Feline Food Freedom

I’m not sure I have mentioned it here on my blog before, but we have been feeding raw food to our cats since 2006 and have been exclusively raw feeding since 2008.

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I knew cats are obligate carnivores and it was actually after listening to those who feed raw to their cats and dogs and reading a book called Your Cat by Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM, Esq that I began to look at commercial cat food very differently. Reading the ingredients left me somewhat baffled. Why would obligate carnivores who have limited enzymes for digesting carbs be fed foods with a measly 40% meat content? In the wild cats don’t thrive on cereals. And why did my cat’s food contain ash?

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If the best diet nature intended for a domestic cat in the wild was small rodents and birds and occasional larger animals if they had the opportunity. So why were we feeding them foods with wheat and rice in them, which incidentally costs more than buying raw human grade chicken? With these questions buzzing around my head and further reading and much encouragement from a vet who thought outside the box, I stopped buying commercial cat food.

Even my kittens were weaned onto raw chicken, and they took to it well, they didn’t think it was kitty litter like they did with dry cat food. The staple diet for my adult cats is chicken wings with the skin on twice daily. This includes the bone. Touch wood in the 5 years my cats and kittens have been eating raw chicken on the bone I have not had any gastric issues. No food poisoning, no sensitive tummies, no runs and no bones lodged where they shouldn’t be. I have had no dietary deficiencies or illness noted in my cats and it’s always remarked how shiny and soft their coats are, if we can get them to stand still.

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Gretel topping up her weaning kittens in 2011, Gretel herself was raised and is still fed raw food.

I would never recommend to anyone to embark on feeding raw food to their pet without research. It is important to know what cats require out of their diets, for example they need the amino acid taurine but can make their own vitamin C, so don’t require fresh fruit and vegetables. Taurine is found in offal and bones, I like to feed offal to my cats once every 10 days on top of the staple chicken diet. I buy my raw chicken and offal from halal butchers in bulk (bulk=3 days here-we don’t have the room to store anymore) so their food comes from the same source as our own food. We did experiment with frozen day old chicks from a farm that was DEFRA approved and supplied many cat owners of various breeds as well as zoos and those who enjoy falconry, however I found as much as they enjoyed the chicks it just didn’t meet the nutritional content of chicken. Feeding chicks is the cheapest of all diets but I think they are more of a snack than a hearty meal.

My cats used to particularly enjoy chicken livers and hearts and lamb hearts, but after being on raw chicken for so long some find it too rich and wait for their standard chicken fare, others cannot get enough. I put it down to different tastes; a narrow taste bud isn’t no taste bud after all! I also occasionally serve fish, again some can’t get enough and others hate it. I don’t serve raw fish and avoid giving my cats oily fish, which can leech vitamin E out of their system. This can be avoided by supplementing with wheatgerm oil but this goes against my holistic raw feeding policy. Cooked cod goes down a treat!

Feeding my cats on the raw diet we implement here makes scientific sense and in these times of austerity financial sense too. Chicken wings around £2/kg, containing 100% free range chicken is better than boxes of pouches which cost £4/12 sachets. A box of twelve sachets costing twice a kilogram of chicken wings and having only a fraction of the nutritional value of raw chicken. I am pleased to say I am not alone in my raw feeding and in all honesty I was rather late to the party as many conscientious cat owners had considered their cat diets years ago and gave the rest of us information, support and advice. This is my way of paying it forward.

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Victory at 10 weeks polishing off some chicken offal

6 thoughts on “Feline Food Freedom

  1. That’s an interesting post. I have tried giving Pusia some raw food and then tried cooking a chicken breast or some minced beef for her very gently but I’m afraid she turns her nose up at it. I conclude that she either doesn’t recognise it as food or it’s not to her taste. Her previous humans only ever fed her dry Whiskas and she had precious little chance of catching mice. Here, on the farm, she is thriving and catches 4 or five mice a day which she consumes in their entirety only occasionally leaving the head. My understanding is that she gains plant nutrition from their stomachs. She is, of course, wormed regularly. I’d love you to go into a bit more detail of the specifics of a structured raw food diet for a cat and how to introduce it.

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    • I look at cat food habits like I would look at food habits in children; a lot of what they will or will not eat is dependent on what they have been fed before. Cats are creatures of habit and if they have always been fed startchy dry food it may take some creative ideas to wean them off. Elizabeth M Hodgkins in her book Your Cat, likens dry cat food to the cereal Frosties. It’s sugary and if you feed kids 3 bowls of Frosties a day they won’t want to eat a less carb loaded cereal. Changing or introducing anything new in your cats diet has to be done gently. Nugget, Tinky, And some of the other cats I bought from on their breeders were not fed a raw diet and they looked at me as if I was crazy the first time I put a chicken wing in front of them but we worked through their initial shock and they eat raw exclusively. It’s great Prusia gets what she needs from the mice she catches and tops up with dry food, but if you reduced the dry food down you’ll find she won’t leave anything of the mice.

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      • It’s an interesting theory that she won’t leave any of the mouse bits if I don’t have dry food. I must admit there are two reasons I have the dry food for her. Both of them may be myths: firstly, I like the fact that the dry food has (allegedly) teeth cleaning properties; secondly, it’s a useful source of food for Pusia if I’m ever kept out later, as I frequently am. Having said that, I now know that she’s a resourceful little cat and she will independently go and get a snack at McMouse’s if she’s ever hungry and home alone!

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      • Teeth need more cleaning when they are being plied with sugary substances. When Pusia eats her mice she crutches and eats their bones too and that in itself helps with oral hygiene. If Prusia is prone to dental issues, like Nugget is, I use an enzymatic toothpaste daily and the vet looks at his teeth twice a year. We’ve not actually had his teeth cleaned under an anaesthetic since changing to raw, out theory is crunching bones has dental benefits. Also I had to laugh when a vet said to me where do cats go for dental care in the wild? Their diet provides a mechanism to take care of their teeth.

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      • Yes! That’s very true and very reassuring. I’m sure cats would be a lot better off managing their own dietary requirements and dental hygiene! We have about eight feral cats on the farm and from what I can see they’re mostly healthy and have good teeth.

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      • Nugget had dental issues before we went to completely raw and needed cleaning under GA twice. The wet food and the shape of his mouth were both jointly responsible.

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