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?