BARF For Cats - A Guide to Feeding Raw

In recent years, raw food diets for cats have gained popularity among pet parents. Many people believe that feeding their domestic cats raw food is the healthiest and most natural option because this is what wild cats eat.

In this article, let's take a look at the BARF diet for cats and how it is highly beneficial for your pet's health.

What is BARF for cats?

"Biologically suitable raw foods" or "bones and raw foods" is what BARF stands for. The term raw is widely used in pet foods and encompasses many possibilities.

You may create your raw cat food at home or buy readymade raw meals from pet food manufacturers, which are available in many pet stores.

A proper BARF diet for cats comprises a lot of muscular meat, bones, and organs, just like what wild cats would eat.

Besides having high moisture and protein content, raw meat is abundant in vital nutrients such as taurine, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients are only present in meat. 

Hence, a BARF diet is the closest possible natural diet to give to cats.

Why is raw food better for cats?

There are various possible benefits to feeding raw cat food, including:

  • Soothes allergies: Tummy troubles, skin itching, a dry and flaky coat, and other symptoms can all be caused by food allergies or low quality nutrition. High quality and balanced fresh diets should contain high-quality nutrients and natural oils, like Omega-3 that have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit cats with allergies. Natural oils also support healthy skin and lustrous coats. Fresh diets have also been reported to be less allergenic than ultra processed commercial foods. 
  • Promotes digestion: Raw food digests slower and more efficiently, making it ideal for cats with gastrointestinal problems. You may notice that your cat's faeces are less frequent after they are entirely on a raw diet since their body is utilising most of the food.
  • Better urinary health: Raw food contains a high moisture content of 65% to 70%, similar to natural prey. Therefore, this increases the water intake of your cat, which reduces its chances of contracting a urinary tract infection.
  • Boost in energy: Cats are usually more active after switching to eating raw cat food. Couch potatoes begin to get up and move around. They will obtain energy from their raw meals because the natural ingredients such as protein and functional fats will improve their overall well-being.
  • Better dental health: Did you know that a raw food diet can significantly improve an animal's oral health? This is because raw meaty bones are highly suitable for keeping teeth clean. So, how does it work? Well, the plaque is broken down by natural enzymes found in bone-in meats. This prevents food from clinging to the teeth and hardening. As a result, they will have healthier teeth and gums. 

Is it OK to give raw meat to cats?

Felines are carnivores by nature. So, they need meat to survive and exist. Because cats' digestive tracts are shorter and more acidic than humans', they often digest raw meals better. 

On the other hand, you should be aware of the risks associated with providing your feline with raw cat food. This is because there is a possibility of pathogens like e.coli being present in their meal. Raw food that is not stored and prepared well can turn out to be a severe threat to your pet's wellbeing.

Do consult your local veterinarian before starting any new diet. Even if most cats can eat raw food, those with health issues may require extra precaution. Read more on the pros and cons of a BARF cat diet.

Besides that, did you know that vegetables and carbs are not required in cats' diets? In actuality, cats can only put up with small amounts of carbs, whereas they flourish when fed a high protein and moisture diet, like raw meals. 

Learn more about whether your cat can get sick from eating raw and what you can do to make this meal a safe one for it.

What raw foods are safe for cats?

Here's a list of raw food that you can safely feed your cat:

  • Chicken: Lean proteins like chicken contain vitamin B, which aids the body in using calcium. Hence, chicken is often linked to strong bones and teeth, in addition to maintaining weight and creating muscle.  Moreover, the phosphorus in raw chicken not only aids in bone health but also ensures that your cat’s liver, kidneys, and central nervous system are in good functioning condition.

Check out PetCubes’ Raw Chicken to give your cat a wholesome healthy meal!

  • Venison: Venison is a high-protein food for your feline. Compared to beef, it contains more vital vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and B6. These vitamins can boost your cat’s overall health.

Check out PetCubes’ Raw Venison pack

  • Salmon: Salmon is unquestionably one of the most nutritious meals for your kitty. It's high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and various other minerals and vitamins. It is very good for your cat as these minerals serve multiple functions in its body, including assisting muscle and bone formation.
  • Duck: Duck meat is a high-protein option that will meet many of your cat's nutritional needs. This raw meat is also a good source of zinc, iron, and B vitamins.

Give PetCubes’ Raw Duck meal a try and see how your cat’s health improves!

  • Lamb: Lamb is high in zinc, an essential item for cats' immune system performance and maintenance. Zinc deficiency in pets causes their immune systems to malfunction, leading to a slew of other health issues. Therefore, feeding lamb to cats can help maintain zinc levels in the diet.

Check out our Raw Lamb, which is filled with nutrients, today! 

  • Turkey: Turkey is ideal for cats since it contains a lot of protein, as long as you serve it as lean meat. Taurine, a vital amino acid for cats that aids their vision and digestion, is also found in turkey. It is also essential for a cat's immune system to stay healthy.
  • Carrots: Not only is this orange root vegetable high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K1, B6, potassium, and fibre, but it's also a great source of beta carotene. Ingesting beta carotene is an excellent antioxidant. It has been associated with the maintenance of skin and eye health.
  • Pumpkin: Pumpkin is high in fibre, water, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, as well as a variety of minerals and vitamins such as A, C, and K. Pumpkin fibre can aid to relieve diarrhoea by reducing excess moisture in your cat's digestive tract and adding bulk to faeces.

How much BARF should I feed my cat?

Feeding between 2% and 4% of your cat's optimal body weight, divided into two or three meals each day, is typically advised. 

However, because each cat is unique, you must consider the following considerations when choosing how much raw food to feed your cat:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Appetite
  • Metabolism
  • Activity
  • Exercise Levels

To make things simple to understand, a senior cat who spends his days sleeping and only walks as far as his food bowl and litter box will require significantly less food. 

On the other hand, a young, healthy, and energetic cat that spends its days playing and racing outside in the fresh air will require more food.

Are BARF supplements for cats needed?

While your cat requires particular amounts of each nutrient to be healthy, more is not necessarily better. So, supplementation is usually unnecessary if you are feeding it a well-balanced and well-rounded diet.

How to prepare a BARF diet?

When preparing a raw meal by yourself, get advice from your local veterinarian before you start anything. 

By doing this, you can get some insight on how to provide a complete and balanced meal for your feline's health. 

You will also be able to get an expert’s opinion on whether you need to add supplements to your kitty's meal.

Nevertheless, here's a general list of ingredients that may be found in a raw food diet:

  • Raw meat (eg: chicken, duck, etc)
  • Grounded raw bones
  • Supplements (if needed)
  • Eggs 

Besides that, you will need some of these tools to safely prepare your cat's raw meal:

  • A large chopping board 
  • Stainless steel bowls
  • Shears for cutting meat
  • Disposable gloves (e.g.: latex gloves)
  • Storage containers
  • A designated space in your freezer

We understand that creating a raw diet at home takes some time. So, most owners prefer to buy pre-made raw cat food. So, we have made life easier for you by creating PetCubes' Raw Cat Food

Our meals are made by experts who ensure all ingredients included in the diet are of the highest quality to meet your cat’s nutritional needs.

How to start a BARF diet?

If your cat is new to raw food, start with tiny amounts first. The entire shift can usually be completed in a week, but the key is to do it carefully, as with any dietary change. 

Kittens' digestive systems are often better than adult cats, so transitioning takes only a few days. Nevertheless, take your time in this as it will help your cat in the long run.

First, we recommend starting a partial raw diet by feeding a small amount to watch how it reacts to the new food. If everything goes well, gradually replace a portion of the original diet with the new raw diet.

Keep an eye on your pet. If your feline's stools are loose, wait until they are firm before continuing the switch.

Final thoughts

Feeding a BARF diet for your cat can be the best choice you make for your pet's health. So get started on this diet, and you can see how your cat's well being becomes.

Reviewed by: 

Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.