Thursday, September 19, 2013

RAWR - RAW... coincidence?

'rawr' is obviously the sound cats make.  and it contains the word 'raw' in it.

which is a really lame and not at all interesting way for me to tell you i'm feeding my cats a partially raw diet.

this is a controversial topic.  people are used to feeding cats what's in the grocery store.  they think it's okay to spend $10 on a 20 pound bag of food and call it a day.  they think, cats have eaten table scraps and whatever for years and they're okay.

not quite true.  dogs have been domesticated for at least 14,000 years, possibly a lot longer (i think a lot longer).  there was a dna diversion from wolves up to 100,000 years ago.  dogs were the first domesticated animal.  they've been eating whatever fell from the table or whatever scraps we threw at them for-EVER.

cats, on the other hand.... well, if you're a cat person, you can immediately see the differences between cats and dogs.  cats are not pack animals, and they do not 'recognize' a pack leader.  each cat is their own leader.  they'll fight with the other cats in the house whenever and wherever they feel like it.  oh, cats will get along.  because it's easier.

how stuff works' website has a good article about feline domestication.  the article also makes an excellent point about how feral cats survive so easily.  the american domestic shorthair - the cat equivalent of the mutt - makes a wonderful housepet, but can also survive very well in the wilds of long island.  i know because there are tons of feral cat colonies, some of which are trapped, fixed, and returned to their colony by loving volunteers all over long island.  some are fed.  but the point is, there is physically and biologically nothing different between my piglet, samantha, and jake and the colonies of feral cats out there - except my brood lives in my home and is cared for by me.

although, right now, jake is chattering at the door because he can see birds on the bird feeder.  which is the entire reason i bought a bird feeder.  i like them being able to see the birds and remembering that I WANT TO KILL THAT AND EAT IT OMFG I'M A WILD BEAST AND I NEED TO KILLLLLLLL.

because, deep down, that's what all cats want.  watch your cat hunt the little red dot; hunt its housemates; stalk the bird on the outside tree.

but don't keep your cats outside.  i strongly believe that pet cats belong inside unless on supervised yard visits.  i do not think that cats (or dogs) should be let out unsupervised to roam the neighborhood.  of course, that's another blog.

so raw food.  the BARF diet, aka bones and raw food or biologically appropriate raw food diet, is about giving the cats what they would eat in the wild, in its raw form.  it entails a lot of ordering organic rabbit and having it shipped to your home for outrageous amounts of money.  or finding a good local butcher who will butcher and sell you bits of chicken, quail, rabbit, duck, etc.  or buying these meats yourself and bringing them home.

but a cat has specific vitamin and mineral needs.  did it get all these from it's prey in the past?  maybe, maybe not.  of course, humans take multivitamins every day to supplement their diet and ensure they're getting the right nutrients - right?  so many pet parents buy raw meats and add special supplements to make sure their cats are getting enough essential nutrients - like taurine, which is imperative for cat's health.  these meats are offered in their raw form and ground up with the supplements added.  with the bones and all.  because bone is actually an important part of a cat's diet.  calcium.

then you have very concerned pet parents like me who are lazier than that.  at least, for now.  and we are concerned about our cats very specific nutrient needs.  so we turn to commercially prepared raw foods that have no or limited non-animal products.  these are in their natural state, uncooked and unprocessed.  or very minimally so.  we kept researching and changing: from friskies and crap to iams (which is also crap), to blue buffalo (crap), to wellness (not too crappy, but eh) and finally i found nature's variety instinct.  it's 86% animal bits and 14% veggies/fruits/minerals/vitamins.  i'd prefer the 'non-meat' to be 10% or less, but this is pretty damn close.  once we started feeding this kibble, which is completely grain free, we noticed a difference in the litter box.  less poop.  with each higher quality food we've fed the cats, we've noticed this positive change.

then we tackled the canned/wet food.  i searched and searched for my picky piglet, and happened upon weruva.  this food is minimally processed in a factory in thailand.  i know what you're thinking: THAILAND??? REALLY?  but yes.  it's actually processed in a factory that processed human food as well.  it's family owned - and that human food is sold in america.  so it meets USDA standards.  and i felt this was a good balance.  the cats were pretty happy, i was pretty happy.  poop was minimal.  vomiting was at an all-time low.

but i wanted more, better, whole-r foods for my cats.  awesome husband @_antgas and i had started eating so much healthier and cutting back on processed foods.  hell, i even stopped drinking diet coke (i know, hell may have frozen over.  i still enjoy a diet soda once or twice a week).  so it was important to feed my furbabies well too.  which is why i've started feeding them freeze dried and frozen raw.  the freeze dried is neat - i can rehydrate it with warm water so the temperature is perfect.  i am experimenting with other frozen raw foods and am having mixed results.

but overall, the results are good.

jake, piglet, and samantha enjoying a raw dinner

so there you have it.  the beginning of our raw journey.  hopefully we'll see more health benefits and find a vet that doesn't treat me like an idiot for feeding raw.  but that's definitely another blog post.


  1. I'm a total cat person and I could talk about this all day :) Over the past 20 years my family has had 3 indoor cats, and each has had pretty stubborn preferences in terms of food. One liked store-bought dry food, the one we have now prefers store-bought canned/wet food, and we also had one that wouldn't eat anything but raw meat. As in, go to the butcher's, get a slab of beef, chop it up in portions, freeze and thaw come feeding time. We also learned the hard way that raw fish makes cats neurotic, but that was before my sister went to vet school and educated all of us :) Now we try to work with the cat by choosing 'healthier' brands within her preference. I guess vets have their sponsorship reasons for promoting non-raw food, but if your cats are responding well, not to mention the fact that they were able to switch/adapt successfully, why not.

  2. i love talking about cats. i really could talk about them all day. or most of the day. and the feeding of cats is something that has become more and more important to me in recent years. our old family cat went into kidney failure at age 11, and we kept him alive and comfortable (albeit deaf and ornery) until 16. i attribute that to studying what he should be eating and love. of course, i wasn't as knowledgeable as i am now, and back then i was most concerned about feeding a good commercial brand that he'd like and wasn't too high in protein to tax his kidneys, while not being too high in carbs and crap. once he died, i really went into high gear with my remaining cats. that's when i started digging deeper into blue buffalo and where their food is sourced from.

    and of course, awesome husband @_antgas and i started eating healthier and cleaner, which made me think even more about what we were putting in our cats. i've read so much info about how hill's sponsors vet training programs and how there's only one course in vet school about nutrition. plus the dietary needs of all animals differ so much - look at dogs vs. cats, cats vs. ferrets, ferrets vs. dwarf hamsters. it's so much more than walking into a store and picking up a bag with a picture of your animal on it.