My beasts will not eat raw meat
September 14, 2021 6:33 PM   Subscribe

Trying to gradually transition my two cats to a partially raw-fed diet which I purchased from a local animal butcher that does raw food meals for pets.

They have the duck, and I also obtained samples of chicken and kangaroo.

- Giving them the raw food straight out of the chiller - they ran away
- Defrosting the raw food in the microwave before giving it to them - they investigated for a few seconds then ran away
- Mixing the raw food with dry food, wet food, bone broth, and toppers - they sat there acting like the bowls of food were invisible
- Dabbing raw food on the side of their bowls with their normal wet and dry food - they eat what they want and leave it
- Feeding them two hours later than their usual feeding time so they're extra hungry - they meow up a storm and proceed to ignore their full bowls
- Searing the raw food in a pan - they smell it a bit and leave

I am at my wits' end about this. I am sick and tired of throwing away perfecting good (and costly) raw duck meals because my cats don't know what's good for them!

Is there anything else I could be doing?
posted by antihistameme to Pets & Animals (14 answers total)
Try letting the raw food naturally come up to room temp before feeding it to them. This makes a big difference in taste/smell. I wouldn't be too worried about bacteria; animals have different gut flora from us and cats eat like birds and rodents and are fine.

Is there a reason your cats need to eat raw food?

Dogs are obviously not cats but I have two dogs, and a couple months back I got several pounds of raw dog food on a promo deal just to try. One dog loved it. The other dog looked at me like I was punishing him. I kept encouraging him to eat it and he would put his tongue on it a bit, then look at me again like "have I displeased you in some way?" So I let the dog who liked it eat all the raw food and little mr fussy got his kibble. (They are both back on kibble now.) In conclusion, some folks just don't like some foods. Unless it's medically necessary, life is too short to fight a cat.
posted by phunniemee at 7:11 PM on September 14 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: The older one is several pounds overweight, as confirmed by our vet. We never free feed, but as he's aging (8 this year!) he is getting more and more rotund even though he's on the same diet as years prior. We call him our furry bowling ball. I've seen great results from friends with fat cats getting to a more acceptable weight on raw food, so it is something I'd like to try.

Good tip on leaving the food out before giving it to them.
posted by antihistameme at 7:19 PM on September 14

This article might be of help to you:

I'm here to say that it can take months, and you will in fact probably waste a lot of food. That's a common lament on some of the message boards I hang out on. Cats are so picky and fickle about their foods.
posted by whistle pig at 7:30 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]

I had a little luck with chicken hearts- different fun texture than other meat, and I guess they’re good for their teeth because of all the chewing? But ultimately I achieved weight loss in my chonker by switching from kibble to wet can food. Even the bargain basement stuff will be an improvement weight loss wise over kibble.
posted by Secretariat at 7:31 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

I’m jealous you have a local butcher for this, but have you tried any of the freeze-dried raw food? My cat likes the dry pellets. He also liked them when he was new to the wet raw food.

I transitioned him to it when he was younger, but he was still picky. I get it frozen and he didn’t like the small pellets, but the larger pucks are fine (thawed, and I mix in some hot water to warm it up a little). But now he’s ok with the pellets sometimes, too! I tried them again on a whim. Sometimes he gets picky about flavors, he’ll only eat pork right now, and it took me wasting a whole lot to figure that out.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 7:34 PM on September 14

Have you tried the frozen pellets? They're usually in fancier pet stores. Defrost and smush up with a tiny bit of hot water. Also for whatever reason my cats did not like microwave defrosted food.
posted by schroedinger at 7:52 PM on September 14

What does your veterinarian recommend?
posted by punchtothehead at 9:15 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]

I am not sure what the texture of the raw food is but if they will eat wet food, can you start mixing it at a 95% to 5% ratio then slowly increasing the amount? That's the only thing that worked when I had to switch my cat between two different wet foods.
posted by carolr at 4:50 AM on September 15

Have you tried cooking the meat? Cooking it won't change the caloric content, right?

I've had cats my whole life and I've not ever been able to convince them to eat something they don't want to eat.
posted by something something at 5:53 AM on September 15 [3 favorites]

When I fed my cat raw, he was uninterested in most meats. He loved raw chicken liver, topped with dehydrated raw (Stella and Chewys is his preferred brand). Bonus- liver is more affordable!
posted by girlalex at 7:38 AM on September 15

You want it room temp so it smells the most strongly and seems the most like a "fresh kill". Use it initially as a topper to their current food slowly adding more of it and less of their current food. What form is it in? If it's ground they may actually prefer chunks they can chew or visa versa. I'd start with a different meat than duck too a more neutral one like chicken might be the way to go and easier to slip in with their current food. Does your pet butcher have organ meat they might like the liver, livers are like tasty treats to pretty much any carnivore and mash easily to mix with their current food, liver should however should not be fed to cats as part of their main diet but would be OK for a few days to maybe convince them that hey this raw stuff is tasty. Most animals don't take rapid changes to diet without suspicion, specially one as dramatic as switching to raw so it will take patience and gradual slow change. Good luck.
posted by wwax at 8:41 AM on September 15

My cat flatly refused the raw meat switch, even with only adding tiny bits to her regular food. She would sit at her bowl and glare at me until I removed the offending morsel. I tried four different brands and flavors, no luck.

Then I tried cooking it and pretending I was making it for myself, and allowed her to persuade me to share it with her (she was always interested in whatever I was eating). It worked! She still never liked it raw, but the people-food fake out technique worked.

Eventually she simply accepted that I now cooked her two hot meals a day and I could drop the pantomime of cooking for myself. If your schedule and acting ability allow, this may be a solution.
posted by ananci at 8:45 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

my BIL is a vet. he's said it's known cats are *super* conditioned by the first foods they eat (shape, size, texture). that's why different pet food manufacturers have "their" kibble.

i moved cat food from shitty commodity food to a higher quality. it took a real long time, mixing the foods in gradual ratios until 100% new. at first, they would just eat around the new stuff and leave it in the bowl.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:59 AM on September 15

I don’t have advice for transitioning to raw food, but since your ultimate goal is to get your cat to a healthy weight, I’ll share what works for my cat. We have two cats - we started them off on a mix of dry kibble and wet food, and one got fat. If we restricted the kibble, she was miserable (and made us miserable too). We switched to all wet food - an unlimited amount - and the very round cat gradually went back down to a healthy weight. This all happened when the cats were about 1-2 years old - they’re now nine years old, still eat an unrestricted amount but only wet food, and are both still healthy weights. We’ve switched foods a couple times - we try to do high quality foods low in carbohydrates, but ones that are easily available at mainstream retailers.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:41 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

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