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Introduction to Raw Feeding

Let me start off by referring you to a very helpful Raw Group on Facebook "Cats, Completely Raw and Proud (CRAP)". They have been invaluable in helping me convert to a raw program. Link to CRAP


Importance of Raw


Copied from CRAP; Written by Louise Balmforth:

Raw Feeding Introduction


First of all let me say I have cats, there are some differences between feeding cats and dogs but not many. Unlike dogs cats are obligate carnivores so their dietary needs are more specific, this also means there is some produce which although fed to dogs can be toxic to cats – garlic springs to mind – so be careful what you feed to a cat, just because it is fed to a dog does not mean it is ok for a cat.


Any raw food for a cat is perfectly good for a dog, but the reverse may not be completely true. This document is geared towards cat food but everything in it is equally relevant to dog food, most cat people lean toward preparing food with all the ingredients needed in each meal, many dog people tend to feed the ingredients as separate meals (bone meal, meat meal, organ meal) but fundamentally we do the same thing


Anyway, I hope you took the time to grab a few beers out the fridge because this might be a long one…



So you are thinking about raw feeding and no doubt have loads of questions and your head is filled with conflicting advice, people saying raw feeding is bad for your pet, going to kill them, they are going to end up with deficiencies, then you will have likely heard lots of reports of a raw diet being the best thing you can feed and stories of miracle cures simply by switching to a raw diet.


Most of us went through this, many of us started out with a raw diet adding lots of  minerals and vitamins, maybe even starting out with specially prepared commercial raw foods, but most of us ended up abandoning all that and now just feed raw meat, bones and organs. So to save you the hassle of finding out the hard way I will try to cover some of the most common misconceptions and tell you what I feed my cats and why.


The first thing you should be aware of is that the pet food manufacturing industry exists to convert inedible waste from the human food industry into hard cash. They are extremely good at this and the pet food industry is worth BILLIONS of dollars. The first and greatest misconception many people have is that the pet food industry cares about your pet and what you put in it, THEY DO NOT, they care about maximising profit end of story.


The second greatest misconception is that your vet knows what food is good for your pet and wants you to feed it the best possible food. THEY DO NOT. They get their nutrition training provided by the pet food manufacturers (conflict of interest), this training is provided to vets as part of their advertising budget (5% of $BILLIONS), in return the vets try to push the commercial foods on you – Hills Science Plan is one of the worst pet foods on the planet, yet it is sold at more vet offices than any other! Why is this you may wonder, well the simple truth is they provide the vets training AND the vet gets a nice kick back for pushing the shite your way.


But surely your vet would not want you to feed something that is not good for your pet, surely they wouldn’t want your pet to have health problems, they are there to help your pet! Well, lets see, if you have a pet that never gets sick how much money does the vet make? Now if your pet ends up with food intolerance due to being fed garbage protein sources, ends up diagnosed with IBS, has to have a “Prescription” food – Now how much money does the vet make from you and from the pet food manufacturers kick backs?


You may not believe it, many of us didn’t at one point or other, but make no mistake this IS the truth of the matter! Money makes the world go round, and every business out there exists solely to part you from your money – that goes for pet food manufacturers AND your vet.


So now we know who NOT to ask about diet (Vets and pet food manufacturers) who can you ask, or should you ask.. Well, the people in this group are a good start, we are feeding raw, we have seen the effects with our own eyes, we have the experience, and most importantly we stand to gain absolutely nothing at all from telling you the best way to feed your pet other than the satisfaction of you coming back in a month or two and telling us how much healthier your pet is and how glad you were that you finally decided to do the RIGHT thing for him/ her.


Before you go any further let me also make one thing very clear, this document is not the be all and end all of raw feeding, this is one way to do it but there are many more, this document does not have all the answers either so do not be at all frightened to ask questions in the group – That is what the group is there for, to help you and to share experience.


Ok how do we go about raw feeding?


Well there are several raw feeding groups, some really large raw feeding groups, and most of them will tell you what to feed in percentages. The most common being 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% organs. Despite these other groups having thousands of members claiming this is what you should feed, let me tell you they are completely and absolutely wrong (I have been kicked out of some of these groups for even suggesting this is wrong) yet there is a very simple way to prove this..


If you feed mice, then roughly what you are feeding is 85:5:10. Now for a cat (and actually a dog) this would be a perfectly acceptable food source, wolves are known to eat mice and in fact can survive on a diet of mice quite well.


Now if you feed whole chickens which would also be an acceptable food for a carnivore, you would be feeding about 70% meat, 20% bone and 10% organs.


Now here is the quandary, if we are supposed to be feeding 80:10:10 then the mice only have half the required bone? And the chicken has twice as much bone as it should have, so how can this be right if both are actually perfectly acceptable food sources?


Well nature has a way of making things balance, mice and chickens have very different amounts of bone but the chemical makeup of the bones is very different, the quantity of bone and meat IS NOT the important issue it is the calcium and phosphorous they contain that is important. It just so happens that irrespective of the quantity of bone in an animal its calcium to phosphorus ratio is nearly always within the acceptable range for a carnivore to eat.


So instead of thinking along the lines of percentages all we need to do is think along the lines of a whole animal and create that from our bits and pieces – frankenprey.


If you are using a part of the prey animal that is particularly high in bone content, like chicken backs for example, then you need to add more meat to compensate. If you are using a cut that is very low in bone content such as chicken breast then you need to add more bone. What you are aiming for is the amount of meat and bone that you would find in the whole animal.


This balancing act does not have to be done for every meal, nutritional deficiencies/ overdoses do not occur in the short term, they are long term issues which happen over weeks, months or even years. So feeding chicken backs for a month is not going to kill your cat/dog, providing you then feed something more meaty for a month. Likewise not feeding organs for a month is not going to kill your pet if you then feed more organs than needed for a while. Over time what you are feeding should approximate a whole prey animal.


The next big issue is additives and what extra vitamins and minerals you need..


The simple answer is none, nothing, zip, not a single one.


The long answer is..


Take a look at pretty much any commercial pet food package and you will likely find a list of added vitamins and minerals as long as your arm, each and every one of them is absolutely required and you are going to run into BIG problems if they are missing.


The reason all these things have to be added is because (a) the raw ingredients which go into the commercial slop is about as nutritionally adequate as an old pair of work boots and (b) The majority of any vitamins, amino acids and minerals which ARE present in the rotting festering crap they use is near completely destroyed by the heat treatment the slop HAS to go through to kill the bacteria which is munching its way through the stinking pile of offal.


Now I could be wrong but I would hazard a guess that there is not a single raw feeder out there that heat treats their food, mainly because a more common word for heat treatment is cooking and if you cook it then it is hardly likely you could class it as raw!


So all the goodness in the meat, bones and organs remains. All the vitamins, all the amino acids, all the protein, everything is already in there (it has to be otherwise the prey animal would be dead from vitamin deficiencies – is that not common sense?) so you don’t need to add jack to your raw food, it is just fine as it is.


Then you will get some bright spark chirp in with “Yes, but you are not feeding the whole animal, you are not feeding the head and so you are missing the nutrients that are found in the brain” blah di blah di blah.


Well it is not entirely as simple as that, yes some organs contain more of a particular vitamin/ mineral than others, but nearly everything is present in nearly all parts to some degree, the micro nutrients are required in extremely small amounts, and the pet is able to extract and store them. So although they may be concentrated in the brain or other extremely small part of the anatomy (have you seen the size of a chicken brain compared to its body?) they are also present elsewhere and can be extracted and stored up.


There are things that are required in greater quantities, but these are all found in sufficient amounts in meat, bone & liver. So as a minimum these are the three things you need to feed, the more you add to that list the better it gets but those three items would suffice. Once you start raw feeding and see the improvements in your pets health you will become addicted to it, you WILL want to add other things, it will not be a chore to do so it will be a pleasure because you know you are doing the best you possibly can for your pet.


Now many people just cannot accept this advice to start with, I was one of them, and you may just not feel comfortable feeding just raw meat, bone and organs. You may have to add other nutrients for peace of mind, and if that’s what it takes to get you to feed raw then by all means go ahead and do it. There are several supplements available which you can use and one I have which I use once in a while (because I bought shit loads of it and now feel I have to use it because I paid for it) is Kitty Bloom, ¼ teaspoon of this per cat per day provides pretty much every vitamin and such like the cat needs.


There are also supplements you can add to just meat such as Instincts TC+, or add to meat + organs such as Felini Complete. These may make the process a little easier, but they will make it a whole lot more expensive than just feeding raw meat, bones and organs ;)


Ok so what kind of meat etc can you feed..


Any! Chicken, turkey, quail, rabbit, guinea pig, cows, pigs, sheep, deer, zebra, giraffe, rhinoceros.. Some of these may be a bit harder to get in your location – chicken for example – but whatever you can get is good.


Organs include things such as liver, kidney, spleen, brain, eyes.. Liver is the most important of these, you should aim for at least half the organ meat you feed being liver.


Heart is also very good, it is very high in taurine which is essential for cats and there is increasing evidence that it is also very important for dogs. Heart is NOT fed as part of the organ portion, heart is a muscle and therefore MEAT.


Stomach (tripe), gizzard, intestine is also fed as meat, these are all basically muscles rather than excreting organs.


Lungs.. Well the jury is still out on that one. The general consensus is that lungs should be fed as meat not organs, I agree with the consensus and feed lungs as part of the meat allowance.


In most prey animals there is roughly 10% organs, so you should aim in that ball park, you do not need to go out an buy a set of precision scales accurate to a thousandth of an oz, just roughly 10%, if you make up 10lb of food then about 1lb of it should be organs – not hard is it. Or if you want to feed organs as a separate meal, then about 1 meal in 10 should be an organ meal, that’s not hard either is it ;)


Armed with the above knowledge this is how I feed my furkids...


I have four cats, I prepare their food in advance by making a batch to feed them for two weeks and freeze it in meal sized portions. I choose to make each batch with everything needed, meat, bone, organs, rather than feeding these as separate meals – I find it is easier to work this way and my cats will eat the small amounts of organ at each meal but I think would refuse to eat a meal made up of just organ meat.


My basic recipe for a 2 week supply is as follows..


2 x 2kg (4.4lb) oven ready chickens

800g (28oz) of sheep/ ox/ pig heart

400g (14oz) of organ meat (200g min liver, and the rest kidney/ spleen as available)

6 eggs if I have them (whole eggs, none of this only feed the yolk nonsense)

A splash of salmon oil or large tin of oily fish such as pilchards (if I remember, not essential but it is quite good for them)


This is the base recipe, but depending on what I have in the fridge I will fiddle with this. If I have a good sized pork joint in the fridge I might add some of that instead of some of the heart, If I have a couple of steaks and I am feeling generous I will toss in a steak, likewise lamb chops. It is not set in stone and a variation is better than a completely fixed rigid diet anyway, for one thing it gives the cats something a bit different to taste ;)


I also feed them day old chicks and other whole prey, but that’s another story :)


I will also throw them the odd scraps of raw meat when I am preparing my own food just to stop them pestering me.


The heart I add for two reasons, the chicken needs extra meat because the stomach, gizzard, intestine, lungs etc are all missing and are meat, the second being that taurine is extremely important for cats and heart is THE best source of taurine.


The liver is a particularly good source of needed vitamins. Likewise kidney and spleen.


Eggs are another good source of protein and they are also very rich in many vitamins, also, think about it, every other bird you cat eats will be a female – and likely to have eggs in them ;)


I prepare the food by first hacking the chickens to bits, I lop the legs and wings off with a knife, cut out the back with a pair of kitchen shears and cut the rest into chunks about 1” in size complete with bone. The legs I hack off most of the meat and again cut into chunks. The wings I cut in half and the smaller half goes in with the chunks.


The chunks are thrown in a bucket, the back bone I chop into thinner slices so it is easier to chomp. The leg bones and larger half of the wings I leave whole and let them chomp what they can and any that is left I throw away, the legs and large wing bones are too tough for some cats so they may only chew off the soft ends which is fine.


A quick mention of grinding/ mincing.. Most of us do it at the start, most of us realise after spending entirely too much money on a grinder that it is completely unnecessary. Cats are designed to eat whole bone, obviously you don't get many mice running about with ground bones, so whole raw bone is perfectly OK as long as it is of the correct size and type. Chicken legs and larger wing bones are not really edible bone, they are quite tough and many cats won't manage them but almost all of the rest of the bone in a chicken is edible and even kittens will manage it.


There is good reason to feed whole bone and chunks of meat, it helps clean teeth and it also causes an increase in stomach acidity to help digest the meal and kill bacteria. That being said ground raw is still a massive leap forward compared to kibble and cans. Hard though it may be to accept it in the beginning your cat has evolved to eat whole animals so bone in chunks are not a problem for him at all it just a problem for you to accept.


The heart I also chop into chunks, a bit smaller than the chicken, maybe half inch. The liver and kidney I chop even smaller, about ¼ inch bits (tip, partially freeze the organs before chopping, makes it MUCH easier to deal with)


Everything I have prepared so far goes in the bucket.


Now I put the eggs and a splash of salmon oil in a jug and whisk them to break up the yolks, add about a litre (2 US pints) of water and whisk again, then add to the bucket. I add another 2 litres of water then stir it up to mix everything thoroughly.


And that’s it, portion up into plastic containers and chuck it in the freezer. Total time taken is about 30 to 40 minutes including washing everything up afterwards. So roughly 5 minutes per cat per week, not exactly a great physical outlay on my part is it ;)


I should point out that the large amount of water I add is because cats are obligate carnivores, they do not have the same thirst mechanism as a dog and are designed to get pretty much all their water from their food, if they are fed something with not enough water (doom nuggets) they do not automatically drink enough water to compensate and this results in concentrated urine. Cats (especially males) are prone to urinary blockages caused by crystals forming in the concentrated urine so by adding water to the food I ensure they get more than enough fluid flushing through their urinary system.


That’s it, quick, easy and the most healthy diet you can offer your cat.

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