So, a few nights ago I had this really horrible dream that I was feeding Zaya a chicken wing and a sharp piece of bone got stuck in her throat or somewhere and she choked and died. I know that's pretty stupid, but I woke up all terrified and I am very nervous about feeding her bone. Usually for bone, I feed her chicken necks smashed up with a mallet and cut into about 2" pieces. I tried wing a few times, smashing it as well, but I get so obsessive about picking out every piece of bone that looks sharp/splintery, that I end up removing pretty much all of the bone. How do I get over this fear? Is it possible that she can get hurt eating bone? I don't feel as worried feeding her ribs because they are so soft, but I feel like it takes away the whole dental benefit of crunching on hard bone. What do I do? I am such an obsessive worrier about these things! And the wings just terrify me. I get this vivid picture in my mind of this sharp piece going down her throat and I just can't bring myself to give it to her.. Please help!!
Honestly, I think the bigger risk is in artificially breaking bone up--you're creating smaller pieces that the cat might just swallow without crushing to the point where his senses tell him he should. Left to their own devices, cats really CAN manage to eat w/out our interference.
That said, small cats in the wild would be unable to bring down a chicken. This is why I feed not chicken but Cornish Game Hen (which really IS chicken -- just small/young chicken w/ thinner bones). Quail is another great option for cats, as are mice/rats. If you DO feed larger chickens, your cat probably won't bother w/ the bigger bones, which is fine. Again, artificially breaking up bones that would be too big for cats to eat is not a good idea IMHO. When I have fed chicken necks, for instance, I put down the whole neck and the cats gnaw off pieces in the right size for them.
The fact remains that, yes, cats CAN choke on bones. It's best to feed bone-in meals when you are home and to remove them when the cat is finished/when you leave the house. Just keep in mind that cats can also choke on kibble--probably a lot more easily, since they did NOT evolve to swallow small, hard, rock-like items.
To let go of fears like this is hard, I know. The first time I gave my cats a bone-in meal, I hovered like an anxious grandmother.
I think the only way to get over it is to actually watch Zaya eat bones. Have you tried chicken ribs? They are very soft, fragile and easy for her to chew. If you can't bring yourself to try those, then go for the Cornish Hens ribs and/or wings or give her half a quail .
If Zaya hasn't had a bone-in meal before, you want to start with something easy, anyway. She's as unused to eating bone as you are to feeding it.
Thank you so much for reassurance and advice!! I think it's a good idea for us to go the smaller bird route. I am fine with feeding chicken ribs because I can feel how flexible and soft they are, it's just the other bones I was having trouble with. She's been able to eat all of them before, so it's not her that's the problem. It's me, because I am too worried about feeding them to her.. lol! I think quail and cornish game hens would be perfect though. Smaller, more brittle.. I like that idea. I never wanted to only feed chicken anyway. Thanks again for the suggestions and support!!
It IS scary - and I always keep watch while my cats are eating their bone-in meals. I took some of the wonderful advice on this forum and feed cornish hen bones and regular chicken rib and wing bones. I'm amazed that some of your cats eat drumsticks and turkey necks - mine did not do well with those at all.
I'm still working out my supplement issues by using a premix that got the thumbs up from my vet (a holistic vet that advocates raw diets). http://www.knowwhatyoufeed.com/alnut...h_calcium.html
The premix I'm using includes egg shell calcium but my vet said bone-in meals once or twice a week is good. I mix up a batch of chunked boneless thighs & liver (appropriate amounts) and freeze 1-2 day portions. Bone-in meals are usually fresh but I have pre-portioned those out and frozen them also.
There's quite a learning curve here. I also know I need to use some different meat sources and plan to try rabbit and maybe some feeder mice soon.