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It’s feeding time and your feline friend takes a whiff of their food bowl, paws at its contents a bit and decides to walk away. It’s no surprise that cats are one of the pickiest pets in the world when it comes to deciding what to eat considering their finicky nature.
This might make cat owners nervous in trying to introduce new items into their cat’s diet such as raw cat food.
The question is, how do we get them excited for meal time and eat what is nutritious for them such as feeding them raw cat food and will they eventually accept it as a meal?
Before we jump into the ‘how’, it is important to remember that felines are obligate carnivores by nature considering how they evolved as hunters consuming prey that are high in protein, moderate amounts of fats and minimal amount of carbohydrates, relying on nutrients found only in animal products. This means that raw cat food is nothing new to their biology, in fact it is as nature intended. Given their shorter and more acidic digestive tracts, cats can digest raw foods better than humans, and while there may be concerns of pathogens in raw cat food, many pathogens will typically pass through a cat without causing any issues unlike in humans.
So how do we get them started on a raw cat food diet considering all its nutritional benefits?
The first step could be to introduce raw cat food as an exciting new meal topper instead of fully replacing their current meal by sprinkling a bit of it on top of their existing diet. Whether freeze dried raw or fresh, raw cat food can serve as a satisfying meal for your cat as they can tear and chew on the meat chunks just as nature intended while providing them the necessary nutrients such as protein and calcium for a healthier coat, better digestion and improved energy.
Another thing you can do is to reduce the number of treats given to your cats as giving them lots of treats throughout the day could reduce their appetite and motivation to finish their main meals since they know they can access treats any time of the day.
If you’ve tried the above two methods and they still do not like the raw cat food given to them, try a different recipe. It may be as simple as switching to another protein as some cats simply prefer poultry-based meals, while others prefer those which are red-meat based such as beef and lamb or even fish-based meals.
Another way to encourage your cat to accept raw cat food is to introduce some liquid such as pet-safe broth toppers into the meal as it helps to increase the smell of the meal and entice your feline friend to take a bite and finish the meal.
For the ultra-fussy eaters, you can start a new feeding routine where you offer food at specific times of the day and leave it out only for 15-30 minutes before taking it away until the next mealtime. To reduce waste, since raw food is best discarded when not eaten to prevent illnesses, offer just a small amount of food per meal for about 4-5 meals a day, before gradually increasing to an appropriate sized meal but at a lower frequency.
One important thing is to remember to be careful not to give into the temptation of feeding your feline friends human food whenever you are having a meal yourself as it will make it difficult for them to transition back to their cat foods as it may alter their taste preferences and ultimately lead to certain nutritional deficiencies.
Sometimes, it’s not even about what you feed your cat but rather the environment that they’re being fed in and their preferences. For example, some cats like to be watched and have an audience or be gently stroked when they eat while others prefer peace and quiet during dinner time. Most cats prefer to eat in peace and quiet so if you are loitering around them to see if they will eat their new food…. they probably won’t.
So if you’re still concerned about whether your fussy cat will accept raw cat food, fret not as the important thing is to pay attention to your cat’s reactions and behaviours as you tweak their dietary routine and trial and error with the process.
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