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Raw Food Diet for Cats [2021]

That Mutt is mostly a dog blog, but I know many of you have cats too!

This post is all about why you might consider feeding your cat a raw diet.

If you have any questions about raw feeding, please leave a note in the comments.

This post is sponsored by Darwin’s Natural Pet Products.


Benefits of a raw diet for cats

Most healthy cats will benefit from a raw diet. Here are 7 benefits:

1. Cats are true carnivores

There’s no doubt about it; cats are carnivores designed to eat MEAT!

Eating raw food is the natural way for your cat to eat!

Cats do not need all the carbohydrates found in many dry pet foods. Their digestive systems are not designed to process high amounts of grains, and they do best with a high-protein diet.

This is because raw food is fresh, whole and unprocessed. It’s the natural way a cat would eat in the wild. Raw food contains live enzymes important for digestion and absorbing nutrients.

Eating raw meat will make your cat happy because he is designed to eat whole animals like mice.

2. A raw diet provides more moisture for cats.

Cats depend on getting most of their water from their food.

The problem is, many cat owners feed their cats dry cat food which is obviously lacking in moisture. If a cat doesn’t get enough water, it can lead to kidney and bladder problems down the road.

I did not know how important it was to feed my cats a high-moisture food. For most of their lives, mine ate dry food. Unfortunately, my cat Beamer died from kidney disease in 2018 and my other cat Scout has kidney disease now.

My cats’ diet did not necessarily cause them to get kidney disease. I will never know for sure. However, I believe it played a role. I plan to offer my future cats a raw or canned diet.

See my post: Raw food for cats with kidney disease.

3. Better overall health

I believe a raw diet is the healthiest option for most cats. People who feed their cats a raw diet often report their cats have:

  • healthier coats
  • less poop!
  • healthier teeth
  • less shedding (fewer hairballs!)
  • more energy and
  • fewer allergies

And while you can’t control everything, feeding your cat a high-quality, balanced raw diet should hopefully mean less overall visits to the vet. Ideally, this will end up saving you money on vet bills over time.

The raw cat food from our sponsor, Darwin’s, is 100% real meat (chicken, turkey, or lamb) and contains no animal by-products or fillers! The food is grain free, and all of the turkey, chicken, and lamb in the meals are pasture-raised and free-roaming (cage free). The food contains no antibiotics, steroids or artificial hormones.

Learn more about Darwin’s raw cat food here!

You can also get up to 75% off your first order with Darwin’s through their trial offer! Learn more here.

Raw food for cats

4. Raw food to help a cat lose weight

Cats do not need all the carbohydrates found in most commercial dry foods. They need real protein, not corn and cheap rice by-products.

When you feed your cat a raw diet high in protein, it’s easier to help him maintain a healthy weight. Raw feeders are also less likely to “free feed” their cats. Instead, they’re more likely to feed fixed amounts twice per day.

Unfortunately, many indoor cats in particular are very overweight in the United States.

We all know that obesity is linked to all sorts of health issues whether you’re a cat or a dog or a person. It doesn’t take a veterinarian to figure out that fit, lean cats are generally healthier and more likely to live longer.

5. Raw food for cats is affordable compared to feeding a big dog.

Let’s face it, cost is one of the reasons more pet owners do not feed raw diets. It’s generally more expensive to feed healthy, fresh food.

I hear about this barrier every time I write about raw feeding, and I completely understand.

At least with cats (and small dogs) you’re not buying as much food because they simply don’t eat as much!

Yes, feeding your cat a raw diet is more expensive than feeding dry food, but it’s not as significantly higher like it is for, say, an 80-pound Lab. 

There are many raw cat food brands to choose from such as Darwin’s (or you can make your own!).

See my post: Affordable raw pet food

6. Less poop in the litter box!

The reason for this is because a natural raw diet will provide your cat with all the nutrients he needs rather than fill him up with unnecessary, cheap ingredients like corn. That means less waste. A lot less.

7. Cats have been eating raw food ever since cats existed!

Commercial dry cat food is a fairly new idea. Before “kibble” was invented, cats thrived on real food.

Which brings me too …

Will a cat get sick from raw food?

No, cats generally won’t get sick from eating fresh raw meat because they are carnivores. They’re very unlikely to get sick from fresh raw meat from a raw cat food company such as Darwin’s.

Like dogs, cats have highly acidic stomachs and short digestive tracts. This prevents bacteria from colonizing.

If your cat has been eating a dry or canned food his whole life, it would be a good idea to transition him to raw by gradually combining the two foods.

This isn’t because your cat will get sick from bacteria in the raw meat. It’s because your cat might get an upset tummy from different food in general. Similar to if you were to switch your cat from one dry food brand to another.

Of course, if your cat is out catching and killing mice or birds, there is a chance he could pick up worms/parasites from eating these wild animals. If your cat goes outdoors, you may need to give him a de-wormer every few months (ask your cat’s vet about this).

Cats eat mice, rabbits and birds in the wild

My husband loves to tell the story about a time when he and some friends were grilling burgers on the patio.

Our big, orange cat Beamer suddenly squeezed himself through the slats of the fence, carrying a freshly killed rabbit across the yard. He then proceeded to drag the rabbit onto the patio and place it a few feet from the grill!

Apparently, Beamer decided he would join the party as well, BYOB style.

That’s Bring Your Own Bunny.

Beamer ate the entire (raw) bunny – the eyes, the brain, the bones, the intestines, the heart, the kidneys, you name it. And then he relaxed on the deck in the sun, full and happy and purring.

When our dogs and cats live mostly indoors, we forget they are animals, hunters and carnivores.

How to transition your cat to a raw diet

You can transition your cat from his dry or canned food to raw food slowly by mixing the two over a couple of weeks. Or, you can just switch your cat over to the new diet right away. There are pros and cons to both.

Slowly switching your cat to a raw diet

The benefit of this is you’ll slowly help your cat adjust to the new food without upsetting his stomach. And since some cats are picky eaters and don’t like change, a slow transition might help your cat adjust better.

Most raw pet food companies such as Darwin’s recommend a slow transition where you add a few bits of the new food into your cat’s old food. Maybe about 25% new food and 75% old food for a few days.

If all goes well, you can do 50/50 for a few days and then 75/25 until you’re at 100% raw food after about 10 days total.

For more details, see this post: How to transition my pet to a raw diet

What to do if your cat is not interested in raw food

My cat Scout is very picky and with him I would just slowly mix in bits of his raw food with his canned or dry food. He thinks dry food is a treat so it helps to mix that in with his raw food. Not ideal, but with picky cats you have to get creative!

If your cat likes the texture of dry food, you can sprinkle some over the raw food. He might also like some dehydrated raw food.

Darwin’s recommends sticking to a consistent feeding schedule to your cat knows to expect food at certain times of the day and will build up an appetite. This is also true because you don’t want to leave raw meals out all day.

For more info, check out the Darwin’s article on transitioning a cat to raw HERE

And of course, if you have any questions about feeding your cat a raw diet, just post them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help!

Darwin’s giveaway! Win a month’s worth of raw food for your pet!

Raw food for dogs and cats

UPDATE: The winner has been chosen and notified. Congrats to Brittany B.!

Would your dog or cat like to try a raw diet?

Let me know in the comments!

– Lindsay

Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.

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Friday 15th of November 2019

My dog gets raw treats, veggies etc for now. she’d love some Darwin’s

Christi Barrenechea

Sunday 10th of November 2019

My dogs are fully converted to the raw food diet and they look great. As for my cats, it's a bit harder. One is finally converted over but the other cat is just not as thrilled to eat raw. With her we defiantly have to mix it with canned cat food. We do buy higher-end cat food to mix the raw with. I don't know if she will ever by 100% converted but all my pets look fantastic on the raw food. I will never ever go back to processed junk again.

Kim Gresham

Saturday 9th of November 2019

I have always worried about the price of raw having 2 large dogs and two small. I have started getting gizzard and liver and mixing kale and apple or such and giving that to them. I would love to try your food.

Kim Gresham

Saturday 9th of November 2019

I have a couple of dogs and the price has always scared me about raw. I do buy chicken gizzards and liver and mix kale and apple with that in a blender. I give that to them with their kibble. I have always been interested in raw.


Thursday 7th of November 2019

We are not fully committed to raw but certainly add many elements of raw into our pups diets. They certainly enjoy what they get.