The following post in my unprofessional opinion and should not be considered advice.
I know the rule. When changing your cat’s food you should introduce it slowly while gradually reducing their current food. Everyone knows that a sudden change in diet will cause intestinal problems for your cat that include vomiting, diarrhea and possibly other problems.
That rule always seemed wrong to me. I learned long ago that for humans, variety is healthy and necessary, as long as the various food is not junk food. Cats, too, do not always eat the same food in the wild. A wild or feral cat might eat a mouse for breakfast, a bird for lunch, and a lizard for dinner. They might even have a bug or two for a snack. Why don’t they get upset stomachs?
Maybe eating the same food day in and day out, over and over, may be the cause of the problem and not the solution. It could be like a drug addiction and change could induce withdrawal symptoms. I’m just guessing and I have no evidence but logic tells me eating the same thing all the time is not what nature intended for cats.
I have gradually moved our cats from sameness to variety with no abdominal distress except for Frankie who has been a puker since we adopted him. I think he just eats way too fast and then pukes it up.
Currently, I feed them high quality, grain-free canned cat food as well as homemade raw cat food. I also give them dry kibble but I limit that to a small amount per day in an attempt to break Chris’s addiction to dry food.
I had been feeding them the same canned food and homemade raw food but I would buy a different dry food. I always chose a high-quality food but bought what was on sale at the time. Recently, I started changing the canned food as well because the Earthborn Chicken Catitorrie suddenly became less desirable to our cats. Perhaps they became bored with the same flavor.
I chose several different brands and varieties and decided to do a test to see which ones they liked and which ones they didn’t like.
Our boys seemed to prefer the two b.f.f. varieties shown above. The chicken and lamb and the chicken and turkey were a big hit even though they seemed quite watery to me. They liked the Dave’s almost as much but they left the Tender and True almost untouched. The other foods fell somewhere in the middle.
The important point here is that during this trial none of our cats got sick. In fact, I don’t recall Frankie puking at all during this period.
So my feeding routine now starts with a can of B.F.F. in the morning but since one of the pet food stores I shop at doesn’t carry it, that will change from time to time. Next, after they digest their food a little and start looking for more, I dish them out some of my homemade raw cat food. This is usually made from chicken thighs or chicken breasts and it does not change because they won’t eat it if I use beef or turkey.
During the late morning, if I am home, I try to avoid going in the kitchen because I have to listen to Chris’s pathetic cries for kibble. Sometimes I feel bad for him and give him some and other times I wait but they always get a small amount of kibble between meals. If I go to work, I give them a small amount of kibble when I leave. I do this because Chris does not eat as much wet food as Frankie and Floki do. For dinner it’s the same thing; Canned food and then raw food. Then it is a little more kibble before bedtime but not too much.
This is my experience with my cats but this probably won’t work for all cats. I am curious, though, if anyone else feeds their cats a variety and how do they do with it?
When I made my first batch of raw cat food, I was afraid the cats wouldn’t like it, which is why I bought only a small amount of the premix from TCfeline. I needn’t have worried because they loved it. Granted, I started with only two ounces mixed with a 5.5 ounce can of cat food, but it was a better start than I expected.
I made a second batch last Sunday and decided to photograph the process because I forgot to do that last time. This time I decided to give them variety and used beef instead of chicken. The decision was also helped by the fact that I had a $5 off coupon for two pounds of beef at Whole Foods using their app.
I thought I would cut it into chunks instead of having it ground so I went home to do the work myself. Often, the way I envision things going are very different from the way things really go. This is one example.
Even though I am no chef, I am still embarrassed to say that I didn’t have a knife sharp enough to cut two pounds of beef. With much effort, I was able to cut this hunk of meat into slices but then gave up.
Instead, I pulled out my Ninja blender and stuck the pieces in there. I don’t think it was designed for grinding meat but it did a good job cutting it up and it worked quite fast too.
A meat grinder may have been more suited to the task but I noticed one advantage to this method. The Ninja didn’t do a very good job of cutting up the gristle which made it easy to pull those pieces out of the mixture.
I then put the beef into a large mixing bowl.
I added two egg yolks, but not the egg whites since they are bad for cats.
The instructions then call for a cup of water (I use spring water) and a quarter cup of the TCfeline premix, which I then added to the bowl.
All that was left was to mix it up.
Put it into containers.
And stick them in the freezer.
I still had some of the chicken mixture left and wanted to use that while I let the beef mix freeze for at least 24 hours (three days is ideal) as an added precaution against parasites.
I didn’t fill the containers as high this time. Part of the reason was to allow room for expansion when frozen. Another reason was because I wanted to increase the raw food to caned food ratio by using the entire container per meal instead of half the container. Before taking that step, I needed to make sure they liked the beef mixture, so I continued to give them only half.
The first feeding of the beef went well, at first, but when everyone was done eating there was still food left in the bowls. That told me they weren’t crazy about the beef but as the week progressed, the amount of food left over decreased. The last couple of days there have been no food left over so, it seems, they are happy with the beef now.
I have to make another batch today so I will probably go back to chicken, or maybe turkey, if they have it. I also have to buy more of the TCfeline premix. This time I will buy a bigger container. I will also have it ground at Whole Foods which will cut the prep time in half and make my work much easier. Who doesn’t like easier?
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.
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.
I put one container in the fridge and froze the rest.
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?
I want to wean the cat’s off dry food because I think it is less healthy than wet food. Eventually I want them all to be eating raw food but Chris has to make things difficult. He eats very little of the wet food, forcing me to keep some dry food out so he doesn’t go hungry.
I thought if I let the bowls go empty a couple of hours before I open a can of wet food, Chris would be hungry and eat more wet food. That didn’t happen. I gradually started letting the bowls stay empty longer and longer, sometimes as long as eight hours, but Chris still won’t eat more than about a quarter of the wet food I put down for him.
The funny thing is, when I first tried feeding them the raw food diet in 2010, Chris was the only one who would eat it. Does anyone else have a dry food addict?
I was asked the other day what I feed our cats and I felt like I couldn’t reply without an explanation. I am currently not feeding our cats an ideal diet and I want to change that (and hopefully I will soon), but it is not as easy as it seems. I want to explain how I got to this point, what I learned, and what I may try next to improve our cats’ diet.
Rose and I have had cats since we moved in together a few months before we married in 1999. She had one cat, Sneakers, and fed him Iams dry food. Over the next several years we gained more cats and switched back and forth between several brands of dry food such as Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul, Science Diet, Max Cat, Pro Plan and then back to Iams again. All of these foods are what I would consider mid-level cat foods, meaning they are better than cheap supermarket cat foods but not high quality nutrition.
Of course, cost was one factor in our choice but we also had to find food that all our cats would eat. The reason we switched so often was because the cats would get bored with the taste after a while and become finicky. Who could blame them? We gave them wet food as an occasional treat or sometimes they would get some tuna.
Flash – RIP
This went on until a few months after we got Chris at the end of 2009. I think the turning point was when we lost Flash in April of 2010. He became very sick at less than five years old. I didn’t want another cat to die so young so I started researching a healthy cat diet.
My first question was whether I should feed wet or dry cat food and it was difficult to decide because everything I read was skewed very far in one direction or the other. On the one hand, dry food was better because it supposedly cleaned their teeth and prevented bacteria growth. On the other hand, wet food was better because cats evolved to get most of their water from their food and they become dehydrated from dry food because they don’t drink enough water.
In the end I decided the wet food argument made more sense. I also read that dry food contains grains and sugars that actually promote bacterial growth. I then learned of a third option after reading about Pottenger’s Cats…
Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr. (1901–1967) was using cats in a study of adrenal extract hormones but the number of donated cats soon exceeded his supply of cooked food so he ordered raw food scraps and fed some of the cats raw meat instead. The raw meat group appeared healthier then the cooked meat group resulting in a massive study of the benefits of raw meat involving about 900 cats. The study went on for three generations and by the end of the third generation the cats in the cooked food group developed degenerative diseases and most were not able to produce a fourth generation. The raw food group remained healthy throughout the experiment.
This led me to try to learn as much as I could about feeding the cats raw food. It turned out to be somewhat complicated because if you don’t include all the nutrients a cat needs, they could become very sick. It was also important to include the organs and bones along with the meat, including chicken bones, which I had always been told to keep away from cats and dogs because they could choke. It turns out that cooked bones become very brittle but raw bones are okay for your pet and necessary for calcium.
I decided to test the waters and started with Bravo Raw Frozen Pet Food. This included everything except for a few things that I needed to add myself like fish oil and a couple of different vitamins that I can’t recall. Later I found a formula called Bravo Balance that had everything. My plan was to get them off the dry food and feed them just the raw food, but as often happens, things don’t always go as planned.
When I started feeding it to them, Chris liked it right away but our other cats turned their noses up at it. Bravo recommended mixing a small amount with canned food and then to gradually increase the raw food percentage until it was 100% raw. That was fine in theory but I could never get it much above 50% before they would reject it. Even Chris started giving me trouble about eating it.
I started experimenting with canned foods to mix with the raw. Some foods allowed me to mix a higher percentage of raw than other foods. The problem was that the higher the quality of canned food, the less they liked it. That left me with a dilemma. Should I give them more raw food with poor quality canned food or less raw food with higher quality canned food? For a while, I was mixing the raw food with Fancy Feast but eventually settled on Pro Plan. It is another mid-level food but all the cats love it. I only buy certain Pro Plan varieties. I avoid anything that says pasta or rice on the label to try to keep the grains to a minimum. I also avoid the pâté or classic. Our cats like the cans with gravy or the ones that are sliced or braised. Pro Plan is not grain-free, which is what I want, but I have tried countless varieties of high quality food that they won’t eat so, for now, it is a necessary evil.
I settled on giving them a raw-canned mixture for breakfast and dinner, which is what I have done for most of the time since starting the diet. After moving back to Florida I changed over to Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw, which comes in one once medallions. That was much easier because I could add one medallion to one small can of cat food. I believe Bravo and other brands come that way too now but I haven’t looked into it.
As soon as they were eating the raw food, I focused on eliminating the dry food, but I got resistance from an unlikely source, my wife. She thought it was cruel to not give them access to food 24 hours a day like us overweight, unhealthy humans have. So to make her happy I kept the food bowls but I only put a small amount in the bowls. I wanted the bowls to be empty at least two hours before it was time for the wet food. Rose didn’t care for that either. She would tell me I was starving the cats and even today, four years later, she yells at me when the bowls are empty. I know if I just fed them raw food and nothing else, eventually they would get over their “junk food” addiction and come to like it but that would never fly with Rose.
Since the raw food diet didn’t pan out like I thought and I was locked in to having dry food, I decided to try to give them the best food possible within a reasonable budget and one that they would all eat. I checked the ingredients of many different brands and brought samples home to try. Some they loved at first but after buying a large bag they wouldn’t eat it. Some they just wouldn’t eat at all. I finally came up with one that was reasonably healthy, grain free, and the cats liked the entire bag.
It’s called Blue Buffalo Wilderness. There are several flavors available like chicken, duck and salmon, and I buy a different flavor each time to keep things interesting. So far they still like it after some time.
A few months ago the cats suddenly became more finicky and would not eat the raw food mixture, or would eat some of it but leave most of the food behind. I tried changing to duck and then rabbit but those were even harder to get them to eat. I was soon forced to cut back to a half-medallion and then about two months ago I stopped the raw food altogether because there was just too much food left.
As an alternative I started giving them Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Treats. They were getting the Friskies Party Mix, which they love, but they also loved the Instinct treats which are much more expensive but also much healthier. I actually found these treats a year or so ago but gave them out sparingly because of the price. I now buy them in a larger six-ounce bag which cost less per ounce. The bag says “for dogs” but the ingredient list appears to be exactly the same as for cats. I’m not sure why but dog food is always cheaper than cat food.
The next thing I would like to do is buy a meat grinder and start making my own food. Perhaps using my own fresh ingredients might make a difference. Rose already thinks I’m weird because I recently started juicing and fermenting vegetables along with making my own toothpaste, if I start grinding meat she may just drop me off in Amish country.
I am also thinking about replacing their dry food with freeze-dried raw. I was looking into the taste and cost effectiveness of various brands a couple of months ago when I won a photo contest on BlogPaws. My prize was anything below $25 from Pet360 so I believe I chose Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dinner for Cats. I put everything on hold and waited for my food but after a week or two I got an e-mail saying it was unavailable, then another that said it was available and would be shipped next week. Well, next week was two months ago so I think its time to just buy it myself.
If anyone reading this is feeding raw to their cats I would love to hear about it.