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How to Can Raw Pet Food

Step by step instructions: How to can raw pet food. Read why it is a good idea to have home canned food available for your pets whether or not you feed raw.
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I read about canning raw food several years ago when I first started making homemade raw from the information on the CatInfo.org website. I thought it was an interesting idea back then but never really thought that I would ever can raw pet food.

Step by step instructions: How to can raw pet food. Read why it is a good idea to have home canned food available for your pets whether or not you feed raw.When we were evacuated last September for the Butte Fire, I had just run out of homemade raw. Even if I had frozen raw, it would have been a hassle to keep it and prepare it during the evacuation.

I had read lots of articles about the poor quality ingredients in many commercial pet foods so, when I had to go buy something at the store, I agonized over what to get. Christy gets severe diarrhea on commercial canned food and I didn’t want to put that added stress on her.

If I had my own canned food on hand, it would have been easy to pop in the cats’ go boxes. It would have been easy to store and feed from the jar. It would’t need heating – yes, I slightly warm my cats’ raw food in the microwave because it is too cold out of the fridge. Cats like their food at mouse body temperature.

Even after the evacuation I didn’t try canning right away. It wasn’t until I decided to attend BlogPaws and take Christy with me that I knew I needed to learn more about how to can raw pet food.

Last week, I told you about some of the benefits of Canning Raw Food. Here are a few more reasons to can raw pet food.

Reasons You Might Want to Can Raw Pet Food

  • You aren’t comfortable feeding raw but want to know exactly what is in your pet’s food
  • To use to transition your pets to raw
  • Your friend or pet sitter is not comfortable feeding raw while you are away
  • It’s not practical to take raw food while you are traveling
  • To include in your disaster evacuation go boxes
  • To entice a raw-fed sick cat to eat (cooked food has more aroma than raw)
  • It is fit for human consumption

Christy eating canned food - How to Can Raw Pet Food

The idea of canning pet food might be a little misleading. What I learned while researching the process of canning pet food is that you can only the meat without bone or supplements. That’s why it is fit for human consumption. You follow the same procedure you would if canning meat for human use.

I only found one post that discussed canning food for dogs. Those instructions said to cook the meat and vegetables first but I would not can my dog food that way. I would raw pack the meat and vegetables just like I did for my cat food. The temperature reached during pressure canning cooks it so pre-cooking is an unnecessary step.

Steps to Can Raw Pet Food

Preserving food, by whatever method, is serious business. It is important to follow instructions carefully to avoid serious illness. Meat is a low acid food and MUST be processed in a pressure canner, not a boiling water or atmospheric steam canner.

Get Your Supplies Together

  • Pressure canner
  • Jars
  • Lids and rings
  • Lid lifter
  • Canning funnel
  • Jar lifter
  • De-bubbler/headspace measurer
  • Dish towels
  • Bowls
  • Large spoons

Prepare Your Jars and Lids

Wash your jars, lids and rings in hot soapy water and rinse well. Check your jars for any imperfections. If you are using the raw-pack method, your jars do not need to be pre-heated. Heating is to prevent breaking when hot food is added. Prepare your lids and rings according to package directions – some need to be pre-heated, some don’t.

Prepare Your Meat

Since you are going to “cook” the meat, you don’t have to worry about bacteria. You can make things really easy for yourself and buy ground meat. I still purchased my meat in bulk and ground it at home since it is more economical that way. I had a beef roast and a pork loin so I ground and canned both. You can also just cut the meat into chunks.

Raw pork in jars - How to Can Raw Pet Food

If you see a recipe for canning meat that says to add salt, don’t! The salt is for flavoring meat for humans, not preserving and we don’t want it in the pet food.

If you are making dog food and adding fruit/vegetables, stir them into the raw meat.

Pack your meat into your jars as tightly as possible and try to remove any air pockets. Leave one inch of head space. Do NOT add any liquid. The meat will make it’s own delicious juice.

Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth to be sure it is perfectly clean. Put on the lids and screw the bands on finger tight.

Raw beef and pork - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Pressure Canning Your Meat

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for more specifics on preparing the canner itself.

  • Put 2 to 3 inches of hot water in your canner.
  • Place the filled jars on the rack in the canner using the jar lifter.

Jars in canner - How to Can Raw Pet Food

  • Fasten your canner lid securely, leaving the weight off the vent.
  • Turn your heat to high, heating until the water boils and steams. Always vent for a full 10 minutes.
Steam venting - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Steam venting

  • Place the weight on the vent.
  • Start timing the process when the pressure gauge indicates that the recommended pressure has been reached or, for canners with no gauge, the weight begins to wiggle. The pressure will depend on your altitude and you’ll find this information in the instructions with your canner.

  • Regulate the heat to maintain the pressure at or slightly above the recommendation.
  • Processing time for the meat is 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts. I recommend pints for cats because you will need to use it within about 3 days once it is opened. I even used half pints since I was making this for just one cat. If you do use half pints, you still need to process for the full 75 minutes.
  • When the timed process is complete, turn off the heat and let the canner cool down naturally. This can take up to 45 minutes.
  • When the canner is completely depressurized, remove the weight and wait another 10 minutes.
  • Unfasten the lid and open it away from you.
  • Remove the jars from the canner by lifting them straight up (do not tilt) with the jar lifter and placing them on a rack or folded towel away from drafts. Do not leave them in the hot water to cool. They will fail to seal.

Finished pork - How to Can Raw Pet Food

  • Do not adjust the rings. Do not try to dump or wipe any water from the lids.
  • Leave the bands on the jars until they have cooled completely – up to 24 hours.
  • Once completely cool, remove the bands.
  • Check each jar to be sure it is sealed by pressing the middle of the lid with your finger. If it springs back, it didn’t seal. Refrigerate any jars that haven’t sealed properly and use within 3 days.
  • Wipe the jars with a damp cloth. Some oil may have seeped out during processing. You can replace the cleaned bands or leave them off.
  • Label and date your jars. Store them in a cool, dark, dry place for up to one year.

While the meat was processing it smelled so good! As I mentioned above, I did both pork and beef. I filled the jars the same and although the pork looked like it had more fat, it was actually the beef that had more.

Finished beef and pork comparison - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Since you can only the meat, you add your supplements when you serve your meat, or meat and vegetables in the case of dog food. This created a bit of a challenge for me. You can buy supplements pre-mixed but I already had my supplements that I use when I make raw so I made my own. I mixed up a batch of supplements (minus the fish oil) that I would use for 3 pounds of meat then calculated how much I would add to one half pint jar that is about 7 ounces of meat and juice.

When I opened the jar, I poured the contents into a bowl, stirred in the supplements and put the unused portion of the meat back in the jar.

Pork straigt from jar - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Pork with supplements - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Ready to serve pork - How to Can Raw Pet Food

All three of my cats love this cooked meat. Looks like I’ll be making another batch soon.

Is pressure canning a new idea for you or do you already use a pressure canner to preserve food for your family? Have you canned or thought about trying to can raw pet food?

Pin It for Later!

Step by step instructions: How to can raw pet food. Read why it is a good idea to have home canned food available for your pets whether or not you feed raw.

Further Reading:

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Canning Raw Pet Food – Why Do It?

There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.
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OK, I can hear you raw feeders out there all the way over here. Why on earth would I want to can my raw food, you are asking. There are actually a few reasons why canning raw pet food is not a bad idea. I’m not suggesting you can all the raw food you make, but to have some canned on hand for emergencies is actually a good idea.

Benefits of Canning Raw Pet Food There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.Last September, when the Butte fire broke out, I was just getting ready to make a batch of raw when the power went out. We got our generators set up and I was going to make it the next day but, before I could, we were evacuated. I’m bad about waiting until the last minute to make the next batch and I had NONE in the freezer.

I had the cats’ things all ready to go except for food! I couldn’t even buy more at our local store because their power was out too and they were closed. In all the chaos, I didn’t think about stopping to buy some when we were down the hill evacuating the horses. Thankfully, (I think the cats were more thankful than I was) I had a big bag of treats and that’s what they had for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning.

That second day, I was able to go down the hill to the pet store in Jackson to buy food. Oh my gosh. I read and agonized over labels for what seemed like hours. I started feeding raw because Christy has chronic diarrhea on canned commercial cat food and I hadn’t really looked at labels in years. I am still looking for a commercial food she can eat for times like this but it hasn’t happened yet.

My friend Kelly’s relatives were kind enough to offer us a place to stay while we were evacuated but they had dogs and there was not a good place for the cats. I have an SUV and decided the best place for them was in the car. I really didn’t want Christy to have an issue with diarrhea in my car so it was especially difficult to decide what to feed them.

As much as I am against feeding dry food to cats, I decided she would be less likely to get diarrhea from it and I hoped it would only be for a short time. So, I settled on what seemed to be a high-quality dry food and that is what they ate for the next few days. If I had a supply of canned raw food on hand, it would have been easy to grab and put in their go boxes and I would have been much less stressed.

Recently, I went to a pet blogging conference and took Christy with me. I knew taking frozen raw food on the trip would be very impractical so I decided to try canning some of her food to take along. I made it a couple of weeks ahead of time to have time to try it out on her. I wanted to be sure she would eat it and she loved it!

Benefits of Canning Raw Pet Food

  • You know exactly what is in it
  • It is the same food your pets are used to eating
  • It’s convenient to have on hand
  • It is safe for human consumption in a pinch

Canning Raw Pet Food - Should you do it? There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.If you want to try this, check out my instructions for canning raw pet food coming next week.


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Does Your Pet Have a Protein Intolerance?

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When I first started feeding my cats a homemade raw diet, I used Dr. Lisa Pierson’s chicken recipe from catinfo.org. Once I had my grinder, the recipe was pretty easy, especially the more I made it.

This website doesn’t talk about rotating proteins so my cats ate chicken for probably three years or more. Even though I thought about giving them something different for variety, I didn’t have any other recipes and didn’t know how to make sure another protein was properly balanced.

Avoid a Protein Intolerance

As I did more research on raw feeding, I learned that feeding theTitle image - Protein Intolerance: How to Avoid It - photo of raw chicken in a bowl same protein over and over can cause allergies or at least an intolerance to that protein. So, several months ago, I started rotating their proteins.

Now, my cats eat a way better variety of meat than I do. Some of them I’d love to have for myself but they aren’t available or are too expensive. They have had rabbit, venison, turkey, duck, pork, bison and beef. I buy rabbit, duck, venison and bison from my local raw food supplier, Excel K9. I buy frozen ground turkey in bulk (5 lbs.) at the grocery store. I buy large, whole beef or pork roasts and grind them myself.

Shortly before I started rotating proteins, Christy started throwing up several times a week but I didn’t think that much of it. She’s the reason I started feeding raw since she has always had a sensitive digestive system. I didn’t give it anymore thought since she stopped when I changed her food and all seemed well.

When it was time for chicken again, I made my usual batch. Right away, Christy started throwing up again, this time pretty much every meal. I conducted a little test. I gave her canned tuna and it stayed down. I gave her pork and it stayed down. Another meal of chicken and up it came. This could all be coincidence but it seems she has probably developed an intolerance. And, of course, I have 40 pounds of chicken thighs in my freezer! That’s okay, though. No more chicken for Christy. At least not for a long time.

I want to make it clear that this is not just a raw food issue. Feeding the same protein over and over in any form; canned, dry or raw, can cause allergies or an intolerance. It is important to rotate the proteins and even the brands in your pets diet.

Have you had an experience with a protein intolerance or allergy? How have you dealt with it?


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If My Cats Had a Bucket List

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Ocean and Christy watching the bird feeder - environmental enrichmentI recently read a post on GoPetFriendly.com that really got me thinking. The author mentioned the stories you may have seen recently about people who took their dogs on great adventures after learning their dogs were terminally ill. The post was really about living life to the fullest every moment–starting right NOW. After dealing with a life-threatening illness, surgery and chemo therapy, this post really struck a chord with me.

As part of my healing, I retired early and moved to a beautiful place with few pressures left in my life. I’m doing what I love, spending time with animals, my own and my pet sitting clients’ pets.

What that post really got me thinking about was my cats. Are their lives as full and rich as they could be? Dogs, to me, are easy. They are gregarious animals that love going on adventures with their humans. But what about cats? If my cats had a bucket list, what would be on it?

So I started thinking about what cats like: eating, sleeping, hunting, climbing, and hiding. These were the main things that came to mind. I started assessing how I am doing in each area and how I could improve it — what I could add to their bucket list.

Eating

I feed a homemade raw diet. I am constantly researching to make sure I’m feeding a nutritionally balanced diet that is the best it can be. I rotate the proteins I feed. They eat better and more exotic than I do! I know they would like me to add more treats to their list. OK, maybe.

Sleeping

There’s lots of sleeping going on here and there are beds all over the house. I think we are good there. In spite of all the beds, they prefer to cuddle with me, at least when it is cold, so there will continue to be lots of that.

Environmental Enrichment

The things that are left, hunting, climbing and hiding, all fall in the category of environmental enrichment and where I feel I fall a little short. Here’s where I could add some great things to their bucket list.

I rarely make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t like setting myself up for failure. One thing I did decide at the beginning of the year, though, was that I would play with my cats more. I know they don’t get enough exercise. They rarely play on their own but come to life when the wand or laser toys are brought out. I’m already falling down on that since the first of the year so I need to work harder at it.

They have a lot of small toys for play on their own but there are things I could do to make them more fun. I could put toys in a box with a small hole or in a bag to shake around. There are lots of great toys on the market aimed at this play drive.

They have multiple cat trees and window shelves, including one that is heated. I have put a couple of shelves on the wall to give them even more vertical space. I have two more shelves that have been sitting around since last summer and a remodel I want to do on a large cat tree. Sounds like a good project for this rainy weather we’ve been having.

I’ve put bird feeders at several windows and hummingbird feeders on the deck. I find it interesting that these feeders don’t see much action in the winter. When the birds are scarce, I could try one of the cat entertainment DVDs that showcase prey.

They have boxes and cubes that they can hide in and there’s always the furniture to hide under in a pinch or for an ambush. Mine aren’t into hiding that much. I’ll usually find them in one of the boxes when it is chilly and they are trying to keep warm while they are sleeping. I do want to cover and decorate one of their boxes that is just a cardboard box they love.

I think one of the best things I can do for my cats is to get them outdoors. I have big plans for a catio in the spring and I hope they love it. In the meantime, I bring the outdoors in by growing grass (not often enough) and occasionally giving them leaves to play with.

Ocean eating grass, Echo watching - environmental enrichment

Keeping cats mentally stimulated reduces stress, depression and aggression. Click To Tweet

My Cats’ Bucket List

So here’s what I think my cats would like to see on their bucket list. I’ll evaluate it periodically to see how I’m doing and what else I can add to it.

My Cats' Bucket List with lots of things for environmental enrichment

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Raw Diet for Cats: How a raw diet can affect behavior

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I haven’t been able to make raw food for several months and I have been paying the price. All kitties in the household acted like they were starving to death at meal times, no matter how much I fed them. Two, including Christy, got raging diarrhea (again!). The diarrhea continued for both, even on grain-free food.

Finally, a couple of days ago, I made a batch. Everyone but Echo was quite excited by the idea. I had a very difficult time transitioning Echo to raw food in the beginning and it looks like Mr. Picky is going to try me again. All the other kitties, however, snarfed it down without hesitation. I could see them thinking, “It’s about time!”

Feeding a Raw Diet can affect Behavior

The most interesting thing to me is the change in their behavior. As I mentioned,Patiently waiting - how a raw diet can affect behavior they were acting like they were starving to death. They would mill around while I was getting their food ready, meowing and fussing with one another. My most Siamesey mix was driving me crazy with her yowling. Even before meal time, she would go to the area where she is fed and start up. Oh my gosh, please shut up! After only two days back on raw food, they patiently wait while I get their food ready then they race to their designated area to eat. No more meowing, yowling or fussing.

I had one cat that had taken to living in a bedroom upstairs, except at meal time, because she would get chased as soon as meal time was over. No more. She is now back down stairs and content. No one seems to feel the need to chase her.

I am actually feeding them less raw food than they were getting of commercially canned food. They get about two ounces twice a day of raw versus the three ounces twice a day of commercial. Their appetites are more easily satisfied with higher quality protein with no grain or vegetables as filler. 

Benefits of a raw diet

  • Improved digestion
  • Greatly reduced stool odor and volume
  • Healthy coat, less shedding, fewer hairballs
  • Increased energy
  • Weight loss is easily achieved if overweight
  • Better dental health
  • Better urinary health

A raw diet has so many benefits but this change in behavior is one of the most welcome. Oh, and the diarrhea has already cleared up.


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What Causes Obesity in Cats?

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obesity in cats2011 study by APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention) shows that obesity in cats is on the rise. The study found that over 50 percent of cats were either obese or overweight. As with humans, obesity in cats can be detrimental to their health. It can predispose them to diabetes, fatty liver disease and arthritis. The cause is too many calories taken in compared to the calories expended. Sound familiar?

The main reason for feline obesity is “free feeding” of dry food. This is a pretty unnatural way to eat for a true carnivore that evolved as a hunting machine! Some cats will self-regulate their intake but many won’t.

Cats, unlike most mammals, have no carbohydrate-digesting enzyme called amylase in their saliva. Humans and dogs do and actually begin the digestion of carbohydrate in the mouth. In the intestine, amylase secreted from the pancreas breaks down large carbohydrate molecules into absorbable smaller units of glucose. Cats have measurably less amylase activity than humans or dogs. Nature did not intend the kitty to be a carbohydrate consumer.

Dry food is not a healthy diet for any cat. Dry pet food must have higher levels of flour and sugar than canned foods so that the kibble will stay uniform and not fall apart. Spoiling doesn’t readily occur because of the preservatives so the kitty can eat whenever it wants and we don’t have to prepare cat meals very often. Dry food is also a water-depleted (about 10%) diet that can lead to urinary tract problems. Cats do not have a strong water drive and are used to getting much of their water from their food. Their natural prey is about 70% water. So, why do we feed dry food? Because it is cheap and convenient. But consider this, feeding the least expensive canned food is far better than feeding the most expensive dry food.

So what should a cat eat? Cats need a diet high in protein, with moderate fat and a low percentage of carbohydrates. A mouse or bird is only about 3-8% carbohydrate. Cats should be fed 2-4 small meals a day and only about 1 ounce per meal for a seven pound cat. The higher in protein the meal is, the less it will take to satisfy your cat. Check out our post on making raw food.

If your cat is not overweight, you should be able to easily feel the ribs with just a slight fat pad over them. Cats should also have a waist when viewed from above. They should not have any fat pads over their shoulders and if you pick up their skin, you should not feel thick fat underneath. Their top line (backbone and back of the head) should be well-muscled and not terribly prominent (too thin) or hard to feel (too fat).

As your cat’s caretaker, you are completely in control of what he eats. If your cat is overweight, you need to approach a weight loss plan very carefully as weight loss needs to be gradual. Cats have a unique metabolic response to fasting and whenever a feline’s food intake is rapidly and markedly depressed, a serious and potentially fatal disorder can occur called Hepatic Lipidosis (fatty liver disease). You should consult with your veterinarian before starting a weight loss plan.


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Raw Food Means Their Favorite Treat!

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Somehow, my cats always know when I’m making raw food for them. Before the chicken ever comes out, while I’m gathering my utensils, they all start to assemble in the kitchen. No, it is not what they always do when I go to the kitchen. They know that at other times they don’t get anything, so they don’t bother. I guess they recognize the routine.

Gathering for their favorite treat -- raw chicken

Gathering for their favorite treat — raw chicken

They all politely, if not patiently, wait for their turn at a delicious morsel of chicken. I couldn’t get any good photos because they were not interested in holding still for a pose. 

Christy taking raw chicken

Open wide - making raw food

Christy Paws loves her raw chicken!

Jan has had all her teeth removed due to stomatis but still manages to eat raw food

Jan has had all her teeth removed due to stomatis but still manages

Fontana always has to make a face first

Fontana always has to make a face first


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Raw Cat Food – How I Make It

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It’s time for me to make raw cat food, which I do about every two weeks, so I thought I’d show you how I do it.

Step-by-step instructions for making raw cat food with a grinder. You'll know exactly what is going into your cat's species appropriate diet.

Why I Started Feeding My Cats a Raw Food Diet

My original reason for trying raw food was my adopted foster cat, Christy Paws, who had recurring bouts of severe diarrhea. I had her tested for parasites and she had low levels of giardia and coccidia as well as tritrichromonas, an often overlooked parasite in cats. I treated the giardia and coccidia with the normally accepted drugs and, after much research and consultation with my veterinarian, we decided to treat the tritrichromonas with tinidazole.

After the weeks of required treatment, the condition improved but came back again after a short time. So I had to ask myself, was it really the parasites causing the diarrhea or was the improvement just a part of the cycle of her chronic condition? More research led me to think it might be inflammatory bowel syndrome or, hopefully, just a dietary sensitivity. Christy didn’t seem “sick” and didn’t lose weight so when I found the wonderful website, CatInfo.org by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, I decided to try feeding her raw cat food.

I was a relatively new foster when Christy Paws came to me in September of 2009 recuperating from a broken leg and a partially amputated tail.

I was a relatively new foster when Christy Paws came to me in September of 2009 recuperating from a broken leg and a partially amputated tail.

This diet is different from the Paleo Diet in that it does not add any fiber (fruits or vegetables). That’s fine for dogs who have evolved into omnivores, but cats are still strict carnivores and are not equipped to efficiently digest fiber. This diet also contains the calcium that is essential for your cat’s health.

Christy was having an episode when I started feeding her raw food and within two or three days, the diarrhea was gone and she hasn’t had it since — that was two years ago! Actually, I can’t say that. On a few occasions, I have run out of raw food and resorted to canned for a meal or two. By the next day, I was regretting it.

Before You Start

The first thing you need to do if you are making a commitment to making raw Grindercat food on a regular basis is to purchase a food grinder. You need a unit with a strong motor and, preferably, metal inner parts. I purchased an LEM #5 1/4 HP Stainless Steel Big Bite Heavy Duty Electric Meat Grinder online at MeatProcessingPoducts.com for about $250. There are less expensive models that will do the job but I knew I would be making a LOT of food and wanted a grinder that would last — and this unit cuts through the bones like butter.

If you don’t want to invest in a grinder to grind bones and all, you can still make raw food. You can grind just the meat in a food processor, or even hand chop it, and add bone meal to the recipe.

The next thing you need to do is order your supplements. As healthy as raw food is for your cat, they are not eating the whole animal and we can rarely find the organ meats they would eat in the wild which contain some essential elements. You will need fish oil capsules (a source of essential fatty acids), vitamin E, vitamin B-complex, and taurine (found in the heart and essential for cats). I order what supplements I don’t get at Costco from iHerb.com. Use the code NOJ441 and you’ll receive up to $10 off your first order and MeoowzResQ will receive a donation.

Supplememts for raw cat food

Here is the recipe from CatInfo.org:

3 pounds of poultry thigh meat, bones and skin or

2.25 lbs of whole carcass ground rabbit + 0.75 lbs of boneless chicken or turkey meat/skin/fat.

For every 3 pounds of meat add:

  • 1 cup water (or, preferably, more if your cat will eat it with more water)
  • 2 eggs – use the yolk raw but lightly cook the white (optional)
  • 2000 – 5000 mg fish oil (a good source of essential fatty acids)  Do NOT use cod liver oil!
  • 400 IU (268 mg) Vitamin E (powdered E in capsules is the easiest to use)
  • 50 mg Vitamin B-complex (capsules or tablets)
  • 2,000 mg taurine (use powdered – either in capsules or loose)
  • 3/4 tsp Morton Lite salt with iodine when using chicken but not when using rabbit (contains potassium and sodium – make sure that it contains iodine.) 1/2 tsp if you use regular salt.
  • Liver – If using ground rabbit (which includes liver), do not add additional liver. If using chicken legs, thighs or a whole chicken carcass minus the organs, add 4 ounces of chicken livers per 3 lb of meat/bones/skin.

It is tedious to get all the meat off the bones, so I add three pounds of gizzards, rather than removing some of the bones, to dilute the calcium (bone) to phosphorous (meat) ratio. Please see the CatInfo.org website for an explanation of this element of the diet.

When I first started making raw food, I bought whole chickens and cut them up. I quickly found this to be too time consuming and started buying just the thighs. The thighs are actually better as they have a higher fat content. I buy the large packages at Costco for $1.19/lb and make about 20-25 pounds of food at a time. The average cat eats 4-6 ounces per day so this amount would feed one cat for about two months — and it only takes about an hour and half to make including clean up. Of course, that wasn’t always the case. It has taken a while to get a routine down, but now it goes pretty smoothly.

The Process of Making Raw Cat Food

I put about two cups of hot water in a measuring cup and add all the supplements (8 times the amount in the recipe as this is 25 lbs of meat) to give everything time to dissolve while I am preparing the meat.

Supplements dissolving for the raw cat food

I remove about half of the skin from the thighs. I found my cats were putting on too much weight when I left all the skin on. Then I just make one cut down each side of the bone to remove most of the meat.

Cut meat

I grind the meat, liver and gizzards through the large grinder plate and set it aside. Cats like chewing on these larger pieces and they may give them some dental benefit.

Large grind

I grind the bones for the first grind through the large plate also. Then I replace the large grinder plate with the small one and grind the bones a second time. This comes out looking like hamburger. The bones are very finely ground and their are no sharp pieces, so don’t worry about your cat choking on bones.

First grind through large plate

First grind through large plate

Second grind through small plate

Second grind through small plate

I pour my dissolved supplements in and stir until everything is thoroughly mixed. I do not add the optional eggs and I do not put the full amount of water in at this stage. I add the rest of the water when I actually feed so I am not freezing all that extra water and taking up precious space in my freezer.

Add supplememts

Once everything is thoroughly mixed, I divide it into 24-oz plastic containers. Some people use baggies, and I tried them for a while, but I find the rigid container easier to fill and store. Don’t overfill your containers. They will expand when they freeze.

Filled containers and freezer

And, voila, less than two hours later I have 25 pounds of fresh, raw food that my cats love. When I’m ready to feed it, I take about two ounces per cat and add enough water to make it the consistency of a thick chili. I warm it in the microwave on VERY low power to about body temperature. Be careful not to cook it.

In food bowls

Cost of the Raw Diet (Based on today’s preparation)

Chicken thighs, 19.96 lbs. $23.31
Chicken gizzards, 3 lbs.  $3.46
Chicken liver, 2 lb  $3.24
Supplements (16-40 fish oil capsules, 8 vitamin E capsules, 4 B-100 capsules, 4 tsp. powdered taurine, 6 tsp. lite salt w/iodine  $5.00
Total $35.01

The supplements are just a guestimate and probably quite a bit higher than theCat eating raw food actual amount. So for less than $35, I have 25 pounds of high-quality, raw cat food with chicken as the main ingredient. You can do the math. That’s just $1.40 per pound. Let’s compare that to, say Friskies which, by the way, is a very decent canned cat food. Check your labels and make sure real meat is the first ingredient, not a grain or grain by-product. So a case of 48 cans of Friskies weighs 16.5 pounds and costs $20.50 at Costco. That is $1.24 per pound. How do you think a gourmet, grain-free canned food would stack up?

If you feed raw food or decide to give it a try, leave us a comment and let us know how it works for you.

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Step-by-step instructions for making raw cat food with a grinder. You'll know exactly what is going into your cat's species appropriate diet.


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Paleo Diet for Pets

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The Paleo Diet – What is it?

According to Loren Cordain, Ph.D., creator of The Paleo Diet, it is the world’s raw chicken - paleo diethealthiest diet. It is based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, or Stone Age. I have seen similar diets called by other names but it always involves eating a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood while avoiding refined sugars and grains, trans fats, salt, high-glycemic carbohydrates, and processed foods.

Is the Paleo Diet right for our Pets?

If eating like our Stone Age ancestors is good for us, is the paleo diet also good for our pets? What did the ancestors of our modern day cats and dogs eat?

All dogs are descended from the wolf. The origin of the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) began with the domestication of the Grey Wolf (Canis lupus) several tens of thousands of years ago. Wolves are hunters and scavengers. They are carnivores (meat eaters) but they will also eat other things like berries and insects.

Cats are obligate (true/strict) carnivores (physiologically/anatomically), designed to eat and digest whole, raw prey. They have no need for grains and, in fact, lack the enzyme to digest them. Any grain they get from their prey comes from the gut and is predigested. According to CatInfo.org, in the wild, your cat would be eating a high protein, high-moisture, meat/organ-based diet, with a moderate level of fat and with only approximately 1-2 percent of her diet consisting of carbohydrates. 

Why, then, do pet food manufacturers insist on putting large amounts of grain (starch) in cat and dog food, both wet and dry? The answer, obviously, lies in economics. Grains, and even plant proteins, are less expensive than meat. 

Why Switch your Pet to a Raw Diet?

According to Dr. James Coghlin in his book The Paleopet Handbook, starch carbohydrates are the cause of most all major disease in dogs and cats. Starch is sugar. Sugars cause inflammation and immune disease. Inflammation causes arthritis, allergies, organ failure and, with long term exposure, cancer.

Besides all the health benefits, feeding raw is actually less expensive than feeding premium dry or canned food – if you do it yourself! I found frozen raw dog food online for $5-$15 per pound! Do you pay that much for your meat? You can buy raw chicken for a little over $1 a pound and beef for under $2. Adding vegetables (for dogs) reduces the cost per pound even further. Even with a few added supplements (especially necessary for cats), you will be way under $5 per pound.homemade raw food for cats

Feeding raw is one of my favorite topics. I have been feeding my cats a raw diet for nearly two years. It is easy, economical and gives me a sense of doing something really good for my cats. Look for more articles on this subject!


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