Prey Model Raw diet (also known as Whole Prey Model) is a way of feeding cats just as they would eat in the wild. Exactly like it sounds, people who choose this diet feed their cats whole chicks, quail, squirrels, mice and even rabbits. Feral cats survive on small mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles in the wild – not on grains and vegetables.
The Frankenprey approach is taking the ratios of these small animals that cats eat in nature, and mimicking them using meat that is available for human consumption. For instance, an average small rodent and bird is roughly 80% muscle meat, 10% organs and 10% bone.1 This ratio is commonly referred to as 80/10/10 and can be replicated by purchasing locally butchered meats such as duck livers, rabbit hearts or pheasant wings. Cats in the wild do not consistently eat the same thing, or even in the same proportions. For that reason, it is perfectly safe to switch up the proteins and the ratios for meals if it is balanced over time. For instance, a chicken neck is 36% bone,2 but is excellent to feed to cats if they are fed a higher percentage of boneless meat and organs for their next meal.
Health Benefits of a Whole Prey Diet
Feeding whole raw prey is not only great for the cat’s digestive tract, but is excellent for their teeth and gum health. When fed a small chick or quail, the cat has to break it down into bite size pieces, which could take 10-15 minutes. All of the chewing and gnawing required makes their gums stronger and healthier.3 Consuming fur, feathers, feet, and beaks is also good for cats because these pieces act as a natural fiber source. Additionally, brains and eyeballs like those found in raw duck heads contain more DHA and EPA than a teaspoon of fish oil.4 In the wild, cats do not consume plant matter for fiber because they receive it from their prey. This fiber works to move everything swiftly through their digestive tract.5
Transitioning to a Whole Prey Diet
One cannot expect a cat to switch from kibble to a whole quail instantly. Kibble and canned foods are cooked, so emit a lot of smell to cats. Raw foods have very little scent, so it may take a while for the cat to recognize it as food. To get a cat from canned food onto a ground raw diet, mix their food slowly with the ground raw, adding more and more raw food throughout the week. Once they are accustomed to ground raw, it will be easier to transition them to a whole prey diet. From ground raw, start working in large chunks of muscle meat and bones such as chicken necks, then move to whole prey. Some cats have the mindset, ‘If I didn’t kill it, it must not be for me.’ Therefore they won’t be initially interested in the whole prey! Make sure the prey is at room temperature, or warm it under warm water, and split it so that the flesh is exposed. Also try topping it with blood (such as from chicken hearts) or warm bone broth to entice the cat. Make sure the cat is on a closed feeding schedule, and isn’t full from treats beforehand. Place the prey on a wide plate or cookie sheet, or if the cat might make a mess, feed in the bathtub! Don’t give up – cats are innate hunters, carnivores, and savages: sometimes they just need to be reminded of this.
1. Christine M. Ruessheim, “Tissue Percentage of Some Common Prey of the Cat”, Baton Rouge, June 2002
2. “Bone & Calcium Content in Raw Meaty Bones”, Perfectly Rawsome
3. “Answers: Raw Food for Cats, What About Eating Bones?”, Feline Nutrition
4. “Earth Friendly Sources of EPA and DHA for Dogs”, Dogs Naturally Magazine
5. Raw Feeding Advice and Support