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Introducing new food to your cats

Last column I told you all about the ‘whys’ of feeding raw food to cats, now it’s time to address the ‘hows’.

There are cats which will immediately accept raw food and there will be those that never want to try anything different. Cats can be finicky. Unfortunately, we can’t make them understand how much better real food is for them.

I wish there was a one surefire way to convert cat diets, but there isn’t. So, I will start with the simplest methods. The simplest of all is just to offer the cat some raw food, and if he eats it – woo hoo! We have completed the task. Does this happen often? If the cat has been eating processed foods for a long time, it is less likely to happen. If it is a kitten, especially if weaned onto raw, it isn’t a factor at all.

Getting your cat to try new food may be difficult. Some cats will switch with east, while others can be more finicky.

For cats that receive wet foods as all or part of their diet, simply offering the raw food alongside the canned can be effective. Don’t mix them, but give half the regular amount of canned, and then put the raw beside it in the dish. If they eat the raw right away, you got lucky, and we’re converted. Many cats, however, will eat the canned food, and leave the raw behind. After 15 minutes, put the dish in the fridge and try again the next meal. If they refuse again, throw the portion of raw food away, and start the next meal with some fresh raw.

By offering only half the normal meal of canned, the cat may eventually get hungry enough to try the raw. If you pick up the dish and it is empty, watch when the cat eats its next meal, and if it eats the raw food first, you’re done. The cat is converted. If he only begrudgingly eats the raw after the canned, then keep at it, reducing the amount of canned food each day and slowly increasing the raw.

If the cat is not getting any wet food at all, start by reducing the amount of dry you give each day, and offer either wet canned food, or the canned/raw mix as described above. There may be crying and protest, but “tough love” can be necessary to get them onto a healthier diet.

It is usually best to choose a raw diet based on a favourite protein. If the cat likes fish, make sure there is fish in the raw food you choose. Chicken, turkey, beef – there are over a dozen different proteins you can choose from. Finding the one that your cat prefers makes the conversion easier, but once converted, make sure you change up the protein regularly to both give them a more balanced diet and to reduce them becoming finicky.

If you still encounter resistance to the raw, you can try making the raw taste even better. If the cat has a favourite treat, such as canned tuna, use a little tuna juice on top. Other flavour enhancers include liver sprinkles, fish crumbs, parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, bone broth or low-sodium stock, just sprinkled on top, or mixed in with the food. =After they get used to the raw foods, you can reduce or eliminate the ad- ins.

Whether your pet comes across to raw quickly, or resists, getting them onto a low-processed, natural food will make a world of difference, for you and your pet.