Dry Cat Food - The Big Easy

Dry Cat Food - The Big Easy

The hook that gets most people snagged into feeding cats dry food: it's easy. Okay, it's extremely easy. You can feed the cat in under five seconds. The cat seems to like it, too. It's hard to fight against that. We are all busy, some of us ridiculously so. Easy is a big deal.
 
Once you do get it through to people that dry food is not what cats should be eating, one of the first worries that people have – whether they admit it or not – is that feeding the cat will become a lot of work. Almost everyone who is at this stage has already realized that their cat can't stay on dry food, no matter how convenient it is. When we outline transitioning a cat to a raw meat diet from a dry kibble diet, we always recommend an intermediate step of going to a canned diet first. This helps to get the cat accustomed to mealtimes and used to a diet with a completely different consistency. But, there is an ulterior motive to this step. We want to get the human used to the new diet, too. Get the human used to spending a little more time dealing with feeding. They soon realize that it isn't really time consuming at all. Feeding ground raw diets is almost as easy as canned food. Just thaw and serve. People realize very quickly that what they thought might be a big hassle, or messy or complicated, is really pretty simple.
 
One of the things we knew right from the very beginning, when we first started Feline Nutrition, was that easy was always going to be a big issue. If feeding a raw meat diet was perceived as being a lot of work, it just wasn't going to happen. Simple as that. Only the very dedicated or desperate would do it. For this reason, we knew that commercially prepared raw foods were going to be one of the most important factors in turning around what cats get fed. Our goal has always been to get people to feed their feline companions bio-appropriate diets. And by that we mean all people, not just those who are paying attention to the issue. We want raw meat diets to be the norm. To accomplish that, raw diets would have to be easy in two ways: easy to feed and easy to find. That's the raw diet reality.
 
When I started to feed my cats a raw diet I made all of their food myself. But, as life got busier I began to depend more on commercially prepared frozen raw diets. I still do homemade, but I also feed a lot of different brands and types of frozen diets, and of course, whole raw meat cuts. I am very grateful for the choices there are now. I also need easy. Nearly everyone I know that starts out making their own raw food ends up feeding at least some prepared diets over time. Easy isn't just important, it's critical to making it possible for people to continue feeding raw diets. For many people, making all of your own cat food, all of the time, just doesn't work out in the long run. Another raw diet reality.
 
Feline Nutrition encourages people to try making raw cat food at home. There are advantages to homemade food: you know exactly what's in the food and it costs a lot less. Both of these are important and one or both may be the primary reason for going the homemade route. But, it is a bit more work and for many people that is a hurdle they can't get past. We emphasize that making your own cat food really isn't very hard or very time-consuming – we actually think it's fun – but it's still is a daunting step for many.
 
Most people feed their cats commercial raw diets for this reason. It's much easier to just buy a complete frozen diet. There are so many more choices available now than there were when we started Feline Nutrition. And, those choices are getting easier to find. You have likely seen the freezers going up in pet food stores. Raw diets aren't relegated to being "in the back" anymore. Even some big box pet stores now have freezers with raw food. This was unheard of just a few years ago. So, not only are there more brands of raw food now, they are getting easier to find.
 
Perceptions are slowly changing as prepared raw diets become more visible. It's a subtle but important shift. We have always pushed for raw meat diets to be viewed as the "normal" diet for cats, with canned as an acceptable second choice and dry food eliminated entirely. I look at the shifts in the food that is available and people's perceptions of it and I can see we are moving towards that goal. Someday, diet-related diseases in cats such as diabetes or IBD will be the rarity they should be. I look forward to that new reality.
 
Margaret Gates is the founder the Feline Nutrition Foundation.
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