This post is sponsored by Darwin’s Natural Pet Products

A raw diet is one of the best ways to fulfill cats’ nutritional requirements. There are numerous benefits from feeding a raw diet, including improved digestion, reduced stool odor and volume, increased energy, ability to maintain ideal weight, better dental health, and better urinary tract health.

Embraced for decades by holistically oriented pet parents and holistic veterinarians, more pet parents are looking to raw feeding as an alternative to feeding highly processed food. Unfortunately, many are still leery of the idea of feeding raw, and myths about raw feeding abound. This article will help sort through the myths and facts surrounding raw feeding. We’ll debunk raw feeding myths, explain how to transition your cat to a raw diet, and how to choose the right raw diet for your cat.

The trouble with processed foods

Commercial pet foods are highly processed. This is especially true for dry food. Most processed foods are too high in carbohydrates, leading to many of the degenerative health issues we see in cats, ranging from allergies to intestinal problems to diabetes and urinary tract issues.

While a quality grain-free canned diet may be a better choice, those diets are cooked at high temperatures, which degrades the nutrients. To make up for the resulting loss of enzymes, vitamins and minerals, pet food manufacturers need to add in supplements. Supplementation is not always exact, and depending on the manufacturer, may be done with synthetic rather than natural supplements.

Top 5 Myths About Raw Diets for Cats

Myth: It’s dangerous to feed raw meat because it contains bacteria.

Fact: Cats have highly acidic digestive tracts, which makes them pathogen resistant.

A cat’s digestive tracts is much shorter than that of humans, so food passes through their digestive system in about 12 hours, compared to two or three times longer for humans. This shorter transit time doesn’t give bacteria enough time to proliferate.

Caution: this applies to healthy cats. Bacterial resistance in cats with an already compromised immune system may be diminished.

Myth: Raw food may contain parasites.

Fact: Reputable raw food producers source their meat from reputable farmers and test for pathogens and parasites. Keep in mind that even processed foods are not always free of toxins, pathogens or other contamination, as the 2007 pet food recall showed us in such tragic proportions.

Myth: Handling raw food is dangerous.

Fact: You don’t need to handle raw cat food any differently than you would handle meat for human consumption.

Myth: Cats need dry food to keep their teeth clean.

Fact: Dry kibble does not clean your cat’s teeth. This myth just won’t die, and sadly, it’s perpetuated by many veterinarians without any real evidence. Think about this: would you listen to your pediatrician if he told you to make sure your kids chew on crackers to keep their teeth clean? Most cats don’t chew their kibble long enough for any of the scraping action that is the theory behind this myth to kick in. Additionally, dry food leaves a carbohydrate residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages growth of tartar and plaque.

Myth: Raw feeding is complicated and takes a lot of time.

Fact: Raw feeding doesn’t have to be complicated. While some cat owners want to make their own raw food, grinding meat and bones and mixing in appropriate supplements, there are many companies that offer frozen raw food that is already nutritionally balanced. These diets make raw feeding as easy as feeding canned food. Simply thaw and feed!

Myth: Raw diets are not complete and balanced.

Fact: That depends on the diet you choose to feed. Some raw diets are balanced and include proper levels of supplements, others will require adding a good vitamin and mineral supplement. The reality is that no one food can be nutritionally complete. True nutrition comes from a varied, whole foods diet. This is why it’s a good idea to mix and rotate different meats and maybe even different manufacturers.

Transitioning your cat to a raw diet

Stop free choice feeding

Free choice feeding, which means leaving dry food out all day for your cat to graze, is a bad idea. For most cats, free choice feeding leads to obesity, which has reached epidemic proportions in the US. When you transition to raw, it’s important to have set mealtime. Give your cat about 30 minutes to eat, then remove the food.

Make mealtime peaceful

Mealtime for your cat should be a happy, relaxed experience. In a multi-cat household, this may mean separate eating areas. Find a safe space for each cat to eat so they can enjoy their meal without the threat of other cats invading.

Start to transition to canned food if your cat is used to dry food

If your cat has been eating exclusively dry food, you may want to transition her to canned food first, then to raw.  Most cats don’t like change, so the differences in smell, taste, and texture can be overwhelming. Feeding a premium high protein canned wet food before moving onto raw may be a good way to help your cat adjust to the new sensations.

Be patient

Cats are sensitive to human emotions, and they will pick up on any stress you might have about feeding a new diet. Remain patient and don’t hurry the transition. Any change in diet can cause stomach issues, and if you transition too quickly, your cat may experience stomach problems that she then attributes to the raw food, and you’ll have to start all over.

Tips and tricks

Sometimes, despite doing all of the above, the transition still doesn’t seem to be working. The following strategies may come in useful if you find yourself with a stubborn kitty.

Feed by hand. Sometimes, cats are receptive to hand feeding, and that might be just the connection your kitty needs to realize the food is safe and tasty.

Warm the food. Raw food should never be cooked. However, warming it slightly (the industry standard is “mouse body temperature”) for 15 seconds or so in the microwave, or putting the food into a small bowl and putting that bowl into some hot water, can help enhance the smell and take off the chill from being in the refrigerator.

Use attractants. Sprinkling a small amount of nutritional yeast, parmesan cheese, bonito flakes, or crumbled dehydrated meat treats on yourcat’s meal may help overcome your cat’s reluctance to eat the new diet.

How to choose the right raw diet

Once you decide whether you’re going to make your own food, or use a commercially prepared raw diet, do your homework to choose a diet made by a reputable company that contains primarily meat, no fillers, and no grains. I offer more information on how to choose the right diet for you cat here.

Allegra has been happily eating Darwin’s for the past six years, because as far as I’m concerned, they’re doing everything right, both in terms of what’s in the food and what’s not. I’ve been feeding various raw diets for the past ten years. Darwin’s has become a perennial favorite.

Allegra enjoying her Darwin’s turkey

About Darwin’s

o 100% meat – no animal-by-products or fillers

o Ethically sourced human grade ingredients from farms they trust

o Formulated under the guidance of veterinary nutritionists

o Free range, pasture raised, cage-free meats

o No GMO

o No steroids

o No hormones

o Made fresh: you will receive your meals 4-6 weeks from production

o Ready to serve

Special offer: get 10 pounds for $14.95

Darwin’s has an introductory offer that can’t be beat so you can try this for your own cats: For $14.95, you get 10 pounds of raw food. You can customize the proteins depending on your cat’s taste preferences.

Use code PURRSOFWISDOM to take advantage of this special offer.

For more information and to order, please visit

*FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, which means that I was compensated to feature this content. Regardless of payment received, you will only see products or services featured on this site that we’ve either used or would use ourselves. The Conscious Cat is a participant in Darwin’s affiliate program. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission.

Photo via Darwin’s Facebook page, used with permission

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