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
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.