Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: June 26, 2023 by Crystal Uys

grey cat eating meat

Written by Jodi Ziskin

Raw food may seem like a new trend for cats (and dogs), but don’t tell them that; it is what they and their ancestors have eaten for hundreds of thousands of years.

In today’s world of highly processed kibble and canned foods being recalled for a variety of reasons, many cat lovers are discovering the myriad of benefits associated with feeding a raw diet. These include easier and better digestion and assimilation of nutrients, reversal of allergies, disease prevention, better oral health and cleaner teeth, less stool and an improvement in overall health.

Still, some people are freaked out by the idea of preparing raw meat at home. There are many wonderful commercially prepared frozen raw foods on the market. Brands I often recommend include Primal, Bravo, and Nature’s Variety Instinct. But for some people, it is still too foreign. There are many misconceptions about safety and salmonella and other nonsense.

That is why I am super excited about the rise in popularity of dehydrated and freeze-dried raw foods for cats. This option offers many of the same advantages of fresh/frozen raw food, but in a neater, easier format for people to handle.

The act of freeze-drying was created by the pharmaceutical industry. It was a way to transport vital medications to soldiers. For food, the act of dehydrating or freeze-drying helps lock in the freshness of the ingredients, resulting in very little loss of nutrients and enzymes.

To me, the biggest advantage is that it gets folks who are afraid of raw food to actually use raw food!

Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Small companies, deeply committed to quality, are producing excellent foods for cats. Stella & Chewy’s has a wonderful line of foods available in single serving pouches and in 12-ounce re-sealable bags. Primal Pet Foods also offers a couple of varieties of freeze-dried food for cats. I am a big fan because they use organic vegetables and food-derived vitamins. Companies like The Honest Kitchen (all organic) and Sojos have less variety, but make fantastic foods. At The Honest Kitchen, a human taste-tests every batch of food they produce.

With freeze-dried and dehydrated food, you simply add warm water, let the food rehydrate, mix and serve.

Many of the companies making freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are very committed to quality: they use all human grade ingredients, most are free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and many use organic ingredients.

Stella & Chewy’s, Primal (poultry only), Nature’s Variety Instinct and some other companies are now using a safety measure called HPP (High Pressure Processing). This is a form of pasteurization that kills pathogens without the use of heat or irradiation. Some ‘purists’ scoff at this, but I’m all for it as it helps ensure the safety of the food.

Can dehydrated and freeze-dried foods be the only source for a cat’s diet? Yes. However, I do recommend a varied diet that includes fresh or frozen raw or home cooked food. But if I can get a client to make the switch from dry food to freeze dried, it is a huge victory for their cat.

Jodi Ziskin is a Certified Pet Nutrition Consultant who also holds a Master of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition with a concentration in companion animal care. Her mission is to help cats and dogs live healthier and happier. Through her company, Holistic Healthy Pets by Jodi Z, she educates pet parents in their home environment, via Skype/Facetime or by telephone on how to make the best holistic diet and lifestyle choices for their animal companions.

Featured Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

About the author

80 Comments on Dehydrated & Freeze-Dried Foods Healthy Option for Your Cat? Facts & Tips

  1. Is it ok to feed freeze dried raw (instinct) kibble with a wet food (like tiki cat) and a topper example s&c magic dust? Or instinct coat or pumpkin? I have been trying to mix up my cats diet but not committed to feeding a raw diet. I just wanted to make sure that it is ok to mix freeze dried with a wet food like tiki for example. Thanks,

    • Hi Allie,

      Mixing freeze-dried food that’s intended for cats onto their wet food is fine, as long as you’re mindful of a few things:
      1. Ensure the food is portioned properly. Overfeeding your cat may lead to an overweight and eventually obese kitty, which you would want to avoid.
      2. Ensure that any new dietary introductions to your cat’s diet are done slowly and gradually. Start by only mixing a small portion of the new food item with their regular food to see how your cat reacts. For example, 90% of your cat’s regular food with 10% of a new food mix might be a good starting point. If your cat tolerates this ratio well, you can increase the amount of new food by a small amount every other day while decreasing the amount of their regular food, until you reach a desired ratio.
      3. It’s best to work with your veterinarian or a feline nutritionist when transitioning your cat’s diet, to ensure the process is as smooth and stress free for your kitty as possible. – Dr. Luqman Javed (DVM)

  2. Can cats eat freeze dried meat snacks and pure raw cat food, mixed together (ironwill or big country raw) ? I know cats should not switch between cooked food like kibble or canned food, and raw food as this stresses certain organs. Thank you!

    • Hi Luba,

      Mixing cat-safe freeze-dried meat snacks with your cat’s raw food is generally safe as long as you control the portions properly.

      If your cat is accustomed to just raw food, adding too much freeze-dried meat all of a sudden might upset his or her tummy. A good starting point for such a mix would be ensuring that 90 – 95% of their food is what they’re used to, and just 5-10% is what you’re trying to mix in as a new snack.

      After 2 – 3 days, if your cat seems to have no issues, you can reduce the original food by another 5 – 10% while increasing the new food or snack’s proportion as well. Repeat this process until you reach the desired mix proportions of the two foods.

      Please note that it is very difficult to accurately gauge the nutritional content of raw meat diets. Although mixing the diet with another food is possible, please check with your vet or a cat nutritionist to ensure that what you’re feeding your cat is nutritionally appropriate and complete.

  3. My 10-month-old kitten has a cold or URI. With her temporary compromised immune system, is freeze-dried (Primal and Feline Natural) safe for her to eat?

    • Hi Tricia,

      In general, raw food diets are not recommended for cats that suffer from a compromised immune system due to chronic disease. If your kitten is already used to eating raw diets, and you buy from reputable brands then the risk is less. Primal uses high-pressure pasteurization on its products. Changing your kitty’s diet suddenly might cause more stress. That said, it is important to keep a close eye on your kitten, some kittens might need medication to avoid secondary bacterial respiratory infections and complications. Make sure your kitten is well-hydrated and keep a close eye on its energy levels and attitude. Your veterinarian might also be able to prescribe some supplements such as L-lysine, colostrum, vitamins, or minerals to support your kitty’s recovery. Wish your fur baby a fast recovery.

      • Thanks so much, Crystal! She has eaten Primal and Feline Natural beef for several months, but maybe I’ll stick to Primal for now. I give her L-lysine, but I’ll check into the other things you listed as well. I’m keeping tabs on her in case she starts feeling bad again. She’s running, playing and stalking our dog again, thankfully! Many thanks for your helpful reply!!

  4. Hi, I’m quite worried for my cat. Few days ago I started giving him primal freeze dried raw food for one of his meal servings and the rest of his other meals normal wet food. Everything seemed ok until last evening and this morning where he had diarrhea. I’m unsure if I need to rush to the vet because he is still eating and fine and also his wet poop did not smell as bad as his usual poop. Apologies but it’s my first time so I’m unsure what to do.

    • Hi Juliana, couple of weeks ago I returned two turkey primal freeze dried food and contacted primal about it. Both product had yellowish colors, a bit gooey and had a metallic smell. My cat who usually loves the primal turkey wouldn’t touch it. One had an August 2019 expiration and the other September 2019. Different lot numbers. Anyhow I purchased another one with a different expiration and lot number and it smelled and looked like what it usually is and my cat didn’t reject it. You may have gotten the same bad batched. The nuggets are reddish brownish in color and should crumble easily. They should not have a metalic/chemical smell either. Of course, I’m not sure of the other protein primal offers as the texture might be different. I know the venison is really hard to crush. Hope you’re kitty feels better soon.

    • Juliana – did you slowly transition to the new food by slowly increasing the percentage of freeze dried raw food to his regular food? Abruptly changing foods will, or many cats, result in diarrhea. There is a protocol for introducing a new food – did you follow it? I personally would give your cat the food they had been eating for a few days and then follow instructions for transitioning to a new food. I started by mixing 1/8 raw freeze dried with regular food and did that for two days then increased to 1/4 raw freeze dried with regular food and did that for two days, etc. In some cases I kept to the new food mix for longer than 2 days as my cat has IBD and I wanted to be extra cautious about introducing a new food.

    • Also agree with Desiree’s comments… I feed Stella and Chewy freeze dried raw and I am very familiar with what it should look and smell like (no odor whatsoever), so you should buy a different bag from a different lot number just to make sure the food is in good order.

  5. Hi all, I’ve read through this thread and i’m still in need of an answer. I hope someone out there can help me and my two kitties. I have them both on wet food diet with added water. I mainly stick to nature’s instinct, tiki cat, earthborn, applause. Recently I started feeding them S&C and one cat refuses to eat anything else. The other projectile vomits it, i have no idea why. I found out today although they’re 4 years old they both have struvites and high kidney enzymes. Im at a loss here: i think im doing what’s best for them in terms of feeding them high quality wet food and S&C and providing them with lots of water, but it’s unclear to me why this is happening. What can i do?

    • 4 years is awfully young for elevated kidney values. Combined with the projectile vomiting, I’d be very concerned, too. You may want to ask for a referral to an internal medicine specialist. You may also want to read Dr. Lisa Pierson’s article on urinary tract disease:

  6. my cat has had terrible diahrrea. After blood work and stool testing, it is believed to be food related. We have tried all sorts of “novel” proteins. He was being feed both canned and dry. Dry was acana and orijen and wet was wild calling. Now he is on Wild Calling dry rabbit and sweet potato (as it wasn’t fed to him before). No change in poop. I found Vital Essentials freeze dried raw treats to offer him a treat that was the same protein. He loves it!!!

    I have read that we should not give the freeze dried dry but no matter what I do, when I rehydrate it, he won’t touch it. He does drink water regularly. Is it not safe to continue to give it to him dry. I am at my wits end with his runny poop. I know it isn’t good for him.

    • I would suggest looking into Tritrichomonas fetus testing if nothing else has helped. the test is about £50 at the vets, it has saved my little babys life after she was battling runny poo’s and malnourishment from that. 2 week treatment and boom she’s was all healthy

    • I might be very late but I recently started giving my cat Answers raw goat milk (supposed to have probiotics) that my kitten LOVES with freeze dried primal (I’ve only tried venison thus far)

    • My Sheba will not eat S&C raw freeze dried morsels if I hydrate them! As to not irritate her gums, I break the morsels into smaller pieces for easier chewing & digestion. She also gets a wet food that I water down. My concern is, why is my Sheba licking herself so much? She’ll be running & then she’ll stop on a dime to lick her back legs. It’s not fleas because she takes Revolution, she doesn’t have Giardia … she’s a bird watcher – could she be excited because of the birds?

      • Hi did you ever get an answer to this that happened with your cat? Mine has been suddenly cleaning a lot and I also just started him on Stella and Chewy’s raw freeze dried.

  7. One of my cats had loose stools for a month (two vets said it was protein allergy or a form of IBS) so I switched from canned to freeze-dried raw, and was amazed that her diarrhea went away the next day. I’m using Vital Essentials mini-nib entrees (, but even after adding some water it’s pretty dry, so I’ve been giving them fresh chicken hearts and gizzards as a treat to increase their moisture intake.

    This article touches on this a little, but is it safe to feed freeze-dried raw and supplement with fresh raw at the same time?

  8. I have both Stella’s and Primal. My two kitties love them (more so Primal for my female). But I still am going to try to incorporate Rad Cat raw. I do give them Rawz kibble, as they have an automatic feeder for their 4 am food fest (beats having them crying for food at that hour of the morning!!). Thanks, Ingrid for sharing your knowledge!

  9. Hi I have been feeding my 16 year old kitty Stella and chewys freezed dried. But she hates it wet. So I give it to her as is. She refuses cat canned foods. Tried so many brands. They all have that same aroma and that turns her away. She drinks an awful lot of water after eating and throughout the day. Is it ok for her to eat it dried? I also give her Life Essentials chicken as a meal and Whole Life pure chicken as a meal (they are both freeze dried). Reading all comments on stella chewys is making me nervous due to some say it is not safe. I don’t know what to feed her if not safe. Help..

    • Freeze dried raw diets need to be reconstituted with water, they should not be fed dry. You can find the brands I recommend here:

      • Hi thank you for responding but I have mentioned I tried all canned products and other raw dehydrated foods. Which my cat won’t touch. I was told by her vet that it’s ok for her to eat it dry just as long as she drinks plenty of water. She only likes Stella and chewys, whole life, and Life Essentials. I do want her to have a healthy diet with a soft food but she won’t touch it. She smells it and walks away. I wasted so much money on all different types of healthy real foods canned and raw dehydrated. At my wits end.

        • Hi Lisa,

          My cat did the same thing when I started raw from canned. I started with the smallest amount of raw, literally the size of a dime, mixed it in, and he would sniff at it and walk away. They just smell that it is different and don’t understand that it is still their food. Keep trying and you will eventually win her over, it just takes time and a lot of patience. I have been working on it for two weeks now and I have to be really careful that I don’t get too much raw in there or he will not touch it. I add a tiny bit more raw and reduce the canned about every 2 days. Some days he will only eat half of his food and walk away. Then he is super hungry at dinner time! Always make sure that something is eaten each day, even if you have to give a tiny bit of the dehydrated just to make sure she has food in her tummy. Keep at it if you can, as it is well worth it.

      • Lisa,

        Did you try transitioning your kitty slowly? My zoey took weeks to fully transition on to Stella and Chewy. I mixed it with her regular food in 1/5 of serving increments. Eg 1/5 stella and chewy 4/5 regular food for 7 days,2/5 S+C, 3/5 regular food for 7 days, etc. till she was at entirely eating S+C. Her stools were firm when we reached about 1/2 and 1/2 and she was eating S+C fine when we reached 100% S+C. She gobbles up her meals, no problem and her diarrhea has been gone for 6+ months. Need to watch her carefully since she tries to steal my other cat’s food crumbs 🙁 This food has been a god-send. Now i am hoping on next vet appointment we can ween her off Budesonide and perhaps trial her on Turkey freeze dried from S+C..

    • The fact is that if your cat drinks enough water then that is enough water. You should always monitor water intake by monitoring the bowl or clumps in the litter box regardless of what they’re eating.
      Both of my cats are on freeze dried raw food now. One refuses to eat it reconstituted and the other will eat it even if it is like soup.
      The little guy that hates it wet also hates canned food but he drinks a plenty of water. His ‘sign’ for water is a shaken paw and he shakes it when he drinks and he shakes it when presented with a bowl of wet food. For wet food, his water sign is quickly followed by his sign for ‘poop’. He drags his paw towards the bowl as if burying it, walks away, and wont return.
      The big girl loves her ‘soup’ but she will eat anything.
      The little guy is just finicky.

      Both cats are well hydrated even though they eat differently. The key is to make sure water is always available and that they do drink.

      Saying freeze dried must be reconstituted also makes no sense when my Simon live to 21 on dried food.

  10. My cat zoey suffered with IBD and unrelenting diarrhea for almost 2 years. She was taking budesonide 1 MG and I tried every know canned cat food which either resulted in worse diarrhea and in some cases, vomitting on top of runs. She did best on Royal Canin venison prescription but still had pudding poo and flareups and i hated what was in the food. As last resort i decided to try Stella and Chewy freeze dried. Took a long time to introduce slowly so she would eat it but when she was up to 50/50 mix her poop started to firm a bit – could not believe my eyes. she has been eating 100% freeze dried S+C for 2 months now and her poop is normal – sometimes too dry so i have begun adding some of the RC – about 1/4 teaspoon or less in each of her 4 meals and that seems to work. I started feeding her 4 times a day as she did better on smaller meals. It is nothing short of a miracle. My vet suggests to keep her on the current food for another 2 -3 months and then we may try to reduce her budesonide. I would like to try raw food at some point, but for the foreseeable future I do not want to upset a good thing. She also has 2 caps of Proviable for cats each day. I never thought i would see the diarrhea stop. I now look in her litter box and I do a happy dance – and so does she.

  11. I wanted to post an update regarding Stella & Chewy’s freeze-dried products.

    Stella & Chewy is now adding the toxic Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (MSBC) in all their freeze-dried products. MSBC is linked to serious illnesses.

    A German research list the following negative effects of menadione:
    • causes cytotoxicity in liver cells
    • damages the natural vitamin K cycle
    • causes hemolytic anemia and hyperbilirubinemia, not just linked to large doses
    • is directly toxic in high doses (vomiting, albuminuria), unlike natural vitamin K
    • has never been researched or specifically approved for long term use, such as in pet food
    • FDA has banned synthetic vitamin K from over-the-counter supplements because of its high toxicity

    The material safety data sheet from states the following:

    “Potential Chronic Health Effects: CARCINOGENIC EFFECTS: 3 (Not classifiable for human.) by IARC. MUTAGENIC EFFECTS: Mutagenic for mammalian somatic cells. TERATOGENIC EFFECTS: Not available. DEVELOPMENTAL TOXICITY: Not available. The substance is toxic to kidneys, lungs, liver, mucous membranes. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.”

    Stella & Chewy claims that they use minimal amount of MSBC and that there hasn’t been any scientific study that has found this product would be toxic or harmful to pets. However, feeding your cats products containing this ingredient every day for their lifetime and exposing them to cumulative exposure of this controversial substance is not something you should be willing to gamble on. And since there hasn’t been any scientific study on the long term effect of MSBC in cat food, I will stay away from any product including it. At one point, this ingredient was deemed safe for human beings. It is no longer the case.

    • Thank you for sharing this information, Desiree. There’s a lot of misinformation about vitamin K supplementation out there, and I would urge everyone do to their own research, and consider the source.

      • Oh no- i just bought a “new style” bag of the duck. Guess I will use it up and not re-buy. This is disappointing – S&C is my favorite style freeze dried. I hate dealing with the freeze-dried primal. Guess I will look into the fresh is best brand.

        • stella and chewy removed Menadione from their freeze dried food. Bags have not been changed so it shows in the ingredient list but any bag with date after Feb 2017 does not have Menadione.

  12. I have a question about freeze-dried raw food and I can’t find the answer anywhere! I’m hoping you can help.

    I have three kitties and they have been eating canned food for years (no dry food). Our newest kitty came to us with a variety of health issues after being abused by her previous owner, so I’m trying freeze-dried raw food to see if that will alleviate any of her IBD symptoms. I tried frozen raw food first and they refused to touch it.

    All my kitties are very picky eaters and the only way I’ve been able to get them to eat the freeze-dried raw food is to feed it to them dry. After about a month of adjusting to the change, all three cats are eating it without hesitation for breakfast. I still feed them grain-free canned food for lunch and dinner.

    Is it okay to feed freeze-dried food without adding water? Is it going to dehydrate my kitties or cause other issues? I’ve noticed they are drinking a lot more water now. The IBS kitty is doing *much* better, almost no symptoms now.

    • Freeze-dried food is designed to be rehydrated, and feeding it raw as a complete meal is not a good idea on an ongoing basis. It sounds like your cats are compensating by drinking more water, but it’s not an ideal situation. Try sprinkling some “incentives” over the rehydrated raw food. Nutritional yeast works really well for most cats.

    • You can also try sprinkling some Primal Turkey Liver Munchies or the Whole Life Roasted Chicken Cat Food Topper. My kitties cannot resist any food when I add a bit of some crushed turkey liver munchies or sprinkled roasted chicken topper. I used to sprinkle nutritional yeast but stopped when my vet said that it can increase uric acid in the urine and that I should do periodical urine tests to ensure normal levels of uric acid. Didn’t want to deal with the tests, so I switched to these two products instead.

      • Great suggestions, Desiree. As for the concerns around uric acid with nutritional yeast, it is correct that yeasts do contain purine compounds, which can increase uric acid excretion. If fed in very large amounts to animals with liver disease or urate metabolism problems then maybe they would be a problem, but I doubt very much that your cat would be getting “at risk” amounts when you just use a few sprinkles as a flavor enhancer.

  13. My holistic vet recommended the Stella & Chewy’s for my kitty, and he seems to love it! I can’t quite figure out how much to feed him though. He’s a Ragdoll weighing about 13 pounds. (He needs to gain about a pound) I gave him about .75 ounces of the food mixed with warm water. He acts like he’s still hungry. The serving size on the package says something like 1 3/4 cup, but that seems like a lot, and the bag won’t go very far!

    • I’ve been feeding my cats Stella & Chewy (S&C) for a while but will stop immediately because I recently found out about Sodium Selenite which they add in their freeze dried and frozen products. I have emailed them and hope they will respond. Honest Kitchen (HK) & Primal are the other two products I have been feeding my cats and they don’t add Sodium Selenite. I also could not find a nutritional facts sheet (NS) on S&C website. Primal and HK have the NS listed for all their products.

      • Forgot to post the article regarding Sodium Selenite.

        • Any mineral in high doses can be toxic. Selenium is a controversial nutrient, and while it is an essential component animal diets, it can be toxic at high levels.

          • I contacted Stella & Chewy via email to voice my concern and asked them to provide a nutritional facts sheet similar to the ones Honest Kitchen and Primal post on their website. I received a reply back from Emily that the level of Sodium Selenite is within the guidelines set forth by AAFCO. However, she did not state what that level is and did not provide a nutritional facts sheet.

            I don’t know about you but I found it alarming that a pet food company is unwilling to share the nutritional facts content of its pet food! I will stay away from Stella & Chewy until they can provide proof that their product is safe and not toxic and are willing to make the nutritional facts of their products public.

      • Just wanted to post an update. I received the nutritional facts sheet for Stella & Chewy’s products and the Selenium level is pretty low 0.21 mg. If I remember correctly from one of Susan’s article RE safe Selenium levels, I think she mentions that at 0.21 mg for a 30 lbs dog it would be safe. None of my kitties are of course 30 lbs but since I don’t solely feed them S&C during the day but feed them 3 different brands every day, I think we’re good.

        • Yes HK also started adding Sodium Selenite in October 2016. I did get in touch and voiced my concern. I’m no longer using HK.

  14. Hi Ingrid,

    I have a 7 year old cat, who has been on Evo limited kibble, however, he has gained weight and doesn’t seem to be losing weight. He is really over weight. We are quite worried. We just started Primal Raw Frozen food, but our kitty doesn’t seem interested AT ALL. We have tried for a few days now, but he has no interest. I have given him Stella’s freeze dried as treats before and he LOVES them. He actually begs for them. I am wondering if the freeze dried food has the same weight loss and nutritional benefits as frozen raw? Can I expect the same results?


    • Freeze dried raw foods are the next best choice to frozen raw, Fawn. The food is a little more processed, but still far less so than canned food. I would continue to try to transition your cat to a healthier diet, it may just take some time. This article may help:

      • Just started the Primal freeze dried turkey cat food w/2 cats that have been getting frozen raw turkey from AuntJenies in Baltimore Md for years because it has to be shipped (10#) somewhat expensively, but we are having an issue with smelly stools since switching to freeze dried. ?????

  15. My cat took a while to adapt to Honest Kitchen Prowl, which is one of the only dehydrated raw foods not to contain kelp or fish ingredients. She has hyperthyroidism, so we have to stay away from those iodine / thyroid-stimulating foods.

    I started by offering it to her for a half-hour in place of her canned food. She didn’t like it at first, but as her hyperthyroidism progressed, she now loves it. I think it’s because it’s a really nutrient-dense food. If we’re late in giving it to her, she comes and tells us! She has access to semi-soft kibble all the time, but has pretty much weaned herself off of it as we increased portions of Honest Kitchen.

    The vet commented that she’s in very good condition considering she has an enlarged thyroid. I think Honest Kitchen is giving her some great support.

    Unfortunately, I can’t access Stella & Chewie’s in Canada.

  16. I have an 18+ yr old female who is being treated for hypertension & high blood pressure – when diagnosed both were off the charts! She was having chronic fainting attacks to the point where she could not move without falling right over sometimes. It was just awful to witness. We have the conditions more or less under control as anyone who has been thru this knows, it is a constant battle of upping/lowering doses to fit her current conditions. She has actually gone from being hyper to hypo thyroid and her blood pressure in the extreme high ranges to almost too low! Anyway, as a result of this it has been a struggle keeping weight on & getting her to eat. Almost daily her tastes would change & it was a merry-go-round of trying various can & dry foods. I grabbed a sample of Stella & Chewy’s (S & C) freeze dried chicken at my local pet store & she absolutely loved it! she would not even wait for me to hydrate it & I have never heard her purr over being fed before! I still change it up with various no grain can foods but she has yet to turn her nose up on her S & C food. My other cats love it too so I’m going thru it quickly & it’s not cheap – but as long as it keeps my girly eating I really don’t care. She was eating so much; 5-6 smaller meals per day that I had hoped she’d gained a pound or more but she really didn’t. I can only assume based on the lean quality of the food – it’s not loaded with fillers or high fat content – so I wouldn’t expect much in way of weight increase but for her age & chronic health conditions she looks beautiful & anything that graces me with another day with her is a godsend in my book.
    Speaking quickly to similar foods: Honest Kitchen Prowl: NONE of my cats liked it! It turns into a goopy mess & I think there is too much spinach or something green in it they simply don’t like. Instinct raw & dehydrated; I was surprised none like the real ‘raw”. I’ve only had 2 cats out of 12 the past yrs that took to the raw diet. Some liked the freeze dried Instinct but ended turning their noses up at it. Lastly, & my 2nd best freeze dried was Wysong Archetype. Very similar to S&C and I would buy that again.
    FYI / Warning: I had a bad experience with these dehydrated morsels that I want to pass along. Keep in mind they are meant to be served re-hydrated. It is hard sometimes to pass up giving our kitties a morsel right out of the bag but PLEASE keep in mind, they are very very dry. Some cats, sick & especially older cats may have dryer mouths or other issues that make it difficult for them to swallow such a dry piece of food; regardless of size. This actually happened to my girl. She was so anxious to try a piece of the Wysong & being new to it I allowed her to try some right out of the bag. The first piece was fine but the 2nd piece got lodged in her throat & in a second she fell right over backwards & was not breathing!! Horrified I picked her up & stuck my finger in her mouth to see if I could grab it or make her puke. At the same time I was doing my impression of a kitty Heimlich maneuver. Something worked & thank god she started breathing again but it definitely taught me a lesson. ALWAYS at least slightly hydrate this stuff before feeding. You know how cats can be when they love a new food & gulp it down & with these morsels being so dry you simply should not risk otherwise. That goes for any freeze dried, dehydrated morsels not just Wysong.
    Hope this info helps!

    • Thank you for sharing your experience with freeze dried foods, BJ. What a scary experience you had, and thank God your kitty is okay!

      • Nice article by Jodi Ziskin however it is impossible to find food not loaded with fish and/or fruits and vegs. Just looked into Sohos and here is their ingredient list:
        USDA turkey, sweet potato, whole egg, broccoli, celery, apples, pecans, tricalcium phosphate, pumpkin, cranberries, basil, dried alfalfa, ginger root, dried kelp, zinc sulfate, vitamin E acetate, vitamin A palmitate

        Used to feed Stella & Chewy’s, however preferred online vendor ceased selling it for reasons which are still a mystery (different stories from them & S&C); S&C went “missing” for a while; the prices where it
        is available is extortion; S&C themselves suggested we go to the biggest online vendors but they wouldn’t stop messing our orders up, so no more chances. The other choices are loaded with fish and/or a bunch of fruits & veggies so I refuse to buy these as it only encourages them to make more of it.
        I even lurked Ferret forums and most of the ferret owners are going home-made raw as they don’t really have a choice, either, but they are apparently fortunate to not have vehement opposition from family members regarding feeding raw.
        I am also on the east coast so forget any brick & mortars having decent cat foods as everything and I mean EVERYTHING is geared towards dogs despite there being more cat owners than dog owners. There are TONS of options for dogs, I wonder why? Why do cat owners settle for fish, fruits and veggies, and extortion for the extremely rare options available? If I had no family, would have been feeding real raw long ago, but people simply won’t demand change, so family firmly believes that these horrible things are “normal”, mainly because vets insist so. They believe vets above ALL else, so all the proof in the world will not sway them.

        • All of the brands I recommend have at least one fish-free formula, many have more than one. Some don’t contain any fruits or veggies (Radcat, Weruva), many are 95% or higher in meat:

        • Ck out (if you would use raw) Aunt Jeni’s (see other comment I left) in Baltimore; it’s listed “cat/ferret” turkey, ships frozen or if you’re near, you can pick up.

  17. Hi Ingrid,

    I’ve been feeding Stella and Chewy’s freeze dried raw to my 2 cats. I have been feeding both this and grain free canned food as well. But I don’t know how far apart I should be feeding these since they metabolize very differently. Do you know how long it takes for a cat to digest a freeze dried food like stella and chewys? My 2 cats are 8 months and 3 months. So I don’t know if I should feed canned to them twice and then stella and chewys only once a day? I don’t want to upset their stomachs.

    I think I fed my cat canned food and the freeze dried too close together and it caused her to vomit. I had fed her canned around 7 oclock last night and then some stella and chewys around 10 before bed, and she had barfed around 8 in the morning and I’m thinking its because they overlapped too close together, but I’m not sure if that was the reason, since it wasn’t directly after.

    Additionally, if a cat had a food intolerance/allergy to a type of food – would they typically throw up soon after they ate that food or the morning after if it was given at night for example?


    • I doubt that feeding freeze dried raw and canned food within three hours of each other was the reason for the vomiting, Allie, although it’s possible that your cat’s digestive tract is super sensitive. Reactions in cats with food allergies/intolerances will vary, and vomiting is not always seen, so there’s no “rule” as to how soon a cat may vomit after eating if he/she has a food allergy.

  18. My cats really love Stella & Chewy Duck Duck and my older cat’s coat became beautiful and shiny. I mixed it with the hypoallergenic canned food that I got from the vet. My cat has high cholesterol and we were able to bring it down with the food from the vet. My vet said at the last visit when his blood test came back that the cholesterol was slightly elevated and it could be due to the freeze dried food. I took him off of Stella & Chewy and his coat has lost it’s luster and he looked healthier before but I am worried about the cholesterol. I am unsure as to what to do. Any suggestions?

    • Elevated cholesterol in cats is usually an indicator of an underlying health problem, and I highly doubt that the food caused the elevation, as it’s not that high in fat. I would consult with a holistic vet.

  19. Hi Ingrid, oh no! That’s terrible to hear about you losing all of your kitties’ food. We don’t get power outages very often at all but that would be one thing I’d worry about if we did decide to make our own kitty food like I mentioned in another post.

    I’ll definitely let you know if any of ours will take the Stella and Chewy’s.


    Tom Mary Beth and the furries.

  20. When we were at pet extreme yesterday getting Saul’s canned food we also picked up some of the Stella and Chewy single serving packets to try. We also want alternatives around in the unlikely event we run out of food and cannot get to the store (neither of us drive). Our vet is vehemantly against feeding raw, this is unfortunate as we greatly respect and trust his opinions on everything else, so these freeze dried things are a good compromise. We haven’t actually tried them yet but the person at the store said they can either be fed like a treat sort of like the Whole Life dehydrated cat treats or reconstituted for food.


    Tom Mary Beth and the Furries.

    • Let me know how your cats like the Stella and Chewy’s, Tom. I haven’t ben able to get my two to accept it, but I think it’s a good idea to have alternatives. It’s why I feed my girls raw and occasionally canned – I like to know that they’ll accept both, and it came in handy during a 2-day power outage last summer when all my raw food spoiled.

  21. No one in my house will eat the Honest Kitchen either – the texture is really weird for them I think.

    I just did a training for Honest Kitchen resellers – their meat is “gently steamed to 140-165 degrees” to prevent contamination before dehydrating it. To me that says cooked… They also take food safety incredibly seriously – all their ingredients are human grade and their plant is a human grade facility as well. They source nothing from China.

    • I did not realize that Honest Kitchen steams their meat before dehydrating. I’d still consider it a good option, but I wouldn’t consider it truly “raw,” either.

  22. Stella and Chewy’s is fantastic. One of my little guys literally tore through my pantry door to get to it, he’s seriously addicted. Which is making it fun to clicker train him, he’ll gladly do his tricks if I hold out on of his precious nuggets of Stella and Chewy’s. The big boys like it as is for treats – we just pour it out like catnip sometimes and watch them have fun! Needless to say they love it as a meal too. I don’t use it 100% because I have a cat with constipation issues and too much raw seems to make it worse, I think it is the bones. And don’t use it in a puzzle feeder, it doesn’t seem too cooperate, breaks down too much or something. The single serve pouches aren’t as firmly formed into nuggets so if you want to do it as treats get the big bags.
    I truly believe Stella and Chewy’s safety standards are high enough to prevent contamination – they require guarantees of their suppliers, have a federally inspected plant, follow HACCP standards, and they do testing of every batch of ingredients and every batch of product – there’s a code on the bag you can look up the test results for you bag on their website to see results. All their ingredients are US sourced. Check out the food safety section of their website. I think the HPP makes it more tolerable for some people to do raw, but I don’t think Stella and Chewy’s is counting on that for safety, it is one step in a serious process for them.

  23. The Stella & Chewy’s freeze- dried seems to be the only option I would try as all the rest have vegetables in them. With 2 diet controlled diabetics, I wouldn’t want to take a chance at what those carbs might do to their blood glucose.

    I wonder if you could feed the Stella & Chewy’s as is as a treat? The felines might like some a little different every once in a while.

  24. I’ve tried Honest Kitchen with my own crew (of seven) and several different sets of fosters, and NO ONE will eat it. it was horribly disappointing because I do like their philosophy.

    I am not a fan of pasteurizing raw food. I think once you take the fear out of it (like this) you get lax and you end up with more contaminated food. Even if they do kill the pathogens, they are still on and in the food and I can’t imagine eating dead e-coli and salmonilla is a good thing.. I would much prefer my food manufactures take food safety seriously and prevent contamination in the first place.

    I myself am on a journey with food, and one thing I really wanted to try for quite some time was raw milk. We are all taught to fear raw milk.. it must be pasteurized and homogenized to be safe!! well that is not true. You just need to source your milk (and meat, and eggs, and all fresh foods) from a farm that fears the e-coli and takes steps to prevent it in the first place. Farms that care more about quantity over quality feel that killing it is good enough – but they don’t consider the other side effects of unclean conditions… (this is a little propogandary, but I’ve read similar reports in other places I just can’t put my mouse on them as quickly right now)

    My cat was designed to eat raw animals. intestines and colon and all. They can handle some ‘contamination’. I fear the more ‘safe’ they make it, the less safe it will actually be if there is a problem somewhere at some point – and according to the chaos theory, it is bound to happen.

    • I mostly agree with you, Connie – raw feeding isn’t as daunting as it seems to so many cat guardians. But I also think it’s important that people don’t go too far outside their comfort zone, and that’s why these freeze-dried or dehydrated diets can be a good starting point (IF the cats will eat them.) It’s also why I have no issue with HPP. If it gets more people feeding these diets rather than inferior processed foods, I’m all for it.

      As for your personal journey with regards to raw milk, I applaud you for exploring this. I completely agree that knowing where your food comes from is the most important piece, and it’s especially important with unprocessed or minimally processed food. Raw milk exceeds my personal comfort level.

      As for the issue of problems along the way – unfortunately, I think you’re right, it’s unavoidable. Nothing is completely risk-free.

  25. I’ve tried Honest Kitchen and Primal dehydrated food to have something on hand if I run out of or, more likely, forget to thaw their raw food, rather than rely on canned food for that. I’m thrilled with the quality, ease of preparation and price, but so far my felines only seem to eat it because they are too hungry not to. I’ll be trying dehydrated foods next, and we’ll see how that goes.

    • So far, I’ve only tried Honest Kitchen with Allegra and Ruby. Ruby ate it the first time, but woudn’t touch it the second time. Allegra didn’t care for it at all. I’m going to try the Stella and Chewy next – I like having options other than grain-free canned as an alternative to the frozen raw diets I feed in the event that the power goes out.

  26. thanks for this post. I have always wondered about this. Cody has severe allergies and one day I need to find another option for him other than the food I am currently feeding him.

  27. Freeze-dried raw foods can certainly be a good way to help make the transition to a raw diet. I’ve used Honest Kitchen Prowl, and Stella & Chewy’s chicken dinner for my cats. They’ve loved both brands and eaten those foods with gusto.

    The only issue I have is the Prowl is high in carbohydrates compared to other dehydrated raw foods, which makes it a no-go now that I’m caring for a diabetic cat.

    • That’s good to know that The Honest Kitchen’s Prowl is higher in carbs than some of the others, Janea. I probably wouldn’t choose it even for healthy cats if that’s the case.

      Congratulations again on your new family member!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *