1st Things 1st

Updated on June 2, 2021

What is THE single most important step in the transitioning journey to raw food for cats?

Close Down That 24/7 Kibble Buffet!

If you’re used to constantly leaving a bowl of dry food down for your cat to eat, one of the very first steps you must take if you’re serious about switching your kitty to a diet of raw food is to stop free feeding kibble.

Cats get addicted to dry food, so this may be the hardest step, especially if your cat doesn’t also eat canned food. They become like heroin addicts on kibble, so you really need a lot of patience if this is the case. (You can do some reading here http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-03/chemistry-kibble on the topic) ..

For cats that will only eat dry food:

  • First, stop free feeding dry food. Your cat does not need to have food available at all times. Eating two or three meals a day is fine, as is going 12 hours between meals. You want your cat to associate food with a person — you — not a place.
  • Start bringing out their food at regular mealtimes. Cats will learn the new routine very quickly. Leave it out for 30 minutes, and then put it away. At first, you may have to have more than two mealtimes a day. Cut back to two or three per day after a week, once your cat gets used to the whole idea of mealtimes. Put out one bowl for each cat, in separate rooms if necessary, so each cat feels relaxed about her meal.

Your cats will get hungry, but that’s good. Nothing enhances a meal more than having an appetite. Just make sure each cat does eat, every day.

Please note that this does not necessarily mean you should stop feeding kibble altogether immediately. Rather the idea is to begin weaning your cat off kibble by discontinuing unlimited access to the 24 hour buffet, and instead only letting him have access to it a few times a day for limited periods of time.

Cats that are used to grazing on doom nuggets (as they’re affectionately called by many experienced raw feeders) whenever they please are a bit like kibble junkies. And if they’re continually allowed to munch, munch, munch a little now and then to get their fix anytime they want throughout the day, they never really experience any hunger, and so may never develop much of an appetite for trying something new.

If kibble is all he eats, there’s no need to force your kitty to go cold turkey from his junk. Rather the answer is to remove that bottomless, permanent bowl of kibble from your cat’s world, and instead start getting into the habit of offering it to him only a few times a day. Only allow your cat to eat that kibble for a few limited periods of time each day, say for about 20 or 30 minutes at a go. Let him eat his fill and once he’s done, pick the bowl back up and put the kibble away, out of reach.

Instead of leaving a bowl of kibble out for your cat all the time, only offer it to him for a few limited periods each day and then remove it.

Making several “meal times” like this, instead of perpetually free feeding you cat dry food, will serve a couple of purposes. First, it will put a bit of an edge your cat’s appetite which will definitely work to your advantage as you help him make the switch to raw. Secondly, it will pave the way to breaking the cycle of your cat’s addiction to the starchy grain based carbohydrates that are found in most commercial kibble – which by the way have absolutely no place whatsoever in the diet of an obligate carnivore such as a cat.

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