Darwin’s Raw Cat Food: Feed Your Cat the Way Nature Intended

raw-cat-food

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need meat in their diet to thrive. Their systems aren’t designed to digest carbohydrates. A raw diet is one of the best ways to fulfill cats’ nutritional requirements. There are numerous benefits from feeding a raw diet to your cat, including improved digestion, reduced stool odor and volume, increased energy, ability to maintain ideal weight, better dental health, and better urinary tract health.

Embraced for decades by holistically oriented pet parents and holistic veterinarians, raw feeding is becoming more mainstream as pet parents look for alternatives to feeding highly processed commercial pet foods.

Raw feeding is easy

Raw feeding does not have to be complicated. You do not need to grind your own meat and bones, measure out supplements, and figure out how to make a balanced diet for your little carnivore. There are plenty of commercial raw diets on the market, ranging from frozen to freeze-dried. Unfortunately, as the market is becoming more crowded, some manufacturers are cutting corners and adding more vegetables to their formulas to cut costs. You can find the brands I recommend here.

Darwin’s Natural Pet Food

I recently came across a new offering on the market: Darwin’s Natural Pet Food. I was impressed with what I saw on their website, both in terms of what’s in the food and what’s not:

  • 100% meat – no animal-by-products or fillers
  • gluten free and wheat free
  • all the meat that goes into their food is from cage-free animals
  • no GMO
  • no steroids
  • no hormones

In short: they’re doing everything right.

Of course, the real test of any food is: will your cats eat it?

Putting Darwin’s to the test

The folks at Darwin’s were kind enough to send us an assortment of their raw food. The food ships frozen in dry ice, and unlike some other raw food brands I ordered online in the past, it arrived completely frozen. In fact, it was so frozen that it actually hurt my hands a bit getting it from the box to the freezer.

raw-cat-food

The food comes packaged in convenient 8 ounce sealed packs. It takes about 24 hours for one pack to thaw in the refrigerator, so feeding is no harder than feeding canned food. The only difference is that instead of opening a can, you’re defrosting a pack of food. The food is more nutrient dense than some of the other brands with higher vegetable or moisture content. One 8 ounce pack is just right for one day’s worth of breakfast and dinner for Allegra and Ruby.

We received turkey, chicken and duck, and all three were a huge hit with the girls. Allegra and Ruby are good eaters, but some days, they leave little of each meal behind. With Darwin’s, we’ve been having clean plates almost every single meal.

How to order

Darwin’s has an introductory offer that can’t be beat so you can try this for your own cats: For $14.95, you get 10 pounds of raw food. You can customize the flavors depending on your cat’s taste preferences.

Once you place your introductory order, you are automatically set up for automatic shipments (you choose the frequency of shipment,) but you can cancel this at any time.

I’ll be honest: I’m not crazy about the autoship option. I don’t want to have to remember to cancel if I change my mind about an order. But I love everything about this food, and it’s worth it to me to put up with it. Since receiving the free product, I placed an order, and I had to adjust the autoship date once because I miscalculated. I found Darwin’s customer service extremely responsive and accommodating, which gives me peace of mind.

For more information and to order, please visit DarwinsPet.com.

FTC Disclosure: I received this product for review at no charge. Receiving the free product did not influence my review. All reviews on The Conscious Cat will always reflect my honest and unbiased opinion, or, as the case may be, Allegra and Ruby’s honest and unbiased opinion.

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34 Comments on Darwin’s Raw Cat Food: Feed Your Cat the Way Nature Intended

  1. Lynette
    May 13, 2017 at 12:37 pm (4 months ago)

    Ingrid,
    I finally ordered Darwin’s duck. However, I’m keeping it in the freezer for 30 days before I start feeding. I read that freezing raw meat for 14-30 days kills parasites. My Darwin’s batch was processed on May 8th. Have you fed your cats Darwin’s immediately after you received it and are you concerned about parasites? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 13, 2017 at 12:58 pm (4 months ago)

      I feed Darwin’s right after I receive it.

      Reply
  2. Ashley
    September 30, 2016 at 12:33 pm (12 months ago)

    Hi Ingrid,

    I noticed in your review of Raw Paws Pet Food that you mentioned “Raw Paws ground chicken does have bone ground in, but I did not see any visible fragments (something that has been an issue for me with some other brands in the past.)”…..I am currently feeding my cats Darwin’s and I have noticed the ground up bone pieces because some of my cats don’t eat them and spit them out. My question is, are these bone pieces safe for kittens? I am currently fostering 2 litters of kittens that are about 4 weeks and 8 weeks old. Do you think there is a chance of them choking on these bone pieces if they eat Darwin’s? I have pictures of the bone pieces if that is helpful.

    Thank you for your time and help!!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 30, 2016 at 5:29 pm (12 months ago)

      I’ve seen some bone fragments in my recent batches, too, Ashley, and I passed your question on to Darwin’s customer service folks. Here’s what they said:

      “The ground bone pieces are in Darwin’s meals by design, for the calcium they bring to our complete and balanced formula. Our intent is that they be ground to a size of a pencil eraser or smaller, but given the pliability of raw bone, it is sometimes possible that larger pieces can fold and move through the grind plates. Any time our customers receive meals with larger bone fragments than anticipated, we ask they report it to Darwin’s Customer Service. We will want to know the lot number, to follow-up with production, and are happy to replace any meals our customers are uncomfortable feeding.”

      As for feeding your kittens, they do suggest that if you feel the bones are to large to let customer service know so they can record the lot numbers and replace the product. Personally, I wouldn’t be comfortable feeding bone fragments that big to kittens as young as yours.

      The following resource offers more information on feeding raw to kittens: http://feline-nutrition.org/answers/answers-raw-feed-all-of-those-kittens

      I hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Ashley
        September 30, 2016 at 6:34 pm (12 months ago)

        Thank you Ingrid! I will pick a different raw for the kittens and make sure to feed them different food types so they are not “problem” eaters later. My biggest concern is that their adopters will feed them dry only. When the rescue allows me to, I send my foster kittens with a print out of your reccomended foods article and other educational information 🙂

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          October 1, 2016 at 5:28 am (12 months ago)

          I love that you’re sending out educational information with your adopters, Ashley, and thank you for including my article! I know of a few rescue groups that won’t adopt unless potential adopters commit to never feeding dry food.

          Reply
          • Ashley
            October 1, 2016 at 1:03 pm (12 months ago)

            That’s amazing! But I’m torn. I’m in Dallas and although the long term goal is to be no kill, the live release rate they have improved is still about 50%. I can’t even get rescues or vets for that matter to understand or agree to not feed dry (I admit I don’t even attempt the conversation with vets…the specialist one of my cats sees wouldn’t even approve a raw diet saying they didn’t know enough about it…my common sense tells me otherwise lol).
            Most in rescue in DFW end up with so many cats because they are tying so hard to fight to keep them from being euthanized that it seems they wouldn’t be able to afford their cats if they didn’t feed dry. I’m sure a big part of it is understanding the big picture. For example, I’ve spent so much money on vet bills, I’m desperate to save money any way I can later by spending it now trying to make sure they are as healthy as I can control. I do plead with people in rescue that say they can’t afford to feed wet food, to at least do one meal a day or as often as they can afford now to help save them money later.
            I do like to hear that some rescues are really making sure they educate themselves and their adopters by requiring them to agree to never feed dry 🙂

  3. CarolMcK
    June 29, 2016 at 9:18 am (1 year ago)

    I so desperately want to get my older girl (who’s been diagnosed with idiopathic hypercalcemia) on a raw food diet. Unfortunately (due to my ignorance) she’s been on a tuna based wet food diet most of her life. And free fed kibble. (I know better now …)

    I tried her on samples of Rad Cat from the pet store and she was NOT interested. I’m willing to try Darwins, but have one huge worry. Tessie is very used to nibbling thru out the day. She’ll eat a small bit of her can food when its out i the morning… And then little bits here and there. Half a 5.5 oz can will take the entire day to ne comsumed. How long can the raw food sit out at room temp before it’s unsafe to eat?

    I know you encourage the 30 minute rule, but she’s 12 and set in her ways. She’s also down to 8 lbs and can’t afford to get much skinnier. Thanks in advance for your response!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 29, 2016 at 12:31 pm (1 year ago)

      I wouldn’t leave raw food out any longer than 30 minutes, Carol. You definitely don’t want to withhold food from Tessie if she’s already skinny. You may just need to stick with canned food, which won’t spoil even if left out for several hours.

      Reply
  4. Les
    June 28, 2016 at 2:31 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Ingrid, love this food but it’s not available here 🙁 Just wondering what your thought were on an Australian Raw mix called Vets All Natural? The 2 main companies that produce BARF style patties have a higher bone content, which is why i was looking for an alternative. Apparently the main supplements are added to this ‘mix’ which you then soak (to mimick a prey animal’s stomach), then mix it in with your choice of chunky meat. I’ve popped 2 links here, would love your feedback as i love all the information you provide!
    Link 1: http://www.vetsallnatural.com.au/complete-mix-for-cats/
    Link 2: http://www.vetsallnatural.com.au/grains-in-pet-food/

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 28, 2016 at 5:54 am (1 year ago)

      This looks like a good line, Les.

      Reply
      • Les
        June 28, 2016 at 10:39 pm (1 year ago)

        Thank you so much Ingrid. Absolutely love your blog and your info. Wish you could come down to Oz!

        Reply
  5. Patti
    June 25, 2016 at 8:51 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Ingrid… I got my introductory Darwin shipment yesterday and I’m defrosting the first package for tonight’s meals. The instructions are vague, and I must say.. I am intimidated by it! Do I warm it up after defrosting? I hate microwaving anything. And how much of this should I be feeding them? They are 14 lbs. and 11 lbs. I received all three poultry meals – duck, turkey and chicken. If they like it, they will be missing out on the rabbit, lamb & venison they now eat from NV. Is it ok for them to just eat poultry? I know…so many questions….I’m just so nervous about the switch. I value your advice!

    Reply
    • Diane
      June 25, 2016 at 10:57 am (1 year ago)

      Patti, I have a cat with IBD and am thinking about making this change too. I read the information on Darwin’s site and it says to do it gradually. A thumbnail portion added to the regular food and increase it slowly. Hope this helps you.

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        June 25, 2016 at 11:08 am (1 year ago)

        Gradual changeover is usually recommended when you introduce a new food, but my experience has been that when you’re switching from one grain-free food to another, there usually aren’t any issues. It seems to be that it’s the grains that are causing the problems. Of course, every cat is different, and for some, a gradual changeover may be needed.

        Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 25, 2016 at 11:07 am (1 year ago)

      No need to heat up, although I do warm ours in the microwave for 10 seconds or so. Most cats tend to like it better slightly warmed. It’s fine to just eat poultry, but you can still rotate with the NV flavors. As for quantity to feed, you can refer to this post http://consciouscat.net/2015/08/10/how-much-should-i-feed-my-cat/ but ballpark 6-8 ounces a day should be about right (for each cat.)

      Reply
  6. Maureen
    June 23, 2016 at 7:47 pm (1 year ago)

    I moved to a 100% raw diet for my cats 3 years ago.I started with commercial raw and once I saw how well my cats did on it I began to make my own. I do not grind, I buy various meats from Hare-today gone tomorrow, I also buy pre-mixed nutrients that I simply measure and mix in. Buying in bulk I save a lot, I just got a spare freezer and some freezer safe canning jars. I spend about 3/4 hours once every two months. I do give occasional meals of Rad Cat and Stella & Chewys freeze dried. The benefits of raw have been incredible.No more hairballs etc. When two of my cats came into my home they had gingivitis, since adding meat chunks to the meals their teeth are fabulous.There have been to many benefits to list but, one of my favorites is the poop and pee of raw fed cats does not smell.

    Reply
  7. JC
    June 21, 2016 at 10:48 am (1 year ago)

    I liked the idea of feeding raw, and I tried Darwins for about 6 months last year(2015). One cat liked it, the other needed convincing, and never ate much of it at all. But be aware that at one point, I received a shipment of raw food that appeared and smelled fine, but it was in fact spoiled or somehow contaminated, and both my cats got very ill on it. Darwins refunded my money (as you can imagine, not my primary concern), but within a month after that, the cat that had eaten the most of it, was diagnosed with intestinal worms, needing treatment and complete sterilization of their litter box and surrounding areas. My cats don’t go outside at all, and I give them bottled water vs. tap water, so the vet believes there was no other source of the worms other than the raw food. Both have been completely healthy since the worming is completed and they are back on canned food. So if you try raw food (ANY brand), please watch very carefully for signs of food spoilage (air pockets in the corners of the packets, even slight discoloration, or off-odor), and watch for signs of illness in your cats, and not just in the beginning. I’m disappointed that raw food just did not work out for us, and I don’t want the company to lose business over my comment, since they tried very hard to help throughout the entire process. But I do want people to be aware that there are dangers with raw food, since we have no control over the sourcing of the meat, and even the company may not be 100% sure that a particular source animal is not carrying something, and there is no cooking to remove any bacteria or other contaminents that may be present in it, like there is with canned food. Just be very careful.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm (1 year ago)

      I’m sorry your cats got so sick, JC! You are correct that no food is completely risk-free – and that’s true for human food as well.

      Reply
  8. Patty
    June 21, 2016 at 10:44 am (1 year ago)

    My 2 cats eat Darwin’s raw food and they both like it. Darwin’s will send an e-mail reminding you that your next order will ship. This makes it easy if you need to make changes.

    Reply
  9. Patti
    June 21, 2016 at 8:15 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Ingrid,
    I just ordered the introductory offer of Darwin’s. I think it will be better for my cats and economically better on my wallet. I currently feed Tiki and Natures’s Variety (canned). I hope my two cats Darwin’s.
    My question….I am getting a new kitten soon. She is coming from Thailand! Is this food appropriate for babies?
    I always follow your advice. This site is a blessing. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 21, 2016 at 8:33 am (1 year ago)

      You can absolutely feed a raw diet to kittens, Patti. Again, think about what cats eat in the wild. There’s no such thing as a mouse designed especially for kittens! While kittens have different nutritional needs than adults in terms of how much they need to eat, the concept of life stages diets is nothing more than a marketing ploy. Here’s more information: http://consciouscat.net/2014/08/11/life-stages-lifestyle-diets-cat-really-need/

      Reply
      • Patti
        June 21, 2016 at 8:56 am (1 year ago)

        Thank you so much. I hope they all transition well to Darwin’s.

        Reply
  10. Les
    June 21, 2016 at 6:14 am (1 year ago)

    Thanks Ingrid! Wish this was in Australia, our main 2 available are BARF or Big Dog for Cats, both of which have a small amount of veggies. Will keep an eye out for something with similar ingredients as a guideline. Love the American range of canned foods too, so much variety for quality options!

    Reply
    • dove
      June 28, 2016 at 6:27 am (1 year ago)

      Agreed. Mine really really don’t like BARF – the paste texture seems to turn them off. Would really like the option to choose what kind of meat as well, my local place seems to be heavy into rabbit and nothing else.

      Reply
      • Les
        June 28, 2016 at 10:40 pm (1 year ago)

        Hi Dove, I found something called Vets All Natural and posted above. Ingrid left her feedback too. could be worth checking out!

        Reply
  11. Lynette
    June 21, 2016 at 5:56 am (1 year ago)

    Did you find any sharp or large (1/4″) bones in Darwin’s? I’d love to try this brand. I feed my cats RadCat, but Eddie, who loves raw more than the other two, is allergic to the egg in it. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 21, 2016 at 6:19 am (1 year ago)

      So far, I’ve only found one tiny little bone fragment (the size of a pin head) in the chicken formula, Lynette. I feed Radcat, too, but since they started using HPP processing, my girls have been less than enthusiastic about it.

      Reply
      • Lynette
        June 21, 2016 at 11:26 am (1 year ago)

        Great! I ordered Darwin’s introductory offer this morning. I agree about the HPP processing. I recently bought 20 24-ounce tubs of Radcat turkey, and so far only one tub had a weird floral smell and my boys wouldn’t eat it. I contacted Radcat, and the HPP processing was blamed for it. However, in the second e-mail after my response, Radcat told me to return it for a refund.

        Reply
  12. Ingrid
    June 21, 2016 at 5:35 am (1 year ago)

    You do not need to supplement this diet, although I still like to add a daily probiotic supplement. Probiotics are a great immune system booster.

    Reply
    • Ben S.
      June 6, 2017 at 3:57 pm (4 months ago)

      Hi, Ingrid—I’m currently feeding my cats Darwin’s raw meals. I like this idea of adding probiotics. Can you recommend the supplement you’re using? Thanks!

      Reply
  13. Gervaise Christiansen
    June 21, 2016 at 3:28 am (1 year ago)

    If I use this raw food, do I need to add supplements to Bella’s diet and if yes, what? She is on canned food with a smattering of the kibble she loves as a treat. I’m not sure I want to get into the cost and difficulty of giving her supplements….
    Thanks
    Bella and Gervaise

    Reply
  14. Will Hodges
    June 21, 2016 at 2:24 am (1 year ago)

    This looks very interesting. I’m curious . . . do their packs contain all of the supplements that we know are good for cats (like taurine, etc.)? This could be a really good way to feed a raw diet.

    Reply

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