The three fur babies are eating about 80% raw meat/20% canned food. I am still struggling with knowing how much food to prepare at one time, how long the food will last in the refrigerator, how long the food will last between the kitties, how long it takes meat to thaw in the refrigerator, and when and how much meat to order from Joseph, my meat guy at Rocking Chair Ranch Cattle. Because I let my last order of chicken and beef heart go bad in the refrigerator a couple of weeks ago (unintentionally), I decided to go to TailSpin, a local all-natural pet store, and buy their pre-packaged raw meat. I figured that it could hold the cats over until I could pick up my next order of fresh meat, and it would at least be better than the canned food that I’ve been feeding them. It might also help in the transition from a canned food diet to a Frankenprey diet (more about that in my next post).
TailSpin sells Blue Ridge Beef raw meat, which is made up of ground meat and ground bone. It is a local company, and it comes in a variety of animals too! My mom has actually been feeding Blue Ridge Beef meat to her dog Maggie for a while now, and it has cleared up a lot of Maggie’s skin and allergy problems. Anyway, the meat comes in 2 pound rolls – I got two rolls of chicken, two rolls of quail, two rolls of duck, and one roll of rabbit. While the meat does have bone ground in, it does not have organ. Supplements are definitely needed to mix in with the meat. Luckily, I had ordered supplements a couple of weeks ago. I followed the supplement list outlined on www.catfinfo.org and ordered from iherb.com. I shopped around online at other places like The Vitamin Shoppe, and iHerb had the best prices. This is what I ordered:
For my first attempt at feeding the cats the ground meat, I opened a roll of chicken and did not mix in any supplements. I estimated out what looked like their usual portion size of canned food, and let them eat it. Sophie ate it right up, but Delilah and Sampson were a little hesitant. They did eat it, but they took longer to eat than they usually do. The two pound roll of food lasted about 4-5ish meals (a little less than two days). I realize now that I was giving them too much at every meal, so it didn’t last as long as it should have.
After that roll disappeared, I opened up both of the rolls of duck and added the supplements in. Based on the homemade diet outlined on catinfo.org, I added one cup of water, four fish oil capsules, one vitamin E capsule, one vitamin B capsule, and one teaspoon of taurine. Because the Blue Ridge Beef meat has bone already ground in, I did not need to add any bone meal. It’s definitely not an easy chore to mix the supplements into cold raw meat. It’s not like making brownies! It was also pretty messy – I had ground meat and fish oil all over my hands! (Keep in mind, I am a life-long vegetarian and have never touched or purposefully eaten meat in my life.) This was all quite a sight, I’m sure. My husband just laughed at me, saying, “At least I’ll never have to worry about our children if we have any. If you go through this much trouble to make sure your cats are eating healthily, I can’t even imagine what you would do for your human children…”
I then separated the batch of meat into two different containers – one to put in the refrigerator, and one to put in the freezer. The container from the refrigerator lasted about two full days. This time, I was able to portion the meat into correctly sized meals rather than estimating, thanks to my new handy-dandy kitchen scale! I absolutely love it! I can put the food dish on the scale, tare it, and then add the appropriate amount of food! I give Sampson 2 ounces of meat at every meal (he is the most active), and I give Delilah and Sophie both 1.8 ounces at every meal (they are less active and are a bit heavier than Sampson). They all eat three meals a day.
On the whole, everything is going really well, and I have actually been enjoying it! I have hit a couple of thawing snafus along the way though. From what I’ve read, letting the meat thaw in the refrigerator is better than letting it thaw out on the counter. And the meat sure does take a long time to thaw in the refrigerator once it’s been taken out of the freezer! Because of this, I have had to feed the cats some of their canned food for a few meals while waiting on the meat to thaw. I’m still trying to work out a timeline on all of this…
And how are the cats liking the new diet, you ask? They love it! Especially Sophie. She has always been the slowest eater. We have always had to keep them all separated from each other at meal time because Delilah and Sampson have always inhaled their food and then tried to go after Sophie’s. Well now Sophie is faster than Delilah and Sampson ever were! She eats it right up, then looks up at me and chirps, saying, “MORE MORE MORE!” Delilah and Sampson were a bit hesitant about it all at first, but now they are eating it right up with no complaints. So now I know that they will eat a ground raw meat diet with no problems. Next step: to see if they will eat a Frankenprey diet…
While the pre-packaged raw meat food might not be the BEST option, it is a pretty good option for when you run out of your fresh homemade food or just don’t have the time to prepare the homemade food. It’s also surprisingly affordable! A two pound roll of chicken is only $3.79! I still plan on making my own cat food at home though. That way I am 100% sure about what my cats are ingesting. I’ll be picking up my meat order of a whole chicken, three chicken livers, a beef kidney, and sweet breads tomorrow morning. Can’t wait to get it all cut up and portioned out for the kitties! And then I’ll be able to see if they’ll eat bone too – Very exciting!
Also, as a quick side note – my husband and I asked our vet for his opinion on the raw meat diet. He was totally on board with it and gave his 100% approval. He just cautioned us about making sure to clean the cat’s dishes after every meal and being very thorough in cleaning up to avoid infection for my husband and me. He even looked at Sophie and said, “You just don’t know how good you have it!” I’m so glad to know that we have our vet’s support! It makes me feel less crazy :p
I’ll leave you with this picture, which was taken as I wrote this post. Stay tuned for the next installment of the Kitty Cat Chronicles!