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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-23-2016, 02:38 AM Thread Starter
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Whole Prey Feeding?

So... I am very reluctantly considering feeding raw. I've always been extremely, ummmmm, skeptical of the whole "in the wild" attitude because my cat hasn't seen the Serengeti or any "wild" place since she was a kitten living under a college smoking gazebo.

"So then why are you here?" you might ask. Well, the only thing that made me consider it for my cat - I would never feed my dog raw - is that there are feral cats out there who survive off a very natural raw diet. Kaida's mother was one of them.

(Dogs are not wolves - not even close. Though I wouldn't mind cooking meals for my dogs. I know they'd enjoy it if I could afford it.)

After some consideration, I was wondering who here feeds whole prey. I have a falconer friend who would be willing to let me order in some day old chicks and other whole prey items. (Add on my order to his big order.)

Do you gut it? I don't have an issue with handling dead animals, but I had to dissect various ones in a Zoology class, and it didn't go over well. Most likely because of the smell of the preservatives - not sure how I'd handle it at this point. For some reason, once the head is off, it's no big deal.

I can't feed rats - see: screen name & have pet rats - but I'd have no problem with feeding/breeding mice. (If you're having a hard time getting a hold of them for some reason, let me know.)

Is it okay to just throw them a mouse every now and then? Presuming they'll eat it?

I also found a cool calculator

http://perfectlyrawsome.com/pmr-barf...g-calculators/
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-23-2016, 05:22 AM
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Hey, me again XD

I agree with you about our domestic kitties generally not "seeing" a natural diet - they aren't out there hunting rabbits, mice, voles, birds, and what-have-you. However, there is a HUGE difference between wolf-->dog and wild cat-->cat. the TL;DR version is that, genetically and physically speaking, cats have changed VERY little since we "domesticated" the African wildcat. Cats have ... basically changed zero in terms of their digestive tract. They are NOT adapted to digest grains or other plant-based foods.

Dogs, however, are completely different. They literally evolved an "expansion" on an existing gene that helps them digest starches and glycogen. (e.g., the wolf has two copies of this gene; some dog breeds have as many as 29.) This means a dog CAN digest plant-based matter and can actually derive nutrients from it, whereas a cat cannot.

This doesn't mean a dog CAN'T be fed a raw diet - they're still carnivores, not quite omnivores. But cats are obligate carnivores, which is why it's so sad that so many cat foods have a grain as the first or second ingredient. A dog will forage fruits, veggies, and plants in a feral situation... a cat will not.

I HAVE gone frankenprey/whole prey with my cat briefly before I went to a ground meat-bones-organs blend. I fed pinkie mice, guinea pigs, day-old chicks, and day-old quail, along with some chicken meat and organs to shore up to the proper percentage. However I had a really hard time getting my cat to "chew" her food - to use those delightful shearing teeth she has - and after a while I started having to chop up the whole prey. Which didn't really bother me as long as they were frozen while I chopped XD

The prey items really didn't smell, except a bit like blood - which doesn't bother me (taking care of my dad, I've smelled that and worse!) I ordered the critters from suppliers online, but it was prohibitively expensive because of the frozen shipping charges. I'd love to get her on whole prey again because it really IS the best for her teeth (that shearing abrasive action on the fur, feathers, and bones) and because I'm all for the most natural diet possible.

Long story short, I think you absolutely can supplement Kaida's normal diet with some pinkie mice or chicks or whatever you can get from the falconer. Warm them up to "body temperature" if they're frozen (though it really will NOT harm a cat to eat a frozen mouse - in a feral situation a cat will happily snarf a frozen critter it finds dead in the snow!) If she doesn't accept it, try cutting it just a little in one place so that she can really smell the blood and it isn't just "oh what a fun toy you've brought me!" ;}

Other than Dr. Pierson's site, here are two other really good raw-feeding sites you can poke through at your leisure:

Practical Guide

Feline Nutrition

I'm super lucky that my cat was ridiculously easy to transition to canned from kibble, and from canned to raw... I pretty much went cold turkey both times and had no problems. I personally think switching to raw really improved Win's overall condition, energy levels, fur softness/density, and has slowed down her health issues (mostly her kidney failure, which has NOT gotten noticeably worse since her diagnosis four years ago). Her poops are small, dry, white, and literally DO. NOT. SMELL. (#1 benefit, IMO!) Her IBD has not flared up badly since being on the raw diet. I honestly can't soapbox a raw diet enough. But I'm fortunate - I can afford it (though a lot of my paycheck goes towards this cat, I swear) and it IS harder to store and prep - her raw food takes up one entire shelf of my freezer, and I have to take normal raw-meat handling precautions while thawing it - this goes for whole prey feeding as well, although most whole prey sourcing companies breed their product in a lab with little danger of contamination.

Sorry for going off on so many tangents, but - yes - you can give whole prey items as treats or as meals a couple of times a week. I recall reading about someone here on CF who fed canned four out of seven days a week, and whole prey the other three days.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-23-2016, 05:50 AM Thread Starter
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Is it just pinkies, or whole mice as well? I did the math, and at 25g a mouse, I could toss her a whole oust and sorta call it a day. Like we discussed before, she's only supposed to be 6 lbs.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-23-2016, 05:59 AM Thread Starter
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The main issue I have with dogs on raw is that, like you said, we've changed their structure so much in the past 10k years. Plus, recent studies have proven that they aren't descended from wolves, but that they are in fact just cousins of the wolf. (Which is why the Blue Buffalo commercials have me yelling BS every time they come on.) My dog, Sam, has problems digesting wet food, etc. I can't imagine what he'd do with a raw piece of chicken. His mother, our old farm dog, on the other hand has caught and eaten everything from rabbit to possum (with a little help from the neighbor's lab). King the husky mix tries to seriously play with my rats, and when one died, he laid next to the body and whimpered. So I don't think raw, particularly whole prey, will ever be in his future.

Kaida not so secretly wants to eat my precious rats, so maybe she'll do well with mice.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-02-2016, 08:23 PM
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I don't completely agree with the idea that cats can't digest grains. If you watch a cat eating a mouse, it eats the whole mouse - stomach contents and all. Okay, that's only a tiny amount of grain and it's been partly digested already by the mouse, but still.
Domestic cats aren't quite the same as their wild ancestors. They've been scavenging from our garbage in addition to hunting for the last 10,000 years, whereas true wild cats don't scavenge unless they're really desperate.
Sandy, our little female cat, caught a mouse this morning out in the back yard and, to our surprise, ate the whole thing. Last year she didn't even know how to kill them. Now she isn't even bothering to bring them in - she just eats them out there on the grass. (Probably because our oaf of a male cat tries to take over whenever she brings prey in the house. Mansplaining, feline style.)
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-02-2016, 09:04 PM
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Nuliajuk,

Saying that a cat digests the stomach contents of a mouse they eat and somehow gets nutrients from it is like saying a human eats a blade of grass inside of a steak and gets nutrients from it. The stomach contents of a mouse are minuscule, and just because the cat incidentally ingests whatever plant matter there is in there, it doesn't mean they get nutrition from it.

Just because feral cats scavenge on garbage does not mean they can digest garbage. Homeless people might eat plastic wrap, but they can't digest it. Cats will seek out and eat grass when they need bulk fiber to pass THROUGH their system - they cannot digest the plant matter and so it just passes through their system, helping with any constipation issues.

There are studies out there that shows that dogs HAVE evolved an improved ability to digest carbs and grains - they are a tiny bit closer to omnivores. Dogs have 32+ copies of a certain gene that helps produce an enzyme that can digest carbs (some breeds have more copies) - compared to wolves, which have 2 copies.

Cats have NOT developed these genes. They are not like dogs. They are still 100% obligate carnivores. They derive none (or very little) nutrition from plants, berries, vegetables, grains.

What Pet Cats Really Want to Eat

Roger Biduk says Grains are Very Bad for Your Carnivore Cat and Dog

Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition :: healthy cat diet, making cat food, litter box, cat food, cat nutrition, cat urinary tract health

Raw Meat Diets For My Pet

http://digitalcommons.library.umaine...context=honors

"Unlike cats, which are obligate carnivores, dogs can digest grains. This means that dogs have carnivorous traits with sharp teeth and meat drive, but also have the omnivore digestive traits with an ability to break down carbohydrate feeds (Mobley et al., 2013). Dogs can also modify
the feed given or synthesize from scratch the nutrient; taurine, and vitamin A. A cat cannot synthesize the nutrients from plant precursors, so these nutrients have to be added to their feed and the essential fatty acid arachidonic acid (Stokes, 2011). "


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-02-2016, 09:25 PM
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I'm just wondering, roughly how much does it cost you on a weekly/monthly (or whatever is easiest) basis to feed raw to your cat? Given the cost of any decent canned wet food, I wouldn't think that feeding raw would come in too much higher above that. When I do get a cat, I definitely want to feed either all raw, or roughly 50/50 canned raw. I'm curious how much that's going to cost me.

Last edited by marie73; 05-02-2016 at 10:13 PM.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-03-2016, 09:41 PM
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Azerane -

There are websites out there that have actually calculated the costs of homemade raw and it turns out to be relatively cheap.

Due to my current family situation, I can't prep my own raw meals, so I buy commercially-ground raw. I've purchased from Hare Today, Rad Cat, and Feline's Pride.

The raw is priced reasonably enough, but the brutal cost, for me, is in the shipping. Because the food is shipped raw, it has to be freezer-packed, and that can cost upwards of $50 for shipping alone. However, many pet stores and even some grocery stores are starting to stock raw foods, so if you can find a local store that carries, say, Rad Cat, that's perfect.

When I get home I'll bust out my supply of raw-feeding links and show you the sites that help calculate raw food costs :}

To start off, though, the incomparable Dr. Pierson does look at some of the costs of a homemade raw diet here:

http://www.catinfo.org/makingcatfood.php

But one must also consider the initial cost of a grinder and those supplies as well, if going the homemade route.


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-03-2016, 10:24 PM
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Yes, cats are obligate carnivores - but since they moved in with us about 10,000 years ago they've turned to all sorts of foods that they never ate as wild cats. Like fish - usually they get that from hanging around wharfs waiting for fishermen to bring the day's catch in.
I'd have a riot on my hands if I tried to get mine to eat raw. Any time I've offered scraps of raw meat or fish they've just sniffed it and walked away. This morning I found a partially chewed mouse corpse on the laundry room floor. Someone had started eating it and then just not found it all that tasty.
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