We're getting a kitten soon. Both my husband and I grew up with cats, but we haven't had a pet yet because we wanted to wait until our kids were older (which they are now... no more crawlers ) We've carefully researched all the costs (food, litter, vet, etc). We've decided we want to give our new cat the very best diet possible. after researching all the options we've decided on a completely fresh, raw whole foods (meat) diet.
My only concern is that, although you can get taurine from chicken leg, beef/chicken/etc heart, I am a little concerned about how to tell if the cat will get enough taurine. I'm not sure how much percentage of their diet should be heart or liver, etc, in comparison to meat? I plan to just cut off pieces of our meat and give it to her before we cook our supper as well as having a stash of things like chicken necks to gnaw on, and various organs that we don't eat. For example I can cut off a chicken wing and chicken leg for the cat, or throw her some steak, and then bits of heart or something... I was going to also include eggs and some fish. We also eat lamb, turkey and pork, so there would be variety.
I'm not too keen on the idea of buying mice for my cat to eat... so I'm not sure I would want to go there. Would my cat be missing any vital nutrients if I don't buy small prey-based meats?
Anyone with experience feeding a cat a raw food diet...? I would really appreciate advice. I grew up with cats but my parents just fed them kibble so, this raw stuff is new territory for me. I'm mainly concerned with the taurine because from what I've read it's very important a cat get enough of that or they could die...!
I don't have cats, but feed my dogs raw. I have a link for a website that was super helpful to me when I was getting started which discusses raw diets for dogs and cats. I can't post it though because I haven't posted enough yet.
I don't have much to add, but I do give my cat raw food. There's a lot of info if you do a search on the web. I was too concerned with getting the right ratio of meat/bone, etc... I buy nature's variety raw food for my cat. She's small, so it's not very expensive. It's about 60 cents a day.
I think that if you give your cat a variety of raw meat, bones, and organs, you'll be fine.
I am so glad that we feed her raw. Her poopy is so much less smelly than my other cat.
I would talk to your vet, because taurine is not the only substance that will be lacking if you feed primarily muscle tissue. The skin, internal organs (not just the liver), bones and blood also provide vital nutrients.
Also, are you using grocery store meats or free-range, organic meats (both have risks, but they can be different from what I understand). Salmonella is just as much a risk to house pets as it is to humans. Pets can get sick and they can also be carriers. They may show no symptoms, but can pass the salmonella/e.coli... on to other family members.
Even those dried pig-ears are a salmonella hazzard, because the dog gnaws on them, they get damp and become a breeding ground for salmonella, and the dog and/or it's people and animal housemates get sick if they touch the pig ear, or something the pig ear touched.
Also cats and to a lesser degree dogs, like to play with their food - so if given carcass pieces that can be dragged around and left in stashes, possibly under (or in) the bed, behind the sofa sofas.... can be an issue.
The only people I've ever known to do raw diets for pets - bought the raw diet ready-prepared (frozen or fresh from high-end pet stores or their vet). The diets were specially blended to include complete nutrition, and were often frozen at extra low temperatures like sushi-grade fish is to kill bacteria or prevent bacteria growth. The meat is also ground finely with skin, organ and bone meal in the mix, so the animal gets the benefits of the whole animal, but doesn't have any thing they can drag around the house or choke on. I've known folks who give their cats and dogs bones, but most of those found ways to keep the bones in a limited area, usually outdoors or on a porch (obviously easier with dogs, because a cat doesn't ordinarily take to that kind of training. It's going to take its prize where ever it wants to).
Cooked bones are more hazardous (as a choking or splintering risk) than raw bones, but even raw bones have similar risks. Choking and bone-eating injuries aren't uncommon, even in the wild.
Also a healthy raw-diet for a kitten is going to be different than a full grown cat's. Mommy carnivores generally chew and regurgitate the meat for the youngsters. How this translates into a kitten raw diet, I don't know.
I would guess there are books on the subject. I would check amazon.com and read the reviews before selecting one. I'd also talk to your vet and get his/her opinion and suggestions.
My Etsy shop (currently closed for the summer)
Kaplods, most of our meat comes from my in-laws farm, and it's free range and organic. What we don't get from there we get from the butcher that cuts up their meat. We *do* buy some things at the grocery store (for example lamb, since they don't raise that), but I figure the butcher will have plenty of organs and scrap bones, etc to sell me for cheap. At least I think he would... maybe even free? lol
I did read that because of the risk of bacteria you should clean up whatever your cat didn't eat after half an hour, which makes sense to me. Obviously I don't want pieces of raw meat hanging out for weeks on end. I'll probably have to watch to make sure the cat's not dragging it around.
I will look at some of the blended foods you mentioned... I don't know if any are available in my area?
I guess to talk to my vet, we have to figure out which vet we are going to... I guess I'll ask some of my friends who have pets who they go to and if the vet seems friendly and knowledgeable
I checked on amazon and there are several books (more on dogs than cats, but there are a few for both). I'm sure they have recipes and ratios.
Sometimes it isn't clear from the title that the book is about raw diets (or at least discusses them).
For example one of the books that came up when I searched on "cat raw diet" was
Whole Health for Happy Cats: A Guide to Keeping Your Cat Naturally Healthy, Happy, and Well-Fed (Quarry Book) by Sandy Arora and Regina Schwabe
But there was a read inside feature (just under the book's picture) and reading the index I see that the book does discuss raw diets and how to prepare them.
Another title that came up (that seems to have good reviews) is
Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats [Paperback] by Kymythy Schultze (Author)
Both are pretty inexpensive, especially if you buy them used (I do it from amazon all the time, I just make sure the seller has sold lots of books and has a high rating).
If your library doesn't have them, they probably could order interlibrary loan (I'm also not saying these are the best books on the matter, I just looked at the first two that came up).
Usually what I do (because I'm on a fixed income, and I'd be a tightwad even if I weren't) I search on amazon for books on topic I'm interested in. Read the reviews, and select the top five I'm interested in (sometimes more, but I'm a bit of a book nut) and then check them out from my library (ordering through interlibrary loan, if I need to) and then after reading the top five, and decide which if any I feel I need to own. If there's a tie, I buy whichever one I can get cheapest.
Freecycle is always an option too where you either offer stuff you want to give away, or ask people if they have stuff they were wanting to get rid of. Books are very common items to request and to offer.
Although most often people (including myself) rarely ask for a specific title on freecycle, it's more "if anyone has a book or books on this topic, they're willing to part with," type of request.
My Etsy shop (currently closed for the summer)
Not wanting to be too gross or graphic but cats need the stuff inside the stonach and intestines of small animals. I think there are ways to add this stuff. We did raw food for our dogs but added powdered supplements and greens.
At one point, I considered going to a completely raw diet for my cats. The problem is, even with the best of them, it's impossible to guarantee that they'll get a good balance of the nutrients that they need. My vet has treated some cats that were on raw diets (BARF for one) for a variety of issues... anemia, blindness, and even fatal cardiomyopathy, just to name a few.
Feeding "prey" can result in bacteria, parasites, and even injury to the cat. Prey animals (even pet store animals) can carry disease, and will not hold still to be eaten... they bite and scratch while trying to defend themselves.
After much research and vet advice, I decided that I need to guarantee my cats get the best nutrition I can possibly give them, and the absolute best health that money can buy... so I give them a great packaged food (I scrutinized labels) and I only occasionally supplement with raw treats.
I was assisting in the vet's office when an 8-month old kitty died of cardiomyopathy. The necropsy showed that her heart was irreparably damaged because of taurine deficiency in her all-natural raw diet. Her owners thought raw was the best choice, too, and gave her a commonly recommended mix. They've since gotten another kitten and refuse to feed him any raw foods.
Some people may have good luck with it. Personally, I cannot possibly risk my cats' health and very lives. I've seen firsthand that it very much is not worth it.
Have you considered purchasing a raw food for them instead of making your own?
The Honest Kitchen makes dehydrated raw pet foods. Just add water The ingredients are very pure and I believe that the company has high standards. I buy their dog food and my dogs literally whimper when they hear me start to mix it up and go nuts waiting for it.
They also make a cat food. You can order a sample size to see if your cat will eat it, since cats will be picky. You can request a free sample by email. The price sounds expensive, but it makes a huge amount of food. Just one tablespoon of mix will make and equal a half cup of actual fresh food.