Savannah cats are gorgeous and personable newcomers to the cat world, but they’ve quickly risen to a position of fame and desire with the general public. Despite their popularity, few people know that Savannah cats are immediate descendants of Serval cats, a completely wild variety, that have been bred with carefully chosen domesticated cats. That means that Savannah cats can be a little more particular than other breeds, especially when it comes to their diet. But do Savannah cats eat raw meat?
Savannah cats do not need to eat raw meat. Raw diets can be incredibly beneficial for Savannah cats, but they don’t need raw meat or the raw diet to be healthy. Savannah cats are obligate carnivores. Giving your Savannah cat a nutrient-rich, well balanced, high-quality diet is more important than how raw or cooked their food is.
It’s entirely possible to feed your Savannah cat a fantastic diet without having to prepare raw meat or a completely raw meal at home. That said, there are still lots of benefits to a well-balanced raw diet, so we’ll discuss the requirements of a raw diet.
Since breeders often feed an all or partially raw diet, we’ll also talk about the transition process to get your Savannah cat on the new food. Last, since Savannah cats can be rather high maintenance felines, we’ll also discuss reasons they might not be eating, and how you can address some of the most common problems.
The Savannah Cat Raw Diet
Contrary to popular belief, raw diets can be very affordable, even for the pickiest of Savannah cats. That’s because you’re only paying for the ingredients, not the processing, storage, and shipping that come with store-bought kibble and wet food.
The real expense is time and planning to make sure you have plenty of your cat’s raw food available, and that you rotate through your ingredients, so your pet never has to eat food past it’s best.
It’s also essential to make sure your cat’s food is well balanced to meet their needs. It’s not as simple as just feeding your cat raw meat. Trying to feed your cat a diet of mostly chicken breasts or ground beef will almost certainly result in a rather sickly and unhappy cat.
That’s because Savannah cats have particular diet needs, and healthy cats will quickly run into problems if their diet strays too far from their nutritional requirements.
All cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they need specific nutrients that can only be found in animal protein. But a wild cat will eat a lot more than the muscle of their prey, and will probably have a more varied diet than pet owners feed at home.
So, since your cat won’t be getting different nutrients from different meals, your base recipe needs to be very nutritionally complete.
In general, the raw diet for Savannah cats includes lean red meats, organ meat, fat (if there isn’t enough in the meat, to begin with), and carefully prepared bone. Some recipes also include egg yolks, salt-free broth, or water.
Even with a well-balanced combination of these foods, no cat food recipe is complete without some supplements. Some pre-mixed supplements like Fortiflora will probably be part of your raw diet routine, but you’ll also want to include some specific supplements, like taurine, to make sure your cats are getting enough.
Some people also feed Savannah cats and other domesticated cats a diet that includes some whole prey animals like feeder mice and chicks. However, feeding whole prey animals is much rarer, partially since acquiring varied prey animals for your cat can be time-consuming and costly depending on where you live.
Advocates point out that feeling whole prey can help keep your cat’s teeth cleaner and helps them get taurine naturally in their diet since it won’t be destroyed in processing the way cleaned meats are.
However you choose to feed your cat, you should make sure their diet is mostly muscle meat, with about 5-6% each, bone, liver, and other organ meats.
If you live somewhere with a specialty pet store nearby, chances are you can purchase raw diet food for your cat. Some are freeze-dried, while others are more like a processed paste similar to canned food, and still, others can be the carefully prepared chunky meals that are more like homemade.
However, it would help if you gave commercially made raw diet foods the same scrutiny as other store-bought foods, or the ingredients you use to make your cat’s diet at home. Since Savannah cats tend to be a little pickier, it can help to pick a brand with similar ingredients and proportions to the recipe you use now.
If you’re looking for new food for a brand-new Savannah cat, ask their breeder for their recipe and see if you can find a close match.
It’s also worth noting that vets are, by and large, skeptical of raw diets. While there is some evidence of digestive benefits, it’s not entirely clear whether those are a result of the preparation or the ingredients used in raw diets.
Your vet is also likely to have seen cats and dogs suffering from malnutrition as a result of a poorly designed raw diet.
However, some vets will help you design a nutritionally complete raw diet if you ask, and others will look over a recipe for nutritional quality.
You should also be prepared for Savannah cats to have a long growing period when you first get them. Savannah cats are known to grow consistently for 1.5-2 years and need access to as much food as they will eat that whole time since growing taxes their bodies more, and proper nutrition is most critical while they develop.
How To Transition Your Cat To New Food
If you’re introducing your cat to a new food, you may have discovered that Savannah cats do not want to cooperate. Some Savannah cats transition well, but as a breed, they tend to be particular.
Whether you’re transition to a raw diet, away from it, or even just to a new canned food or kibble, you should take the process in steps.
Transitioning your cat to a new food is usually more manageable if you have set feeding times. A regular feeding schedule is also helpful later, as your cat starts to get older since you’ll be able to control their portion sizes and caloric intake more closely with a feeding schedule.
If your cat is accustomed to free-feeding, especially if your cat is a young cat going off their kitten free feeding for the first time, the first step is getting your cat used to their new schedule.
Please stick to the schedule as much as possible and keep it as consistent as you can. Your cat is more likely to understand that new food is food if they are first exposed to it while they are hungry and expecting food.
It would be best if you also made the transition relatively slow. For instance, if your cat is going from one raw recipe to another, you can mix them half and half the first couple of times to help your cat get used to the new flavors. A bigger switch, like from a raw diet to kibble, should be accomplished in stages, first adding wet canned food, then mixing the canned food and the kibble, and then finally the kibble.
You can also use this method to help your cat learn to eat multiple kinds of food. Savannah cats can thrive on a diet that includes raw foods, canned food, and kibble, so don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to one of the three.
Wet foods are significantly better for your cat’s teeth and kidneys because most cats are unlikely to drink enough water to stay hydrated while eating 100% kibble.
What If My Savannah Cat Is Not Eating?
While Savannah cats are often picky eaters, few Savannah cats will turn their nose up at food when they are truly hungry. Don’t worry too much if your cat skips a meal or two. You can increase their portions for their next few meals to help them catch up later.
But, if your cat stops eating suddenly, or you notice other changes around the same time your cat stops eating, it’s probably time to take your cat to the vet. A vet trip may become urgent if your cat is refusing to eat and vomiting, drinking excessive water, experiencing diarrhea, or suddenly changed other habits.
Unfortunately, refusing to eat can indicate a wide range of problems, from a cat refusing food because they are mildly allergic to bowel obstructions or the onset of diabetes. It’s best to get an official diagnosis so you can give your cat the best care possible.