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We Love Cats!

The costs of feeding your cat raw in 2024

raw vs kibble scale

What does it cost to feed your cat in 2024?

More and more people are flocking to raw cat food than ever. The secret is coming out that raw is the best diet choice for your cat. A study conducted in 2019 found that 10% of cats are fed raw and that the raw food industry has grown 15% year by year. What sticks out about raw cat food is that it's more expensive per pound than kibble. But how much more expensive is it? How much does it actually cost to feed your cat raw cat food?

What you're paying for when you buy cat food

The most expensive ingredient in any cat food is the protein, by far. When you buy cat food a majority of your money is going to paying for the protein. Notice we're using the word protein instead of meat, or chicken, or beef. That's because most cat food companies, and basically all kibble companies, use meat by-products instead of actual meat to save costs.

We've analyzed the top kibble brands and compared them against our raw food to show you the real cost of raw cat food. We're looking at price per meal and price per gram of protein to explain how it's cost effective to feed raw. As we said before, protein is the most important nutrient to look at when considering the cost of cat food to make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck. Quality is equally important as cost, as we'll explain further in this article.

Raw price breakdown

As of 4/15/2024, our Chicken Recipe costs $7.25 per pound (one pound is 453 grams). The guaranteed analysis shows that our foods' as received protein content is 13.8%. Each pound will feed a single 10 pound cat for 3 days.

Quick math time! That means each meal costs $2.40, there are 62 grams of protein per pound of food, and each gram of protein costs 3 cents.

Kibble price breakdown

We took a look at one of the most popular kibble brands on the US market for our numbers. For legal reasons, we won't mention the company. This company sells a 25 pound bag for $50, which comes out to $2 per pound of food. The guaranteed analysis shows dry weight protein content is 30%. Each pound of kibble can feed a cat for 6 days.

Now let's look at the numbers. Each meal costs 33 cents, there are 135 grams of protein per pound of food which makes each gram of protein cost .2 cents. Yes, .2 cents, or 0.002 dollars.

Why is kibble so cheap, and what does that mean?

What we've seen with our quick breakdowns is that kibble is substantially cheaper than raw food. Raw food is 7 times more expensive than kibble, but the protein is 15 times more expensive than kibble. That's a wildly high difference, but it all depends on the ingredients. A large percentage of kibble isn't even meat, its grain filler to bind the meat scraps together.

Kibble companies are able to keep their protein so cheap because they skimp on costs. Typically, meat by-product or meat meal is the first ingredient in kibble which is not the same as the meat you eat. According to AAFCO the ingredients are defined as follows:

  • Meat by-product: the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered animals.
    • In other words: any part of an animal that isn't meat
  • Meat meal: rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices
    • In other words: super heated scraps of animal carcasses that are ground into powder
  • Meat: the clean flesh derived from slaughtered mammals and limited to that part of the striate muscle which is skeletal or that part which is found in the tongue, in the diaphragm, in the heart or in the esophagus
    • In other words: the good stuff

However, you still might find that some kibble brands include a specific meat as the top ingredient. In most cases they add just enough meat to land first place in the ingredients and the meat they use is mechanically separated. Mechanically separating meat is a process whereby meat is removed from the bone using high pressure machinery. The end result is a pink goo, much like what certain nuggets and hot dogs are made of.

Where the savings come in

Your cat's health is what matters at the end of the day. The sheer quality difference in a 33 cent bowl of grains and chicken scrap versus whole raw chicken will show in your vet bill. The quality of the protein in chicken by-product or meal is far inferior to actual pieces of chicken meat.

Over time, kibble can cause health complications such as kidney issues and urinary tract issues. This is because kibble is dry and does not hydrate cats. The preservatives and other flavorings in kibble can also cause skin issues. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence pointing to commercial kibble causing allergies in cats.

Quality over quantity

At the end of the day, its much more important to look at the quality of the meat being fed to your cat than the cost. Think about the difference between a 33 cent meal and a $2.40 meal for yourself. Would you rather eat the bits and left over scraps of an animal or eat the meat? The answer is pretty obvious, so it should be obvious for your cat as well. Little Lions never uses mechanically separated meat, any by-products or meals, or grains. Our beef and chicken is always the same quality that you'd buy for yourself at the supermarket.

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