Finding the best raw food for cats might be a little trickier than you think, especially with all the choices available. You see, more people owned by cats are beginning to understand what George Will, a political commentator and Pulitzer prize winner meant when he said “the phrase ‘domestic cat’ is an oxymoron”. This is because as difficult as it might be to believe, your furry friend is actually a natural born-killer, or at least hunter, who in the wild would have lived off a diet of raw meat and bones.
At the moment there are two schools of thought. There are those who are aware of the substantial benefits of a raw food diet for cats, and then there are others who are wary of it, thinking it’s a fad that’s going to pass.
And then there are those who are somewhere in the middle. They’re considering it but have a few concerns and questions about raw feeding cats. People want to know what the difference is between freeze-dried cat food and dry food and what kind of ingredients they should be looking for. They also want to know which ingredients need to be avoided and last but definitely not least, they’re keen to find out what the best freeze-dried cat food options are.
Our Top Picks For The Best Raw Cat Food
The Benefits of Feeding Your Feline Healthy Cat Food
If you’ve been feeding your feline dry food for as long as you can remember, you’re probably wondering what all the ‘cat’ erwauling is about. But if you look at what a cat would normally eat, and what ingredients are included in processed cat food, you’ll notice there’s a disparity between the two.
While most dried foods contain the nutrients your cat needs, they also include additional ingredients such as grains and vegetables that are unnecessary. Also, a raw meat diet for cats is important to keep them healthy as cooking processes of any kind destroy all the necessary nutrients.
Let’s take a look at the health benefits of raw food for cats.
1.Best Raw Cat Food Improves a Cat’s Digestion
Unlike humans and even dogs, a cat only has one enzyme system, which can digest raw meat. Any other ingredients, like carbohydrates, take longer to digest and lead to their digestive systems working overtime. Improved digestion means your cat will be able to absorb essential nutrients, which means better overall health.
2. Raw Food Changes a Cat’s Litter Box Habits
Chances are good that your cat’s litter box habits will change on a raw food diet. In fact, it’s one of the reasons we changed Oscar’s and Joey’s diets. We figured there was no way poops that large, frequent and smelly were normal and after switching to a freeze-dried raw cat food, it turns out we were right. Because they’re eating the right food, their bodies use more of the food, which means there’s less stuff to get rid of. We’ve noticed that their ‘parcels’ are also smaller in size and a lot less smelly.
3. A Raw Food Diet Increases Your Cat’s Energy Levels
It goes without saying that if your cat’s digestive system is working better and he’s absorbing more nutrients, his energy levels are going to increase. Both our boys went from couch potatoes to cats with kitten-like energy. And in the process, they slimmed down a little.
4. A Raw Food Diet Contributes To Better Dental Health
The carbohydrates found in pet food can lead to a plaque buildup and tartar, which can cause cavities, decay, gum disease, and bad breath. A raw food diet maintains your favorite feline’s teeth and gums.
5. A Raw Food Diet Improves Your Cat’s Overall Well Being
Eating the wrong foods affects humans and cats the same way, from weight and energy levels to digestion and dental health. A raw food diet will give your cat a shinier coat, reduce the amount of shedding and eliminate any food-related allergies.
Best Raw Cat Food: How to Read A Cat Food Label?
While this might seem really obvious, what goes into your cat’s food is going to have an impact on his overall health. It’s crucial that you know how to read the label and understand the ingredients, so you’re able to make an informed decision.
The label should provide you with the following information:
Age and Dietary Needs
Whether it’s for an adult cat or a kitten, and whether it targets any health conditions, such as weight management, urinary or bladder issues, food allergies, gastrointestinal conditions, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, and high blood pressure.
The Main Ingredients
One way to make sure you’re choosing healthy food for cats is by checking the ingredients. The shorter the list, the better, and good quality boneless meat, animal meat and organs should be at the top. It’s best to avoid anything with by-products, and a good rule of thumb is the easier they are to pronounce, the better they are.
Also, buy responsibly. Check to see where the company sources its ingredients from and whether they are from sustainable farmers.
Are there fillers in the food? Do you see grains, corn or soy? These are carbohydrates that you shouldn’t be giving your cat as they can cause inflammation and lead to poor blood sugar control and weight problems.
By knowing the net weight and checking the recommended portions, you’ll have an idea of how many servings you’ll get. This will help you work out which is the most cost-effective brand.
There’s no way you’re expected to know what the guaranteed analysis means but at its most basic level, it gives you an idea of the percentage of each of the ingredients. If you’re unsure, you can ask your vet to help you figure out which is the best for your cat. This is especially helpful if your fur baby has any health issues.
The Best Raw Food for Cats: Ingredients You Should Avoid
The benefits of feeding your cat a healthy diet with high-quality ingredients have a lot of health benefits, including increased energy levels, reduced allergies, weight management, and a longer lifespan.
It goes without saying then that a bad diet will do the opposite. Pet foods with the wrong ingredients can cause or exacerbate health problems and, in some instances even prove fatal.
You should avoid pet food products with:
- By-products of anything
- Unspecified meat products
- Artificial flavors and colors as well as synthetic preservatives
- Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate
What’s the Best Way to Introduce Freeze-Dried Cat Food?
If you’re thinking about changing your pawsome pal’s diet, it’s a good idea to introduce the new food gradually. Generally, cats are creatures of habit and don’t like change, so to help make the transition as smooth as possible, here are a few easy steps to follow.
Speak To Your Vet
First things first, chat with your vet to see if this specific diet is the right choice for your cat. This is especially important if there are any existing health issues including allergies. Your veterinarian will be able to guide you in terms of the best raw food options that will suit your cat’s needs as well as your budget.
Consider Your Cat’s Age
Adult cats have very different nutritional needs to a kitten, which is why you need to keep your cat’s age in mind when you’re looking at changing foods. Again, chat with your vet to make sure that the raw food you choose meets your pet’s nutritional needs.
Consider Your Cat’s Personal Preferences
It’s essential to keep your cat’s personal preferences in mind when choosing a new food. If, for example, chicken didn’t tickle his taste buds in the past, it’s not going to do it now just because it’s a new food. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t introduce new tastes along the way, but it’s not a good idea to do this while you’re also introducing him to a new diet.
Slowly change the ratios
Right, you’ve spoken with your vet, and you’ve chosen a food that suits his needs and palate, but now it’s time to introduce it. So, what’s the best way of doing this?
It’s not much different to how you would switch from one food to another. Start off by adding around 10% of the new food to approximately 90% of the old one, and do this for about a week.
Then, add another 10% of the raw food to 80% of the old. While you’re changing foods, it’s a good idea to add water to the freeze-dried mix separately and then mix it all together to ensure the quality of the food isn’t compromised in any way.
Cats by their very nature tend to fixate on food, and older cats might take longer to adjust. The important thing is not to lose hope if he’s not taking to it week by week. Simply extend the number of weeks that you change the formula.
To make sure you’re not going too quickly, keep an eye on your cat’s stools. If they’re loose or there are symptoms of an upset tummy, simply slow down the process.
Place a Bowl of Raw Food Next to His Food Bowl
Some people swear by this technique, so it’s worth giving it a try. Start by placing a bowl of raw food next to the regular bowl of food. By doing this, your cat gets used to the smell of the raw food without too much fuss.
After a few days, add a thin layer of the raw food underneath their normal meal. When he’s ready, your cat will start eating the raw food.
Add a Delicious Freeze-Dried Topping
Cats, like people, can be picky when it comes to the texture of their food. Over time your cat has become used to his dry kibble and won’t like the idea of a softer textured food.
A smart way of getting around this, without causing too much disruption to meal-time is by using a freeze-dried food as a topping. Another way of introducing a new diet to your faithful feline is by adding freeze-dried food to the dry kibble.
The Best Raw Cat Food Brands for Your Feline
When people talk about putting their cats on a raw food diet, there are two ways of going about this. You can, like I do, buy ready-made products, or if you’re so inclined, you can make your own. For Joey and Oscar, I’ve chosen to go the ready-made raw food route. There are so many great raw cat food brands available and this way I know they’re eating a balanced diet that has all the essential nutrients to keep them healthy and happy.
Of course, when you make your own raw cat food from scratch, you know exactly what’s going into it, but to ensure your cat is getting all the essential nutrients he needs, it’s best to speak to an animal nutritionist.
If you’re just starting your cat on a raw food diet, it’s definitely worth considering the ready to buy products. To make the transition easier for you, I’ve included my top five choices, with a review as well as the pros and cons. This is by no means a definitive list, and if you feel there are any I’ve left off that need a mention, please let me know in the comments below.
- Stella & Chewy’s Chicken Freeze-dried Raw Cat Food
- Primal Chicken & Salmon Grain-Free Raw Cat Food
- Stella & Chewy Duck Duck Goose Freeze-dried Raw Cat Food
- Primal Turkey Nuggets Raw Cat Food
- Instinct by Nature’s Variety Raw Grain-Free Real Chicken
Stella & Chewy's Chicken Freeze-dried Raw Cat Food
The thing with the Stella & Chewy’s range of rat cat food is that you know there are never any grains, artificial flavors or colorings, preservatives or other dodgy by-products and fillers added.
Stella & Chewy Freeze-Dried Chick, Chick, Chicken dinner is one of my, and Joey and Oscar’s top choices because it’s gluten-free, contains 98% cage-free meat, as well as bones and organs, and it’s fortified with all the essential minerals as well as vitamins, including taurine. The proteins used in the mix are sourced responsibly and are raised without hormones or antibiotics. This means it’s good for your cat, farm animals, and the environment.
There are also loads of probiotics in this particular product, which help improve digestion, omega fatty acids that contribute to a shiny coat and natural enzymes that keep your cat’s teeth and gums healthy.
Stella & Chewy Freeze-Dried Chick, Chick, Chicken should be a staple in your cupboard, whether you’re introducing your cat to raw food for this first time or if you’ve been feeding him raw food for a while.
Primal Chicken & Salmon Grain-Free Raw Cat Food
Another grain and a gluten-free option is the Primal Chicken & Salmon raw cat food. As far as ingredients go, it contains 90% chicken, including the flesh, neck, livers as well as gizzards, and of course, there’s salmon too. Cat owners (or rather those owned by cats) like the ground bones that are included in the recipe, as these are an additional source of calcium.
Like all Primal freeze-dried nuggets, the chickens are raised in a cage-free environment without antibiotics, steroids or hormones. Produce ingredients include squash, carrots, blueberries, kale, sunflower seeds, parsley, alfalfa, taurine, quinoa sprouts, cod liver oil, and coconut oil. These are all organic, and the vitamin supplements are unrefined.
Quick and convenient for you to prepare, and bowl-licking tasty for your cat, Primal Chicken & Salmon dried-freeze nuggets are ideal if you’re just moving over to a raw diet as it contains all the wholesome goodness to keep your pet in purr-fect health.
Stella & Chewy Duck Duck Goose Freeze-dried Raw Cat Food
Another dehydrated raw cat food product that comes highly rated is the Stella & Chewy’s Duck Duck Goose raw cat food. It contains 98% meat including ground bones and organs with taurine and probiotics.
As per all of Stella & Chewy’s pet food, there are no fillers or grains, and the ducks and geese are raised without any antibiotics or hormones. It is also gluten-free. The plant ingredients in the recipe include dandelion and dried kelp, as well as pumpkin seeds, which are all entirely organic.
Duck Duck Goose freeze-dried food is especially good for your cat as it’s high in protein with a low carbohydrate content, mimicking the kind of diet cats would eat in the wild. The food is easy to prepare and is nutritionally balanced.
Primal Turkey Nuggets Raw Cat Food
Primal Turkey nuggets make every day feel like Thanksgiving. Cats love the delicious taste and owners appreciate that the quality ingredients in the recipe are all sustainably sourced. It’s packed with natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids, along with the wholesome goodness of a raw diet, but without the hassle of preparing the food yourself.
Other ingredients include celery, sunflower seeds, squash, cilantro, coconut oil, and quinoa sprout. There are also almonds, blueberries as well as cranberries. Primal Turkey nuggets don’t have any gluten, corn, soy, grain or wheat and the turkeys are raised without any antibiotics or hormones.
Instinct by Nature's Variety Raw Grain-Free Real Chicken
Bite Sized Kibbles
Your cat thrives on a diet that’s high in protein, which is why Instinct by Nature’s Variety comes highly recommended. The main ingredient in the recipe is cage-free chicken, which means zero hormones or antibiotics. Also, it includes antioxidants, all the essential omegas as well as probiotics, and best of all, it’s low in carbohydrates.
Like all the products reviewed here, there are no cheap and nasty fillers, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives of any sort, and it’s completely grain-free. This is especially good for cats that battle with allergies, digestion, and weight management.
Because it has bite-sized kibbles mixed with pieces of freeze-dried raw meat, this is a particularly good option if you’re introducing your cat to raw food.
Oscar and Joey’s Top Pick
To be fair, all five raw cat foods reviewed here are great, but Joey and Oscar did have a firm favorite. According to them, Stella & Chewys Chick, Chick Chicken Frozen Dinner Morsels is the best raw food diet for cats.
It has an excellent protein content with chicken, chicken gizzards and chicken livers as the main ingredients. There are no cheap fillers or by-products and because the recipe is gluten and grain-free there are no allergens. There are also no artificial flavors, colorants or preservatives.
I like that the food can be served as is or if you prefer, you can add warm water. And Joey and Oscar loved the taste.
It gets a solid ‘paws up’ from my boys.
Whatever you do during this transition period, don’t give up. All cats are different, and while some may take to their new diet within a week or two, others may take several months. There are even situations where it’s taken close to a year. However, keep an eye on your fur baby to make sure he never goes for more than 24 hours without a meal.
If you have any tips you’d like to add or maybe have a question, feel free to leave a message in the comments below. You know how much I love hearing from you.
Thank you for this valuable information. Is there any cat food out there that is raw that is canned. I understand can food is better for cats than dry food.
Good Morning…I have been feeding raw food to my cats and dogs well over 30 years, long before we could buy high quality raw. Now I use almost all fresh meat, organs, and bone… still but also always have a few bags of Stella and Chewey Freeze Dried in various tastes. I also keep extra bags of the freeze in our emergency evacuation back-packs and rotate them. A recent adoption of a 13 1/2 year old Orange Tabby was a challenge in that he was fed canned “Crave” forever and was greatly also loved. Transition was so slow, slow, slow. I have started and stayed with Chewey Freezed Dried as he will always eat it, especially with some fresh beef broth and vitamin. Fresh raw? He told me “I would rather starve!” When I come home from feed store, my bag is thoroughly searched to make sure I have his S&C! Whereas my other tabby was raised off the streets on raw, still shreds a good chicken neck, chicken foot, raw meat, etc. I am fortunate to have a divine Mexican market near with meat and and a selection of fabulous fresh meats right there, and they will slice, chop, whatever. I pick a full sized elf beef bone and have it cut to large hunks for my Newfies. FRESH, high quality and so finally bought a small freezer. By the way my youngest newfie was almost 14 when she died and the last nearly 15. Yes, raw is fabulous, you need to commit the time to it, maybe prep in advance, LEARN about it…newfs also get regular walks and frequent weekly swimming because I live in San Diego! Thank you for the site. Wonderful. Add: keep it fresh, pack meals in advance to freezer..as fresh meat goes bad fast.