My Raw Feeding Journey
In 2012, my then eight-year old Asian Leopard Bengal Tayla, out of nowhere decided she wasn’t going to eat dry kibble food anymore. This of course was before I knew that dry pet foods were not the best option for my cat. Tayla was known to eat anything and everything put out in front of her. This started a several month long search for new food to feed her. At this time, I fed what I felt were healthy options, foods that were higher quality with better ingredients. Originally as a young child under my parent’s discretion, she was fed Kitten Chow, then Purina One and then Purina Naturals. Occasionally she would eat Fancy Feast. I can’t deny those unique flavors caught my eye. All of It was easy to buy at all the grocery stores we shopped at and it was inexpensive.
It took a good month or two after much trial and error to find a new food for Tayla. First I naturally tried to continue feeding a dry food with little success. I even tried what seemed like all the wet/canned food brands. That came with some success but still disappointing results, so I turned to the internet. This is when I found Lisa A. Pierson’s website catinfo.org. Her recipe was simple and easy to make, not to mention inexpensive AND Tayla loved it!
In April 2015, my fiancé and I adopted a kitten named Remy who we started on the raw food as well. She eagerly ate it. And when we adopted Qaedo in August he ate it too! The kittens were previously kibble fed before we got them but took to raw immediately. Talking about natural instincts!
In February 2015, I had gotten a job with a pet food company called Nutrisource. Although for 17 years I wanted to be a Veterinarian and hoped to specialize in nutrition, through working with this company I realized how passionate I was about animal nutrition and began a journey of extensive reading and research. I quickly learned how important nutrition is to our animal companions and furthermore about how important a species appropriate diet was. In February 2016 I really began to realize how Lisa’s recipe could be improved on. Her recipe consisted of ground meat, bone meal and lots of vitamins and minerals from tablets and pills. Although this meal definitely was balanced, I wanted to use whole foods that the cats could get all their nutrients from without the use of supplementation. I also wanted to make the meal more effective at cleaning their teeth. So on March 10, 2016 I joined two raw feeding groups on Facebook that supports a diet of raw meat, organs and bones with no supplementation or carbohydrate use. After much time reading posts and doing more research on raw feeding and more specifically the Franken prey model on April 4 I made my first batch. It was actually easier and cleaner than grinding up all that meat and making a sloshy mixture. Remy really enjoyed it and took a liking to the chicken necks immediately. Although Qaedo snacked on bits and pieces while I made it he was unsure, but he would carefully watch the girls eat. Even Tayla checked it out, ate some, walked away than came back, now she happily chows down on the necks!
After only 5 days of switching to prey model from the homemade ground, Qaedo no longer needed wet food smeared on his raw AND he was eating necks every day.
Throughout my reading I learned that cats on raw often will stop eating when they are full versus kibble fed cats who continuously gorge often becoming obese. So I did some experimenting with feeding portions. Two days prior, Qaedo ate an astonishing (to me) 6 ounces in one sitting (this is in addition to the 2.4 oz. he ate that morning) so the previous day, I let him eat all that he wanted again and he stopped at 3 oz. in the evening. At 13 months old Remy consistently would stop with 2.5-3 ounces per meal each day. Qaedo at 11 months and 10 lbs. was satisfied with about 6-8 oz. a day while Remy consistently eats 4 oz. a day.
After about a week I noticed the most difference with Qaedo who was 8 months old at the time. When I found him, he was a 4-week old stray with a bad case of ringworm resulting in crusty skin around the ears, on the paws and tail and bald patches. His fur also was extremely course. At this point his fur was much silkier soft and he wasn’t shedding as much! I also had noticed that previously both kittens had eye tearing and dry eye boogers. They no longer had that either! Even family and friends began noticing significant differences.
Prior to the ninth day of being on the chunked raw, Remy then one-year old had some pretty rank breath. Just when she cleaned herself I often had to cover my nose it was that bad. But, just after 9 days her breath no longer smelled at all!
Because the kittens were on a ground raw, despite being raw it was still the consistency of wet food and they developed some tartar on their back teeth. After only 17 days of switching to frankenprey, Qaedo’s back teeth had gone from brown tartar to a lighter yellow! Every step of the way I continued to be impressed with this diet change.
In June of 2016. All three of the cats were taken to the vet with complete physicals, fecal tests, urinalysis tests and bloodwork. Although Tayla was diagnosed with lymphoma, a mass in her colon and irregularly shaped kidneys (all unknown causes) a year ago and expected to have a poor prognosis, was completely healthy with no concerns seen in her tests. Remy and Qaedo also where given complete bills of health!
My journey with raw has been eye opening but I did encounter some challenges along the way. The biggest concern I had was making sure it was balanced. Although balancing actually is fairly simple, it was hard getting past knowing that I wasn’t just feeding something from a bag or can that had specific recommendations on how much to feed and that it was balanced. I now however feel much better knowing that everything is in my hands because I don’t trust the commercial pet food industry. After getting past that and making my first couple of batches mainly including chicken, I wanted to start providing more variety to prevent intolerances, allergies, boredom and imbalance due to eating the same thing all the time. That was a challenge because most grocery stores only had chicken or beef as meat for a reasonable price. Same went for organ meats in those two species. After some research and asking around I have not only been able to buy in bulk saving money in the long run but I have also been able to source other protein sources for a reasonable price including rabbit, quail, bison, goose and venison. In just two months of switching to franken prey model I feel completely comfortable feeding my cats a complete and natural diet.
Not only are my cats, satisfied food wise, their fur is softer, their eyes are gunk free, their teeth are clean, their waste is smaller and scentless and it only costs me free to $0.85 total a day per cat (depending on protein source) to feed them!!! You can’t get better than that! It makes me happy to know my cats are happy and healthy. I’m glad I took my cats’ nutrition into my own hands!