I've been really curious about raw diets for cats since joining the forum here, and along with my own recent research, I think I've decided to give it a go.
I can't really start the raw diet until I get in a bit better of a financial situation (and the stress levels in the house go down and I'm fully ready to take it on!), but I've already priced a full months meals for my two kitties at Hare Today and it's already almost $20.00 less than what I currently pay for the commercial crap they're eating. So here are my questions (some regarding Hare Today specifically)!
I can't really think of anything else right now, so talk raw to me everybody! Whoo!
First, welcome to the raw side, Time Bandit!
Your cats will thank you for your efforts on their behalf.
Now onto business.
There is no need to limit yourself to a single source for food items. Check out your local grocery and discount stores for chicken, beef, pork, quail and turkey meat and organ products. I only order online what I can't get locally.
1. Are the types of meats I am looking at appropriate for cats? I was looking at purchasing an assortment of rabbit, goat, and chicken, with beef lung, chicken livers, and turkey hearts for organs. Is goat ok for cats (not sure why not, but...)? Does this seem like a decent variety of meats or are there others that would be better substituted (pork or beef for the goat for example).
Pretty much any animal can be fed to cats, with the exception of fish. The more variety, the better. Heart and gizzards are considered muscle meat for raw-feeding purposes.
See this thread for more raw-feeding information: https://www.catforum.com/forum/62-raw...resources.html
2. I know that the more you grind the meats, the less-healthy they become as the nutrients are leeched out. Hare Today has "coarse ground" meats (the goat comes to mind), which my cats would only be getting for some meals, not all. Would I need to worry about supplementing this with extra vitamins/taurine? Or would I not need to bother since it's still "chunky", and they'd still be getting non-ground meats and organs for other meals?
This is a comfort-level thing. Since science has neither quantified everything in prey animals, OR determined how much of what is degraded at what level of processing, there's no easy answer here. I intend to replace my current twice-weekly chunked rabbit meals with the coarse ground rabbit, but do not intend to add any supplements.
There are many CF raw-feeders who grind their foods; I'm sure they'll chime in soon. Also, these websites may be helpful:
Feeding Your Cat: Know The Basis of Feline Nutrition Cat Nutrition.Org Feline Nutrition
3. What about eggs? I was looking at quail eggs, but wasn't sure about how to serve them... And what about the shells...edible or harmful?
I drizzle eggs over my cats food every now and then, but I don't feed the shells. See the above websites for more info on feeding eggs. Hopefully, too, someone else will have something to offer here.
4. How can I test if my cats will take to a raw diet? I'd like to try a few different types of meats before I go buying in bulk online. Obviously, pre-packaged sardines and junk are not good. But could I buy meats at my local grocery store (Food Lion or Harris Teeter) in the meat section? Would their butchers and grades of meat be acceptable for cats, or would most come with too many additives? I was thinking of trying raw chicken, beef, and turkey, along with some giblets and gizzards (I've seen them pre-packaged in the meat sections) and maybe some fresh herring as a treat?
As long as the meats are not "enhanced", buying from local grocery and discount stores is perfectly fine. Fresh-water packed sardines once a week - one fish per cat - are fine and make a good addition to a raw diet since they're full of Omega 3s. Lots of fish, however, is NOT a good idea, as fish can provoke urinary tract issues and allergic reactions.
5. I know bones should never be cooked as they become brittle and break. But can bigger bones be given to cats like you can with dogs? Could I give a piece of bone-in rib meat and just let them chew? And what about bone splintering...is there little risk when the bones are non-cooked?
As long as the cat has the strength to break the bone, you can feed it. Leave some meat on it to make it smoother going down. Most cats can't eat weight-bearing bones such as chicken thighs or larger, but can - at least eventually - crack anything smaller. Quail bones and chicken ribs are good starter bone-in meals.