This is my cat Magic – the most frustrating cat on the planet. You know how you have that one friend that has extremely unhealthy eating habits but won’t change, even though you can practically watch it killing them? Magic is the cat-version of that friend. Now imagine that you shelled out a ton of money to help that friend stay alive, and then they still won’t change? Magic is still the cat-version of that friend.
Magic weighs over 20 pounds and the only thing besides his crappy kitty-kibble I have ever seen him actually taste is ice cream. A year ago, right as I started learning about raw pet food and the many health benefits it can bring to animals, Magic was attacked by a dog and it cost us over 1,400 dollars we didn’t have to save his life, not to mention my husband’s hospital bill. This is one expensive cat. And working for Steve’s Real Food, I have access to some of the healthiest pet food on the market, and you know what? I tried just about everything, and this darn cat still wouldn’t eat it.
This is actually fairly normal. Cats are much more difficult to transition to raw food than dogs are because they can imprint on their food very early, and since cats seem to assume that anything unfamiliar is a threat, getting them to try something new can be darn near impossible.
If this is your cat, here are some of the many tips and tricks I have heard from people on how to get your cat onto a raw diet.
- Expect it to take awhile.
- Stop leaving the kibble out for them to eat whenever they want. Have mealtimes, so they can start getting hungry enough to be willing to branch out.
- Leave raw (or canned as a transition step) out for them all the time to try, but only offer kibble during their specified meal times. If they want a snack, they have to try the raw or canned.
- DON’T just take away their kibble and play hardball, thinking that once they get hungry enough they will eat. Cats can starve themselves or go into shock that can turn fatal before they dare try something new, so this is a BAD IDEA.
- Have one meal available as kibble and one as raw, to see if they will be hungry enough without it getting dangerous.
- Try different proteins to see if they like chicken over beef, etc.
- Take freeze-dried raw food and hide it around the house, or put it in places the cat is not normally allowed. Cats like to feel that they have pulled one over on you, and they like to hunt.
- Start with the goat milk yogurt.
- Place the food where they are usually fed, or some other place they consider safe or theirs, like their bed or cat toys.
- Take a stopper and (kindly) force a bit of raw meat into their mouth. Sometimes cats will try it once you have jolted their taste buds.
- Tie a freeze-dried nugget to a cat toy and make them play with it. That gets them to put their mouth on it.
- Mix in a tiny crumbly bit of freeze dry product in with their regular kibble – not enough that they will notice it, but enough that they can’t work around it. Once they have started eating it as a nuisance, slowly increase and make sure they are still eating their food.
For my kitties, Number 8 worked for my cat Rawri, and number 7 worked for my Katara. As of posting I have yet to get ANYTHING to work for my Magic, though. And of course, our office kitties, being young and used to switching their diet, had absolutely no trouble trying raw food. Every cat is different, but every cat deserves to be fed the best diet you can get them to eat.
UPDATE: 2/18/2016 – Today I found the Magic trick for my Magic. Back after his surgery, the vets gave me Science Diet A/D, Critical Care, and it is the one thing I know he will eat. So I got some more (cringe, I know) and this morning I checked if he will still eat it. He goes crazy for the kitty-crack, so I mixed in some of the canned food I have been using to transition my other cats. He is so nuts for the A/D stuff that I did a 50/50 split, and he ate it up just fine! I am excited! Tonight I am going to try to mix in some actual raw and see if he responds. If he does, I just may cry.