This post is sponsored by Darwin’s Natural Pet Food*

Embraced for decades by holistically oriented pet parents and holistic veterinarians, raw feeding is becoming more and more mainstream as cat parents look for alternatives to feeding highly processed commercial pet foods. I’ve been feeding raw for the past ten years, and have seen my cats thrive on it. A raw diet can benefit your cat’s health overall, and it can also make a big difference with certain health conditions.

Cats are obligate carnivores, and they need meat not only to survive, but to thrive. Just like with human nutrition, the less processed a food is, the better it is for your cats. A raw diet is the closest to what cats would eat in the wild. Any processing alters the biological structure of food.

Improved digestion

One of the first things cat parents who switch their cats to raw are smaller, less smelly stools. The reason for this is because raw food has higher bioavailability, meaning more of the food is absorbed and put to good use in the body rather than being eliminated through stools.

Raw food is not only easier on the stomach, it also provides the probiotics needed to restore a healthy gut.

Shinier coat

Cats who eat raw food tend to have softer, shinier coats. Cat parents often report a dramatic change in appearance after just a couple of weeks after switching to a raw diet. A meat-based raw diet provides the optimal levels of protein, fat and trace minerals that result in an improved hair coat.

Improved dental health

Most cat parents have heard their vets say that dry food  is important for dental health. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most cats don’t chew their kibble long enough for any of the scraping action that is the theory behind this myth to kick in. Additionally, dry food leaves a carbohydrate residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages growth of tartar and plaque. Chewing raw food, especially if it contains chunks of meat, helps keep gums and teeth clean.

Helpful for cats with IBD

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is the most common cause of gastrointestinal problems for cats. Although cats of all ages can be affected, it is typically seen in middle-aged or older cats. The term IBD is used for a number of chronic gastrointestinal disorders. Physiologically, it is characterized by an infiltration of inflammatory cells into the lining of the digestive tract. The location of the inflammation can help determine the specific type of IBD.

Increasingly, holistically oriented veterinarians are seeing a connection between diet and IBD. These vets believe that commercial pet foods, especially dry foods, are a contributing factor to the large numbers of cats with chronic IBD. They also discovered that many cats improve by simply changing their diets to a balanced grain-free raw meat diet. Similar results may be achieved with a grain-free canned diet, but a raw diet seems to lead to quicker and better results.

A veterinarian’s first experience with raw food

Dr. Andrea Tasi, a holistic veterinarian and owner of Just Cats, Naturally, first tried raw food for her own cats after a client told her that her cat’s  chronic skin and ear problems went away within several weeks of starting a raw diet. “Poor Max had been on cortisone-type drugs and prescription diets (prescribed by me!) for years, to no avail,” said Dr. Tasi. Her interest was peaked, and she started to talk to other veterinarians and pet parents who had tried raw food. She first tried  a raw diet with her (then) new kitten, Bug. “I had adopted Bug as a sickly (actually near death) and underweight 6-month-old. I watched him blossom on the raw food diet, gaining healthy muscle mass weight but not becoming fat, developing a beautiful coat and clearing many of his chronic health problems without the need of conventional drugs. I am convinced that his raw diet was the foundation for his wonderful recovery.”

My experience with raw food

I’ve been feeding raw food for more than a decade, and I’ve been feeding Darwin’s for the past six years. It has become a perennial favorite. Of all the cats I’ve had over the course of my life, Allegra’s coat is the softest of any of my cats. When Ruby first came to me, after being fed a grocery store brand dry food, her coat was rough and had no luster. After only a couple of weeks on raw food, it became full and shiny.

About Darwin’s Natural Pet Food

As far as I’m concerned, Darwin’s is doing everything right, both in terms of what’s in the food and what’s not:

  • 100% meat – no animal-by-products or fillers
  • Ethically sourced human grade ingredients from farms they trust
  • Formulated under the guidance of veterinary nutritionists
  • Free range, pasture raised, cage-free meats
  • No GMO
  • No steroids
  • No hormones
  • Made fresh: you will receive your meals 4-6 weeks from production
  • Ready to serve

Special offer: get 10 pounds for $14.95

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 proteins depending on your cat’s taste preferences.

Use code CONSCIOUSCAT to take advantage of this special offer.

For more information and to order, please visit

*FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, which means that I was compensated to feature this content. Regardless of payment received, you will only see products or services featured on this site that we’ve either used or would use ourselves. The Conscious Cat is a participant in Darwin’s affiliate program. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission.

Photo via Darwin’s Facebook page, used with permission

10 Comments on The Health Benefits of a Raw Diet

  1. Ive tried switching my cats to raw several times, it’s so frustrating to soend money on something they refuse to eat! My oldest at 11 will not any type of meat! No to turkey, chicken or cut up steak etc! Its so odd! Never had a cat not eat meat

  2. I really almost signed up for it… the introductory price is great but $200 a month is sticker shock to be honest.. I am sad about it, I really had hoped I had finally found something. I also noticed that the recipes include vegetables. Iam just so confused by this… its back to the drawing board for me =(

    • The only Darwin’s formula that contains small amounts of vegetables is the Intelligent Design formula for cats with kidney disease. The turkey and chicken formulas do not contain any vegetables. I think you’ll find if you calculate the cost per meal and compare to a premium canned food, you’ll find that there’s not that much of a difference.

  3. Once upon a time, when I first moved out of my parents’ home, I began adopting cats. My only source for learning what they needed was a magazine about cats. (Yes, this was decades ago.) I gave them the best dry food I knew about, left it out for them while I was away during the day. For dinner at night I gave them fresh, raw organ meats– heart, kidney, liver, and chicken necks. Easy to find anywhere fresh meat was sold, in those days. Now even chicken livers are not always available.
    When I offer raw meat now, none of the cats I feed want anything to do with it. Is it more appealing if it’s wrapped in a package and labeled cat food?

  4. My chip is on raw for 15 years, loves it. Got diagnosed with early kidney disease last month. I’m wondering how raw is considered for kidney function. Feed stella and chewy and switched him to lowest phosphorus level food they have. I add kidney support from Pet Wellbeing to the food. So far so good and he is drinking well.

    • Darwin’s Intelligent Design is formulated for cats with kidney disease:

  5. I’m wondering how difficult it is to switch a cat over to a raw diet from a lifelong one of kibble and canned food.

    • It really depends on the cat. Some cats will take to raw food right away, it’s almost like they’re saying “finally! They figured out what I’m supposed to eat!” while others may take longer. This article explains how to go about transitioning:

  6. My mom’s new kitten has decided she doesn’t like cat food. She actually steals the dog’s food when she gets a chance. I wonder how she would do with this food. I’ll recommend it to her.

  7. My cats will not eat raw diet Sir Tiger doesn’t like people food, Ms. Mida may she isn’t too bad about being fussy. I would like too try it in a small way for it isn’t worth it if they just leave it.

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