I started VERY slowly. First I read and read and read. I read websites and I read other people's transition threads. I thought of all the reasons I could not do this, and continued to read. For at least two years all I did was read and think of all the reasons it wouldn't work for me, LOL.
It was all so OVERWHELMING. And the more I read the more overwhelmed I felt.
Then, a very knowledgeable raw feeder and dear friend said something that helped so much. What she said was "you know, you don't have to start all at once. Just adding a little raw to their diet every day will benefit them." And something clicked. Because you know I say that to people I am trying to help get their cats off of dry food all the time. "Just start with adding a little canned each day" I say. "And when you see the benefits you most likley will want to feed more canned" "or maybe you won't, either way, a little is better than none".
So I dipped one little toe in. I bought a bag of Stella&Chewy's freeze dried raw, and started giving a few nuggets (re-hydrated) to the one who needed the raw the most. Gradually I worked her up to one whole meal a day of the Stella&Chewy's. And, with just that ONE added meal a day, the improvements in her were...stunning.
So next I started giving them slivers of raw chicken when I cooked my own suppers, just tiny slivers, two liked them, one did not recognize them as food. As the months passed and I continued to read and research commercial brands and see the benefit to my one little cat, I decided to try the Rad Cat frozen commercial raw.
First I had to buy a freezer and a food scale. And I couldn't find a local source, so my first batch of Rad Cat I ordered on line and had it delivered. Yes, very expensive. Two cats took to the Rad Cat immediately the third needed much time to get used to the idea. I let her proceed at her own pace. I was telling myself this is it though, just the Stella&Chewy's and the occasional Rad Cat (too expensive to feed often)
A couple months later I found myself buying packages of meat at the grocery store, cutting them up into one ounce servings and freezing them. Still too afraid to try bone, I bought Alnutrin egg shell calcium to ensure the proper phosphorous/calcium ratio was made.
A few more months gone by and now I've got two of my cats eating bone in meals once a week. The third may never get bone. But I try not to say never any more because a year ago I was saying I would never feed raw for any number of reasons.
My cats now enjoy a diet of 50% raw (half commercial, half home made prey model) and 50% canned. One cat is slightly more than 50% raw. And I thought they were the best they could be on a premium canned diet. Boy was I wrong. On only 50% raw the benefits are enormous.
Anyway my point is...you don't have to jump in with both feet. Let it happen gradually, keep studying and learning start small. You never know where you'll end up.
I won't deny it is a lot of work. I keep a cat journal of what they eat and when, and their toilet habits, but I have always done that. But the prep and figuring and balancing can really seem overwhelming until a routine works itself out. And a routine does evolve, in time.
You asked about cost. I sat down just the other day and figured out how much my cats are costing for food now that I am feeding 50% raw. Remember that I am feeding some commercial still, and they aren't cheap.
Anyway, adding in all raw foods purchased in the last 10 months (commercial and grocery store, including the gas expense to purchase the Rad Cat once I round a source 100 miles away), plus certain essential supplements, plus the freezer bags and extra paper towels I go through, the raw meal portions are costing me 79 cents per cat a day. Their canned portions cost 53 cents per cat a day, for a grand total of $1.32 a day per cat.
When I was feeding only canned it was about $1.20 per cat per day, so it's a bit higher, because of the traveling to get the Rad Cat. I may have found a source only about 20 miles away, so that will drop my expenses quite a bit. In addtion the essential vitmain and calcium supplement costs figured in are going to last much longer, so that stretches the budget even further.
What I did not include in these figures are certain supplements I use even when I was feeding only canned. Those are probiotics, krill oil and egg yolk lecithin (for hairballs). They come out of a different part of the budget not included under food, for the purpose of figuring how much I was spending on raw.