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Ragdoll Cat

Feline Transition Guide For All Life Stages

By: Sam Ormerod

IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE

 

Before we get started, it’s important to keep a few things in mind: 

 

  • Cats can often be a lot harder to transition than the average dog. This is due to the fact that cats are imprint eaters and they will imprint on food that they know they can trust. Therefore, introducing a new diet can be difficult for them as they simply do not trust it or even recognise it as food. It’s imperative to have patience when considering and introducing a raw diet for cats.  

 

  • Taurine is absolutely essential in a cat's diet. Taurine is an essential amino acid that is vital to a cat’s health and wellbeing. Cats cannot synthesise enough taurine for their own requirements and therefore it is an essential nutrient that they must obtain from their food. Don’t worry though, animal protein is the best source of taurine and is perfectly adequate at providing enough taurine to your pet. 

 

  • Despite the common misconception, cats are NOT natural grazers. Therefore, cats should not be left to free feed or graze on their food, especially on a raw diet. 

 

  • Unlike dogs, tough love should NOT be used on cats. While the risk is minimal in a healthy cat, there is a much higher risk of hepatic lipidosis in overweight and obese cats. To avoid all risk, we advise against tough love completely. 

 

A BRIEF OVERVIEW

 

When feeding a prey model raw or frankenprey diet, the goal is to achieve 80% muscle meat, 10% edible bone, 5% liver and 5% of another secreting organ. 

Kittens however may benefit from a slightly higher bone content, this is due to the need for calcium while they're growing. Kittens can be fed 75-80% muscle meat, 10-15% bone, 5% liver and 5% of another secreting organ. 

 

Adult cats typically require 2-4% of their body weight per day split between at least 1-2 meals.

Kittens MUST be fed as much as they wish to eat across at least 3-4 meals a day. They're growing fast and they burn a lot of energy! We need to give them fuel for growth by allowing them to eat however much they want/need and so they should not be restricted. 

 

However, these are only guidelines and you must treat each cat as an individual. Some cats may require a little more food, less bone, more bone and so on… 

 

Variety is also absolutely paramount and you should aim to feed at least 3-4 proteins of your choice to your cat, with emphasis on red and dark meat. Don't forget though, variety is the spice of life! The more variety you can offer, the better! 

Need help with the math? Try our Raw Feeding Calculators! 

 

GETTING STARTED

 

If your cat is currently free fed or has 24/7 access to their food, first start by introducing set meal times. Place food down for 20 mins to allow the cat to take their fill before picking up again. Introduce a minimum of two set feeding times. This will encourage the cat to eat at the set times and take what is offered at these set times. It is also helpful for the purpose of maintaining safe feeding practises for raw meat. Raw meat should not be left out for extended periods of time, except under extreme circumstances and where adjustments are made (such as placed down frozen or fed on keep cool bowls). 

 

The best and easiest way to test the waters with raw feeding is simply offering your cat some boneless and skinless meat. Chicken, preferably thigh due to the higher taurine content (more on that later), is usually the easiest in terms of availability and palatability, but other proteins can be used instead. Turkey, rabbit, pork are all good viable options too. 

 

If your cat accepts the boneless meat straight away, BRILLIANT! You've got yourself on the ladder for a raw fed cat. Read on for the simple transition. If they don't, worry not and read on further to see how you can start your transition for fussier cats. 

 

SIMPLE TRANSITION

 

  1. Continue feeding the boneless skinless meat only for 2-3 days to ensure they are tolerating the change just fine. Watch their stools as this is a key indicator to see how they're digesting and accepting the new food. Stools should be well formed and low in odour at each point in transition before moving on to the next step. 

  2. All going well, you can start to add bone. Chicken necks are an excellent soft bone that are great for introducing bone, but minced chicken carcass or skinless wings are also acceptable options. You may need to bash them up a bit to start with while your cat builds their jaw strength up to handle bones though. The longer they're eating raw and working their jaw muscles, the stronger they'll become at tackling bones.

  3. If all is still going well after 2-3 days, you can start to introduce new proteins. Start replacing some of the original protein, with the new protein slowly over a couple of days until you're feeding the new protein alongside the bone. This can be anything you can get your hands on. Turkey, pork, lamb, beef, venison.. You can also replace the bone with your selected proteins too if there are a suitable options available, but this is not necessary. 

  4. Follow step 3 for another couple of proteins. Remember you're aiming for 3-4 proteins as a minimum and you'll also want red and dark meat to make up a large proportion of that for the overall diet once transitioned. 50% is a good minimum for red meat in the diet. 

  5. Once you've introduced a selection of proteins, you can start thinking about introducing liver. We encourage you to start really small with the liver portion and slowly build up to their 5% allowance. Watch out for the stools, liver is very nutrient dense and can sometimes be a little bit rich if introduced too quickly. 

  6. After liver has been introduced successfully, you will want to introduce the second secreting organ. Kidney is usually the most readily available but check out our infograph to see which other organs classify as secreting too! As with liver, start small and build up to their 5% allowance slowly. 

  7. Now you've officially got a Prey Model Raw fed cat! You can from this point start to introduce the recommended accompaniments for a PMR diet - fish and eggs! 

  8. Fish/Omega-3 source & eggs can also be quite rich, so keep this in mind when introducing. Start small and slowly build up. Neither should make up a large proportion of the diet. 

Eggs should be fed at no more than 1 (chicken) egg per cat, per week. Less if feeding a duck egg or larger, more if feeding quail eggs etc. Eggs are a great addition to the diet and can be extremely beneficial in regards to hairballs. 

Fish* is fed for the Omega-3 properties to balance the Omega-6s consumed in their diet. Fish should make up no more than 10% of the cats overall diet. 

 

*Caution should be taken when feeding fish to cats. Some fish can contain thiaminase which can have a detrimental effect on a cat's thiamine levels when fed in large quantities. To reduce all risk of this, we recommend feeding fish that does not contain thiaminase or feeding tinned (in water with no added salt), cooked or dehydrated. Some choose to avoid feeding fish and may opt for a fish or krill oil instead. Choose whatever works best for your cat. You may also reduce the Omega-6 in the diet by removing chicken and feeding pasture fed or wild game, consequently requiring less Omega-3s from the diet.*

**Do NOT feed fish to cats with kidney issues, this is due to the high phosphorus content.

Read more of feeding fish and Omega 3 oils here:

Fish Feeding Guide

Omega 3 Oils​​

TRANSITIONING FROM COMMERCIAL FOOD

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As already mentioned, cats are imprint eaters and therefore they'll often imprint on their commercial diet and simply do not recognise the new raw meat as food. Commercial feed can also be highly addictive and it can be incredibly hard to break this addiction. The first step is to get your cat to trust and recognise any new food being offered. If your cat is currently on a dry kibble based diet, read all steps. If you're transitioning from wet, jump straight to step 3.

 

  1. To transition from kibble, you want to start by getting the cat accustomed to a new texture of food. You can do this by slowly mixing a small amount of wet food with the dry food. Slowly increase how much wet food you're feeding and decrease the dry until you're solely on wet food. 

  2. If the cat will not accept the wet mixed in first, you can slowly alter the texture of the kibble by adding small amounts of water/broth. Slowly increase how much water/brother is added until the dry food is quite sloppy. Once it's sloppy, you can start introducing wet food in place of the dry until the cat is eating wet food alone. This should be easier now as the cat has become accustomed to the new texture. 

  3. Now your cat is on a wet food diet, you can slowly start to introduce the boneless skinless raw meat. Wet food makes this much easier to disguise! Start with really small chunks or mince mixed in with the wet, slowly increasing the raw food and ideally the size of the chunks while decreasing the wet until you're finally on raw. Then continue the transition as laid out earlier. 

 

A LITTLE WORD ON TAURINE 

 

As I addressed earlier, taurine is an essential nutrient in a cat's diet. Taurine is found in all animal flesh, however it is found in higher quantities in any hard working muscle meats. Heart, thighs, tongues etc are all really good sources of taurine and we encourage you to feed these items if you can. However, this is not essential. Most meat (excluding chicken breast) will have sufficient levels of taurine for your cats requirements. Some people just like to include these items to make sure they're getting surplus to requirements, and any excess will be excreted in their urine so you can't really overdo it either. 

 

A FINAL NOTE

 

You must remember to go at your cats' own pace. If they refuse something, go back a step or two until they're eating again. Once settled, you can carry on again. 

 

We won't beat around the bush here, some cats can take months to transition. It can be tedious, but absolutely worth it for the end result. Just remember that we can be with you every step of the way, to support you through any step backs and cheering you on for the achievements. If you require further guidance, please be sure to reach out to a member of the admin team! 

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