I rarely accept foods for review, unless it’s something I’ve already thoroughly researched and/or tried. I won’t use Allegra and Ruby as product testers for diets whose claims I can’t verify.

Nature’s Variety is a brand I’ve been feeding for several years, in both the raw and canned varieties. They made my – very small – list of recommended brands (the list is small because I’m extremely picky about what I feed my cats). When they asked me whether I’d like to try their new Raw Bites product, I readily agreed, much to Allegra and Ruby’s delight. They wish my food review policy wasn’t quite so stringent…

Nature’s Variety frozen Raw Bites, are, as the name implies, bite size frozen raw pieces that thaw quickly. They’re formulated just like their other frozen diets, available in nugget and patty form, with 95% meat, organs, and raw ground bone. The remaining 5% are made up of fruits and vegetables.

I’m a lazy raw feeder, and I like the nugget and patty products. They make raw feeding as easy as opening a can: simply thaw and feed. For that reason, I didn’t see much of an advantage to offering a product with even smaller pieces, but I could see where this form of raw food could be a good starting point for someone new to raw feeding.

However, there’s one thing I really love about the small size, and it sold me on the product: now I can easily use raw food as treats. I currently give the girls freeze-dried meat treats, which they love, but this is a nice alternative. I simply thaw a handful of treats in a small container in the fridge – just enough to last for a couple of days. Now we always have raw treats on hand.

The Raw Bites thaw quickly, but neither of the girls would accept them straight out of the freezer, and I doubt that most cats would. If you’re going to feed them as a meal, I would recommend thawing meal-sized portions in the refrigerator for a couple of hours prior to feeding.

We tested the chicken diet, which  contains chicken and turkey, and as such, would not be something I’d use on a regular basis since I prefer single protein diets – but the girls gave the new Raw Bites a chop licking four paws up.

Allegra actually took these right out of my hand – something she’s never done with treats.


If you listen closely to Ruby muching away on her Raw Bites treat, you may actually hear her say “nom nom nom.”


Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Bites come in chicken, turkey, beef and lamb flavors. The beef and lamb varieties are single protein. For more information, please visit Nature’s Variety’s website.

Disclaimer: This falls into the category of do as I say, not as I do! I do not recommend giving these raw treats on a carpeted surface. I had to shoot the videos in areas where the light was halfway decent, and my kitchen doesn’t quality for that. Use common sense when feeding raw meat diets, and clean and wash all utensils, dishes and surfaces that come into contact with the raw food with hot, soapy water.

54 Comments on Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Bites make raw feeding easier than ever

  1. I just bought this today. Tried giving to my two cats, but neither wanted 🙁 I will keep trying though.
    I do have a question though which is not covered in any information I can find:
    If there are some bites left, is it safe to put in the refrigerator or freezer; or should they be discarded. I certainly don’t want to possibly make my cats sick if this is a one time eat situation or else throw away.
    Would appreciate input.

    • You can keep thawed raw food in the fridge for two or three days, but I would not put food that has been left out for your cats back in the fridge. I’d adjust how much you feed them instead.

      • Ingrid – Have you had a chance to check out Big Bear raw food yet? So far, I’m very impressed with both the food and the owner, Amy.

  2. I have tried a number of raw foods, all of which my cats liked. But I just discovered a raw food that they totally clean their plates for. It’s Big Bear frozen raw cat food. It comes in 2 sizes of tubs and is sold on their web site. It gets to my house totally frozen. Have you heard of it Ingrid?

  3. Has anyone noticed their cat became constipated when they switched to raw or does the cat simply defecate less frequently on a raw diet? My cat is going every 3 days instead of daily. Thank you.

    • They do have fewer and smaller, harder stool on a raw diet, Soumay – it’s because more of the nutrients in the food get absorbed. Some raw diets are higher in calcium than others, which can be a problem for some cats and lead to constipation. Your kitty may be doing better on a different brand.

  4. Can you give me any info (or lead me in the right direction) on why single protein meals are better? I currently live in Canada and have my kitten on a raw/canned diet but will be moving with him to the US soon. His current raw food is single protein but I was looking at switching it to Nature’s Variety Instinct raw as the other brand won’t be available. Tried doing a quick search online but didn’t come up with much! Thanks

  5. Ingrid – in your review of the NVI raw bites, you mention “I like the nugget and patty products.” It is not clear if you are still referring to the NVI products, but if so, beware:
    I was using the patties, as I have multiple cats, and it was more cost efficient. Recently I noted that neither the bags nor the NVI site list taurine in the ingredients for the patties. I contacted them and the response was that they changed the formula in 2014, and the patties no longer contain taurine, and they do NOT recommend feeding this to cats. 🙁
    My guys were getting a mix of raw and canned (two raw meals, cans between), so I am not worried that they did not get any (and some occurs naturally in the meats), but I have to switch my raw to medallions or bites now.
    I wanted to let you know so that you will be aware of this and can let your readers know as well.

    • Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Marge. I believe the patties have been replaced with “medallions” for cats. The patties used to be labeled for cats and dogs. The chicken and rabbit medallions contain turkey heart and pork heart respectively, this should supply sufficient taurine.

      • I have always fed the raw bites. However, the bites used to come in one package for dogs OR cats. They have since changed to separate formulas for them with a picture on the bag of either a dog or a cat, so it’s easy to pick the right one. Gordon and Jasmine are still fans!!! I wish I could find a frozen brand with organic meat though. Do you know of any Ingrid?

        • I was using the medallions initially but they reduced the amount so I switched to the parttes. With 10 mouths to feed it was more economical. They had taurine in it at that time. I am currently seeking an alternative and will eventually switch to making my own (despite my vets displeasure). I have been buying at wholesale price too, but still… Another concern with NVI – I had used the raw boost powder which helped switch several cats but they no longer sell the can, replaced with ‘mixers’ and ‘minis’ which are easy enough to crumble, however they BOTH contain “mixed tocopherals” which is another item I was avoiding. Sigh. Having dealt with a number of medical issues, I want to get ‘real’ food… Hypercalcemia (resolved after reading Dr Mark Peterson’s blog on this – got rid of chow for him, then everyone else). Now dealing with Cholangiohepatitis and my oldest (soon to be 17) has beginnings of CKD. If I find anything, I will let you know.

  6. They LOVE it!!!! They’ve always been good eaters, but this is the first time they actually try to climb up the cupboard doors while I’m fixing the food. And they clean their bowls like there is no tomorrow. I give them all flavors except fish. I also like to add a raw organic egg yolk mixed with a little water for extra nutrition. So they have Primal and egg yolk for dinner and Instinct Raw Bites top dressed with Wysong dried raw food. They are 2 very healthy and happy 5-year-old cats. By the way, I’d be interested in what you think of the 1/2 raw egg yolk each one gets every day. Also, what is your opinion of Wysong food. I’ve been using it for many years. Thanks.

    • I don’t think you need to add egg yolk to what you’re feeding, but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing it, especially if your cats like it. It is considered a superfood, it contains essential amino acids and fatty acids. I think Wysong is a good brand, although I haven’t looked at it in a few years.

  7. I started our kittens on this a couple of days ago and the response has been incredible. The kittens are both 14 weeks old and we’ve had them for about 3 weeks. I tried them on this food as an experiment and it has been a huge success so far. When I feed them they jump right in but they only eat a little and then come back for more later. With the raw food, they don’t stop eating until it’s all gone.

    Eartha is our female Blue Chartreux and she’s a little faster than Stilton, our male British (Blue) Shorthair. When I feed them she chases me down and gets to her bowl right away. Stilton takes his time coming for his food though. That means she finishes first, then she shoves her face into his bowl. 🙂

    I have not seen any adverse reaction to this food, nor did it take them any time to make the transition. I fill their bowls on the kitchen counter and they continually jump up to try and get into their bowls while I prep them. They go nuts for this stuff. I have lived with cats for almost 40 years and I have never seen this reaction to food before.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience with raw food, Max. I’ve seen this reaction in many of my clients’ cats as well. It’s almost like the cats go “Hurray! They finally figured out what they’re supposed to feed us!” 🙂

  8. My 16 year old cat was recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. My vet has him on medication and also sold me Hills y/d. From what I have researched it appears this food is horrible for him. Is Instincts raw food safe for him to eat? I have some since I was switching my other kitty who was just diagnosed with diabetes. Researchng for my diabetic cat is how I discovered this raw food. My vet was also trying to sell me the Hills dry food for diabetic cats!! After my research I cannot believe it and am so happy I did not spend $36 on that food.

  9. I’ve been feeding Instinct Frozen Raw Bites to Gordon and Jasmine for a very long time now, and they love it! The company has recently separated the food into dog food and cat food, whereas it used to be for both. I’ve always bought the large 4 pound bags of the food, but now the cat food only comes in very small bags so is more expensive to use. But I will still try to buy it because I think it is so healthy for them. I do sprinkle some Wysong F-Biotic powder and a little water over it to make a kind of “gravy” so they will get plenty of moisture and some extra nutrition. I have just bought a bag of Primal frozen food to try. Is this also a healthy food?

      • They LOVE it!!!! They’ve always been good eaters, but this is the first time they actually try to climb up the cupboard doors while I’m fixing the food. And they clean their bowls like there is no tomorrow. I give them all flavors except fish. I also like to add a raw organic egg yolk mixed with a little water for extra nutrition. So they have Primal and egg yolk for dinner and Instinct Raw Bites top dressed with Wysong dried raw food. They are 2 very healthy and happy 5-year-old cats. By the way, I’d be interested in what you think of the 1/2 raw egg yolk each one gets every day. Also, what is your opinion of Wysong food. I’ve been using it for many years. Thanks.

  10. I know that canned food is preferred over dry food because it is not dehydrating. Are raw bites considered a wet food or a dry food?

  11. Oh, forgot to mention – he was on Primal raw rabbit off and on the past year, however, each batch seems to differ and either he loves it or won’t touch it. I called the company and they said if the cat wld not eat it, to return it to the store, that each batch differs, etc. Primal only has 10% bone content. Thanks!!!

  12. Ingrid, I’ve been giving my three year old Mikey about 1/4 of the lamb boost bites daily; I want to try feeding him the recommended amount (3/4 cup) daily for his weight, however, I’m concerned about two issues: the bone content in this food and the spinach. It’s possible that when I fed him this food previously, (in addition to some raw Stella & Chewy’s rabbit), the combination of both included too much bone; NV has 15% bone content. He ended up with bloody stools and constipated. If I try this again though, it would be NV raw in the morning and maybe still some canned (ZiwiPeak) in the evening b/c he really loves it and wants what his sister is eating. Do you think the spinach is an issue though? I read that spinach contains calcium oxalates – not good for cats b/c it can cause crystals, especially in male cats.

    In the meantime, he still has some soft stools and I think it’s b/c of the carrageenan in ZP. ;(

    • I would stay away from NV if you’ve had issues with it before, Lisa. I’m guessing the amount of spinach in the diet is probably negligible, but I’m not sure whether it would be a problem.

      I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the carrageenan caused the soft stools!

      • My male cat has always tended toward constipation. I tried many things but finally hit upon psyllium husks in his breakfast. It really did the trick. Can you think of any reason why this wouldn’t be good to give him? Thanks!

          • How would I know if this is happening? Since my cats only get raw Primal and raw Instinct would they maybe be short on fiber anyway?

          • You would see other digestive symptoms (diarrhea, vomiting, etc.). I wouldn’t use psyllium long term, but it might be worth trying for a couple of days to see whether your cat responds.

          • I have actually been giving him the psyllium for months now. The
            only change in his digestion is that it got rid of the constipation problems. He never vomits or has diarrhea. Only now I’m worried. Before the psyllium he had very hard stools and strained to defecate. Ocasionally there would even be a very small amount of blood. Now he seems fine in every way. I’m not sure what to do.

  13. Hello,

    I just found this site. Thanks to all for your valuable input. My wife and I recently adopted a cat from the local animal shelter. He is approximately 5 months old, and he is being treated for ringworm by our vet. I have never owned a cat before, but my wife had them while growing up.

    We researched foods and decided to try the Instinct Raw Bites (chicken). We bought the trial size, and Mookie really likes them. We have reduced the dry kibble that he was being fed. It will be eliminated soon (within a week).

    My question is whether or not we can feed the Nature’s Variety medallions without needing to chop them up? I apologize if this is a silly question.

    Thank you

    • Hi Keith, congratulations on your new family member! Your question isn’t silly at all, and the answer is it depends on the cat. Some cats may eat the medallions “straight up,” while others may prefer to have them mashed up a bit. I use a fork to break them up and mash them.

      • Thank you for your reply, Ingrid. I’ll try them whole, and then break them up if need be. He does like the food, and his coat is looking much better. I thank you again!

  14. I had a very bad experience with a raw diet several years ago and have been too frightened to try it again. Also, my vet does not recommend feeding raw because of Salmonella concerns. I will have to look into where the NV foods can be found in my area. The smaller size bites might work since they can be fed right from the fridge.

    • I’m sorry you had a bad experience with raw feeding, Anne. I certainly understand that you’re hesitant to try again. Unfortunately, as recent pet food recalls have shown us, even dry food doesn’t come without risks. In fact, all of the recent recalls for salmonella contamination have been for dry food.

  15. I’m looking to switch my cat to a raw diet after having him recently diagnosed with diabetes that’s been really difficult to manage. Do you know if this company uses human-quality meat, or if the chicken they use comes from sick birds or are otherwise unfit for human consumption?

  16. I might have to try them! My cats eat Feline Pride which comes in 2 lb tubs so it’s hard to thaw just a small bit out!

  17. I think they are so small so they will thaw fast. I’m sure the company would love it if their patties thawed in that time too! :p

    My cats (and ferrets) love this!

  18. That would be such a good way to start the raw diet and what a good idea to use them as treats. We are going to see if the Mom can afford to get these. That might be fun. Our Mom couldn’t handle feeding the raw food either so this sounds really good.
    Take care.

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