Why is Raw Feeding Best for ALL Cats?
The pet food industry pays for the majority of the research on pet foods; knowing what research to trust can be confusing when what you read is funded by the companies that profit from it - Royal Canin, Science Diet, and Purina. Here is a simple fact; cooking meat degrades the nutrients in the meat. It reduces vitamins, minerals, and amino acids (Gerber). Almost all dry and canned pet foods are cooked. Other ingredients are added back in to supplement what was lost during the cooking, but often these ingredients are plant-based. The "inability of cats to adapt enzyme activity to increased dietary carbohydrate concentrations" is another proven fact (Verbrugghe). This means the cat's body cannot adjust to breakdown and utilize ingredients from most non-meat sources. In other words, any nutrients not coming from animal tissue have very low bioavailability to a cat. Again, cats get very little nutritional value from ingredients other than meat, organ, and bone.
Another reason we advocate raw feeding is the moisture content. Raw food maintains a cat's body optimal hydration level. Originating in Africa, cats do not have a high thirst drive. Being forever stoic, cats do not let us know when they are not feeling well until it is too late. Thus, the effects of low-grade dehydration work away at a cat's body for years before being discovered (“Dehydration in Cats"). Dehydration leads to kidney failure. Because cats do not show signs of kidney failure until 70-75% of their kidney function is lost, young cats who are fed dry kibble start out living normal, healthy lives. But a study in Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden shows that upon reaching adulthood, the rate at which kibble-fed cats age and develop degenerative diseases increases at an abnormal rate. In contrast, cats fed a non-processed, natural diet do not age as quickly and, most importantly, did not develop ANY degenerative diseases (Appel).
Many people are nervous about feeding raw. If you don't feed raw correctly, you can negatively impact your cat's health. While the best food is properly balanced raw, the worst food is improperly balanced raw. To be balanced for a cat, a diet must be 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% other organs. The easiest way to feed raw is to purchase raw cat food that is pre-made and already nutritionally balanced. This removes any of the worries about whether or not your cat is getting everything it needs.
We recommend Darwin's Natural as it is a complete, balanced diet that comes to your door. It is simple to purchase and feed. Cats who have grown up on our homemade food typically transition to Darwin's without any issues. For someone who wants the convenience of food delivery and the security of the food being balanced in advance, Darwin's is an excellent product. For people living close to Sacramento, the Mad Butcher Meat Company makes great balanced food. For those living in the Santa Rosa vicinity, we can point you to the Prey Model Mix from FeedThis.com.
Appel, Athena. "What You Can’t See Won’t Hurt Your Pet?" Cats and Dogs Naturally. 4 March 2013. http://catsndogsnaturally.com
“Dehydration in Cats: How Can You Tell If a Cat Is Dehydrated?” CatHealth.com, www.cathealth.com/cat-care/how-to/2233-dehydration-in-cats-how-can-you-tell-if-a-cat-is-dehydrated.
Gerber, N., et al. “The Influence of Cooking and Fat Trimming on the Actual Nutrient Intake from Meat.” Meat Science, vol. 81, no. 1, 2009, pp. 148–154.
Verbrugghe, Adronie, and Myriam Hesta. “Cats and Carbohydrates: The Carnivore Fantasy?” Veterinary Sciences, vol. 4, no. 4, 2017, p. 55.
What EXACTLY do we feed?
Many of our Quality Bengal Kitten families want to continue feeding exactly what we feed. Our food comes from a variety of sources, and some of it needs to be purchased a month in advance. Do not stress. If you do not have the time to gather food as we do, our cats do well on Darwin's Natural which comes to your door. We also recommend Kiwi Kitchen brand of raw foods which can be found in privately owned pet stores such a Pet Food Express.
We feed a lot of cats, so how we feed may not be conducive to how a family will feed one or two cats. Our basic goal is to feed multiple protein sources that are as close to being species-appropriate as possible for our pocketbook. If money were not a factor, we would feed rats, mice, rabbits, quail, and Cornish Game Hen - all prey items that a cat could catch. But the reality is that some of those foods are not affordable.
Our number one goal is to be able to offer our cats four or more different protein sources, so they get a variety of nutrients. Our diet includes chicken, duck, turkey, beaver, pork, beef organ, Cornish Game Hen and occasional quail and rats.
We order two foods from Excel Pet Pantry: Special Grind #1: Chicken and Duck and Special Grind #5: Pork and Chicken. The chicken and duck food is 25% duck. The pork and chicken is 75% pork. We buy these foods as they are an affordable way to add pork and duck into our diet. However, these are NOT balanced foods. They do not have secreting organs in them; therefore, we use NuVet Supplement to help balance these foods.
We also order whole ground beaver from Simply Rawsome. The beaver is a little rich on its own, so we mix 1/3 beaver with our homemade chicken, turkey, and beef organ blend. We feed beaver as an affordable way to feed rodent meat. Rodent meat is the ideal diet for a cat, but it is also expensive. The Beaver is balanced at the 80: 10: 5: 5 ratio.
For our homemade ground food, we grind chicken leg quarters with either chicken thigh or turkey gizzards to create the correct meat to bone ratio. Then, we add Roseville Meat Company's beef pet food as it is made of beef organs. Some of our cats cannot eat beef meat, but they are all good with beef organs. A few of our cats don't seem to feel at their best when fed turkey, so we do not make all of our food with turkey. If you do not want to grind any of your own food, a way for you to accommodate this step in a similar manner would be to feed Excel Pet Pantry's Balanced Feline Chicken Diet.
What Supplements do we use?
With all of our foods, we add NuVet Supplement. We chose NuVet for the same reasons we have chosen our foods; the nutrients are bioavailable. NuVet contains very few plant-based ingredients and those it does have are added due to high levels of antioxidants that help support the immune system. When feeding a mix that is complete and balanced with sercreting organs we give a half dose of NuVet. This makes sure that the cats are still receiving antioxidants and a good profile of B vitamins and taurine that are often lost or reduced during the freezing process. As stated above, when feeding Excel Pet Pantry's Special Grinds, we use NuVet, but in these non-complete foods, we give the full dose per cat. The NuVet is added just prior to feeding; we do not add it in before freezing any foods as the nutrients are degraded by the freezing process.
We also give additional taurine in the cats' diet. Because all of our foods are frozen either when purchased or after being ground, it is unknown how much of the natural taurine still remains. Cats cannot make their own taurine, and it is essential to their health. Taurine is water-soluble. Often the fluid that runs off from fresh or defrosted meats contains a lot of the taurine from that meat. After being frozen, much of the remaining taurine is fragmented and less bioavailable. We have found that some of our cats have a higher taurine requirement than others so we like to make sure there is plenty in the food. Excess taurine is passed in their urine so does not pose a risk to their health if they are given slightly more than required.
If kittens or cats have stool that is not just perfect, or if anyone has been on an antibiotic, we also use a probiotic to help restore the balance of healthy gut flora. We use Dr. Mercola Complete Probiotics. We like this product as it contains 14 different species of good gut bacteria. Many pet probiotics only contain two or three strains. The strains found in Dr. Mercola Complete Probiotics are also strains that can survive the high acidity of a cat's gut - not something that all probiotic strains can handle.
When we have a cat who is sick or having some kind of struggle we use a digestive enzyme to keep enzyme levels working at full force. We chose to use Dr. Mercola's product as the enzymes they use help to break down dietary proteins and fats. This helps the cat to absorb the maximum amount of nutrition while reducing the stress on their digestive system while they are convalescing.
Quick Click Links
BALANCED Raw Food - for easy, convenient raw feeding shipped to your doorExcel Pet Pantry Special Grind #1
Chicken and Duck - needs a supplementExcel Pet Pantry Special Grind #5
Pork and Chicken - needs a supplementNuVet Supplement MUST be added to balance the Special Grinds
Simply Rawsome Whole Ground Beaver A Balanced Option from Excel Pet Pantry
Excel Feline Chicken Diet