Tonka has been with me for three weeks today.
As I've been doing all this research on cat nutrition, and discovering the differences in commercial cat foods, no doubt the topic of home-made, raw diets has come to my attention. But homemade raw diets for cats? I thought to myself, "Whoa, that's kind of going off the deep-end, isn't it? And would I have the time? And knowledge to make a balanced meal from raw animal parts? And how much better can raw diets really be than the best commercial canned food out there?"
But after reading about all the benefits of a raw diet for cats, and doing much careful research on the topic, I decided to feed Tonka some raw meat last week to see what would happen. I said to myself, 'Hey, if he likes it, that's great, I can just add it to his diet!' but I wasn't about to try everything humanly possible to get him to eat raw meat -- I figured if he didn't take to it right away, I wasn't going to put much effort in to force him; after all, the high-quality canned I feed is human grade, so it's not like he's eating garbage -- it's just that raw is perhaps the most natural, and best.
Wait. Natural and best? As a responsible pet owner, how could I not give my cat what's natural and best?
The enticement was too much. So now I'm on a full-blown bender -- I really want my cat to eat raw meat the way nature intended him to and I'm going to make efforts to get him to like it if he doesn't take to it right away.
I gave him a little bit of thawed raw chicken thigh last week and, with little hesitation, he gobbled it right up. Since it looked promising, I picked up a pack of natural & raw chicken gizzards and hearts for like $3. I froze it, and today thawed it out to begin formally introducing raw food to my little carnivore.
I chopped up the hearts and a few gizzard chunks into tiny pieces and mixed the juice from the thawing gizzards/hearts & the gravy from a can of wet food together with the hearts/gizzards and put in a separate container to mix a little in with his food at meal times... excited to see if he'd take to it, I offered him a little as a "mid-day treat" around 1pm - he gobbled it up.
Then tonight, I mixed about a teaspoon of the raw meat in with Tonka's regular canned wet dinner .... he gobbled most of it right up, but left a few pieces at the bottom of the bowl. As for the rest, he kept coming over to investigate, picking up the pieces in his mouth and spitting them back out. Eventually, I poured some of the wet-food/blood "gravy" (from the raw food container) over the remaining raw he left in his bowl, and he quickly gobbled the rest up.
My goal is to do less and less of the "bribe" factor over time, until he realizes that raw is actually good on its own.
I've read getting a cat re-introduced to raw meat takes time -- sometimes a LONG time -- and I would like to eventually go 1/2 raw, 1/2 canned if possible (short-term goal), to fully raw (maybe - long-term goal) - depending on if I can get him to eat bone, organ and meat ... but I still feel like I need to do more research on making "balanced" diets from raw (as far as supplementation goes), so right now anyway I'd like for raw to just be supplements or treats in themselves...
I read that chicken hearts were especially high in taurine, and is counted as "muscle meat" rather than organ meat -- so I decided to try that first. I plan to try a little more chicken thigh and maybe even raw chicken wing (with bone) by next week. No plans of starvation - my goal is to just keep trying different things, often presenting it to him so he gets familiar with it. I sort of assumed he'd take right to it since he's already on high quality canned (figuring I wouldn't have such a hard time compared to an all-dry fed cat), but apparently raw is much, much different.
Oh, I should note -- I've read that feeding dry kibble (even high-quality dry) with raw meat can cause heartburn and other indigestion problems, so I didn't feed any kibble. He ate only canned & raw today!!! No kibble!
Cutting out the kibble ("doom nuggets" haha!) from his diet was nothing (since he was barely getting any anyway, 1 or 2 TBS a day at max). I wonder if I'll ever need to feed them again!