This is really way long...my apologies for being so very long winded!
I was very interested to find this thread about "primal" pets, as I came to Primal Blueprint/MDA because I have been feeding my cats Raw for about ten years and I always thought, "There should be a human version of this diet" And here it is!
Anyhow, I wanted to share a bit of our journey (Husband, Jim, and I) in getting our cats on a raw food diet and in superb condition.
We have multiple cats. When we met, we each had 2 cats and we have pretty much had between 3-5 cats for the last 13 years. We fed our cats iams dry food and left it out for them to graze and basically eat whenever they wanted to. Hey, the vets recommended it along with Science Diet.
About 10 years ago, one of our tabbies, Olivia, a petite girl with white boots, started really having digestive issues. She was around 10 years old, thin, with dryish fur and some dander. She would eat and then almost immediately throw up. I was worried every day that I was going to find her dead. That's how ill I felt she was. I had no idea of what to do for her and the vet could only suggest another prescription cat food.
I happened to go into a local bookstore (not many of them left) and was looking over the cat care books. I found one called "The Natural Cat" which really changed my entire attitude about feeding our cats. I was just looking for some advice on how to help Livvy (Olivia) when I read the section on what was in most commercial cat foods...including Iams and Science Diet. Suffice to say, those foods are literally (yes...actually and literally) filled with disgusting garbage. All of the meat parts, diseased, dirty, etc that are unfit for humans are sterilized, homogenized, preserved and made into cat/dog food. The author recommended either a raw food diet or human quality cat food.
I wasn't sure about the raw, so I found a human quality food...Wellness brand. At that time they were one of the better human quality foods. I bought both canned and dry and started my guys out it. The results were quite good. Livvy started to improve and did not throw up her food as much, the other cats liked it too. So, I thought, "in for a dime" and I decided to try raw food.
"The Natural Cat" offered a very sensible rationale for feeding raw to cats and a recipe that did not seem too hard. (Today, I think they missed the boat by adding wheat germ and sometimes grain to their mix, but at the time it was a step forward) The book explained that cats are obligate carnivores. This means that in a natural setting, they will eat other animals for their sustenance. They get a small amount of seeds or grain or whatever is in a mousie's tummy, but otherwise...all prey. Cats in the wild never hunt for grain. They hunt other animals.
This was a revelation to me because I just had never considered the genetic background and natural history of the cat! I just accepted that of course cats eat purina cat chow from a bag...because that's what was advertised and promoted by my vets. Once I started thinking it through, it was OBVIOUS that of course pet cats are almost identical to small wild cats and need to eat in a similar way in order to have optimal health. Think about it...no zoologist keeping wild cats feeds their expensive animals cat chow! Nope, it is ground turkey or chicken or even larger chunks of chicken or other birds.
I started grinding up raw chicken, adding nutrients like extra calcium and special vitamins to try to simulate a prey animal. It was tough at first to get my cats to switch over, because they were used to grazing and eating dry food. Now, they only had raw chicken and they had to eat at specific times. (Another aspect of an obligate carnivore is that their bodies are optimized to kill and eat their prey and then spend a few hours digesting. They should never free feed...it is just not a natural state for them) I had one major hold out, my Forest Cat, Dani. I had to move the dry food entirely out of the house in order to get her switched over, but she finally gave in and ate the new food.
Our results were spectacular! Our cats, old and young alike became sleek and glossy and super fit. Livvy gained weight, no longer spit up and her fur became soft and thick with no dander. Her brother Ollie, who had been overweight, slimmed down, put on lean muscle and his fur also became thick and beautiful. These two older guys started playing and acting like kittens again...at least some of the time.
My two forest cats, Kitten and Dani, put on muscle and also became very fit. My other older cat, binky (a dilute calico) also put on just the right amount of muscle and her plush double coat no longer was dry or dander-ry
Remember: I thought Livvy was on the verge of death just a month or two earlier. Now she was the picture of cat health.
Once Jim and I started on the raw food path for our cats, we kept researching and looking for more information about it. Luckily our vet at the time was somewhat supportive, but we found after a move that not many vets know much of anything about the nutritional needs of cats (dogs too). Most of what they are taught in Vet school is taught by the pet food manufacturing companies. That seems odd, but then GPs don't get a great in-depth training in people nutrition, either. We had to search for a vet that would fully support raw feeding and we found Boulder Natural Animal. Not only do they support raw feeding, one of the vets actually feeds whole, raw food to his cats...that's a whole other level...which we don't do.
The upshot is that Livvy lived to be almost 20 years old and Binky lived to be almost 19. They were in good health until the end and loved their raw food. The only downside is that it is work, though we have the process down to a science now...we grind about 60-100 lbs of food at once and freeze it in one-two day packs. (we also feed our son's cats) The good news is that any cat who eats this food will be lean, muscular and neither fat nor thin. Their skin and fur is perfect and they are filled with fun and vitality. I heartily recommend that every cat be on this type of diet. Many, if not ALL of the maladies that afflict our pet cats is brought on by dismal nutrition, as advocated by the pet food industry.
Here is our method: buy large quantities of chicken, we buy thighs and it is good if you can find reasonably priced organic...not always possible, I know. Thighs with bone and skin. 5% or so yams or pumpkin or a similar squash or root veg.(cooked and mashed) 10% hearts liver organs (pureed). Mix everything, distributing the veg and organs as evenly as possible. Push the entire mixture though the grinder, bones and all. We add fish oil and vitamins when we feed the cats. Note: we bought a more powerful grinder so we could put bone in the food. This saves lots of time and is better for our pocket carnivores. Before this, we deboned all the chicken and made a rich calcium broth from the bones...took twice as long!
This food is cheaper than canned high quality food and is much better for our cats health. There are other, probably better, recipes out there, but this works for us right now. If you want your pets to be in optimal health (in the same way that the Primal Blueprint will help us to do so) Raw is the way to go! (Remember that dogs are omnivores, though. They can and should eat a different diet than cats....there are sites out there with lots of info for dog owners too)
1-Cats are obligate Carnivores...they need mostly animal protein and fat and almost no carbs
2-Cats should eat a mouse-sized meal once or twice a day. Food should never be left out for them to munch whenever they feel like it (grazing is for herbivores) We feed 2x / day
3-Don't feed your cat dry food as their main source of food. Cats need water and a diet of mostly animal protein there is little water in dry food and usually too much carbohydrate.
Check out this site for great info on cat nutrition from Vet Lisa Pierson.
Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition :: healthy cat diet, making cat food, litter box, cat food, cat nutrition, cat urinary tract health
Here's a site that sells ground as well as whole animal protein for making your own food as well as already ground food, ready to feed your pets. (Its a little strange because they sell whole mice too, for feeding a whole prey diet)
I've been very long-winded, but when I saw this thread I wanted to offer my experience and encouragement
Now I need to start reworking my own diet and health to get some of the benefits my cats have gotten from their lifestyle change. I am reading the Primal Blueprint and I am already cutting refined carbs and grains and eating more fruits and veg. I need to lose weight and get off some meds and I think this is the way to go. The blueprint seems so logical and sensible....it is something of an epiphany, just as when I first read about raw feeding my cats.
Thanks for reading my "War and Peace" of posts.
This is really way long...my apologies for being so very long winded!
Hey there Helen-- a million thanks for all the good info and no apologies whatsoever; there are at least a handful of folks who are looking to take the leap and any personal experiences transitioning adult cats are golden. Thanks for taking the time, and what a great story! It seems like raw food for dogs has been gaining traction for some time, but I'm awfully cheered to see so many good resources out there for feeding our obligate carnivores.
I'd love to see photos if you're a shameless pet pic poster! =D
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@hhelenhh Great post! I love reading stories about the benefits that people actually expeirence when they transition to raw. There is so much negativity about it in the veterinary world. I used to work at a clinic and I learned to keep my mouth shut about what I fed my cats unless someone saw then and said "Your cats look great! What do you feed them?"
My own kitties get raw from Hare Today and I am incredibly happy with their products and service. I did some math and it cost me about $4.86 per day to feed my three cats. I would grind my own but the husband said "Absolutely not!" Since we live in a small NY apartment I kind of agree with him Although, it would be nice. My cats also get a supplement called Platinum Performance which I love and is not included in the above cost.
Raw feeding doesn't have be difficult and it doesn't have to be expensive. Good quality canned food is more expensive than raw (at least where I'm at) and only one of my cats will eat it. The other two think I am trying to poison them.
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While it's true that wolves and dogs don't eat the stomach contents of large prey animals(have you seen how HUGE they are?), they do eat the stomach contents of smaller prey - such as rabbits and rodents - which make up a large part of their diet.
Cats, I've seen catch mice and eat them, but leave the guts.
I had a smal epiphany reading hhelenhh's post... what about the possibility of a whole-prey diet?
I know that snake owners regularily buy humanly killed mice and rats for their pets, why not cat owners? Seems like instead of feeding chicken, and supplementing with the nutrients in a mouse, might as well just feed them a whole mouse.
Checking prices online, you can get pre-killed feeder mice shipped to you for about $0.50 each. Two a day for only a buck?
Edit: Seems like you can get jumbo rats (that weight over a pound!) for $1.99. Better buy than 50gram mice for $0.50. (I was checking rodentpro.com, they also sell animals like chicks and quails for pet feeding purposes)
Last edited by Tealia; 02-02-2012 at 12:14 AM.
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