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The Health Benefits of a Raw Diet


    Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 1, 2023 by Crystal Uys


    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.

    shiny coat

    Cats who eat raw food tend to have softer, shiny 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.

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