. Digestive enzymes are essential for cats and dogs who have eaten highly processed, high carbohydrate diets their whole life. Enzymes work best when given with meals and between meals for fur babies who are obese or have chronic degenerative diseases. The Pet Fuel (contains essential vitamins, minerals, and superfoods) also contains digestive enzymes and is available for online purchase at EvoLoveraw.com
9. Supplements needed to make the diet complete and balanced. EvoLove Raw was specifically created as a macronutrient diet (it contains the proper portions of meat, fat, bone, and organ meat). It intentionally does not have the added vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids included in the meat portion. I separated the vitamins, minerals, superfoods, and omega fatty acids to provide the highest quality supplements. Organic, plant-based, biologically available vitamins and minerals plus non-rancid fatty acids (fatty acids when exposed to air turn rancid rapidly) are critically important to the immune system. On the EvoLoveRaw.com site, there is a link to the supplements needed to make the diet complete and balanced. Explanations, directions, and products are provided on the web page.
The best plan of all is to start your fur babies on raw from the time they are weaned. The more pet parents demand healthier food options, the better the pet food industry will become. Vote with your dollars and we will see more healthy options, lower cost, healthier pets and less broke care expenses. Everyone benefits from eating a species appropriate diet, especially our beloved fur family!
Read more from Dr. Siegel on the Discover Blog.
Dr. Marlene Siegel
Dr. Marlene Siegel has a long, inspiring history in the medical field. From an early age, she knew she wanted to make a difference. Her medical journey started as an emergency medical technician, but she always knew helping animals was her calling. After graduating from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, she soon opened her own clinic, Pasco Veterinary Medical Clinic. She has a revolutionary approach using a raw diet, holistic, and traditional medicines to achieve the best results for her patients. Dr. Siegel practices in Lutz, Florida, and is available for phone consultations.