Making Homemade Raw Cat Food

I have been talking about making my own raw cat food for a while now but there has always been one thing or another that stood in my way. I could have done it much earlier. I think fear that they wouldn’t eat it was one reason but there were others as well.

The first thing I had to resolve was which meat grinder to buy. I read various reviews and one stood out as a possibility; The STX-3000-TF . It is affordable and many people wrote that it does a good job grinding chicken bones but the manufacturer warns against it and that concerned me that it would void the warranty. Of course, there are very expensive grinders out there for that purpose but I don’t want to spend a boatload of money to make cat food.

Despite the warranty concerns, I was still considering buying the grinder but my other major concern was finding a good source of fresh organic meats. A Whole Foods store opened near us about a year ago and I just didn’t think about them at first for some reason. I considered another health food store nearby but they didn’t have the organs, like heart and liver, which are so important.

I put the issue on the back burner until we started thinking about adopting a kitten. I then began looking into grinders again. I soon became frustrated with that endeavor and a thought occurred to me.  I thought about Whole Foods and asked them, via email, if they had organic chicken, including organs and bones, and could they grind it for me.  I was contacted by the local meat manager and was surprised to learn the answer was yes to all those questions. The only condition was that I give them 24 hours notice because they “need to take certain persuasions when grinding poultry with bone.”

Now that I didn’t have to worry about the grinder or meat, I just needed to find a good source of supplements. When I first considered making food in 2010, I did not see anybody selling all the necessary supplements in one package. There also seemed to be disagreements about which supplements to use and how much. The whole thing seemed risky, like choosing the wrong religion.

A while ago I read about certain companies that provide all the nutrients a cat needs in one package, for meat with or without bones. I didn’t save any of that information but I knew they existed so I searched for them again. There are now many companies that make supplement packs for people making their own cat food. Some are for with or without bones and some are for cooked or uncooked. There are also some that require organs and some that do not.

After looking at many reviews and checking the ingredients, I decided a company called TCfeline made the best raw food premix for my use. The company was making cat food premixes in 2010 but I was not aware of it then. I decided to purchase it from The Total Cat Store, which I believe is in Pennsylvania.

Just before buying, I changed my mind and decided to start with the food that I thought my cats would be most likely to eat. Therefore I chose a mix that didn’t require bones and organs. I only needed to add boneless meat.

TCfeline raw diet premix cat food

I contacted our friendly neighborhood meat manager again and asked him when organic chicken was delivered to the store. He told me Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, which was good because that means there is a high turnover rate there. My goal is to buy the best quality meat that is safe for my cats and prepare it as quickly as possible and freeze it.

The concern many people have about a raw food diet is the risk of food poisoning from bacteria like Salmonella and e. coli. I was concerned too, and still am. That is why I want to buy organic meat that is as fresh as possible, and then grind it, prepare it and freeze it as quickly as possible. The truth is, the majority of cases of food poisoning come from animals that are improperly raised and slaughtered, like those in a so-called concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). Cats also have a digestive system that is short and highly acidic. This kills off most pathogens and gives the rest very little time reproduce in their systems.

Parasites are another common concern but I don’t recall ever reading about this being a problem. It seems that parasites are mostly found in the intestines of prey animals. Since we don’t feed intestines to our cats, the risk is pretty low. Freezing lowers the risk even more because it is known to kill at least some of the parasites.

I decided Sunday was a good day to start so I went there on Sunday afternoon and spoke to someone in the meat department. He asked me if I wanted white meat or dark meat. That was something I didn’t consider. He said the dark meat had more fat than the white meat. I didn’t know if a little extra fat was bad for a cat. I hoped it wasn’t because the dark meat was about half the price of the white meat. I decided that variety was good so I bought a pound of each, which, if my memory isn’t too faulty, averaged about $10 per pound or less. I planned on cutting it in small chunks but Rose thought having them grind it would be better. I thought a little chewing would be good for them but I agreed that this first batch needed to be as easy for them to accept as possible.

I also bought fresh, organic eggs while I was at Whole Foods because the premix no longer has dried eggs in its ingredients. According to The Total Cat Store website, the owner “could not continue to buy dried egg yolk powder for the premix because all that was available came from battery-caged hens. She could no longer support such treatment or behavior towards chickens and now provides a product that will ‘be free’ of all animal cruelty.”

I believe it was this statement that convinced me to spend a little extra money and buy this product over another that I was considering. There are good, caring business owners out there and good deeds are not always a marketing gimmick. That fact was confirmed to me when I started working at my current job. They make herbal health products and the owner goes out of the way to make sure all of the ingredients are the best quality possible.

When I got home I put the meat in a large mixing bowl along with two egg yolks (raw egg whites are bad for cats). I only bought one sample package to try and was about to dump it into the mix when I decided to read the directions first. Fortunately, I did because there was enough in the package for three batches.

I measured out the appropriate amount and mixed everything up well. I then started scooping it into four-ounce containers that I bought for this purpose. It was at this point that I remembered that I wanted to photograph the entire process.

That didn’t go as planned but here are pictures of the finished product.

TCfeline raw diet premix cat food - finished product

TCfeline raw diet premix cat food - finished product

I put one container in the fridge and froze the rest.

TCfeline raw diet premix cat food - finished product frozen

As you can see from one of the containers, I didn’t account for expansion and overfilled it, which caused the top to pop off. Lesson learned.

I have been mixing half a container (2 oz) with a 5.5 ounce can of cat food and they love it. I expected it to be a struggle but even Chris likes it. Usually, he eats a few bites of his wet food and walks away but now he seems to spend more time at the bowl. He still walks away from it too soon but Rome wasn’t built in a day. At least he is eating a little more wet food, which I hope translates into a little less dry food. Soon I will increase it to 3 ounces. If that goes well I may start buying the smaller cans of cat food, which I don’t want to do because the cost per ounce is so much higher. I guess I will cross that bridge when I get there.

I will be making another batch tomorrow and plan on using beef or turkey to give them a variety. I also need to reorder the premix soon. I may get the one that needs fresh liver, but if that tastes different, it could be a problem.

What do you think? Do you feed raw? If so, do you use a premix? Do your cats like it or do you mix it with wet food?


22 thoughts on “Making Homemade Raw Cat Food

  1. The Island Cats

    I have thought about making my own raw, but even though others have said it’s really easy, I just don’t want to take it on. There are a few other bloggers that do make their own and a couple have written some pretty detailed blog posts about how to make it, etc. ~The Mom

  2. pilch92

    Excellent post! I often think of feeding raw, but the cost for 13 and the prep overwhelms me. That is great that Whole Foods will grind it all for you. I hope they continue to like it.

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      This first mix was a bit expensive but it will get cheaper when I buy a bigger container of mix and perhaps gain more experience in buying meat.

  3. Summer

    It sounds like you came up with a great solution for feeding fresh raw food. My human buys commercially made raw from a company that sources locally. It would probably be even better for us if she did what you do.

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      It would probably be better, and possibly cheaper, to make it yourself, but if the company that makes your raw food cares about providing the best possible ingredients, and if it doesn’t sit too long before it gets to you, it is probably just as good.

  4. Sometimes Cats Herd You

    What a great idea to ask Whole Foods to do the grinding for you. The head peep sources our chicken from there when she makes our raw food, but it never occurred to her to ask whether they could grind it for us. Cleaning the grinder is her least favorite part of the whole process, so that’s a big plus.

  5. 2trickpony

    Wow, that looks like a ton of work! Isn’t there any brand of good wet cat food available? I only feed wet because my cat never drinks any water, I guess the only water she gets is from the moisture in her wet food.

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      Wet food is better than dry food for cats. Our cats get both canned and dry food because Chris does not eat much canned food. I have been giving him less dry food and I hope with the addition of the raw food, he will eat more of that. From what I have learned, a raw meat diet is the best followed by canned food, with dry kibble being the worst.

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      It it’s so difficult with more than one cat. I don’t think the Franken pray would work with Chris. It’s hard to get him to eat anything but a very small piece of meat.

      1. The Swiss Cats

        Claire speaking : it was a few weeks try and fail, or try and success, until I got the “right” formula for Pixie and Zorro. And I have to supervise their breakfast (it take mine at the same time 😉 ) to be sure that Zorro eats his meaty bones. But it’s worth of it.

  6. Barrie Holms

    How long do you thaw it before serving? Do you warm it up at all. I’m going to try this with out new kitten.

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      The thawing time depends on how big the container is. If I use small, 4 ounce containers, I thaw it for a day and have three in the fridge all the time since I feed them twice a day. If I use a larger container, like 8 or 10 ounces, I thaw it for a day and a half in the fridge but I only use half a container per feeding. As far as warming it up, when I make I use slightly less water than called for and then use a small amount of hot water to mix with it. I use bottled water in the original mixture but use hot tap water to warm it up since it is easier. I don’t like tap water but just use enough to take the edge off of the coldness. You could also put the container in warm water for a while if you don’t have several cats desperate to eat. 🙂


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