To feed raw or not to feed raw, that is the question. You have experts on one side warning of the dangers, and experts on the other side blowing them off. And even within the raw food community there are differences in opinion about how to do raw feeding correctly.
Do consider; if you do not ensure your pet is getting the correct vitamins and minerals, you may get a sick pet. It can take a long time to discover the illness, and the consequences can be severe, such as kidney, liver or heart disease. FOLLOW THE RECIPE! Do not take away some ingredient because you think it unnecessary. Do not add something without investigating the consequences. If your pet is sick, talk to a vet before you start a new diet, take a blood test. If your cat has a disease with low immune defense (such as FIV), do not feed raw food! Also do not ever feed your cat a fish only diet, and do not ever give you cat a vegetarian diet! Cats need meat.
Before I started raw, Oliver had some varying values in his bloodwork. Among other things he was anemic. After I started raw food, his tests were spot on!
If you are still concerned about feeding raw, but want to save some money by making your own cat food? See TCfelines website explaining how to make your own canned cat food, link below.
Is it expensive?
No. As with any hobby, there will be an initial startup cost because you need to buy the ingredients. But they last a long time. Just a simple piece of evidence… One box of good quality wet food in Korea (where I live) costs 1500-2500won =1.5-2.5 USD. If a buy a whole chicken it costs 4500won= 4.5 USD. The chicken lasts a week for my two cats; the box was one-two per day depending on whether I was giving them dry food as well. Of course there are some more ingredients than just the chicken, but it would have to take a lot to come up to the same price as the canned food for a week.
So why raw?
I’m not going to spend too much time here. I will just shortly summarize.
- Commercial pet food does contain a lot of waste material and things that are unnatural for the cat to eat, fillers basically. Even the high quality ones. You can easily see it by checking their poop. Cheaper the food, the more and stinkier their poop.
- Raw is the natural way of a cat, it is what they were born to eat.
- You know exactly what you are putting in your cat. If it is important for YOUR body, why should it not be important for your cat?
Grind or whole, store-bought or make it yourself?
Buying a grinder (if you don’t have one) is an investment, sure. Cats need to chew to clean their teeth, absolutely. But what I worry about in the diets that consist of just big pieces of meat is the addition of nutrients. Lack of taurine (found in mice) causes heart disease in cats. Lack of vitamin E can cause yellow fat disease, vitamin B deficiency can cause anemia, kidney stones and so on.
So although it is not impossible to feed your cat on a chunky meat diet only. I feel it would require extensive research into the meats you are feeding, and it would require more time to ensure you vary the ingredients and get sufficient amounts. I’m just too lazy for that, and because of Oliver’s heart condition I want to be 100% sure I give him all the nutrients he needs to keep him healthy. If you are interested in feeding whole meat, I am linking below to a website talking about the whole meat diet. If you just don’t want to buy a meat grinder to handle the bones, you can replace the bones with bonemeal. See my links at the end of the article, you will find some recipes with bonemeal there. Just cut the food in smaller pieces by hand or use a blender or food processor.
It is also a possibility to buy raw food for your pet in a pet store, ready to serve. Again, please do some research into the brand available to you to ensure the food contains the correct ingredients.
I was feeding Orijen dry food with a supplement canned food. I started to change their diet slowly (never change a cats diet quickly) by adding ground meat in the wet food. Then I gave them raw food and some kibble and then finally raw food. It does take some patience in the beginning. Would you want meat that was sitting out all day? Does a cat eat all day? No. So you need to establish feeding times. And when my cats were hungry they would pester me for food and be naughty. But once they get used to the new feeding schedule things go back to normal. I feed morning, when I come home from work and then again before bed.
Some issues I had
Their pooping schedule suddenly changed. They did not poop for two or three days, then pooped and then did not poop again. The vet said they were not constipated, just very irregular. But I started adding Biffidus to their food, and now they are regular as clockwork.
Now, down to business, The recipe
The most common is chicken or rabbit. You can use other meats, but the trouble with larger animals is that the bones are simply too dense to grind. Also beef and sheep’s meat is tougher on the digestive system, so only use in moderate amounts and only on healthy pets.
- You want to have 75-80% meat and 20-25% bone.
For chicken, thighs are recommended as they have a good meat to bone ratio and good amount of fat. If you use whole chicken or rabbit (rabbits are quite bony) you will want to add more meat. The recipe I use is from www.catinfo.org, which is a site run by a veterinarian. It is important to grind the bones sufficiently. Small enough to not be dangerous for the cat to swallow, but large enough to help clean their teeth when eating.
The recipe is for 3 pounds= 1.4 kg. The chickens I buy are usually about 1kg, the rabbits the same. I buy boneless chicken thighs or other meats such as beef or turkey, and add as the last 400g. The chicken I grind first on the roughest setting, then again on medium. The extra meat I cut roughly to give the cats something to chew on.
- Where I live I cannot always find chicken heart or liver. See several of my links below for recipes where heart and liver is used. If I cannot find chicken liver I sometimes use beef liver. I noticed some of the websites recommended not to use it, but nobody ever explained why. According to my research I have not found anything about beef liver being worse than any other liver for cats. However, it must be fresh. As a general rule; try to use parts of the same animal in the cat food.
- When you buy meat you may not know if it has been frozen or how long it has been thawed. If you are uncertain you can bake the meat in the oven until the surface is cooked (that is where the bacteria will be). I always bake the whole chicken for approx 10 minutes at 180 degrees (356F).
- My tip if you are grinding is to have the meat more frozen than not. Completely thawed meat just clogs the grinder.
3 pounds (1.4 kg) chicken (or 2.25lbs(1kg) rabbit and 0.75lbs (400g) boneless meat)
1 cup (2.5dl) water, more if your cat will eat it
2 eggs ( yolks only, or raw yolks and boiled whites)
5 000 to 10 000mg fish oil (not cod liver oil)
400IU (268mg) Vitamin E
50 mg Vitamin B-complex
2000mg taurine (powder)
1tsp lite salt with iodine (only with the chicken, not the rabbit)
4 oz (100g) Liver
Freeze in portions (it will keep for max three days in the fridge, i prefer daily portions). 4-6 ounces (100-170g) per day per cat. The recipe will last 10-14 days if you have one cat.
- Adding fibers is optional. Cats are attracted to pumpkin, squash, sweet potato… I like to add some simply because they love the flavor.
- My cats like it when I add a little canned fish (not in the batch but fresh on each serving). They love pike in particular.
- Serve the meal warm/room temperature. Heat with water or a few secs in the microwave. Do not let the meat cook, or your efforts are in vain as you destroy the nutrients.
Let me know if you have any questions or tips. Send me links to wesites you recommend and I will paste them in the article.