I hope you don't mind that I am asking this on a raw forum. I have fed raw frozen commercial food to my two adult cats in the past, but recently moved 200 miles from the nearest distributor.
I am seeing digestive problems with two of my three cats, and I cannot bear the thought of them eating three different foods! My specific questions are summarized at the end... apologies for such a long post, I am trying to limit it best I can.
Up until now, I have not been considering home-prepared raw food. It is the sort of thing I can imagine bringing into my lifestyle within the next year, but would really prefer not to immediately, for a variety of reasons. So I welcome advice about that idea, but wonder if you guys might have other suggestions for commercially available premium foods of whatever sort. In my view, this forum is likely to be filled with some of the most self-educated people on the topic of diet so even if I am asking about a non-raw diet for the immediate future, I am hoping you can humor and assist me.
Besides the lack of raw prepared frozen food in my new location, I also have very very limited financial resources right now.
My three cats were introduced in the Introductions Forum yesterday.
Tigo, age 2-- is overweight and I have been feeding him a grain free dry food. Dry only because I simply cannot afford premium canned food. I prefer high quality dry food over low-quality canned. He has mostly been doing fine, is losing weight and has huge amounts of energy, becoming playful again and stronger and more athletic all the time. I am thrilled, to be honest. This last week, when switched to grain free Instinct Chicken meal from Felidae pure elements, he vomited a couple of times but that is not worsening or continuing. He eats grass every day and I am not too worried about a couple vomits after a new bag of food. He is the picture of excellent health, with a gloss on his coat that has carried over since we ran out of the last bag of frozen raw. He is the least of my worries.
Persephone, age 3.5 months -- When switched from Pure Elements grain free (but with potato) to Nature's Variety Instinct chicken meal dry, has consistently and suddenly developed cow-patty poops, not more often than usual, but the slop has continued with every poop for at least a week and is not improving. She has alot of gas as well. She is not happy with this food, obviously. I have started adding in Opti-Gest, with prebiotics, 5 enzymes and 4 probiotics, just a day ago.
Minnow, age 1.5 -- likely IBS. I have only had him since March. For many months, he and Tigo were fed Instinct chicken meal with few problems. What I recall is that Minnow would have diarrhea every time I opened a new bag of food (shocking! and I am very curious about that!) but would quickly resolve... in July, it suddenly happened with a new bag of food again, and it did not quickly resolve. He went off food, he had a lot of diarrhea, there was blood in the stool. This launched a continuing saga in which he has never quite gotten 100% but has not become significantly ill.
He was diagnosed and treated with coccidiosis, but has had a negative fecal following treatment. Since the bloody stool did not go away, he was put on Metronidazole for 10 days... which I am told would cure giardia, etc.
When he is under tx, he improves (significantly but never completely) and when the meds end, the bloody stool returns.
Timeline of Foods he has eaten with results:
Instinct dry alone (first 5 months in my home): sporadic diarrhea when new bag was opened. Sudden worsening in July.
Precise Holistic grain-free dry with Stella and Chewy's Surf and Turf raw frozen patties (each meal was split in half between these two foods): bloody stool, on and off, and getting worse with time.
Felidae Pure Elements dry with Stella and chewy's chicken raw frozen: worsening bloody stool, treated for coccidia and Metronidazole/ no change in bloody stool following either tx
Based on vet I am working with: w/d prescription diet: massive decrease in blood in stool. Now, however, he is fed meals in a separate room, and seems to be hungry all the time. I am adding Opti-Gest to his dry food as well.
To summarize my questions, which are many:
1) Any theories as to why an animal might have a reaction to the opening of a fresh new bag of Instinct grain-free chicken meal dry food?
2) Any concern that a 3.5 month old kitten might be intolerant of Instinct for real, or do you all think she just needs some time to adjust to the change from Pure Elements? (I was trying to get away from the potato once I caught my error)
3) The big one... it seems that Minnow needs more fiber in his diet. My understanding is that the feature of w/d that is beneficial for IBS is that it has more fiber. I guess it would have more than the dry grain free foods or the Stella and Chewy's. Has anyone else run into an IBS cat who needs more fiber? I certainly don't want to keep Minnow on w/d. This was an experiment. Now I need to find a long-term solution. I might try him back on Instinct but add a separate fiber source in addition to that. Any suggestions for that? Apple pectin perhaps?
4) Has anyone assessed the cost comparison of the sorts of food I am already buying compared to making a home-prepared raw diet, and what the heck, compared to a premium canned diet? I feed each cat the equivalent of 1/4 cup of dry food twice a day.
I hope to feed them all the same food, even if I have to add OptiGest and fiber to Minnow's.
Thank you in advance for any and all thoughts!