Posts tagged raw cat food

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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Of Mice and Kibble

I’m thinking about switching my cats to a raw food diet. After all, cats have evolved into carnivorous predators, and who am I to fight nature? Just because I, for my own self interest, have chosen to enclose animals between walls doesn’t mean I have any right to drastically alter their natural diet.

When I think about Oscar, I sometimes feel pretty bad. He could have stayed on the farm, catching his own fresh mice and birds and who knows what else. Sure, I’ve almost certainly extended his years; his ninth life most likely would have expired long ago in some fight over a pretty girl cat or in a deadly bout with a moving vehicle.

But what’s the point of an extended life when it’s not a quality life?

I don’t feel bad about Tara. She was born an indoor kitten (the cutest little white kitten in the world), so I didn’t steal any joys away from her. It’s pretty safe to say that my Tara has never seen a real mouse, let alone tasted one. The birds she has known have always fluttered safely on the other side of the window. She doesn’t know any better.

But these cats are at my mercy, 100% dependent on me.

I spend a lot of time (a whole lot of time) coming up with ways to improve my own diet. I read studies, I read ingredients lists (makes for some long grocery shopping trips), I find recipes, I prepare in advance, I prepare in quantity, etc. But the whole time I’ve been focusing on keeping my husband and myself healthy, I’ve been neglecting my bewhiskered friends.

While discovering, pinpointing, and removing from our human diet all the horrors that are passed off as “food” in the grocery store, it never occurred to me to even consider what non-foods were actually in the dry kibble and canned food I provide to my cats.

The wet and dry foods I currently give them contain preservatives, flavorings and “chicken by-products”—I don’t even want to know what that means. Also, they contain corn gluten meal (a lawn fertilizer and weed suppressant), vegetables, rice, oil and other things carnivores just aren’t built to digest. Can you imagine a cat in the wild crunching carrots and nibbling juicy blueberries? I can’t either.

For the past eleven years, I’ve failed to fulfill my cats’ dietary needs. But now I have the knowledge and determination to do a complete U-turn. I owe it to them to not only provide another ten or more years of life, but to provide them a quality second half of life.

Of course, it wouldn’t work for me to feed my feline friends live mice, birds and bugs in my house. That’s just gross. So I need to find the next best thing. There are quite a few raw cat food recipes out there, most featuring chicken or rabbit to replace the mice and birds cats have evolved to devour.

No problem. I can do chicken or rabbit, as long as they’re not alive and running around my house.

There are a variety of paths I can choose for my cats’ new diet and I haven’t quite decided on one yet. Choices range from buying quality canned (though cooked) cat food to grinding my own whole chickens—bones and all. And there are several middle ground options to choose from, too. I will probably choose one of these middle-of-the-road options, at least to get started.

Right now I’m leaning toward buying a premixed supplement and mixing it into store bought ground meat.

I know you’re just sitting on the edge of your seat right now, eagerly awaiting my ultimate decision and the final outcome.

I’ll keep you posted.

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