Introduction: Make Raw Cat Food
GATHER THE FOLLOWING PRIOR TO MAKING
- 2 kg [4.4 pounds] raw muscle meat with bones (chicken necks are mostly cartilage, are easy to chop and easy for the cat to digest) thighs and drumsticks or, better, a whole carcass of rabbit or chicken amounting to 2 kg; if you don't use a whole carcass, opt for dark meat like thighs and drumsticks from chicken or turkey)
- 400 grams [14 oz] raw heart, ideally from the same animal (if no heart is available, substitute with 4000 mg Taurine)
- 200 grams [7 oz] raw liver, ideally from the same animal (if you can't find appropriate liver, you can substitute 40,000 IU of Vitamin A and 1600 IU of Vitamin D--but try to use real liver instead of substitutes).
- 16 oz [2 cups] water
- 4 raw egg yolks (use eggs from free-range, antibiotic-free chickens if you can)
- 4 capsules raw glandular supplement (such as, for example, "Raw Multiple Glandular" from Premier Labs)
- 4000 mg salmon oil
- 200 mg Vitamin B complex
- 800 IU Vitamin E ("dry E" works well) Buy Vitamin E in dry powder form. It's much easier to deal with than those little oil-filled capsules.
- OPTIONAL: 4 teaspoons psyllium husk powder (8 teaspoons if using whole psyllium husks)
- Use a needle to pierce or small scissors to open the salmon oil capsules .
- Sharp knives. Dull knives make the whole process last too long and can be more dangerous to use than sharp ones.
- Poultry shears or a good tough pair of kitchen scissors can sometimes be easier than a knife for cutting and chunking the meats.
- An egg separator can make things a little easier and faster too.
Step 1: Take Out the Grinder
Get out the Grinder
Step 2: Assemble the Supplements
Assemble the supplements. Keep all your supplements together in one place in the kitchen, so you can easily find everything as needed. Cut up the carcass (if using chicken, remove as much skin as possible).
Step 3: Cut Up the Meat and Grind
Separate muscle meat from the carcass to be cut into chunks by hand (or ground using an extra-large grinding plate) from meaty bones to be ground. Put them in two different piles.
Cut the muscle meat into several chunks by hand. This is to give your cat something to chew on and get some good tooth and gum exercise.
Step 4: Weigh the Organ Meats
Weigh the correct amount of organ meats.
Put all the meat and organs in the refrigerator until you mix up the rest of the ingredients.
Step 5: Separate Eggs and Whisk
Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the mix of dry ingredients and water. Mix all together, adding the psyllium (if you're using it) last.
Whisk together the "supplement slurry." The strange bright-yellowish color comes from the B-complex and egg yolk. This mixture contains water, fresh egg yolk, salmon oil, a wee bit of kelp, a teensy bit of dulse, a glandular supplement, Vitamin E, psyllium, and B-complex. You can also add some Taurine supplement to make up for possible lost Taurine in the meat and organ from freezing.
Step 6: Take From Refrigerator and Grind
Take the meaty bones and organ meats out of the refrigerator and grind.
Add the hand-chunked meat to the ground mixture and stir well, distributing evenly.
Add the "supplement slurry" to that and mix again.
Step 7: Spoon Into Containers
Spoon the finished cat food into containers. Store the prepared food in manageable containers, like freezer baggies or one-cup plastic freezer containers. Wide-mouth Ball Mason glass freezer jars keep the food fresh longer. (Be certain to buy the "can-or-freeze" jars--not the plain canning jars.) Do not overfill. Leave at least a 1/2 inch gap or more at the top, because the food expands when frozen and you don't want the lids popping off.
Label the containers--with the type of meat and the date--and freeze.
Remove the food from the freezer during mealtime. Warm the food in a baggie. Do not serve the food cold straight from the refrigerator. Some cats will vomit raw food it if is very cold when it hits their stomach. Buy some cheap plastic snack-size zipper baggies, portion the food into them, and run it under hot water unti it has been warmed to at least room temperature or slightly higher. Don't use the microwave--see the Warnings in the next step.
Step 8: Suggested Tips to Follow
- The amount of time making cat food depends on how fast you are. If the family chips in to help make it, you might be able to make a batch for two cats in 30 or 40 minutes (including clean up time).
- A bit of variety is helpful in keeping house cats interested in their food. Good options include: rabbit, chicken, Cornish Game Hen, turkey, and guinea fowl. Some cats also love beef and lamb, but not all cats that have been eating commercial food for a long time digest beef or lamb easily at first.
- The most important thing to get right is the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, which is most easily achieved by feeding whole carcasses.
- If your cat turns up her nose at the stuff, try not to fret too much. Do not give up. Just start sneaking teeny amounts into canned food and increase the amount slowly. Some cats, especially older ones, are especially serious, dedicated, and stubborn kibble addicts. Do not give in! Do whatever it takes to get the cat eating the great new food. Sprinkle ground up kibble on top if you must, but persist.
- There is no need to change the diet if you are feeding a kitten or an older cat. There is no such thing as special life stage food for cats in the wild, like those you see on the shelves of many pet food superstores. A kitten will need definitely need more raw food and more frequent feedings, but not a different food. A senior cat that is not t too active might need less food. But they all can thrive on good, healthy, fresh raw food.
Step 9: Warnings to Read Carefully
- An all-meat diet can quickly become frightfully unbalanced. Unless you understand feline nutrition, it is imperative that you follow the recipe without alteration or substitution. Many of us frequently prepare foods for ourselves and skip an ingredient we don't have on hand. You cannot do this in a proper feline diet. If you do not have all of the ingredients or cannot obtain all of the ingredients, don't try this. Nutritional deficiencies are much easier to cause than cure.
- Don't microwave this food. This is especially true if you've used bones in your recipe. Cooked bones splinter and can be very dangerous to a cat. Raw bones are soft and are easily digested by a cat. Just warm it under warm water in a baggie
- Never risk feeding food that is slightly "off" or spoiled. Chances are your cat won't touch it in that condition, but to be safe, work out a thawing routine whereby the food you're about to serve is still just ever-so-slightly frozen. It's easy enough to complete the thawing quickly by running the food in a baggie under warm water to take off the chill, and this way you're assured that the food has not gone "bad" from being thawed for too long.
- Don't over-do the use of "bribe foods" on top of raw to get your cat eating the raw food. Lots of tuna juice, for example, is a big no-no, as the flavor is so powerful that your cat may refuse anything that isn't tuna flavored later on. But a sprinkle of their favorite old commercial food is fine.
- Some vitamins, are water-soluble, which means if you use more than the recommended amount, you're not putting your cat at risk for toxicity, as any over supply of water-soluble vitamins will be excreted. It's also possible to "over-dose" your cat on other vitamins. Some ingredients are a "polish" to the diet while others are not "supplements" at all, but are absolutely essential components that must be included in the ratios and amounts specified or you risk throwing your cat's diet dangerously off balance.
- Salmonella and e. coli infections are very real risks when feeding raw diets. If a cat develops one of these infections, the people in the household especially children are at risk as well. It is well known that raw eggs can be contaminated with salmonella, as can poultry.
- Intestinal parasites are also a concern; parasites can form cysts in the muscle tissue of livestock. Consider keeping your cat on parasite prevention available from your veterinarian.
- Raw meat carries a high risk of toxoplasmosis for your cat. Toxoplasmosis can be deadly for unborn babies, and may cause problems later in life, including schizophrenia. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, it is important not to switch to a raw meat diet as this can infect your cat and then infect you when you clean her litterbox.