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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-30-2009, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
 
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Devon-Rex With Allergies...Raw?

Hey all,

So, I'm on day three of feeding a mixed raw/dry diet to my kitties. I'm still a little nervous about bacteria, proper nutrition, etc., so I wanted to post and get some feedback. Here's the situation. And bear with me, as I know this is going to be long! And let me preface this by saying that my vet is NOT supportive of a raw diet, and I can't afford to see the holistic vets in my area. They are a minimum of $165 a visit!

Edgar - 4 year old Devon Rex
He's had health problems since he was a kitten. The breeder I got him from was terrible, and after speaking to the breeder we got out other cat from, I found out she's notorious for unhealthy kittens. His most severe health problem is food allergies. A few years ago he started chewing the fronts of his paws and insides of his front legs. Under suspicion of food allergies, the vet gave him a cortisone injection and put him on prescription food. He was better for several months. Then he would start chewing again. Process would repeat. Sometimes he would be fine for up to 5 or 6 months. This year he moved from just the tops of his feet and insides of his legs to the outside of one of his front legs. He literally chews until he's bald and bleeding. We've now gone through all the foods. I've tried grain-free, preservative-free, holistic diets too. Two or so months ago he was put on liquid prednisone and venison prescription food. INSTANTLY he had severe diarreah. Explosive, splattering on the wall and on the floor diarreah. I took him to the vet several times for it, she said he wasn't dehydrated and that the steroids should help with the issue. Not so. She kept saying it would get better. Finally, I switched him back to an old food and the diarreah got a little better, but didn't clear up. I started researching raw diets. It seems like my only option at this point. I haven't read great things about home-cooked diets. But I have read amazing things about raw diets.

Gizmo- 8 year old Devon Rex
He's always been healthy, with the exception of one kidney infection about a year ago. He apparently had crystals, and it cleared up fairly quickly once we got him to the vet. He's always been thin, but in the last two years he's gotten thinner, and the vet can't find a reason. All the tests come back normal. We've tried everything to get him to gain some weight, and nothing works. He eats regularly and good amounts, so we know it's not that he isn't eating. Recently, when we switched Edgar to the venison cat food, Gizmo started yanking out tufts of fur on his lower back. Literally yanking. Not chewing or just pulling. His poor little back looks terrible! We are guessing it's related to the food, similar to Edgar's recent severe problems, but aren't positive.

I've read two books on going raw. "The Natural Cat" by Anitra Frazier and "Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats" by Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn. Both seem to be good books. I was more comfortable with using an allergy diet listed in Dr. Pitcairn's book, since he is a vet, and the other book is not written by a vet. I've read differing things on grains and cats.

Here's the diet I put them both on:

1 cup brown rice
1 pounds (2 cups) raw lamb
1/2 tablespoon bone meal
1 tablespoons vegetable oil (or Udo's Choice)
1/2 teaspoon cod liver oil
5 days' dose complete vitamin/mineral supplement for cats, made without yeast

I couldn't find a vitamin and mineral supplement that didn't have yeast OR other animal proteins (beef, liver, fish, etc), and I didn't want to use any other protein except the lamb. So I used what he calls his "Healthy Powder", which is:

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/8 cup lecitin granules
1/2 tablespoons kelp powder
1/2 tablespoons bone meal

For Edgar, I mixed some up that omits the nutritional yeast, since it isn't recommended while determining allergies.

I'm also mixing 500mg of powdered vitamin C in with it each day.

What do you guys think about the diet?

So far they are doing OK. Edgar loves it. His stools are becoming more regular. They've gone from a liquid puddle to firmer blob in a few days (although I am seeing undigested rice), and the rims of his eyes are no longer looking red and irritated. He is still chewing, but he's also still eating some of his dry food. Gizmo was very excited about the raw food the first day. Second day, not so much. I had to mix it in with the dry really well to get him to eat it. That's continued.

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated! I'm nervous that the food might be mixing some nutrients, and that the lamb might be too high in fat, or that my calcium/phosphorus ration is off.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-30-2009, 06:58 PM
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Re: Devon-Rex With Allergies...Raw?

I am in a rush, so can't say much now, but I would suggest getting the veg and rice out of the diet completely. Cats are carnivores, carnivores do NOT need those things, they can't digest them properly and it makes their bodies work harder.. the fact that you're seeing undigested rice should tell you he's not processing it correctly.

The other thing I wanted to mention was that you may want to look into a more "whole prey" model raw feeding, sure sounds like you're doing a lot of work you may not have to. If lamb is all you want them to eat for now, fine, but they should only be getting lamb meat, bone and organs. I would also suggest getting some frozen mice/rats and grinding them, chicks/quail, as well. All those meat sources can be less allergy causing (notice: I said CHICKS, whole... not CHICKEN).

You could make this diet a heckuva lot simpler and better for your cats in the process.

Edit: Also, get rid of the dry completly, and replace it with wet food.. it makes the transition to raw easier and I've heard is less reactive to cats with allergies (since they tend to be allergic to the grains/carbohydrates in the foods). Hopefully your cats like the wet food, and this is an option. NEVER under any circumstances starve out your cat, they must eat every day (unlike dogs who can go days without if a healthy adult {can: not SHOULD}).

Kelly

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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-30-2009, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Devon-Rex With Allergies...Raw?

Muzby,

There aren't vegetables in the mix. Vegetable oil, but I substituted an Omega 3-6-9 blend that doesn't contain corn oil, but safflower, sunflower, flax and maybe one other.

I can't do a whole prey model. I don't have a grinder, and I don't have the $$ to invest in one, especially since I'm not sure how well raw is going to work for them. I've also read from numerous sources that a pure meat, bone and organ diet is deficient in nutrients that cats need, and isn't the best thing for house cats that aren't outside and aren't very active.

I'm torn on the grains, but I do firmly believe that wild cats also have other things in their diet aside from meat, bones and organs. They often eat grass, wild vegetables, eggs (when the can steal them), etc.

I chose lamb because it isn't a meat source Edgar has tried before in the dry foods, and I wanted to start with something that I knew he hadn't been exposed to.

If you have any other advice aside from a whole prey model, I'd love to hear it!

Katie
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-30-2009, 07:35 PM
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Re: Devon-Rex With Allergies...Raw?

Just to make things more confusing ( ), I have been happy with the results I have seen using the supplement made by Feline Future - http://felineinstincts.ca/?page_id=26. I don't have a grinder either, and am having a hard time finding meats other than regular supermarket offerings.

Gracie's been eating half raw (either chopped chicken wings with small bones, chopped boneless chicken thighs, or chopped boneless turkey thighs, mixed with the supplement, plus chicken liver or beef liver powder) and half good canned food for variety.

Maybe this supplement, or another like it, would work well for you as it would assure that no important nutrients are missing...

Fran
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-30-2009, 08:43 PM
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Re: Devon-Rex With Allergies...Raw?

I agree with Muzby. I think you're making this a whole lot more complicated than you need to. The more ingredients you add to the mix, the more difficult it will be to identify any source(s) of allergic responses. If I were you, I'd limit the ingredients to meat/bones/organs and perhaps a few drops of fish body oil daily (NOT cod liver oil) with NO other additives for a period of six weeks and see what happens. You can limit protein sources by trying to feed meat/bones/organs from a single animal source, but my guess is that you'll find it challenging to find lamb meat/bones/organs to feed your cat. Then again, the bone meal you would otherwise use probably won't be made from lamb bones, and the liver oil is from cod fish, not lamb. Plus you're adding grain and vegetable oil? Frankly, the diet you propose seems full of potential allergens to me, not to mention enough oil to give even a healthy cat the runs.

Use the KISS strategy (Keep it simple, Stupid [No, I'm not calling you stupid - it's just the acronym]) to minimize potential allergens and give it time to work (6 weeks). You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Laurie
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-31-2009, 08:14 AM
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Re: Devon-Rex With Allergies...Raw?

I agree with Muzby and Laurie. I also wanted to say that when Muzby said "whole prey model", she meant it, Whole. NO grinding, give the cat whole meats, not ground. It's much better for the teeth. If I had to mix all that up I might loose my mind. Cats don't get anything from grains, they poop it out (as you've seen). So yes, you could argue it's fiber and necessary for them to poop regularly, but I use liver for that. It's not fiber but it increases the likelihood of poop.

Now I have always heard not to use Cod Liver oil and I'm betting it's because I feed liver so feeding liver oil would lead to vitamin A toxicity (too much vit A because it's found in liver). So if you are not feeding liver it may not be harmful, I'm just guessing though. If you want you can give actual liver instead of the cod liver oil. I think it would be a good move.

At the very least I would give fish body oil instead of veggie oil. We are dealing with carnivorous so I don't know why he's suggest veggie oil.


My personal opinion: Meat, bones and organs with fish body oil for your fatty acids is all you need. If you want to get a thing of cat grass to mimic what they might have access to in an animals stomach be my guest (although it'd be half digested in an animals stomach).

I give a bone meal (chicken wing or thigh or if I cut up a cornish hen I have pelvic bone, spine, ribs etc. that I can give) every three days or so. Every day I don't feed a bone meal I feed just meat and twice a week the meat will come with liver (about the size of a nickel) and another two days a week will come with kidney (size of nickel, a different organ can be used like spleen or pancreas but not heart, Kidney is just the easiest to find for me).

You cannot give lamb bones to a cat but if you want to order rabbit I believe rabbit ribs are small enough for cats, I could be wrong so hopefully someone will correct me if I am. I would give chicken a try though, I know people who have cats with a chicken allergy in commercial foods that do fine on chicken in a raw food diet. If you really want to avoid it though you'll have to find some way to get edible bones for the cat. If you are up to it you can buy frozen feeder mice/rats/Guinea Pigs and feed those, that would be a full meal for a cat with bones, organs and meat. If you feed chicken bones you can smash them up with a mallet to help him out if he needs it.

If you are interested in the prey model diet I can tell you how much the cats need to eat every day, just tell me how much they weigh.

I know this can be scary, I was scared that I would hurt my cat, he'd choke, a bone would puncture his intestines, he'd crack a tooth etc. so I just keep remembering this is what he'd eat in the wild. no one would grind his food or cook his food. So long as I don't feed bones that are too big his teeth should handle them fine, HAVE handled them fine Every part of his body is designed to stalk, hunt, kill and EAT prey, he's my little cheetah.

Even if you want to continue with the Pitcairn thing for a while keep reading up on this prey model diet and see if in the future you might consider it, it's the most natural thing for a cat. I'm sure the Pitcairn diet is not harmful and is probably better than commercial food, but I bet prey model is even healthier. Check out this site: http://www.rawfedcats.org/

It is great that you are going out of your way to make your cats healthy. There are people who would put a cat to sleep for allergies like this which is just a shame, but no one even tells them about this diet because vets think it's harmful. Thankfully you have done your research and I hope this diet can get your little critters to a healthy, thriving state.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-31-2009, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Devon-Rex With Allergies...Raw?

Fran:
Thanks for the suggestion! Unfortunately I can't find an ingredient list anywhere on that website, and it sounds like it has yeast and whey in it, which I know I shouldn't use while I'm trying to figure out his allergies. I'll keep it in mind for the future though

Nice to know someone else out there is using supermarket meats too.

LaurieF:
As I said before, lamb is the only meat source he hasn't been exposed to with issues, and most books/sources suggest starting with a meat source they haven't been exposed to, if possible. There isn't anyplace locally where I can find lamb organs/bones. As well, he's never had anything made from cod.

As I already said, I am NOT adding vegetable oil. It's an omega blend made from sunflower, flax and one other oil that I can't remember right now.

I've also read that I should NOT feed raw rabbit, as rabbit these days carries very serious parasites that are only killed with heat.

I agree the grain probably needs to come out.

Siameseifuplz:
A whole prey model like you describe is even less doable for me than one with organs and bones ground up. I don't even eat meat myself, and I live in a house with small children, and there's NO way I could feed whole small animals to my cats. Just not possible.

As far as the oil, I've already corrected this several times...it is NOT regular vegetable oil. It's an omega blend made from sunflower and flax, with one other that I can't remember mixed in. It was suggested in several books because it is an omega 3-6-9 blend that is supposed to be amazing for skin issues.

Like I also said above, everything I've read on types of meat for feeding raw says to NOT use rabbit. They carry very harmful parasites that can be very dangerous.

Everyone:

I still have a few days worth of the recipe mixed up, and after that I'm going to switch it up and replace the rice with something else. People have suggested cooked mashed peas or potatoes (just a small amount). It also looks like I should add a taurine supplement...although they may be getting that from the liver oil?

How quickly should I switch them over? Over the last 4 days I've been gradually increasing the raw meat and decreasing the dry cat food. So far they're eating half the amount of dry food they were, and that quantity has been replaced with the raw meat mix.

Someone (I don't know which cat it was) must have puked last night after I went to bed, because I found undigested rice and slime on the rug leading to the garage this morning. I'm thinking it's Gizmo, the cat that's been pulling his hair out. He eats the hair after he yanks it, which I know has caused him to puke in the past.

Thanks for your help everyone!
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-31-2009, 11:45 AM
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Re: Devon-Rex With Allergies...Raw?

I actually can't feed the whole small animals either (I could never feed something I consider a pet first and foremost to my cat), that's why I do "frankenprey" and just use grocery meat. So I understand that aspect, Could you not handle things like chicken wings, chicken thighs etc?

I'm sorry, I missed where you said you will not use regular veggie oil. I still don't like that it is a non-animal based oil. Even when buying commercial food I look for a food that uses chicken fat as the fat source and not flax seed oil. Is there a reason this is supposed to work better than fish oil.

Could you show me the sites that say not to use rabbit? I have never heard of this from any of the people on the yahoo raw cat group and many of them feed rabbit regularly. Usually once something is frozen for a certain amount of time it kills any parasites (and most meat is frozen for a long while before you get it).

As far as tuarine supplements, I know people who feed ground meat have to do this, I don't. When I want more taurine than something like breast meat has (not very much) I feed a chicken thigh or some animal heart, they are full or taurine. Does Pitcairn's book discuss supplementing taurine?

When I switched Willie to raw I did one meal raw, one meal dry food for a long time. His stools did get a bit softer but nothing terrible. I would have gone cold turkey but it took me a long time to get him to eat bone and the diet cannot be complete unless the cat eats bone (in the diet I feed) so I had to do half dry until he stared eating enough bone. I know many people who go straight to raw with no problems other than a little loose stool. So I think it's up to you and how sensitive your cats are. Do they usually react badly to food changes?

I'm sorry your kitty is throwing up. Hopefully he will stop pulling out his hair soon. If the raw food is too cold it can also sometimes cause a cat to vomit so make sure it's room temp or a bit warmer.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-31-2009, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Devon-Rex With Allergies...Raw?

Siameseifuplz:

Quote:
I actually can't feed the whole small animals either (I could never feed something I consider a pet first and foremost to my cat), that's why I do "frankenprey" and just use grocery meat. So I understand that aspect, Could you not handle things like chicken wings, chicken thighs etc?
I could handle thighs and chicken wings on occasion, but I'm still really concerned about his allergies. Chicken as the basis of the diet would be WAY cheaper than lamb! Even organic, hormone-free, which I know I'd want to do. Chicken was the first thing he become allergic to, and boy, was it severe. But I have ready that cats that are often allergic to chicken etc. in cat food do fine with it raw. I guess I'm just hoping that I'll run across someone on the forum that's had similar experiences with cat allergies, and get some first-hand advice.

Quote:
I'm sorry, I missed where you said you will not use regular veggie oil. I still don't like that it is a non-animal based oil. Even when buying commercial food I look for a food that uses chicken fat as the fat source and not flax seed oil. Is there a reason this is supposed to work better than fish oil.
In the two books I've read, an omega oil like the one I'm using was strongly suggested for cats with skin problems like mine. An omega fish oil can be used, but for cats with allergies they suggested something plant based that wasn't corn oil.

Quote:
Could you show me the sites that say not to use rabbit? I have never heard of this from any of the people on the yahoo raw cat group and many of them feed rabbit regularly. Usually once something is frozen for a certain amount of time it kills any parasites (and most meat is frozen for a long while before you get it).
I don't think I found that on a website...It was in the two books I've read, and one that I perused. I tend to feel more comfortable with things that are published in books by vets than just what I read on the internet, you know? The books are by Dr. Pitcairn and Anitra Frazier.

Quote:
As far as tuarine supplements, I know people who feed ground meat have to do this, I don't. When I want more taurine than something like breast meat has (not very much) I feed a chicken thigh or some animal heart, they are full or taurine. Does Pitcairn's book discuss supplementing taurine?
Both books talk about supplementing taurine, and the need for organs/heart/liver or a synthetic supplement. I believe there is some present in the cod liver oil, but I'm not positive. I'm really not sure what the logic is for using cod liver oil instead of fish body oil. Any ideas?

Quote:
When I switched Willie to raw I did one meal raw, one meal dry food for a long time. His stools did get a bit softer but nothing terrible. I would have gone cold turkey but it took me a long time to get him to eat bone and the diet cannot be complete unless the cat eats bone (in the diet I feed) so I had to do half dry until he stared eating enough bone. I know many people who go straight to raw with no problems other than a little loose stool. So I think it's up to you and how sensitive your cats are. Do they usually react badly to food changes?
Up until I switched to the very last prescription food, the venison, Edgar had the most regular stools I've ever seen, no matter what he ate or how quickly I switched him. Then with the venison he developed the explosive diarreah. Gizmo has always been the one sensitive to food switches, and so far his stools are looking fine. A tiny bit softer than usual, but not bad at all. He is the one that puked, but I do think that was because of hairballs. He's considered a hairless breed, and they hardly shed at all, so I know his stomach isn't used to dealing with hair at all!

I'm going to see how they did with the amount of raw I gave them this morning. I gave them almost a full serving of raw, with just a little bit of the dry next to it. If they handle it well, I'm hoping to try full raw for dinner tonight. After we finish up the small bit of mixed up stuff I have frozen with the rice in it, I'm going to use the rest of the unmixed lamb and make some with some peas or potato (very small amount), and put in a taurine supplement, and research the cod liver oil a little more. I know the grains need to go. I just want to make sure the cod liver oil and the things in the "Healthy Powder" mix aren't common allergens. The steroids are almost totally out of Edgar's system now, and he's begun chewing the insides of his front arms again

Quote:
I'm sorry your kitty is throwing up. Hopefully he will stop pulling out his hair soon. If the raw food is too cold it can also sometimes cause a cat to vomit so make sure it's room temp or a bit warmer.
Yeah, I've experienced the throwing up from cold when they've been sneaky and drank water out of a cold glass of ice water left sitting on the counter. I try to get it a bit warmer than room temp, to avoid that problem.

I don't think getting them to eat a bone would be a big deal...they seem to enjoy the raw meat now. I'm just concerned about Edgar's allergies and using chicken.

What other raw forums do you frequent? I'd love to post on a few others and get some more feedback.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 05-31-2009, 02:05 PM
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Re: Devon-Rex With Allergies...Raw?

Well stick to the lamb (or other novel meat sources) for now and wait until they are healthy again. At that point you can try a little chicken and see if they stay healthy. If not, no more chicken. If you really don't want to risk it there are other sources, they are just not as easy and cheap, quail for instance. They have perfect bones but are pricey, not sure what the price is compared to lamb. Maybe certain turkey bones would be okay, I'd have to see the size.

The only reason I can think of for using cod liver oil is if it provides the same vitamins that whole liver does. Since that recipe does not include liver perhaps the oil takes that place. I've never heard of that though so I am just speculating. I have always heard that cod liver oil is too much vitamin A, but they might just mean it is too much when the cat is also getting regular liver.

There are actually no raw cat forums that I've found, lots of dog ones though. A few members on this forum and I made our own raw forum for cats and dogs but chances are you'll just be talking to the same people. Now there is the yahoo raw cat e-mail list which is very helpful (though one of the head guys there can be kind of rude) but you get a bunch of e-mails, I don't know if that'll bother you. I do think there is an option when you register to join but not get the e-mails, this way you can read what people post there but not get your inbox full. Here's the group: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/rawcat/
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