Feeding & Food Transitioning inc BARF/RAW


There is a great deal more knowledge available for cat owners who wish to consider raw feeding which is also known as BARF - which means either Bones And Raw Food or, alternatively, Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.

So much is it gaining in popularity as a feeding regime that many companies are now producing commercially prepared frozen foods making choosing feeding raw incredible easy and doing away with the need to make your own. That said, many do make thier own foods preferring to know exactly what is in it & therefore being able to control their cats feeding/nutrition.

At Naked Sphnyx, the first kitten we reared was weaned onto Natural Instincts Puppy & Kitten raw food very successfully.


You must NEVER begin a transition of a pregnant or lactating cat to a raw diet. This puts enormous stress on their system at a time that they already have extra stress & can harm the Queen or her developing or feeding kittens.
A transition to feeding raw away from a processed commercial food must always be carried out slowly & carefully. This is because the enzymes in the gut that are needed to process kibble or processed wet pouch/canned foods are different to those required to process raw meat, sinew & bone. Plenty of time needs to be allowed for the gut to adjust otherwise serious, sometimes even fatal issues such as digestive blockages can occur.
At the bottom of this page are details of how to make a successful transition over an extended period.  For the smoothest transition, we recommend that you patiently follow the slowest transition. 
If your cat has difficulties at any stage, you must take a step backwards, allow the cat to re-settle then go forward again more slowly making smaller adjustments. 
See further information down this page.
Natural Instincts offer a Puppy & Kitten Weaning Paste. This paste is their most finely minced food containing only chicken as a protein souce of meat. It is a complete recipe & is the easiest for the cat/kittens digestion to cope with making it an ideal first raw food. When Noodle's kitten who was weaned onto raw went on to live with her new family we supplied her with 2kg of this paste in her kitten pack to make sure that she had food to get them started.

A week or so before Noodle's kitten left us, I had collected a new kitten for myself too who, as it happened, had also been weaned onto Natural Instincts raw food. When Noodle had no longer got a kitten to support I felt that I could start to slowly transition Noodle onto raw too if she was interested in eating this way.

Over a period of  time as my two cats got used to the  textures of less minces meat & sinew I began to introduce other food mixes from the Natural Instincts feline range such as Chicken with Lamb & Chicken with Beef, Turkey, Fish & even tried Wild Venison rapidly  finding out which flavours were acceptable & which were very definitely not (spoilt girls). Offering variety is vital so that,  while each product is a complete & balanced meal containing all the nutrients needed,  they have access to lots of  different recipes & meats.

Without a doubt, raw feeding is much more effort, especially if you DIY.   There is a lot to think about too. For example, you must ensure that the foods, yours and the cats, that are in your fridge & freezer are stored correctly. When raw food is inside of the fridge it must be well covered so that it cannot contaminate your own food. You must also be on hand to put it down & take it up again, always practicing strict hygeine protocols to safeguard the health of both you & your cat.

With regards to your freezer space you must be able to give up what is probably premium valued space in your freezer; you must remember to thaw the food in good time too and,  as the weather gets warmer and flies & insects make their return you need to be ever more vigilant with food picking up quickly any that is left uneaten. Those who choose a raw diet for their cats firmly believe that BARF is better for their animals & are willing to make the extra effort involved.

Since raw food is digested differently in the gut, & because much less food mass is eaten per day it stands to reason that with raw feeding there is less mass produced at the other end as waste. This brings two significant benefits to BARF feeding as not only is there less poo to deal with, it is also much less smelly. Both are definite plus points!

Commercial raw foods such as that which is made by Natural Instincts is superb, however all is minced, so if you want to offer your cat meat in more natural form (such as in chunks) making your own food is probably the best way to go. Those who want to feed as nature intended can by whole prey items too.


When I started out looking into DIY feeding I found a very friendly & helpul social media group with very passionate and knowledgable raw feeders who were very happy to share their experience. If DIY raw feeding is for you, I would highly recommend that you also visit the Facebook group CAT CRAP . There are links there to video & photographic tutorials which show step by step how to manage batch production backed up with detailed  meat preparation techniques. Best of all there is an awesome spreadsheet which will help to ensure that your batch has its  meat/bone/offal ratios made up appropriately (more on that aspect in a moment).

In this group I learned that grinding meat & bone in DIY is not essential and therefore buying a grinder is not essential and if the expense of this is holding you back it need not.

There are pet food suppliers online where you can buy your raw meat. It is available already ground with or without bone, as well as in  chuncks and also whole prey items. You do not need to buy from these retailers however as you could also buy all of your meats, offal and bone locally from a supermarket or butcher.


Cost wise, DIY batch making is cheaper, however, there is some initial financial outlay one would need to consider which even if you forgo having a grinder need to be considered.

Here's a list of ta few up front essentials. You'll need
  • a strong stomach
  • a heavy sharpy meat cleaver & a sharpener as it will blunt quickly.
  • a dedicated use chopping board for preparing your raw meats and offal
  • a very large steel mixing bowl for batch production
  • a large capacity capable weighing scale to weigh out your portions for freezing into  daily meal sized amounts.
  • a vast collection of storage boxes with lids (for the above portions)
  • lots & lots of freezer space!
Dealing with raw meat, means dealing with blood & bone so doing it yourself isn't for everyone. The smell & feel of the raw meat & offal plus the sound of cleaved bone takes some getting used to. I personally could never be brave enough to do any gutting or skinning though there are those who do.

You need to plan all your ingredients ahead of schedule. And you must dedicate the time & effort every few weeks to make the next batch. Once its done though, you'll have superb quality food to hand for several weeks.


Your DIY raw must contain
  • 10-15% of bone
  • 75-10% of muscle meat
  • 5-10% offal
  • 1 raw organic free range egg per kg of batch mixed
  • a quantity of oily fish
With regard to offal choice, heart & liver are by far the best sources for the essential amino acids & vitamins your cat needs.  Chicken heart can eventually be left whole and, since they are so well loved, they can be fed as a treat. Liver is best chopped while its partially frozen.

The oily fish can be canned sardines in tomato sauce!

Vary the muscle meat source in each batch so that you are giving your cat a full & complete diet without the need to add any kind of supplements to it.

If bone isnt for you, you can add bonemeal to the batch instead. Check that you add the correct amount to the batch weight being created.

Meats/offal can be prepared by grinding for small kittens and cats who are not used to chewing meants. As your cat gets used to it meat can be chopped or you can make a mix of chopped and ground for interest and texture. Some meats, when they are properly prepared for the batch with your meat cleaver, can even have some  of the bone left unprocessed. Chewing on raw chicken breast bone is the best bone to give a cat to get them started on eating bones. Chewing on the bones will clean the teeth & gums so if you do decide to grind bone or use bone meal it is still worthwhile giving some bone content for your cat to chew upon.

Once mixed together the batch can be portioned out using the scales so that each pot contains everything the cat(s) needs. Aim for a day or two days max. of food for your cat(s) per filled box.

A small variation on BARF is the WHOLE PREY  diet. This is also based on the biologically appropriate ethos of feeding & includes whole, chopped or minced farmed rodents, day old chicks, quail, rabbit, pigeon, pheasant etc. These can all be fed whole making it as natural as possible. As an alternative any of those items can be added into a batch in a grind making it species appropriate (what your cat might catch in the wild).  You can buy this kind of ingreident online. Just make sure that the ratio of meat/bone/offal are adjusted to make a balanced batch.

Farmed meat is free of pesticides or antibiotics. The animals are reared specifically for human &/or animal feed purposes. Whole prey species for example are widely used by keepers of reptiles, for working dogs, for zoo animals & now more & more for feeding domestic pets.

Road Kill is even used by some people, however, these truly wild animals, while being a free meal for your cat, before being killed it may have been eating from a farmers field where pesticides are commonly used or it may be on the side of the road dead having ingested poisons. I would certainly urge caution if you are considering roadkill as a form of meat for your pet.


WARNING - Abrupt changes in diet can cause your kitten (cat) to become ill very quickly - Make any DIET change slowly.
    • Diarrhoea can dehydrate a small kitten in a matter of hours & may even cause death. 
    • A blockage causing constipation or incorrectly digested food can be fatal.
  • If you are changing food; product brand or type of diet regimen, DO NOT make any abrupt changes.
  • NEVER make large changes (such as changing to or from a BARF diet) without first taking appropriate advice from your vet or a specialist pet nutritionist (see *note below).
* Note
Manufacturers of high-quality pet foods such as Hill’s, Royal Canine etc have in-house pet nutritionists who are best qualified to provide you with the appropriate advice & guidance on making any dietary change from/to their food type & brand.   
If in doubt always seek help from your vet particularly if you are seeking change due to a medical condition.
Any food/diet change must be carried out slowly, phasing in the new food over a period of several days, while at the same time slowly reducing the existing food until it can be withdrawn. This slow phase-in/out is vitally important particularly with a change to or from BARF because the gut enzymes required to process raw meat, sinew & bone are not the same as those required for the carbohydrate dense processed foods. A slow change will allow the right gut enzymes to become present in great enough quantity whilst allowing the digestive system to acclimatise & prepare. This patient schedule will reduce the chance of your pet suffering an upset tummy, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, a blockage or worse.

The tables provided below for 10 and 21 day change schedules provide examples of a change of diet regimen. For the most gentle change to or from BARF feeding,  opt for the 21 day change over and:

  • Always remember that you can take a few steps back if the cats’ digestion cannot handle the change at the speed you have set out at, in which case go back to where your pet was still doing well, keep on this for a day or two then try making smaller, slower changes - see the Going More Slowly below.
  • Pay very close attention to your pet during & after any diet change. You may see a change in the amount, texture, colour & aroma of the stools produced.
  • If there is diarrhoea or vomiting this would strongly suggest the change needs to be done more slowly.

10 Day Diet Change Feeding Plan

Day 1:  90% regular food - 10% new food 
Day 2:  80 - 20%  
Day 3:  70 - 30% 
Day 4:  60 - 40% 
Day 5:  50 -50% 
Day 6:  40 - 60%
Day 7:  3  0 - 70%
Day 8:  2  0 - 80%
Day 9:  10 - 90%
Day 10:  100% change

21 Day Diet Change Feeding Plan

Day 1:     95 regular food  - 5% new food 
Day 2:     90 - 10% 
Day 3:     85 - 15%. 
Day 4:     80 - 20%. 
Day 5:     80 - 20% 
Day 6:     75 - 25% 
Day 7:     70 - 30% 
Day 8:     65 - 35%
Day 9:     60 - 40%  
Day 10:   55 - 45% 
Day 11:   50 - 50% 
Day 12:   45 - 55%. 
Day 13:   40 - 60%
Day 14:   35 - 65%
Day 15:   30 - 70%
Day 16:   25 - 75%
Day 17:   20 - 80%
Day 18:   15 - 85%
Day 19:   10 - 90%
Day 20:    5 - 95%
Day 21:  100% change

Going more slowly:

Use the ratio percentages given in the tables above then feed each of the ratio sets for several days before making the next adjustment. For example :

Days 1-3 feed the ratio given for day 1                  Days 7-10 feed ratio given for day 3.                
Days 4-6 feed the ratio given for day 2                  Days 11-13 feed ratio given for day 4.    

Continue in the same manner until a 100% change from new to old is achieved.

Be patient. Processed foods are filled with ingredients to make the foods more palatable for a cat and so the change you are making may not be appreciated by your cat. You may need to persevere.

With massive regret, after having done loads of research into BARF feeding and having invested quite heavily, having bought grinder, poultry sheers, cleaver, boards, bowls and containers, as well as several kilos of meat, Noodle had started to get rapidly sick within just minutes of eating. 

With a prescription antacid, she was able to keep food down however she found the antacid unpalatable and so dosing her with this 10 minutes before food became majorly stressful for her and for me chasing her and forcing her to take it.

She was getting so depressed, losing some weight and condition. Reluctant as I was to have to double back, I could not keep feeding her this way because I felt it was right. It obviously wasn't for her. 

With the help of my vet, we fast-tracked a transition back to a simple kibble diet on which I knew she was so well previously. 

To keep things simple feeding wise and economically, since feeding both diet types would cripple me, I also transitioned Prune also onto to the same kibble, thus doing away with the raw food diet I was so keen to use.

So, while the cat has evolved to eat raw, my Sphynx is a long way from that wild cat ancestor. She has evolved into a life where processed food is managed and palatable and which will provide her with nutrients for her health. If she is sick and there is an alternative, as long as she is healthy on it, I cannot deny her it and if would have been cruel of me to continue based on my own beliefs.


So, things moved on feeding-wise for my cats. 
Last time I write about the decision to abandon raw. 

Well kibble was fine, and I was free feeding. However, Noodle’s second pregnancy ended again in a Cesarean section. Once her kitten weaned Noodle gained weight rapidly never losing pregnancy size. This is common, however at her weight in in April 2019 she was 4.5kg. Just over a kilo more than pre-pregnancy normal. It does not sound a lot just 1kg, but when you think of it as it a ¼ of her weight,  Or a ⅓ of her previous normal weight that’s a large amount. 

My vet advised a diet plan and suggested I call & speak to a Nutritionist at Royal Canin. They’re highly respected so I took their advice and transitioned her to their Satiety but, as Prune was to continue on the standard Royal Canin Sphynx (high calorie) because she was still growing & hormonally active . 

I needed to stop Noodle eating Prunes food though so I bought two microchip feeders.Phew, the expense! And the batteries for them too! 

I had begun now to weigh the advised daily allowance of food rather than free feed, but Noodle finished this so early allowed to free feed, so next feed which was not until the next day & she would be sick. Oh no, not that again!

She was losing weight well on the ne food. Her ‘wide load’ backside was shrinking fast so I thought she would manage well if I allowed her to free feed on as much food as she needed. I would rather that than vomit. 

I soon learned of a new kibble, Orijen. It is more than twice the price, but crucially it is BARF raw food based and a dry kibble. Can it be true? 

Not only that, but there was a cat & kitten variety and a Trim & Fit low calorie one. Blow the expense, I could continue a weight loss plan for Noodle, feed high quality food to both and it was BARF and a kibble that did not need the fridge, the freezer, not attract flies or rot. 

But Noodle’s weight loss by now had stalled and, dare I say it, she was putting it on again... 

What am I to do... she runs, she is on diet food which is species specific. Her one issue was volume (gaining weight) but inability to have restricted food without vomiting.

In movie world you’d see several calendar pages being ripped away as the year 2020 rolled around. By now Prune has had a litter of kittens, brought up on raw - with a lot of time fending Noodle and Prune off of the food while kittens weaned and are. They’ve gone, I’ve had months of steroids, antibiotics ending with collapsed lungs in January of 2020. Noodle is getting fat and begging for titbits of food from my plate & when she wanted treats was misbehaving by meowing and knocking things off of surfaces for attention. 

Then came Covid 19, quickly followed by me breaking my ankle bones (yes all 3 of them) requiring surgery and immobility for 10 weeks plus. Forced to spend a lot of time with Noodle and not much else I started to think and explore. 

Now my mind turned to SLOW FEEDING. Should I abandon the expensive microchip feeder and get her using a slow feeder? How will this help?

Well, while immobile I was not feeding the cats but Calum was. Bless him. Crossed wires not once but TWICE meant for several weeks Noodle was being fed Prune’s high calorie food while poor Pru had Noodle’s diet food. Noodle grew while Pru was super sleek. 

Noodle was Wholly unimpressed by the return to diet food. But I’ve stuck with it. There’s not been a sea change in weight.  She is asking for my food and treats a great deal. I say asking.... she waits as I eat what Calum brings me to eat while I’m immobile, but pokes me to let me know she is there. When I’m not eating she will meow a lot and knock things off the side, her way of demanding attention in the form of food. 

I have to help her. She is too precious. But she is snoring a lot. I’m concerned for her health and I can’t lose her early. I just can’t. I began to look at slow feeders. The idea of them is to make it harder to access and eat the food. By slowing down feeding she will receive the I’m full message but have eaten less than she would have done if she had had unfettered access. This means she will be fuller on less food, aiding weight loss. PLUS, she will not gulp food down and won’t get sick. My aim therefore is to get her to be eating a only the properly weighed daily allowance & to be satisfied.

I have bought two types of feeder. The first is a series of spikes. Now, when this arrived, though I was told by other cat people she would not use it, I put dreamies in because I wanted her to want to use it. She had no issue with using her paw to get each dreamie out. But she was not eating the same amount of dreamies as she would have in the same amount of time (actually lots less) than had she has easy access. 

I then got it to the kitchen and sprinkled in a little of Pru’s food but her own was still free fed in the microchip feeder. This way, she was going to keep using it because it has the nighter calorie food. After a few days I sprinkled her own food it with a little of Pru’s, still free feeding as before. I’ve continued this until now when the other feeder arrived. This is ceramic (avoids plastic, more hygienic). It looks more like a traditional bowl but it has walls or barricades in the bowl section which make access to food difficult, thus slowing her down thus she will be unable to scoff & will get the brain message to feel full but will have eaten less over a longer period. 

At this point I have not weighed food & so she still have unfettered access. She should still eat less and begin to lose weight better, but, when there is less food in there because it’s weighed it will be harder to get at and thus slow her down more. This avoids gulping which might well have been the reason for the sickness all along (remember, fresh raw is given at timed intervals therefore she would have been scoffing)

Not everything is rosey in Noodle’s garden despite my careful thought plan and further investment...(I am never going to add up how much I’ve spent on all the food changes and equipment!). She knows that she is not getting what it is she wants. And she is feeling deprived in some way. It’s the dieter who can’t stop thinking about chocolate, crisps, a Chinese takeaway. She is thinking food. She has food. It isn’t her favourite type but all that’s really changed is that she is not finding access to it easy (it’s still free fed at this point), so she is unhappy. She is meowing a lot & is knocking things over, trying to get her own way, to make me give her treats. She is in effect looking for an easy fix. 

I’m not withholding treats. They don’t get them every day... nor even every week... and in fact she had one shared with Pru only yesterday. Actually, here too there is another new method of delivery being tried out. This is in the provision of a LickyMat (in the soother design). Onto the lickymat I’m squeezing a lickylick cat ‘yoghurt’. 

What is a LickyMat in the Soother design? Well, it’s is like a miniature square rubber door mat about 20 x 20cm. Over the surface are lots of little nubby spikes. The yoghurt is applied and sink into the gaps Between the nuns. It must be licked away and this takes longer and more effort than had I offered it by letting her lick from the tube or dispensing onto a plate.

This means a treat takes longer to consume, and is more satisfying. But it also encourages licking, and licking for cats is soothing. By licking it she is encouraging herself to feel extra good, self soothing if you will!

Now, these are all my intellectually arrived at hypotheses, backed by science & product descriptions, and reading g reviews & speaking to other cat people. But will they combine to work for her? 

I’d been really looking forward to her annual health check and vaccination which had been due in April. I had wanted to know if all I did in the year had impacted much on that 4.5kg. She did lose  at first with the Royal Canin, but gained again by eating Pru’s food (which has happened now in error on two Hospital admissions). 

The ceramic slow feeder is available in black or white from Amazon. The barriers are in the shape of a crtoonish fish skeleton £18

The Northgate cat Slow feeder with the spikes is on Amazon, eBay and a few Pet food/supplies emporiums. £12-18

LickyMat is on Amazon, eBay, Pet emporiums etc. Pros £6

LickyLiks are available from supermarkets like Asda, Tesco etc as well as Pet emporiums. A pack 6 tubes is £1.80

Orijen is £50-60 for a 5.4kg bag from Bern Pet supplies https://www.orijenpetfoods.co.uk/cat-food/dry-cat-food/orijen-cat-kitten/