I’m always working to make sure I’m eating as healthy as I can (without depriving myself of pizza), but I never really gave much thought about what I was feeding my cat. I mean sure I tried to buy the healthiest looking food, but I didn’t put the kind of effort into it that I put into feeding myself. Then I saw Jenna’s blog, Meow Lifestyle, and realized that I could be doing a lot better for my cat than the dry food I’d been feeding him. So I asked her to write this guest post about clean eating for your cat so I could share this new knowledge with all of you!
We all love our cats and want the best for them. But shopping for cat food makes it difficult to know what the best is.
How much money you spend on your cat’s food does not reflect how much you love them. I am not here to judge or lecture anyone on what you feed your cat. I fed my previous cats dry food their whole lives because I didn’t know anything else and at the time I didn’t have the curiosity to question what I was feeding. But I loved my previous cats just as much as I love my current cats which I feed a homemade raw diet. It’s just that I have more knowledge now and once you are aware its hard not to do the best you can for your cat.
We all have to do the best we can from where we are in our life. I, myself, am vegetarian and try to eat as clean as I can. Our cats depend on us to give them a balanced diet that nourishes their biological needs. It wasn’t until I really started to pay attention to the foods I was eating that I started to get curious about what I was feeding my cats.
Why feed cats a raw food diet?
Cats are obligate carnivores which means they need to eat 100% meat. They have zero need for grains, fruits or vegetables. All types of cats, big and small, eat raw meat. Domestic cats naturally would eat raw mice, small rabbits, rodents and birds. They do not cook their meat. These prey animals contain about 70% water. Cats do not have a strong thirst drive and are not good about drinking water. Most, if not all of their water intake should come from their food. A raw food diet is therefore the most species appropriate diet.
What’s wrong with feeding dry food to cats?
- water content way too low
- carbohydrates are too high
- the protein is often plant-based and not high enough animal based protein
- the food is heavily processed with many unnecessary additives
Basically a dry fed cat is in a consistent state of dehydration and it is believed that many health issues that affect cats are caused by a dry diet such as: obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, food allergies, IBD, crystals and organ failure.
While commercial wet food is of course much better than dry food, there are still some concerns with wet food. Including: use of grains, fruits and vegetables, over-processed, and low protein. However wet food is a great step to transition cats from a dry food diet to a raw food diet.
The three main methods for raw feeding…
All 3 methods follow the same 80/10/5/5 rule – that’s 80% meat, fat, skin, sinew, connective tissue and heart, 5%-10% edible bone, 3%-5% liver, and 5% other secreting organs.
Whole Prey Raw Food Diet – this most naturally resembles a cat’s true diet in the wild. Give your cat whole mice, birds, chicks, and that’s it. It is agreed that this is the easiest, most natural and beneficial diet. However it can be emotionally difficult for the person to store frozen little animals in their kitchen and then watch their cat eat pieces of them. This can also be a bit messy and cats should be confined to a small area so they do not play with their food all over your house. Kittens are the easiest to adapt to this diet. It can be very difficult for an older cat to accept this and learn to chew on bones. For the above reasons (I admit mostly for my own comfort) this just wasn’t an option for me.
Frankenprey Raw Food Diet – a variety of animal parts (bone, muscle, organs, tissue) are measured over a period of time (usually a week) For example in the morning you may give chicken hearts with a small chicken wing, for lunch a drumstick and some liver, etc. The exact proportions are not equal at each meal but over the course of a week they should be 80/10/5/5. This has many benefits as the cat has the opportunity to work for its meal and chew on bone which is great for its teeth. However it is possible that cats will refuse to chew bones and certain parts they just won’t eat. Again this is much easier with kittens and younger cats. While you don’t have to go through the whole food making process that you do with the grinding method, you have to buy different meat sources multiple times a week and keep a detailed daily and weekly record of what you are feeding.
Ground Raw Food Diet –The meat, bones, organs are all ground up and then mixed in a mixture of water, egg yolks and essential vitamins. The final mixture can then be put into small containers and frozen. Each day you can remove one container to the refrigerator to defrost then use.
This is my chosen method because I like the convenience of making the food ahead of time and having it available in the freezer. I use a small inexpensive manual grinder which works perfectly. This is also the easiest to transition cats onto. And for an almost-vegetarian like myself it is the easiest for me to deal with. I can make a batch of food to last one month in under 2 hours and that is with clean up. My cats eat their food neatly on his plate and there is very little to pick up after, really the same as wet food. You can see my entire food making process here.
What to expect when feeding a raw food diet…
• Drastically less hairballs
• Poop is dry, hard and almost odorless (it’s quite shockingly different)
• Beautiful shiny coat
• Cats drink little or no water (because they get enough water from the food)
• Higher energy
• Health Benefits include prevention and reduced internal diseases
The goal is to feed a high quality food once you know or can afford to do so. We want to provide the best we can for our cats and feed them food that will nurture and heal rather than harm them. I am so happy with this diet and the benefits are well worth the effort.
If this seems like too much work there are commercial raw foods available now online and in pet stores. However these are usually much more expensive than preparing your own. Making it at home also gives you complete control over what your cats are eating. I make my own balanced raw food diet at home and it costs me about $35 a month for one cat. Which is an incredible value for the quality of food I know I’m feeding.