First Steps to Feeding a Raw Diet…
Well, I finally did it! After much reading and researching and talking about it, I FINALLY took the next step in switching my cats over to a raw meat diet – I bought some raw meat. It’s really been a long time coming. I’ve spent hours reading websites online and reading through books and talking with other kitty cat moms who also feed a raw meat diet. I’ve drug my feet about taking that next step though, I think party because I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do it. Not because I don’t think that a raw diet is good idea (I definitely think it is a great one), but because I didn’t want to have to cut up raw meat or get my hands dirty on a regular basis. I’m a vegetarian! I’ve never eaten or touched a piece of meat in my life (at least not on purpose)! And here I am thinking about buying raw meat and cutting it or grinding it up myself to feed to my cats… I’ve lost my mind, right? (That’s a rhetorical question, by the way 😉
Well, the side of me that is really excited about this diet change for my cats trumped the pansy side of me. I went with my husband yesterday evening to the Mulberry Street Market. This is an AWESOME place in Macon to find locally and organically grown produce for great prices. They also have meat vendors that are all hormone and antibiotic free and are also grass-fed. It’s all the best of the best but really affordable! Anyway, my husband and I went after work so that I could talk to the chicken vendor. I wanted to find out what kinds of things they could source (liver, hearts, bones) and what their prices were like. However, by the time we were able to get to the market, the chicken vendors were already gone. I was talking to the person running the market to see if I could get a list of the vendors and maybe some contact information for them, when the guy from the beef booth came up and overheard my conversation. He asked me what I was looking for. I said, “This is going to sound really weird, but…” and proceeded to tell him my plans. I thought for sure he would give me that look that says, “You’re insane!”, but to my surprise, he smiled and said, “Oh, my veterinarian also feeds his cats raw meat. He gets his beef hearts from me!” I couldn’t believe it! I walked with him over to his booth, and he pulled out a frozen beef heart, beef kidney, and beef liver. “You can have all three for $10,” he said. It seemed like a great deal, but since this was going to be my first stab at feeding my cats any raw meat, I decided that I would just take the one beef heart for $5. I was also feeling a bit overwhelmed – looking at those packages of raw cow organs, I wanted to gag for sure. My first meat purchase ever – a massive, almost 2 pound, raw beef heart. Go big, or go home!!! 🙂
On the way home, we stopped at Kroger to pick up a cheap cutting board and cheap knife to cut the meat with. I definitely didn’t want to use our regular cutting board or nice kitchen knives on this thing. We got home and put the heart in the kitchen sink with some water running over it to thaw it. Then we waited, and waited…and waited. It seemed to take forever for that sucker to thaw! Or maybe I was just anxious to cut up some cow heart! (Who would have thought I’d ever be excited about that!)
It finally thawed, and Bobby opened the wrapper for me and stuck it on the cutting board. I just stared at it. I had to work my nerves up to cutting it. I probably stood there for about five minutes trying to figure out what I was going to do. FInally, I grabbed some ziploc bags to use as gloves, grabbed the knife in one hand, held the heart down with the other, and started cutting. It took me probably 25-30 minutes or so to cut it all up. But I did it all by myself!
I portioned the meat out into meal sized piles and then put each meal into it’s own ziploc bag. I ended up with 15 individual bags total. I dated them all with a sharpie and stuck all but one back in the freezer. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that Delilah and Sampson both were trying to get at the heart the entire time I was cutting. Bobby had to lock them in the bedroom so they would leave me alone!
(By the way, that’s 15 meals for $5, which comes out to $0.33 per meal per cat. Three meals per day = $1.00 per day per cat, which is pretty much what it costs us right now feeding the wet food. It’s a little bit more than feeding Friskies, but it’s less than the Wellness that Sophie eats. Just in case anyone is interested in making the switch, but is worried about the expense. I know that we were worried about it!)
When it was time for dinner, I gave all three cats some of their regular wet food. Delilah and Sampson eat Friskies wet food, and Sophie eats Wellness wet food. (Sophie used to eat Friskies too, until we discovered that she has a food allergy to grains. We had to upgrade her to the fancy grain-free stuff.) Anyway, I gave them all some of their regular food and then divided one of the baggies of heart between the three of them. I didn’t want to give them only heart, since they’ve never eaten raw meat before. I was worried that it would upset their stomachs or that they wouldn’t even recognize it as food. Got to ease them into it! Well, they had no problems eating it at all. All three of them ate it up like it was candy. Sophie actually ate the chunks of heart first, and then finished off her regular food! They all were begging for more!
All seemed to be going well, until Bobby and I got into bed and about 5 minutes later heard someone throw up. I got up to investigate and found Sampson standing over a pile of what looked like his entire dinner. He didn’t even chew the chunks of heart, that goober. I cleaned it up and fixed him a bowl of his regular food, which he inhaled. No signs of rejection from Delilah and Sophie though!
For breakfast this morning, we just gave them a bowl of their regular food. I was afraid that Sampson would get sick again. However, they all got some meat with their lunch. They got a bowl of some of their regular food along with some chunks of heart. I only gave Sampson once chunk though. All three ate it right up! It’s been almost an hour and everyone seems to be fine!
Well, it looks like this transition isn’t really going to be too difficult, which is great. I wasn’t too worried about it, because all three of our cats are food addicts. If we let them free feed, I don’t think they’d ever step away from their bowls. They will eat anything! From here, I guess I will just keep giving them a little bit more meat with every meal until they are eating an entire meal of just meat. I guess that means it’s about time to look into getting the necessary supplements to mix in. Does anybody have any supplement suggestions? I’d love your input!
That’s it for today! Stay tuned for more from the Kitty Cat Chronicles!
Raising Cats Naturally: How to Care for Your Cat the Way Nature Intended by Michelle T. Bernard