Raw Food Diets for Cats

My podgy puss (top) with his thinner friend.

What should you feed your cat?

I’m wandering a bit off topic this week, but having written a post on the raw food diet for dogs for a client of mine, I researched the same diet for cats.

Sometimes called the BARF diet (biologically appropriate raw feeding), raw food for dogs and cats is a growing movement. Just as humans don’t thrive on processed, preservative-laden foods, neither do our feline chums.

My cat has always been a puker. You can buy cat food that claims to be good for sensitive stomachs, but Freddie manages to vomit that up too. He’s also overweight by the human equivalent of about one and a half to two stones.

Cheaper vet bills

As I’m very fond of my cat, I’d like him to live a long, healthy life. A less noble motivation is cheaper vet bills. A slimmer, healthier cat won’t be as at risk of diabetes, lower urinary tract disease, joint stress, hepatic lipidosis (fat deposited in the liver), and decreased stamina – the same conditions that overweight humans face.

Cat food is a modern product. Dog food was invented in the 1860s, so presumably, cat food was created then or some time afterwards. Until that time, cats in a household made do with the food they could hunt and kill, anything they could scavenge and occasional scraps from the table.

There are various blogs and books you can buy that explain why a raw food diet is beneficial for cats. Primarily, it gives cats what they are meant to eat. If you’ve ever read the ingredients in cat food, you’ll have thought to yourself, I’ve never seen a cat eat rice, vegetables or whatever else they list as a benefit. And most cat food is likely to be loaded with preservatives. Have you ever noticed the use-by dates on those packets?

Dry food tends to be high in carbohydrates, and again cats aren’t designed to cope with that kind of food.

What’s in a raw food diet?

Raw meat – it’s what your cat is meant to eat.

What do you feed a cat on a raw food diet? And how much of it? The recommendations generally say you feed the cat about 5 percent weight of his optimal body weight – 250g for a 5kg cat – in raw food.

Food choices should be raw meat and fish, and meaty bones. Cat owners have been told to feed their pets bones, but this applies to cooked bones as heating changes their structure and makes them more likely to splinter. Organ meats are another good choice, and you can also try the frozen mice pet shops sell for reptiles*.

The cost is obviously a factor. Raw meat is going to be more expensive than cat food, and less convenient. You need to store it, and the best way to keep it fresh is to bag it up and put it in the freezer. You must also pay strict attention to hygiene.

Cats don’t like change. It takes patience too. My cat worked out how to manipulate me expertly years ago. I put down the raw food, and he jumps up onto the counter under the cupboard where I stored the cat food and looks at it and me pitifully. I’ve moved him from the human equivalent of eating McDonald’s every day, to a chicken and broccoli diet.

I’m hoping to report back great results soon, though. At the very least, getting my cat to his optimal weight would be a worthwhile achievement.


The usual disclaimer applies. I’m not a vet or cat expert, so if you want to feed your pet a raw food diet, please do your own research and speak to your vet.

*The frozen mouse option is a step too far for me…

Diabetes in Cats on the Rise

diabetes in cats
He’s a pudgy pussy – and sadly at risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes in dogs and cats is on the rise – that’s according to a story in the Daily Mail this week.

Pet insurer Animal Friends says cats are most at risk. The insurer’s study of 9,000 pets showed an increase of 1,161 percent in feline claims since 2011. At the same time, cases in dogs have increased by 850 percent.

An expert from the UK veterinary charity, the PDSA, told the Daily Telegraph that one of the reasons for the increase in diabetes among cats and dogs was owners feeding their pets human food, which has far too many calories for them.

Animal Friends received just 62 claims for cat diabetes cases in 2011 – compared to 721 claims in 2015. Symptoms of the disease in pets include the pet being hungry or thirsty all the time, along with peeing more often.

Diabetes in cats and dogs can be managed with insulin therapy and diet and exercise.

To prevent your dog or cat from getting diabetes in the first place:

Check their weight*. This varies depending on breed, but for visual clues you should be able to feel the ribs and spine and see the animal’s waist when viewed from above. The abdomen should be raised. It shouldn’t sag when viewed from the side. Cats are roughly supposed to weigh less than 5kgs.

Check the weight at petMD. The site has a calculator that allows you to calculate the weight for different dog breeds.

Only feed your pet pet food. These can vary in quality. The popular brands tend to have a lot of rice, cereal and vegetables, which aren’t necessarily ingredients that dogs or cats are meant to eat and gluten in particular can upset stomachs. You can buy pet food which is formulated for weight loss.

Check food portions. This is especially important if you are feeding you cat or dog biscuits. Make sure you are giving your pet the recommended amount and no more.

Encourage your pet to exercise. With dogs, this may mean extra walks. For cats, structured exercise is difficult, but you can start by placing his food bowls upstairs or investing in a biscuit dispenser he needs to play with in order to get his biscuits. You can also start playing with him before every meal. Catster has some ideas for how to play with your cat. This is especially important if you have an indoor cat.

Pet weight loss is important – but it also requires expert advice from your veterinary surgery. Be sure to ask their advice before putting your dog or cat on a diet.


*The easiest method for weighing a cat or small dog is to hold the animal, jump on your scales (set the scales to kilos for ease) and then weigh yourself and subtract the difference.