Archive for September, 2010

Raw Advice

I talked to three professionals regarding feeding raw meat to cats. Here are the results, in three little nutshells:

Colorado State Vet School—Dr. M.

I talked with Dr. M., the vet who currently sees our ancient, ailing cat Slim (who will play no part of this raw food experiment, by the way). He is basically against raw diets and the main reason he gave was the possibility of bacteria and/or parasite contamination. However, he was happy to answer my many questions and even suggested that I speak with a nutritionist at the UC Davis vet school (see below). He even offered to help me come up with a recipe if I decided to go that route.

 UC Davis Vet School

Well, this was interesting. As suggested by the trusted vet from Colorado State, I called the nutritionists’ office at UC Davis to schedule a phone consultation. The person who eventually answered the phone informed me that UC Davis does not promote raw diets. When I asked if I could at least talk to someone who could answer some questions, the tart reply was, “The answer to any question you ask will be that UC Davis doesn’t promote raw diets.”

Well then.

I won’t use the “information” I got from this phone call in my decision-making since they refused to even tell me why they think raw is bad. The person I talked to was clearly just regurgitating some meaningless words someone else had told her. She obviously hasn’t read my Meaningful Quote 3.

Local Vet—Dr. B.

So finally I called my local vet, the one who actually has examined Oscar and Tara. I was fully expecting a firm “no” from her as well. But to my surprise, Dr. B. promotes raw diets, as long as the owner (that’s me) knows that there’s a delicate balance of protein, vitamins, nutrients, etc. If this balance is even a little off, then the raw diet is not only useless but also very harmful.

 Of course, I already knew this, having read everything under the sun about raw cat food.

Dr. B. was very knowledgeable and even seemed excited about it. She recommends using a pre-made raw food since it will have the proper nutritional balance. And interestingly, the brand she recommends, Nature’s Variety, is the same brand of the tasty rabbit I bought recently (see my previous two posts on this matter, Of Mice and Kibble and Rabbit Eaters).

Regarding bacteria and parasites, she had two things to say. First, like people, cats are all different. Some can tolerate the bacteria and some can’t. So watch the litter box! Second, parasites are found mostly in pork muscle meat. So that’s easy—don’t feed pork. Parasites can be found elsewhere too, but she didn’t seem too concerned about this, especially since I take my cats in for a physical every year.

Since Dr. B. reviewed Oscar and Tara’s latest blood work before making her recommendation, I feel confident switching them to raw. I really believe her professional opinion was based on the current health of my two cats. She also told me that there are some cats that she would absolutely recommend against feeding raw, so hopefully anyone who is thinking about this consults their vet before jumping in.

I think I’m ready to take the plunge. My next step is to purchase a second plastic mat for mealtime since Tara has recently developed a fondness for dragging her food onto the floor before eating it. Maybe she thinks she’s killing it. That’s a new thing.

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Rabbit Eaters

I conducted an experiment this weekend: I fed raw rabbit to my two healthy cats.

I just wanted to see if they would even like a raw diet. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m leaning toward buying a premixed supplement which I will add to store bought ground meat. But before placing an order and waiting for the powder to come in the mail (my impatience won’t tolerate that sort of thing), I decided to buy frozen raw cat food just to see what would happen.

My sister pointed me to a place nearby where I bought a bag of 48 raw rabbit medallions. They’re about mouse sized—perfect!

The Experiment

I took them home and popped a few in the refrigerator to thaw (microwaving them would have totally defeated the purpose, of course). Several hours later, the time had finally arrived to conduct my experiment! I cut a medallion in half and smashed the meat onto two separate plates and set them on the kitchen floor.

I then shouted “Treat!” which is a magical word in our house. Out of nowhere bolt two big middle-aged cats, sliding on the wood floor, anxious to see what wonderful snacks the two plates held in store for them.

The Results

Tara dug right in without even thinking twice. She ate almost all the contents of one plate—even chewing the big pieces—walked over to Oscar, lay down in front of him and rolled around on the ground in some sort of ecstasy. Or maybe she was just showing off—who knows, I can’t read cat’s minds. After a while she got up and ate some of Oscar’s rabbit, then proceeded to the living room for some serious post-treat bathing. All of this is very un-Tara-like.

Oscar would have nothing to do with it. True, he thoroughly sniffed it, desperately searching for the deliciousness he was certainly missing—this plated mush was called a “treat” after all. But eventually he looked up at me and said with his green eyes, “For real, lady? This is what you call a treat?”

Summary

Over the weekend I learned three things. First, Oscar will gladly forgo two meals if it means he doesn’t have to eat raw rabbit. Second, Oscar will reluctantly allow himself to be tricked into eating raw rabbit, but only if it is mixed generously with Fancy Feast. And finally, I learned that Tara really loves raw rabbit, chicken and ground beef. She’s the real cat in the house.

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