Let Me Tell You About Raw Food. Hey Don't Run Away...

Let Me Tell You About Raw Food. Hey Don't Run Away...

If you are at all like me, as soon as you realized what a difference a raw meat diet made in your cats, you wanted to tell everyone about it. You wanted to convince everyone to do what you did. If you really did try that, you probably had mixed success, right? Why is that? You need to realize what this message really is. Basically, you're telling someone they are wrong. That the way they think about something is wrong, and, that you are right. You can see the problem. Nobody likes being told they are wrong. Ever.
 
There are only two ways someone will be receptive to this kind of message. One: they already know or suspect they are wrong and want some validation. Two: you already have a personal relationship with the person and a level of trust exists between you. Even for the latter, you can't always get through to people. At first, that will seem perplexing. You will tell yourself "It's so obvious once it's pointed out. Cats need meat! Why doesn't this person get it?" I know why. And you won't like it.
 
You can't make people care. For too many pet owners, cats are simply animals. They are "just a cat." They aren't "people." I'm not saying these folks aren't fond of their pets, but they aren't like you and me. Maybe they got the cat for the kids or they are really a dog person. These people will think of whatever junk they are feeding the cat and say "It's good enough." How do you get through to these people? You don't. You walk away. All the logic, examples and science is wasted on them. They don't care; it's as simple as that. And you can't change that.
 
How do you go about convincing others that raw meat diets are the greatest thing since sliced bread? Tread carefully. It can be done, but only on their terms. If you just plunge in, you'll be that proselytizer who knocks on the door saying "I have the truth. I am right and you are wrong!" You do not want to be that person. It's a good way to get the door slammed permanently on any acceptance of the idea. Convincing a stranger, or even someone you know, will only happen if they are interested and want more. You can say one thing. If they care (see above) they may follow up with questions, which means you have an in. If they don't pursue it, stop right there. Don't be a jerk. That may sound harsh, but that's what people will think.
 
I have a story told to me by a rescue person who advocates that the kittens she adopts out be fed – actually, continue to be fed – a raw meat diet once the adopters take them home. When she was espousing on the benefits of the diet, in person when the people were picking up the cats, she noticed that despite the fact that they were smiling and nodding, they were physically backing up. She realized that she had gone a step too far. They were literally, even if not consciously, trying to run away from her.
 
For people who haven't come to you asking questions, you have to plant the seed of the idea, but then stop. You'll have to simply trust that they'll look for more information if they decide to go further. That is one of the primary reasons Feline Nutrition exists. We wanted to create a place where people who were new to the idea and curious could come and learn more. Somewhere safe. No ads, no selling a product. Science-backed info and stories of people just like them. We also wanted it to be a place that people felt comfortable sending others to. You can say your one thing to a person, and if they seem even slightly interested – and they may simply be being polite – then add "go here if you want to find out more about it" and stop. I actually do it all the time. No one likes to feel pressured to accept a new idea. Let them explore the idea on their own.
 
What about the first way? People who come to the idea on their own. Most people in this group are looking into raw diets because their cat is sick or one of their cats has died. This is sad, but very common. I was even in that group. Some others look into raw diets because they have never had a cat before – and so have few preconceived notions about cat food. Or, they have simply heard about raw diets and are curious. All of these people will be very receptive to finding out more from you. Because they care.
 
Despite the challenges of getting this message out to people, raw diets for cats are more popular than ever. This change has mostly happened organically – person to person. This sort of organic spread of an idea can be very effective and can cause exponential growth. Even though person to person change can be hard, it is worth it. So, be the advocate with the people who trust you.
 
But, don't forget that the best advocate might be sitting in your lap right now. Nothing convinces a skeptic better than a healthy, active, super-soft and shiny, odor-free pooping cat. I have heard over and over again from people whose cats have changed their own vet's mind. The vet will ooh and aah over how healthy the cat is, how great her teeth look, how she doesn't look her age at all and what, her diabetes is in remission, my, my. Then they discover it is all because the cat is raw fed. It gives them pause (pun intended). The evidence is right there. The owner doesn't even have to attempt to convert the person. Fluffy did it all by herself.
 
Margaret Gates is the founder of Feline Nutrition and the Feline Nutrition Foundation.
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