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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Constipation on raw food - need fix!

I am really hoping someone here can give me some pointers!

Background:

I have two cats. One is about 8 years old and the other is 15, both female. They had been on dry kibble for most of their lives because we did not know any better. We did buy "higher quality" food though. 3-4 years ago, the younger one developed crystals and was put on Science Diet CD, mostly dry with occasional canned. Neither cat was excited by canned so they usually ignored it in favor of the dry. The crystals cleared up. But both cats started having other problems. I won't bore you with the details..... I went back to the vet and they were both put on various medications to address their problems. After doing my own research and learning just how bad Science Diet, and dry food in general was for cats, I suspected that their problems might be fixable with diet changes.....including the crystals. And that I needed to get them off the prescription food. My vet was not at all supportive of this. But I took a leap and tried switching them to raw.

We switched to Nature's Variety Raw (the only brand I can get locally) and they made the transition beautifully. They do get canned (Wellness) when we are out of town because we could not find a cat sitter willing to deal with raw. And they very very rarely will get Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Boost if for some reason they need to be unattended for more than 12 hours. This has not happened in many months now.

They have been on this new diet for 18 months now. All of their problems disappeared. No sign of the crystals have returned. All the secondary problems went away. They are off all meds. And to boot they are livelier and have much softer fur. Yay.

The Problem:

A few months ago we started to notice some poo out of the box. It was always right next to the box and clearly very small and dry. We are not sure which cat it is. Having an older cat, I did not think too much of it at first. But it has been going on for a few months now and we noticed some blood in it. Back to researching..... So, after poking around online, I have learned that Nature's Variety is very high in bone content and that this can cause constipation.

As a temporary measure, we switched to all canned food just to clear it up. This has been a few days now and no poo out of the box. Now I need help with the next step.

I would like to get them back on raw. I am not interested in making the food myself. I have done it in the past but we are a vegetarian family and frankly, the trauma was a bit too much for us all. It ended up costing more and I just have too much on my plate to do it even if I were OK with the process. Right now anyway. I have not ruled it out forever.

I figure I have two choices. We can either go back to Nature's Variety and change the way we use it to help the cat digest it easier. I already add water to it. Are there other things I could do? I have seen that one can add a little canned pumpkin? Or ground phylum husks? Any other additives I should look into? This is my preferred route since my extremely picky cats like this type of food, it is affordable, and I can get my hands on it easily. Any reason I should NOT try this first?

The other option is to explore a different commercial food. I can talk to our feed store and see what they can get shipped to them. We are pretty broke so if it cannot be delivered there, it is not an option. The shipping costs for frozen raw are just too high..... BUT, how can you tell what the bone content is?!? I have done search after search. I know Rad Cat is low/no bone, but my store cannot get it. Can someone either fill me in on other low bone foods or can direct me to a resource?

Thanks!!!!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 04:31 PM
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I don't know that I can really offer much advice as I'm not familiar with these brands (I live in NZ) and I make my own Raw food ... but the bone content is really important to know. Also raw fed cats do poo less and have smaller, drier poos than canned and kibble fed cats. If the stool is whitish that's a pretty good indication that too much bone is the issue.
How much water are you adding? The raw that I make is quite sloppy. I do add ground psyllium husk as one of mine has GI issues and another is prone to constipation. I'm not sure if it makes any difference or if I just feel happier because I am doing 'something' that might help hehe.
You would need to be careful if adding extras into their food that you didn't upset the muscle:bonergan ratios ...
This might help though if you haven't already read it. In this article Lisa Pierson discusses using Guar Gum to help with constipation.

Making Cat Food by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM :: homemade cat food, cat food recipes

This would be a simple this to try and would mean you wouldn't have to change their basic diet.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 05:35 PM
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Most brands of commercial raw food are higher in bone than most kitties can tolerate...IMO.

There's a super easy fix to this actually, two options:

1. add some canned food to each meal (this will stretch the raw and canned farther and also add some non-bone content to lower that percentage).

2. Add some plain old meat! I know that you said making it yourself isn't an option, I'm talking about a much simpler version. Instead of feeding solely NV raw you would go to the store and buy some other meat as well; beef in stew chunks, pork in stew chunks, or ground. My preference is always chunks over ground since grinding breaks down some of the nutrients and chewing is very beneficial for cats...but if you can't manage that then the ground would do.

Either way you're talking about adding probably less than 1/4 of your cats total consumption worth of canned or extra meat.

I wouldn't bother with adding anything extra like pumpkin ect until you've made sure just adding a bit more meat doesn't fix the issue...it probably will.

I'm willing to bet that the issue may not be the cat purposefully eliminating outside the box. Sorry to be graphic, but I know if I'm not paying attention and feed a bone meal once too often some of my cats have 'hangers on' after they leave the box. These commonly fall off, or are rubbed off (thanks cats... :/) a few feet from the box. This may be why you're finding some stool outside of your litter box.

The general recommendation for a frankenprey diet (commonly made at home raw diet) is for 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% other secreting organ...this was originally created for dogs, not cats. I find it's pretty common to see constipation issues and I've come to believe that cats need a smaller amount of bone. The trick is that no raw diet is going to fit each cat so you need to add a bit more meat until you reach the 'sweet spot'.

My best guess is that cats need more in line with 88-855% meat and 8-5% bone. Again...varying by cat.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkbshrew View Post
You would need to be careful if adding extras into their food that you didn't upset the muscle:bonergan ratios ...
This might help though if you haven't already read it. In this article Lisa Pierson discusses using Guar Gum to help with constipation.

Making Cat Food by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM :: homemade cat food, cat food recipes

This would be a simple this to try and would mean you wouldn't have to change their basic diet.
Thanks so much for replying!

I do make the food into almost a soup. I am not sure how much water I add because I never measure it, but with the crystals history, I figured more is better. I would guess between 1/8 and 1/4 cup. I used Pierson's site when I made cat food! I cannot believe I did not think to go there. And it did not show when I was searching. So thanks!

There is not much worse than talking about cat poo, eh? It does not look white but I confess that I have not dissected it or anything They for sure have drier and smaller poo but the outside of the box thing and blood got me more concerned. And now that I think of it, we have had a couple of episodes of the older one licking obsessively. Which helps to scope out the likely suspect if it ever comes to consulting a vet.

Now to see if I can find Guar Gum......

Last edited by marie73; 10-11-2013 at 12:55 AM.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by librarychick View Post
Most brands of commercial raw food are higher in bone than most kitties can tolerate...IMO.

There's a super easy fix to this actually, two options:
Thanks! I did not think of just adding some meat. I can probably do that. I was the cutting up whole raw chickens in my kitchen that was not so cool. Or even adding grain free canned.

I am pretty sure the cat is indeed defecating outside the box intentionally. It is full tiny piles....not a piece that dropped off later. We had another cat years ago that did the same thing when she got really old (18+ years). Whichever cat is doing it is doing it in the same spots.....

Last edited by marie73; 10-11-2013 at 12:55 AM.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 05:54 PM
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Guar Gum (over here anyway) is available from health food shops and shops that sell gluten free foods usually. Maybe try Amazon as well?

How many litter boxes do you have? If the 'creative' pooing is happening in the same spots I'd add some litter boxes there in the short term until you get the situation under control.

And yes, poo discussions are just the bomb! It's even worse when you are fostering kittens let me tell you! Poo/Pee observation & discussion rules above all else!!!!

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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We have 4 boxes for 2 cats. We kept moving a box over where ever poo is found but the poo would just be next to the box in the new location. It was not a huge deal because our boxes are in the basement and not a living area so cleaning it up is not a huge deal. And with a 15 yo cat, we figured we are pretty lucky to not be having bigger litter box problems. I am not so much concerned about the poo outside of the box, I just don't want the cat to be uncomfortable or have ongoing health issues from constant constipation. And really, it makes sense. If it hurts to poo, I am sure it feels much better to use the nice cold concrete/dirt floor (130 year old Michigan basement). So far we have never had a problem with it happening in our living areas. The older one is the sweetest cat ever and we just want her to feel good and be happy.

Last edited by marie73; 10-11-2013 at 12:54 AM. Reason: rq
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by skimomma View Post
Whichever cat is doing it is doing it in the same spots.....
I meant this in relation to the litter box. So wherever the box is, the poo is right next to it. I can see that it was written in a way that only I understand
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2013, 08:47 PM
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I had my autotranslate switched on so I understood perfectly hehe.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-13-2013, 09:22 PM
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I do not feed raw, but I have heard from several people that do and from what I hear, they don't poop as much when they eat raw food. I've even seen people concerned because the poops are small and hard as you describe. I hear that is one of the good things about feeding raw, they don't go as often, they don't produce as much and it's less stinky. But I have never fed raw, this is just something I've heard, but I thought I'd mention it and see if anyone can correct me on this.
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