There are many pre-made raw products out on the market as well as recipes on the internet. Some follow a true carnivorous way of feeding while others unfortunately do not. In this series, we will be evaluating various products and raw recipes based on a true carnivorous diet…. Prey Model or Franken Prey Model Raw Feeding.
The Nutrition Code will be analyzing each recipe or product based off of a Prey Model Raw style of feeding. What does this mean?
Prey Model Raw is a way of feeding our cats, dogs and ferrets using nature as our guide. Prey Model Raw includes:
Whole Prey as well as chunked meats, organs and bones from various animals also known as Franken Prey. We base this off of the ratio 80% meat, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organs and 10% bone (the ideal ratio of a prey animal) This also excludes the use of fruits, veggies or grains as well as artificial supplementation (pills, tablets, premixes etc.)
In this series no brand names, products or websites will be provided (unless completely unavoidable). The Nutrition Code does not wish to name bash or product bash others. Therefore, when evaluating products and recipes please utilize information and tips provided to make an educated decision on whether or not a product or recipe is appropriate for your cat, dog or ferret.
3 pounds of poultry thigh meat/bones/skin
2 – 2.25 lbs. of whole carcass ground rabbit + 0.75 – 1 lbs. of boneless chicken or turkey meat/skin/fat
1 cup water
2 eggs – (optional) use the yolk raw but lightly cook the white (soft boiling them for ~3-4 minutes works well) – remove all or at least most of the shell
5000 – 10,000 mg fish oil
Vitamin E – 400 IU (268 mg)
Vitamin B-complex 50
2,000 mg Taurine
1 tsp Morton Lite salt with iodine
Liver add 3-4 ounces of chicken livers per 3 lbs. of meat/bones/skin.
Poultry Thigh meat/bones/skin or whole ground rabbit with boneless poultry meat
This is the first ingredient recommended. Chicken and turkey are a great meat to start out with as most cats take to it quick easily. Not only is it inexpensive but it’s easily found at most grocery stores and other meat suppliers readily have it. Rabbit is also another common favorite for cats as it is one of their natural prey in the wild. It is also a lean meat great for cats that may need to shed a few pounds. However, that being said simply feeding chicken, turkey and/or rabbit is very little variety. Yes, this recipe calls for several vitamin and mineral supplements which we will get to later, but for a true complete and balanced diet variety is required. We are aware that in the wild that wild cats may only have access to maybe four proteins however with the intervention of human beings we are able to provide them with so much more. Not only does this prevent boredom, food imprinting and food intolerances but this also provides varying nutrient profiles. Just like a human diet, having variety over time adds up to a balanced diet.
1 cup water
Water is a great addition to a raw diet. Although a raw diet contains at least 70% moisture already, especially for cats who don’t typically consume as much as they need the more moisture the better to continue flushing the system out and keeping the body going. This is even more important for male cats who tend to develop urinary problems more readily. So, with the combination of a raw diet and a little extra moisture here and there your cats will be more than hydrated!
Raw egg is a great addition to the diet. They are chalk full of nutrients, is the least expensive protein source, contains no carbohydrates or sugar and even helps with hairballs! The author mentions soft boiling or lightly cooking the egg white. Normally when this is recommended it’s for the fear of a biotin deficiency due to Avidin contained in the egg white. The author later describes that they are not concerned with this as the yolk contains nature’s highest biotin content but still suggests cooking to rid of bacteria. Unfortunately cooking very quickly destroys many heat sensitive nutrients and essential fats as well as enzymes that help to make the egg beneficial. If you decide to cook egg white there is honestly little use in even including it in your batch.
As for the bacteria in eggs, after a salmonella outbreak in the 1980’s stricter protocols have been put in place to protect people and thus animals against contamination. As long as eggs are stored at 45 degrees or below there is little concern for bacterial growth
5000 – 10,000 mg fish oil
Omega 3s are extremely important in the diet. They are an essential source for fatty acids and help to maintain the skin and coat, brain, eyes, heart and much more.
One must be careful with fish oils. Larger fish like salmon can contain more contaminents than smaller fish like anchovies and sardines and many today are farmed fishes. These fish do not eat a species appropriate diet and are often feed grains as well as dyes. Unfortunately, due to these factors and the conditions they live in the quality of omegas are lower as well and do not provide as many benefits to your companion. Salmon oil and many other fish oils also do not contain antioxidants which not only does this mean the oil goes bad faster, it also means the more fish oils you give the effects of oxidation is greater within the body consuming it. This is why Vitamin E is included in this recipe, because it is an antioxidant.
A great alternative is krill oil. It has the same benefits as salmon and other fish oils except:
Higher rate of absorption due to delivery of EPA/DHA as phospholipids
Krill absorbs less toxins
Includes more EPA and DHA
No fishy taste or smell
Vitamin E – 400 IU (268 mg)
As mentioned above when including fish oil in the raw diet there must be a source of antioxidants to prevent fats from going bad (preservative) and from preventing oxidation in the body consuming the fish oils. The author does recommend d-tocopherol, a natural source of vitamin E over the dl-tocopherol form which is synthetic. Unfortunately, this isn’t mentioned within the ingredients but as a side note further down so some pet owners may miss this detail.
There are also many other sources of Vitamin E than a tablet or capsule. The following are natural and whole food sources:
*Note this is not an extensive list of items however chicken, eggs and liver are included in this particular recipe
Vitamin B Complex
This set of vitamins also is very important in the diet. They are important for keeping the cells and blood healthy, too help make DNA, as well as supporting nerve function among many other roles. However, there are many more whole food options to obtain the Vitamin B complex than a most likely artificial supplement. Please be weary of supplements in general. They are very loosely regulated and many are imported often from China. Only 1-3% of imports are actually analyzed by the USA. In addition, many vitamins and minerals are made in a laboratory and can contain harmful components like petroleum and tar.
There are nine vitamin B complexes that are pretty important, they can be found in:
*Note this is not an extensive list of items however chicken, liver and eggs are all included in this recipe
2,000 mg taurine
Taurine is essential for cats. Without it they can suffer heart problems, blindness, reproductive and developmental problems and even death. All supplemented taurine is artificial and made in a laboratory (there is one method that is more natural however it entails extracting taurine from ox bile. (The reason it is not used is because this method is unsavory to many and would cost more money). Most taurine is also sourced from China who is not only the number one exporter but also owns 40 manufacturers of taurine. Considering only 1-3% of imported items are inspected by the US and China has a history of contaminated products, I would avoid supplemented taurine all together.
There are few studies done on the taurine requirements of cats. In some studies, it has been shown that 500 mg showed no deficiency and when increased, reproduction was improved where as 250 mg was to low and caused deformities.
Taurine can be found naturally in all meats and organs but it comes in abundance in hard working muscle meats such as the heart, thigh meat and tongue. A mouse along contains 2400 mg of taurine.
1 tsp Morton Lite salt with iodine
Although sodium is an important chemical in all living bodies as it interacts with potassium to reform many physiological functions, it is naturally present in meats in general. According to the AAFCO 16.7 mg of sodium is required for an adult cat. Without taking the recipe’s salt recommendation into account, this recipe already contains 88.8 mg -124.4 mg therefore there is more than enough sodium in this recipe before adding the salt.
The author does mention a primary reason to add this ingredient is for the iodine content. However the following natural and whole foods contain iodine:
*Note this is not an extensive list of items however chicken, liver and eggs are already included in this recipe
Liver is an essential organ in raw feeding as it is a main source of quality copper, Vitamin K and Vitamin A that may be found in significantly lower amounts in other meats and organs. However, due to the potential of Vitamin A toxicity it is advised that it only make up half of the secreting organ requirement with the other half being another secreting organ like brain, pancreas, spleen, kidney etc.
A Prey Model Raw diet (and most raw diets) consist of 80% muscle meat, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ and 10% bone. Based off of numbers provided by the creator of this recipe, the ratios are as follows:
3 pounds of poultry thigh meat/bones/skin
3.5 oz. eggs (2 eggs)
3-4 oz. of liver
*Note: We do not include the vitamin and mineral supplements in this ratio
About 3.5 lbs. of total food
2.58 lbs. of meat (includes the egg)
4 oz. of liver
10.08 oz. of bone (assuming we use the chicken thighs)
This equates to:
These ratios aren’t horrific but based on a Prey Model Raw diet:
The meat portion should be at 80%. Since thigh meat does contain abundant amounts of taurine heart isn’t essential here but to help with costs heart and gizzards could be added to bulk the meat section up.
The liver content is a tad high as it should only make up 5% of the secreting organ recommendation to avoid Vitamin A toxicity. The other 5% should be another secreting organ such as pancreas, spleen, kidney, brains etc.
The bone content is a bit high as well. It should only be at 10%. Constipation can occur with high amounts of bone content as well as an unbalance of calcium/phosphorus levels. I would eventually be worried about skeletal and malabsorption problems as the higher levels of calcium interfere.
There is no need to be feeding the taurine supplements as taurine is abundant in the thigh meat. Nor to feed the Vitamin E or B complex supplements as there are already sources in this recipe to cover that. Salt is also not needed as there is already well over the recommended daily amount supplied in this recipe.
Before we even get to the true preparation of this food. The author recommends baking the chicken so that it is 25-50% cooked and 50-75% raw. They do preface that one should not consider this a full raw diet. Baking is absolutely not necessary and in fact destroys vital nutrients, fats and enzymes. The author suggests this in concern for surface bacteria (But admits cats can and are designed to handle a much higher bacteria load than that of a human) but they also wanted to leave the food out longer. Cats are 100% obligate carnivores. Because of this they are anatomically and physiologically designed to consume and digest raw meat, organs and bones. Not only are there bacteria neutralizing enzymes in their salvia, but their stomach acid (when on a raw diet not a commercial diet) is 1-2 pH. This is acidic enough to destroy any bacteria that wasn’t destroyed prior in the mouth. If for some reason bacteria escapes the stomach unscathed, the digestive tract is so short that with in 3-6 hours it is released from the body as fecal matter.
In regard to leaving the food out longer…. just because it’s cooked doesn’t mean bacteria won’t be attracted to the meat. Cooked meat has a lot of moisture which attracts bacteria. Not to mention other things like bugs and flies are attracted to any kind of food items. So unfortunately, this just sounds like being lazy.
This recipe recommends grinding together the whole mixture. Unfortunately, grinding is one of the worse preparing methods for raw. Whole prey is at the top than chunked meats than grinding. Grinding increases the surface area of the meat. Not only does this mean it’s more prone to bacteria, but it also means more is exposed to the air. This is not good for oxygen sensitive ingredients like taurine which can more quickly be depleted. In addition, it does not maintain as good oral health especially if the bone the being ground too. Raw meaty bones are abrasive enough to scale the teeth and the meat on it acts as a floss. To keep the teeth clean, free of plaque and tartar cats must be able to extensively chew their meat, organs and bones.
Overall the author of this diet is really very knowledgeable providing plenty of background information as to why things are added and done per the recipe. In general, this recipe does follow prey model raw as it does not advocate for any fruits, veggies or grains but falls away from it in recommending vitamin and mineral supplements as well as not following the ideal ratio of 80% muscle meat, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ and 10% bone.
This diet isn’t completely horrible but there are definitely changes that need to be made with the ratios. The vitamin and mineral supplements should be eliminated as there are plenty of whole food options for supplying them in addition to the recipe already containing a few.
This diet should not be ground but rather chunked so that there can be better oral hygiene and mental stimulation. I also highly recommend there be more variety to further ensure a more balanced and completely diet. The author suggests “do not get ‘creative’ and start adding/omitting ingredients to/from a balanced recipe.” But admits “No human is … none of us – even board-certified veterinary nutritionists, know exactly which nutrients and in what amounts are destroyed/damaged with the cooking process” therefore I believe that following nature isn’t such a bad thing. With a few adjustments, this recipe would be well on its way to following a Prey Model Raw style diet.