A friend of mine is adopting 2 kittens, and I was looking for more information on feeding fresh food to cats. I discovered several more good sites, and am also including several I have spoken about before.
First, since I have meat thawed (for almost a week) waiting for me to make food for my cat, Ed, I will share how I make fresh food. I want to remind everyone that there is no one right way to feed cats (or dogs, people, etc). Fresh food, locally and sustainably raised is certainly the best. Some beings are just not susceptible to poor food and live very long healthy lives in spite of being fed – for cats – dry food free choice. some will comment (and please do) that my mixture for Ed is not the best. I would love as much discussion as possible for one of my goals in life is to halt the production of dry food for cats – world wide.
I constantly research local farms, looking for ones where the animals are always on pasture, the grain fed to the chickens is GMO free/organic(ish) and the beef/buffalo are not grain finished. I am not able to always find this quality, and that may be part of the cause of Ed’s mild stomatitis over his big molars. Currently I purchase some combination of the following:
- chicken necks
- chicken backs
- a “pet” mixture of beef heart and muscle scraps
- beef liver (cheaper a this farm than chicken liver)
- Other offal when available (sometimes gizzards & liver & heart & kidneys)
- whole chickens or ground meats (looking in the discount bin).
Ed prefers pieces no bigger than 4 inches, other cats will eat an entire thigh with bone and skin, some need the food smaller, even with great diligence. The bigger the pieces, the more like nature intended, helping the teeth stay clean, the tooth root attachments strong and the jaw bones strong.
Spending about 3 hours, I make a mixture by cutting up a chicken (or backs, and/or necks; and hearts when available, or gizzards or other organ meats) into 2-4 inch pieces, bone & skin & muscle (I keep the breasts for us and emergency cat food).
I add the beef ground mixture.
I puree vegetables (whatever I have on hand), then liver (keep liver to 10% or less) and liver must be organic (or clean) since it is the detoxifier of the body.
I add various supplements that I get at conferences, or people supplements I want to try.
I often add eggs, or leftover meats and fish to the mixture.
I freeze in 2 cup containers. Ed only needs a heaping tablespoon twice a day (up to 1/4C) to stay in great weight. This may fluctuate and if he asks for more and is not satisfied with catnip – I do indulge him.
It takes me 4 hours every 5-8 weeks to make the mixture and freeze it in containers and costs less than .50 per day.
A friend of mine gives an entire leg or a thigh to each of her 10 cats per day, then every few days does a ground meat, vegetable, egg, supplement meal.
The only critical ingredient is to supplement with calcium if your cats are not eating the bones. I feel all 3 main ones are fine – egg shells, bonemeal, Animal Essential’s Calcium from algae. I like to rotate them.
If concerned about nutrients I like Wysong’s Call of the Wild.
My current cat, Ed, does best when getting VetriScience’s NuCat vitamins.
Tips to save money on ingredients:
- Ask butcher or farmer for “scraps”. For dogs this could include tongue, ears, tails, trimmings, organs.
- Find hunters who may not want the meat, or want only the steaks. If they are willing to bring in all the innards, the butcher can freeze them in a block, then cut into the chunk size you want. For the best quality, avoid deer who have been feasting on commercial corn crops.
- Ask at your local farmer’s market (even if you do not see meat at the stall). If they have eggs, they will have old hens. Male chicks are often discarded in a pile and can be picked up for free. If they sell milk, they may have male calves.
- Dogs’ digestive system is designed for scavenging, even rotting meat. If the deer was not at the side of the road when you left, take it home and butcher it. Talk to the local road crews who have to dispose of deer.
- Set up a co-op with friends to buy healthy meat in bulk.
AND NOW – other people’s blogs and sites, with my comments.
A. Dr. Lisa Pierson has written an incredible article, actually it should be a book because it is so comprehensive. I suggest reading the long version, then keeping her short version (4 pages) readily available if you need inspiration or to post in the dry food section of pet stores. She is adamant, just like I am, about not ever feeding dry food to cats. I agree with almost everything she says, except that no cat will thrive on dry food. I have seen some who appear to be thriving. 98% of what she writes is exactly what I would write and even better. The topics she covers in the long version are:
- But my cat is “fine” on dry food!
- The importance of animal proteins, versus plant proteins
- Fresh vs highly processed with synthetic supplements
- Problems with carbohydrates in dry cat foods
- Cats need water with their food
- Reading a pet food ingredient label
- Marketing labels
- ‘Prescription/therapeutic’ diets
- Common medical problems associated with dry food
- Kidney disease
- Cystitis/Urethral blockage/Urinary tract infection/Crystals
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Hepatic Lipidosis (fatty liver disease)
- Dental health
9. The safety of dry food
10. Tips for Transitioning – Getting dry food addicts to eat canned food
11. Home prepared raw/semi-cooked and commercial raw meat diets
12. What I feed to my cats
13. Some final thoughts
B. Dr. karen Becker interviewed Dr. Pierson on feeding cats on her great part of the Mercola web site.
C. A very erudite site is feline nutrition foundation. they have many articles on the site. Rightly so, they discuss the need for taurine in a cat’s diet. When I graduated from vet school in 1980, cats were going blind and developing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy because the “complete and balanced” cat foods were so low in protein that they were not getting enough taurine (found in all muscles, including the heart and higher in dark meat than white). I had people adding clam juice to their cat’s diets before the foods were changed. I was not yet holistic, and think that apparent betrayal by the pet food industry was subliminally waking me up to the benefits of feeding real food.
They give a detailed approach to making your own raw meat diet. My problem with this is your cat is not designed to eat ground meat. Cats do not chew. their jaws, teeth and stomach want great big chunks to gnaw on. You could make this food, or buy frozen raw, then give chicken necks or backs every few meals or brush their teeth yourself (they so love having their teeth brushed, though you can train them to like it). I prefer the raw meaty hunk approach. Under constipation, they acknowledge this – “First, by action of the cat biting down on small prey, the fur of the prey is brushing against the teeth, helping to wipe away plaque and preventing accumulation of tartar. Second, fur has an important role as a non-irritating stool bulker.”
So this is a good site with a lot of information, but I do not agree with everything they say. Remember, there is no “right” answer, so you need to carefully observe your cats to know if the diet you are feeding is the best.
D. One of my favorite sites is by Dr. Jean Hofve (Little Big Cat). she is a prolific writer and researcher. Her health has been helped a lot by ASEA product, and she has seen benefit with cats, too. Her many ebooks (available as kindle, too) are invaluable: 1. what cats should eat; 2. Cat Care Naturally with Celeste Yarnell 3. diabetes; 4. Obesity…and many more.
Her free article archive is extensive – looks like at least 100, many written by other people which gives you a wide range of opinions.
E. Dr. Pat Jordan is passionate about health care, especially how vaccines are harming people, animals and the planet. She has some articles on feeding cats – Download her free carnivore companion.
F. I like that this site encourages feeding chunks, but realizes not all cats will start out with them, so has grinding instructions, too.
Please comment on this post – what works for you?
If you want to post that your cat will not eat anything but dry, read the above resources first, try them, then post if it is not working. Every cat can switch. Brighthaven.org adopted cats 16 and older and they switched! patience and LOVE.
LOVE TO ALL OF YOU for helping your cats and the environment (and your pocket book, too).