Tuesday, July 15, 2014

i have a commitment issue.

i can't blog regularly.

i just don't know what my problem is.  i have so much to say, but i just don't write it out.

work has been amazing.  getting paid to help people kick substance abuse is rewarding and frustrating and terrifying and fulfilling.  i don't love watching people pee in cups, i hate being lied to, and i'm learning to identify the master manipulators sooner rather than later.  my background in customer service/admin and having owned my own business mean i'm a pro at the paperwork side of it, even though much of it is on the computer.  actually, that might be why i'm so good at it.  i find it pretty easy to figure out how to do everything on the computer.  much of the stuff is intuitive for me; it makes sense.

i'm only working 19 hours a week and am desperate for more hours.  as it is, i've been working a lot for free.  i work 4 days a week and never take my 30 minute lunch: that's 2 hours of free work a week.  on mondays, i had gotten into the habit of staying up to 2 hours late for free.  during the week it's not uncommon for me to stay at least 30 minutes late.  and on fridays, well anywhere from 1-2 hours late has been the norm.

have you kept up with that?  that's 7-8 hours of FREE WORK every week.

three or four hours of my time every week is expected to go to supervision or training, leaving me around 15 hours to see 7 or 8 clients (an hour a pop), run two groups (at least 3 hours total), and complete at least two intake assessments (about 5 hours).  if you add it up, it just about works.

if that was all i did.  that doesn't take into account the urine testing i have to do for my clients and other clients.  it doesn't account for extra paperwork, like treatment planning or admission/discharge crap.  it doesn't include time for calling probation officers and waiting for call backs and touching base with other counselors or faxing child protection.... on and on and on.

so, yeah.  i do about 26-27 hours of work a week.  and i know there's a 28 hour position in other locations... we just don't have the budget for it at our location.  damn it.  damn it all.

i've decided i can't get burned out.  i can't be continually taken advantage of.  so i've decided i have to leave closer to my scheduled time.  this week, i actually put my 30 minute lunch on my computer scheduler every day.  i try to stop working; today i managed to take almost 20 minutes looking away from my computer and doing not much work-related crap; i messed around on my phone.  i left 40 minutes late yesterday and about 25 minutes late today.  i took some time to really consider my schedule and see how i can move appointments around to better suit leaving on time.

my thought is that if i ONLY work the 19 (okay, maybe 21) hours a week, i won't be able to tackle any additional 'stuff'; hell, i may barely be able to tackle my stuff.  then they'll see that i either need a smaller caseload (booooo) or more hours (yaaaaaay).

it's strange, sort of.  having a job i love so much that i don't mind working for free.   because that's not it - i don't really mind working for free.  it's just i'd rather they pay me for it.  and if i keep doing it for free, they'll never realize they need to pay me for it.

i've thought about taking another part time job.  i'm not sure that will work very well, but i'd like the extra money.  it would be nice to have a bucketful of money to take to florida next fall.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

how i make my cat food

yup, i make my own cat food now.  piglet won't eat it, of course, and she's probably the one who needs it.  she's in kidney failure and i started making cat food so i could control the ingredients and the phosphorous levels, which is important when cats have kidney failure.  so piglet won't eat it, but jake and samantha love love love it.

please check with your vet.  i am not a vet.  cats have specific nutritional needs and this diet may NOT meet AAFCO standards like commercial pet foods.   this recipe in particular does not have the calcium to phosphorus ratio that commercial pet foods have.  i did this on purpose to try and positively effect piglet's kidneys.  i am confident that it is appropriate for my cats based on their needs.

there are many theories as to why diabetes, obesity, and kidney failure is so common in today's pet cats.  i believe it is because we humans are lazy and feed cats whatever is easiest for us.  kibble is crap.  it's full of bacteria and questionable ingredients and stuff that cats actually cannot digest.  cats do not have the digestive enzymes that help digest vegetables and fruit.  cats have no need for added veggies and fruit.  nor do they need grain carbohydrates like corn, wheat, or rice.  cats are obligate carnivores - all they need is meat.  cats in the wild eat birds and rodents (fur and feathers), often eating the entire carcass EXCEPT for the innards - stomach, intestines, digestive stuffs.  cats eat the bones - they're full of calcium (and phosphorus) and help keep their teeth in good shape.


ingredients - all measurements are raw:

5 to 5.5lbs chicken thighs, boneless (if using skin, remove at least half of the skin - do not trim fat)
4oz chicken livers 
8oz chicken hearts 
3 eggs, whole - cooked 
3 egg whites - cooked 
4000mg taurine - buy capsules 
1/2tsp lite salt - in the spice aisle (morton makes it)
1 capsule jarrow b-right complex - b complex vitamins STINK. jarrow b-right is very low odor and non offensive to my cats.
200iu dry vitamin e - buy capsules
5 1000mg capsules fish oil 
eggshell powder (5-6tsp)


1. cook your chicken bits.  i put all the thighs in one 9x13" pyrex, and i put the livers and hearts into an 8" pyrex.  i put a little bit of water in with the hearts and livers, maybe 1/4 cup.  i use an electric thermometer, which i can set to a specific degree and it beeps so i know my chicken is done.  (i cook to 150º, which should kill the most dangerous bacteria - cats have sturdy digestive tracts and can handle way more bacteria than we can.)  cover your pyrex dishes tightly with foil and pop in a 350º oven.

raw chicken thighs - some had bones in them. i don't recommend doing that. it's annoying.

2.  wait.  the livers and hearts may be a little overcooked.  feel free to take them out after about 15 minutes if you prefer.  i'm lazy and don't care enough.  listen, cats eat this stuff raw, too.  the cooking is mainly because my cats eat slow and you can't leave raw food out for the cats for more than about 30 minutes.  cooked food, i can leave out a bit longer if they're still grazing.

3.  gather your crap.  you'll want to prepare your grinder, the bowl you're grinding stuff into, and get another bowl to mix stuff in.  get all your supplements together.

all my supplements - fish oil, jarrow b-right, taurine dry e, and lite salt.


4.  cook your eggs.  i scramble them.  SAVE THE SHELLS - rinse them out and set them aside for a few.

5.  when your thighs and livers and hearts come out of the oven, remove the meaty parts from the dishes and put them in your bowl in the sink.  run cold water in this bowl over all the meaty parts to stop the cooking (and make them easier to handle in a shorter amount of time).  RESERVE THE LIQUID IN THE PYREX DISHES - you'll need this.

this is after i ran the thighs in cool water to stop the cooking and deboned the thighs. which was really annoying.  leave the skin and fat on - it's good for the cats.

6. when the chicken parts are cool enough to handle, start grinding.  i keep a 7" knife on hand to cut the thighs into pieces small enough to feed through my grinding tube thingy.  every couple of thighs that i grind, i toss in a few hearts, some liver, some scrambled egg (unless i forget, then i mix in the egg at the end).

i use the grinder accessory on my kitchen aid stand mixer, and it handles the chicken parts wonderfully.  it will NOT handle bones, so don't try it.  and my recipe has NO bones in it.

7.  while grinding, feel free to pop your egg shells in a warm oven or toaster oven - we're not really cooking them, just drying them out a bit.  if they start browning, you should turn down the heat.  i leave mine in the toaster at around 200º for maybe 8 minutes.

my toaster oven is old and nasty. i want a new one, but i want a cool color. they don't come in cool colors.

8.  so at this point, you should have a big bowl of ground up thighs, livers, and hearts - oh, and if you didn't feed your scrambled eggs through the grinder already, pop them in the bowl now...

ground mix - thighs, hearts, liver, and i tossed in the lightly scrambled eggs.

9.  now you have an empty bowl that used to hold the cooked meaty bits.  rinse that out and grab a strainer.  strain the liquid from the 9x13" thigh pyrex into this bowl.

chicken drippings. yum.... not really, yuck.

10.  sometimes you can use what's left in the strainer - if it's small, mushy, fatty pieces, feel free to throw them in the ground mixture.  you'll mix your supplements into this liquid - open and empty the taurine, dry e, and b-right capsules into the liquid.  poke holes in the fish oil capsules and squeeze out the oil (if you still have the grinder up, grind the empty gelatin capsules from the fish oil - gelatin is found naturally in bones, so adding it might be good for the cats.  or throw them out.  whatever.).  measure out your lite salt and add that.  stir or whisk, just get everything as combined as you can.

11.  now we have the eggshell powder.  those dried eggshells you had in the oven?  you can put them in a food processor (very, very dusty) or grind them by hand with a mortar and pestle.  that's what i do.  i sit on the couch and watch tv while i do it.

this is my marble mortar and pestle.  i roughly crunch up the eggshells and then spend about ten minutes working them into a finer powder. it's not SUPER fine, but it's better than using the cuisinart because the dust is ridiculous.

12.  the eggshell powder won't dissolve in the liquid.  so you can pour it right into the ground mix bowl, and then pour in the bowl full of liquid.

adding the chicken drippings with the supplements mixed in.

13.  mix well.  i like my cat food to be smushy but not wet.  a bit drier than canned cat food pate.  if it seems a little dry, add in the liquid from the 8" pyrex that we cooked the liver and hearts in.  mix mix mix.  you want everything combined and the eggshell all throughout and the egg mixed in well.

all mixed up and ready to portion out.

14.  section it out.  i use quart size freezer bags and a food scale.  i put 9 ounces of food into each freezer bag, then squish out the air, flatten it, and place it in the freezer.  this feeds jake and samantha for one day; they get about 1.5oz at each of three feedings.  it will take almost 24 hours to defrost in the fridge.  if it seems a bit dry coming out of the freezer, add some warm water to moisten it.  jake and samantha like it as-is without any added water.

i modified this recipe based on recipes i found on the cat site, and i'm comfortable with the nutritional content.  jake and samantha really seem to enjoy it; piglet not so much.  she's been seeming sickly the last week or ten days though... i'm waiting for her most recent blood work results and then we'll see what our next steps are.

if you want to feed your cats a raw or home cooked diet, do the research.  not many vets support it, so it's up to you to do the research.  if you can get a nutritional analysis to show your vet, he or she may be more on board.  or maybe you'll be lucky enough to find a vet who supports home cooked/raw foods and helps you develop a diet.  another option is to use a balanced mix - you supply the meat and buy this premix; once you add it in and mix it all up, it's nutritionally balanced for cats.  a few premixes that are well regarded are TCfelineAlnutrin, and Feline Instincts.  If you're hoping to learn more about why to feed your cats like this, check out catinfo.org where dr. lisa pierson - a vet - shares what she's learned about feeding her cats.

does anyone else feed their cats home cooked or raw?