A raw meat diet for cats has many benefits. But it’s important to transition to a raw diet slowly.

Only buy nutritionally complete raw foods from clean sources.

Cats are picky about food changes. And they are also sensitive.

Work with your cat. And remember your long-term goals when switching to a raw diet.

Here’s exactly how to feed a raw meat diet for cats:

Note: Cats are sensitive to dietary changes.

Please read through this guide thoroughly before making changes to your cat’s diet.

Use my proven transition plan switch your cat to raw!

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cat eating raw food

1. Stop free-feeding your cat

The all-access buffet feeding is not good for your cat. For several reasons.

Cats are more likely to overeat. And constantly smelling food starts up the digestion process.

This consumes energy, and it’s not natural for your cat.

Also, leaving food out all day is not sanitary.

Would you eat food that’s been sitting out all day?

Kibble is at risk for bacteria, deadly mold, and rancid fats.

Instead, establish scheduled mealtimes with your cat’s current food.

Do not skip this step!

You need to teach your cat to eat at scheduled mealtimes.

This will teach your cat that the food you put down is the food he eats. This comes in handy because cats are picky about food changes.

2. Take your cat to the vet

A vet checkup is necessary to give you a good starting point.

Get bloodwork, urinalysis, fecal, and wellness exam.

A raw diet can elevate your cat’s bloodwork numbers. Getting this done before changing your cat’s diet is crucial to avoid misdiagnosis after switching to raw.

Additionally, if your cat is overweight (more than half the cats in the US are obese), speak to your vet about safe weight loss goals.

Overweight cats should not lose too much weight too quickly.

3. Learn cat food label rules

You must learn how to read cat food labels properly in order to choose the best diet for your cat.

I have an entire video playlist dedicated to reading cat food labels.

Switch your cat to raw includes my cat food label cheat sheets.

4. Transition slowly from dry cat food to wet

Chances are you currently feed dry kibble.

Hopefully, you know that cats can’t thrive on dry food only.

Or you wouldn’t be here.

Your cat is probably addicted to the crunch. So he’s unlikely to take to raw food right away.

Transitioning to wet food first will make it much easier for both of you.

My top choices for wet food:

Use code CATICLES for $5 off your first box.

Use code PETS20 for 20% off. Suitable for adult cats only.

Get 35% off your first autoship. Suitable for adult cats only.

Best on Chewy:
Best on Amazon:

For more options, check out cat food reviews.

Make a plan to transition cat food from kibble to wet. This should be over 20 days for each meal.

Use my proven transition plan switch your cat to raw!

You may have to transition to better-quality dry if your cat is super picky. Please only use these dry foods as transition foods. No dry food is suitable long-term.

Best dry food:
raw cat food in jar

5. Choose the best raw diet for your cat

At this point, your cat should be eating a high-protein, low-carb wet food at scheduled mealtimes.

No more kibble. No more 24/7 buffet.

Now it’s time to choose the best raw diet for your cat.

Balanced homemade cat food is best because you control the ingredients and how it’s made.

However, I recommend starting with commercially available raw food diets first.

Your cat may not take to it right away. So commercially available will be easier to plan and transition.

Plus nutrition is more complex than people realize.

Best raw meat diet options:

Viva Raw Complete (20% off with that link) is complete for all life stages. They focus on whole food ingredients with only 3 added supplements.

Steve’s creates freeze-dried and frozen raw meat diets for cats. Use code JESSCATICLES for 20% off your first order.

Darwin’s is ground frozen raw meat diets only. Tell them about your cat and get 10 lbs for just $14.95. They also sell a raw CKD script diet (not eligible for the new customer discount).

Northwest Naturals freeze-dried raw:

Freeze-dried might be easier to start with. Simply because you don’t have to worry about freezing or thawing.

Hare Today is a great one-stop shop for homemade cat food. Use my PDF guide for instructions and meal prep tips.

Again, for more options, check out cat food reviews.

6. Practice safe handling and storing of raw food

You must always practice safe handling regardless of the type of food you feed.

Kibble is at risk for bacteria too.

Safe handling of cat food:

  • Ditch plastic plates
  • Only buy clean food from trusted sources
  • Disinfect hands, surfaces, utensils, and plates
  • Never leave food out longer than 20 minutes
  • Thaw frozen raw food in the refrigerator (not on the counter or microwave)
  • Always feed the juices in the container
  • Never feed food that has an off smell

Plastic traps bacteria. Even with regular washing.

Stainless steel, glass, or ceramic (lead-free) are best.

Salmonella is the greatest concern with BARF diets. But, again, kibble is at risk for bacteria contamination too.

Only buy clean food from trusted sources.

Disinfect everything before and after handling and serving your cat’s food. And clean up properly after scooping the litter box.

Don’t thaw frozen raw food at room temp or in the microwave.

Instead, thaw frozen raw food in the refrigerator 24 hours before you need it.

You may also thaw the food under cold running water. But you must keep the food in the container.

Tip: Do not discard the meat juices in the container. These juices contain water-soluble nutrients that your cat needs.

7. Transition slowly from wet food to raw

Now you have your cat’s new raw diet in stock, and you know safe handling practices.

Use the same transitioning guidelines above.

Additionally, you may also use healthy freeze-dried meat treats to entice your cat to eat.

Best healthy cat treats:

This will help your cat recognize raw food as food.

Kibble and wet food have a distinct smell. But raw food diets have almost no odor.

Unless you’re talking about green tripe!

Note: Avoid crunchy cat treats for teeth. They are made with the same garbage ingredients as kibble.

Include treat calories in your cat’s total daily intake. Treats should not exceed 10%.


Why won’t my cat eat new food?

Cats are suspicious of change and sensitive to dietary changes. They also get addicted to flavor enhancers sprayed on kibble. You must transition cat food slowly and be patient. Some cats take MONTHS to adjust to the new food. Check out raw feeding cats guide for my proven transition plan.

What kind of raw food can cats eat?

Cats can eat raw food that is balanced, clean-sourced, and handled properly. Only buy balanced raw food from trustworthy sources. Practice safe handling to prevent bacteria contamination. Cats typically like chicken, turkey, duck, rabbit, and quail. But every cat is an individual. Keep a diary of what your cat likes and doesn’t like.

Do vets recommend raw diet for cats?

Vets typically don’t recommend raw diets for cats for several reasons. The most popular objections to raw diets are bacteria and nutritional imbalances. However, these are easy to prevent. And kibble is at risk for these as well. Buy raw diets that are clean and balanced. Practice safe handling to prevent contamination.

Vet recommended cat food is probably the worst quality you will come by. The DVM curriculum only dedicates 2% of 4 years solely to nutrition. This is the average across 31 AVMA-accredited schools in the US. Plus kibble companies have a huge influence on vets. They are major AVMA sponsors and teach nutrition at their annual conferences. So, unfortunately, most veterinary nutritional opinions are flawed.

Can you mix raw with kibble?

Some say yes and some say no. You will have to do what works best for your cat. However, cats are suspicious of new food and changes. You will likely have better luck transitioning to wet or freeze-dried raw before ground raw.

switch cat to raw notion planner

Final thoughts on how to feed a raw diet

A balanced raw diet is a healthier option for your cat.

You will have to feed at scheduled mealtimes.

Transition cat food slowly from kibble to high-protein, low-carb wet food first.

Cats can be picky eaters so you may have to get sneaky.

Buy a raw diet food that’s balanced and practice safe handling.

After some time with proper wet food, you can start introducing a raw diet.

Still need help? Use my proven transition plan switch your cat to raw!