Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Why I feed raw


Time to make the cat food again...


I have talked about feeding raw food to my cats a few times on this blog, I've even done a few 'watch me make raw food' posts because my cats amuse me every single time we make food.


I will admit, this is probably one of my least favorite chores. I would strongly prefer to buy it and leave the meat grinding to someone else, but with the FDA regulations of zero tolerance of bacteria or pathogens in raw food to almost to the point of being insane (they do not seem to have the same zeal when testing cooked commercial foods)  and my cats don't like HPP (high-pressure pasteurization) foods... So, we make it.


We use the recipe from catinfo.org but I do not cook anything. I used to cook the egg whites because of the enzyme in them that inhibit biotin absorption, but with the high amount of biotin in the yolks as well as the biotin in the B vitamins we add, I am not worried about the small amount that is bound up and is unusable because we don't cook the whites.


But why would I go through all of this trouble? Why do I feed raw? Years ago I had one diabetic cat (Em) and two cats who had blocked with urinary crystals (Jack and Eli) while on a 'high-quality premium' dry cat food. Em was on seven units of insulin twice a day because of the food we were feeding. We were originally encouraged to switch her to a high fiber food (W/D) because the belief was that the fiber would slow down the absorption of the sugars in the food and keep a cat's blood sugar stable. It works for humans and for dogs to some extent, but it has been disproven to help cats. Her transition to W/D did not go well, so we kept her on the food she liked, which the vet said was fine. Why no one (of the multiple vets we saw) balked at the idea of giving a cat seven units of insulin twice a day, I have no idea.

I found the felinediabetes.com message board and saw cat after cat enter into remission with a diet change to a low carb high protein diet. I was floored at the idea. By this point, Em had been on insulin for years and I didn't think it was possible. I picked a low carb canned food (Fancy Feast Classics Turkey and Giblets) and put her on that while testing her blood sugar levels regularly. Her insulin need dropped dramatically, from seven units to two and eventually to one. I was stunned. I started feeding Em separately from the rest of the cats and she was fine with that.

Then Eli blocked. So Em was on special food, Eli was on special food and the rest were still being fed dry.

Then Jack blocked.

So we had a devil of a time herding cats twice a day. Getting Em into her bathroom to eat her food, then get everyone else into the basement but Jack and Eli.. well at least not Eli since touching him then was questionable, Jack would follow the food anywhere.. It was frustrating having three feeding stations for five cats.

The more I learned about why the food helped Em, the more I learned in general. When I realized that leaving my cats on dry food would most likely mean that they too would one day end up with medical conditions that would need an Rx food, and that feeding them a low carb, high protein, high moisture diet would mitigate that, I was converted.

My husband and I went to pet food store after pet food store looking for cat foods that had a named meat source (chicken, beef, turkey) and each animal-based ingredient was also named (chicken fat vs poultry fat) and that had no plants in it and no carrageenan.  I was shocked how hard that was and by the fact that some food makers at the time put garlic in their foods.

We finally ended up with the conclusion that making the food was our best option.  I was completely ready to throw in the towel before I even began. I can not stand touching raw meat. I decided I needed to wear plastic gloves to do it and that helped a lot. The fact that my husband is willing to do clean up is another factor that has helped a great deal over the years.

this is relevant to my interests - Fleurp

Getting Em on raw was easy initially. Her insulin need dropped to almost nothing. Sadly, it was about this time that she started developing cancer and she decided she wanted nothing to do with the raw, I speculate that was because she associated the new food with the discomfort that was taking up residence within her.

I was beyond lucky/blessed/super skilled at getting everyone else on it. I offered them ground raw chicken, which they all said was super awesome, so I said, "okay, this is your new food" switching it with the raw food we had made and they ate it. I suspect it had a lot to do with the fact that they were all fosters and had grown up eating a wide variety of foods due to eating whatever was donated to the shelter. (this is why I recommended feeding kittens anything and everything while they are young)

Additional benefits: My cats eat less food on raw.. 2-3 oz per meal vs the 4-6 they used to of conventional food. Their stools are also much smaller and drier and barely smell - unless you collect them and cut them up for research.. then you smell them just fine

Eli and Jack went years without another incident of crystals. Each has had flair ups over the years when stressed (or when Jack broke into bags of dry food I brought into the house for foster kittens). I can't imagine what they would have gone through if I had kept them on regular food.

Skippy, the only kitty we adopted since converting to raw, is in amazing health. He has never needed a dental and his teeth are still very clean - granted he is only five, but a lot of cats start with dentals before this point. Fleurp was mostly raw raised and except for her annual spring anemia (goodness, I wish I knew what causes that) she is in good health as well.  Time will tell if this holds up, but from what I have read and learned, I am guessing it will.

I wonder what happened to Kit and why her cancer popped up so quickly and I have my theory, which I'll probably touch upon when and if I do a year in review post. I know perfect nutrition (and I'm not saying my diet choices for my cats are perfect) isn't a full and complete preventative to disease, so I imagine I'll be facing more difficult situations as the years progress.. but giving them the most highly digestible and least inappropriate diet I can is the least I can do to help mitigate whatever I can.


So, TL/DR, Why do I feed raw? It 'cures' diabetes, It 'cures' urinary crystals, I know what is in it. I know how highly digestible it is because of size and smell of my cat's stool.

28 comments:

  1. My mother was on 10 units of insulin once a day, and she was about 160 pounds. I think a lot of vets when they don't have the answers don't want to question another vet's treatment plan. Yeah, sometimes it is extra work to check the correct dosage, but that's what I'm paying for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the number of vets that don't even give you the long option is actually stunning. They refuse to talk about home testing when it comes to diabetic cats 'because most people won't do it' they rely too heavily on convenia (the long lasting antibiotic shot) because most people don't care and don't want to give their cats pills, so they stop even offering conventional treatments..

      they give cliff notes, and cats suffer. It's sad.

      Delete
  2. My human has been feeding Boodie and I commercial raw for dinners for as long as I can remember. Binga's kidneys aren't doing so well, so she gets a premium, lower protein, higher fat grain-free canned food (with no carrageenan). It works for us, although I kind of wish my human were a little more industrious and made the food herself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One thing I forgot to add, is it takes us about two hours a month including going out to the store to get the ingredients - even for eight cats, although I am not sure each batch lasted us a full month back then. Now with only six cats I'm certain it is longer than a month.

      Delete
  3. I give you big props for making your own raw and feeding it to your cats. I wish I had the time and the patience to do so. I have tried to feed mine commercially raw food, but a couple of them just won't touch it. I know it takes time and patience, neither of which I have a lot of. So I give in and continue to feed them canned food. The most I've been able to do is feed Ernie the freeze-dried raw mixed with some canned. He's the only one that has taken to raw. ~Island Cat Mom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are premade mixes that you can mix into raw meat to make them balanced and complete.

      Delete
  4. love your commitment and willingness to share this. it is certainly something mom thinks about but just hasn't done. she knows even switching us to canned would make a difference but right now has to pick her battle with certain things

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a firm believer in you do what you can with what you have..

      Delete
  5. I give you a lot of credit for making food for six cats. It's a great thing to do.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm impressed. I know that this way of feeding has many passionate devotees and I can see why. I'm just afraid I will screw it up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. meat, liver, eggs, less than half a dozen supplements.. it's pretty simple :)

      Delete
  7. I think, in Florida, it would be far too expensive to feed my cats real food. As it is, only one, the new kitten, eats raw chicken. I've tried it on the others and they want nothing to do with it. Professor Fuzzywinkle is a true Southern boy. He likes his chicken fried, not raw. And then, 1 pack of chicken like you have is $20.00 here. Free range eggs do not exists in our stores and there sure aren't any farmers left anywhere. It would cost more to feel them than it would to feed the humans.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. wow, $20 for five pounds of chicken thighs? goodness that is expensive we pay $1 to $1.50 per pound.

      Delete
  8. My goal is to go raw. The Hubby, being an ex-meat cutter, is 100,000% against! Our regular vet is against it, but the holistic vet loves it. Someday, I want to change our 2nd kitchen (from when the house was a duplex) into my 'cat kitchen', where I could prepare raw and/or home-cooked food, and it would not infiltrate the human kitchen. This may have to wait until I retire, see note about The Hubby above.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. an ex-meat cutter against raw does give you pause, but considering the fact that cats are designed to eat their food raw, being obligate carnivores that get all of their nutrition from their prey and no plant matter (completely lacking the digestive enzymes to extract nutrients from plants) and so their whole body is designed around that including a shortened and highly acidic digestive tract - and the fact that people have been feeding commercial frankenprey (cobbled together raw meals) for years and it hasn't been deemed an issue, I'm still okay with it, but I get it if it is too much to get past :)

      Delete
  9. I always enjoy reading your raw posts (not least because of the cat pictures) - and this made me literally LOL: "unless you collect them and cut them up for research.. then you smell them just fine"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) I still very vividly remember cutting open poop and saying "but my cat's poop isn't supposed to stink!!" since you can't smell it when it is in the box nor when they push it out right in front of you.

      Delete
  10. TW is with you on hating to touch raw meat although she does it for her and Pop. She still doesn't have an answer on feeding me raw since I'm a biter although she offered me a piece of the raw chicken she was preparing for them and I turned it down. I'm glad you explained a little about raw eggs because I keep seeing them on lists of toxic foods for cats. Since I know you put it in your food, I keep asking those who post the list why it's on there. They have no answer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. there is so much dogma out there, people repeating things they have heard, that the truth of it is lost. When I hear things like that I do my best to figure out where the truth is before I repeat it.. (much like lysine "boosts immunity' which it totally doesn't)

      Delete
    2. On Catinfo.org, Dr. Pierson does suggest lightly cooking the egg whites (or whole egg) if you're concerned about salmonella contamination. She also recommends not using eggs if your cat has food allergies, which I found interesting. We've had to eliminate fish and chicken from Raven's diet because of allergies (we feed canned).

      Delete
  11. Not a topic I know anything about but I did come and read that has to count for something

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. any time you spend here is totally appreciated :)

      Delete
  12. wow you sure go to a lot of trouble for your kitties! Good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What an interesting post! I know nothing about raw foods for pets but the evidence is astounding. Our Sam had urinarycrystals too. Thanks for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Interesting. I don't know how to introduce this to the kitties.

    Emma and Buster

    ReplyDelete
  15. Do you supplement the food with taurine? When I mentioned this to my hubby (who does the feedings), he was concerned about this. Seems his brother had reared a hawk (years and years ago) and had had to supplement its diet with taurine. Does supermarket chicken have enough taurine? (Yes, I know those chickens are factory-farmed, but that's what I'd be buying if I were to ever try raw food for the cats.)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Raven loves chicken, but we suspect it's one of her allergens. I looked for rabbit in the grocery store the other day (the Whole "Paycheck" store) but couldn't find any. She eats a canned food with rabbit and I wanted to see if she'll eat just the meat (but cooked).

    ReplyDelete

All spam will be fed to the kittens

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...