Different Options for Feeding Raw to your Bengal Cat
We are excited that you've found your way to this page as it means you are interested in feeding raw food to your cat. As we have explained before, we believe raw food provides your cat with the best nutrients and fewest harmful ingredients. As obligate carnivores, cats only get nutritional values from meat, organs, and bone, so any other ingredients in cat food do not offer the cat any nutritional value.
Many people are nervous about feeding raw - which is entirely normal. The reality is that if you don't feed raw correctly, you can negatively impact your cat's health. Hopefully, this page will help you decide how involved you'd like to be in making your cat's food.
The easiest, yet expensive, way to feed raw is to purchase a raw cat food that is pre-made and already nutritionally balanced. This removes any of the worry about whether or not your cat is getting everything it needs. Do not buy a raw food that is made for dogs - or even ones that claim to be for cats and dogs. Cats and dogs have different nutritional needs, so the food for one is not properly balanced for the other.
We can recommend a few pre-made raw foods through experience. We feel Rad Cat Chicken or Turkey closely duplicates our homemade raw. We have found it to be interchangeable with our food with no side effects. Rad Cat is commonly available at high end Pet Stores, so it is an easy one to purchase from a brick and mortar store to have in your freezer when your kitten comes home. We have also purchased food from Reel Raw. We add their organ blend into our raw mix, so buying from Reel Raw would also be similar to our homemade food. Finally, we hear great feedback from others who buy from Darwin's Natural.
The Nutrition Code is a great website to help you evaluate the different pre-made raw foods.
Finding meat at the local grocery store is easy, but what is difficult with raw feeding is finding a variety of the right types of organs. The different organs of the different animals all provide cats with necessary nutrients which is why you can't bring your cat a boneless-skinless chicken breast home from the store, plop it in the bowl, and call it good. There are a variety of all-in-one cat supplements on the market. We used to use one and, in the past, had a brand we recommended. However, through our regular health screenings, we discovered our cats appeared to be deficient in their absorption of certain components of the supplement, so we stopped using an all-in-one supplement. At that time, UC Davis recommended that we use the all-in-one supplement Balance IT. We chose not to use this supplement because they do not have an option for people who grind bone into their mix. We want to have the bone in our mix. We do, however, have members of our kitty family who use Balance IT and are very happy with it. So if you are wanting an all-in-one supplement and will not be adding bone into your meat, we feel confident in relying on UC Davis's recommendation of Balance IT.
The recipes online that we have used and found to be good recipes call for supplements to be added individually. This is tedious, but by adding the supplements individually, you know exactly what you are putting in, and you know you are not adding anything that would block the absorption of those supplements. We have followed the recipe on www.catinfo.org for many years, but recently it was changed to include some cooking of the food. Cooking changes the structure in the meat and binds some of the nutrients making certain elements harder to absorb. In addition, partially cooking chicken can be risky if done incorrectly as it can increase the number of bacteria instead of reducing them. We don't believe any of the cat's food should be cooked, so we aren't as confident with that recommendation since the change was made.
If you want to follow a recipe and add all your supplements individually, we now recommend the recipe on the Feline Nutrition Foundation. Following this route is the least expensive way to feed a raw diet, but it is the most time consuming. We really like that the Feline Nutrition Foundation provides an online calculator, so you can experiment with batch sizes and get to know exactly how much you need of each ingredient to get the correct balance in the diet which will allow you figure out what batch size will allow you to develop a regular schedule. Once again, if not done properly with the proper amounts of supplements, your cat won't get all the nutrients it needs.
Providing the Proper Balance of Raw
Cats need a meat to bone to organ ratio of 80:10:10. 80% of the cat's diet should be muscle meat. 10% should be bone. 10% should be organ - mainly secreting organs. Cats, in particular, need hearts as cats require a lot of taurine and hearts provide a lot of taurine, but one thing you must understand is the heart is muscle meat - the gizzard is as well - so these do not count in the 10% organ category. Organs include liver, kidney, pancreas, thymus, spleen, eyes - and of these, liver is the most important organ that you must get into your mix as at least half of your 10% ratio of organ meat. We recommend that you join the Facebook group Cats Completely Raw and Proud (Cat CRAP) if you want to balance your raw diet by making a grind at the 80:10:10 ratio.
Or, you can let Reel Raw do the important part for you. Reel Raw offers an organ blend that is 50% liver and 50% kidney, pancreas, thymus, and spleen. Yes, the organ blend is pricey, but it is only 10% of your overall mix, so you can offset the cost of the organ blend with the inexpensive cost of bone-in chicken or turkey. We have transitioned to this option as for us it provides the comfort of knowing the nutrients are coming from the primary source - the organs - but it removes the work involved in tracking down and then properly mixing the variety of organs from the variety of protein sources. We mix the organ blend with bone-in chicken hind quarters, turkey gizzards, and chicken hearts.
Do you really want to get it right no matter the cost? The most appropriate food for your cat is a variety of whole prey items. This option, however, is very costly, and it can take some work to convince your cat that rats, mice, quail, rabbit, day-old-chicks, etc are, indeed, food. Some take to it immediately, some never do. As long as your cat is eating a variety of protein sources and it is eating everything - the meat, the bones, the organs - then it is getting what it needs from the food nature intended for Felis silvestris to eat. We have always used Rodent Pro as a source for whole prey items. Their packaging is exceptional. On one occasion when our shipment was to arrive later than expected, Rodent Pro contacted us in advance to offer a replacement for any food that was not frozen upon arrival.
One last recommendation we can offer raw feeders is on the grinder. If you want to get a grinder, we can share our experience with the two we have used. We started with the Tasin Grinder. If you have a few animals to feed and you do not think you will ever grind any larger than a chicken drumstick, then the Tasin is your best bang for your buck. However, it is a waste of time and money if you will be doing some serious grinding as if the bones are too big, you'll spend a lot of time cutting them up and/or unclogging the grinder. Sometimes whole chicken or chicken hindquarters are less expensive than individual parts, but the Tasin can't handle some of the larger bones, so you are limited in what bones you can put in a Tasin.
After struggling with the Tasin, we bought a Weston 32. With the Weston 32, very little time is spend grinding as it takes chicken hindquarters all in one. It grinds turkey leg bones, no problem. With the inexpensive price of turkey during the holiday season, it is nice to have this option. There a considerable price difference between the Tasin and the Weston 32, so you have to decide what you will be doing with the grinder to make the right choice for you. Many of our breeder friends use the Weston 22 and claim it is wonderful as well. We decided to go with the 32 because for the price difference of a 22 and a 32, we figured the 32 would be worth it - and it definitely is!