It’s no secret that we’re dog lovers. Canine crazy. Always have been and always will. As most of you now know, CDK9 Raw was born from a desire to do better for our dogs. To challenge the assumption that dry kibble (which is rubbish) is the way they should be fed and give them the nutrition and healthy lives they deserve.
We’ve always admired them from afar (until recently!). Whether it’s sassy independence or a playful inquisitiveness (and everything in between), cats certainly have very unique personalities. Sleek and graceful, watching a cat stalk and catch its prey is a demonstration in ruthlessly efficient elegance.
And this, coupled with your feedback, is what got us thinking...
Cats have become just as much a part of our families as dogs - so why should we accept the same substandard ‘food’ for them?
So, we went back to the drawing board. And once again, it comes down to what’s most natural is healthiest.
Should You Raw Feed Your Cat?
Well, if the answer to this for dogs is an emphatic YES, then for cats it should be shouted from the rooftops (a hot tin roof, anyone?!).
All felids, including domestic cats, are obligate carnivores, meaning it’s a biological necessity for them to consume fresh muscle meat, offal and bone.
As true predators, they evolved eating a prey-based diet and, of course, consumed it raw. As a result, there are certain vital nutrients that cats cannot synthesise by themselves or obtain from plant matter (hint: we're gonna go a little nutrition-nerd here for a bit):
- Arginine: Required for the elimination of by-products of protein, such as ammonia. A deficiency of arginine means the cat cannot create the enzymes the liver needs to remove ammonia during digestion. They are extremely sensitive to a lack of arginine and have been shown to become ill within hours of eating a meal lacking in it. Raw meat contains an ample daily allowance of this essential amino acid.
- Arachidonic Acid: While dogs can manufacture this Omega-6 fatty acid from linoleic acid, cats cannot. Only found in animal fats (particularly organ meats), cats require arachidonic acid for proper gastrointestinal and reproductive functioning, regulation of skin growth and effective blood clotting.
- Vitamin A: Cats lack the enzyme that converts beta-carotene to the active form of Vitamin A, Retinol. This means that they require preformed Vitamin A from an animal source that has already carried out this conversion, which a raw diet provides. This goes a long way to explain why, apart from instinct, a ‘well-fed’ house cat will still prey on mice, rabbits or birds! Lack of Vitamin A negatively impacts night vision, skin and coat quality and can stunt a kitten’s growth.
- Dietary Protein: While both dogs and cats need a high protein diet for proper functioning, the requirement for cats is higher than most mammals. Cat’s metabolism breaks down amino acids at a faster rate, meaning they needs regular protein replenishment. Unlike other mammals, a cat’s metabolism cannot adjust its rate of protein breakdown and is not effective at processing plant-based sources (check out how much of this is stuffed into dry food). Yep, you guessed it... fresh, raw meat is best.
- Niacin: An essential B vitamin, Niacin is similar to Vitamin A in the sense that cats require it in a preformed state. Unlike dogs, they cannot convert Tryptophan to Niacin if necessary so are at serious risk of deficiency from commercial dry foods. Loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhoea and weakness are some of the first symptoms to watch out for. Unchecked, a niacin deficiency can result in dermatitis, dementia and even death. Organ meats, beef and poultry are excellent sources but beware: cooking (or even warming in the microwave) degrades the niacin so keep to raw!
- Taurine: This is a big one for cats and one of the most common with regard to deficiencies. Taurine is an essential amino acid that cats must obtain in a preformed state and is necessary for proper cardiovascular, eye and reproductive functioning. The danger here is that observable, clinical symptoms are slow to develop and can be easily missed. It could take 2 years for symptoms to be noted, by which time the cat’s heart muscle may be weakened and they may suffer from Central Retinal Degeneration (CRD) resulting in impaired vision. Red meats, poultry and organ contain appropriate amounts of Taurine for kitty, which is exactly where our introductory range is focused!
How To Transition Your Cat To Raw
Our online followers will, by now, be aware of the latest addition to the CDK9 Raw pack, or now…pride?!
(Today I learned that the collective noun for a group of wild cats is a destruction. A jamboree of jaguars, leap of leopards, coalition of cheetahs and a streak of tigers. Domestically, the correct terminology for a group of cats is a clowder or glaring. Random huh!)
Anywho... you may have seen Raf, our gorgeous Bengalese kitten, making an appearance on our social media. She has been an integral part of developing our range and when not doing cat (and dog) things, can often be found in the CDK9 Raw kitchen taste-testing our products. She’s been fed raw from the beginning and took to it immediately. For older cats and those who have become used to commercial foods, it may be necessary to undergo a transition to raw.
The guide below is the recommended approach for stubborn cats. Sometimes they will take immediately to new food (however they are notoriously picky eaters), so we thought we'd outline the slowest case transition approach just to be safe!
The key here is patience. We have heard of it taking weeks sometimes to get through to a full change of food. It is absolutely worth it though for their overall health and wellbeing.
Generally, the transition can be viewed in 3 stages:
- Dry to canned: Dry food is junk food and there’s a possibility your cat has become addicted to it so this step is often the longest of the process. Stop free-feeding dry food: give them a regular feeding time and don’t leave their food there all day for them to choose when to eat it - take it away after 30 minutes. They learn quickly and will begin to associate their food with a person (you!) and not a place. Two or three daily mealtimes may be necessary at this early stage. Once they are eating regularly, switch to canned food (not a product we ordinarily advocate for but a necessary evil here) in order to get them used to the new smell and texture and continue as before. You may have to offer a ‘bribe’ here, such as a little of their old dry food mixed in or the water from a tin of tuna as a topping - whatever works! Obviously, if your cat is already eating canned food, you can go straight to step 2.
- Canned to Raw: The next step is to try your cat will a small bit of cut up chicken or liver. Place it next to a bit of the canned food. Many will go for it straight away but don’t worry if they don’t- it’s about getting them used to the smell of it. Don’t feed it straight from the fridge, try placing it in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes first- think mouse body temperature! You can then begin to mix small bits of raw in with the canned food and gradually increase the amount over time- you’ll be able to judge your cat best. Again, patience is key, and it can take anything from a few minutes to a few weeks for them to fully transition to raw.
- Adding Raw, Meaty Bones: Once your cat is used to their raw diet, then you can introduce raw, meaty bones. Chicken and duck wings are a particular favourite in our house. It may take them a little time to get used to the crunching and chewing but, once they do, they’ll never look back!
Note: When encouraging your cat to transition to a raw diet, it may be tempting to withhold food until they eat what you give them to hasten the process. This is not a good idea! Cats who go without food for long periods are at risk of hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver). Cats in ‘starvation mode’ are not designed to convert fat stores into energy so any fat reserves are released onto the liver. When transitioning to any new diet, slow and steady wins the race!
We’re delighted to have brought our new raw cat range on-stream and can't wait to hear what you think! As always, feel free to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or check us out on Facebook and Instagram!