Hi everyone, I'm brand new to this site and joined up to get some help with feeding raw. We have three cats - a 12 year old large neutered male, 1 year old small spayed female, and 1 year old average neutered male (we also have three Chihuahuas). We have always fed kibble, including with the two cats we had previously, and though I did some self-education on dog food many many years ago I didn't get too in depth with cat nutrition until very recently. I basically took what I learned about what to look for in a dog food, and applied it to cats as well (my bad, I know!). As such, our kids have been eating Orijen Six Fish kibble for a very long time, which I still believe is about as high quality a kibble you can get. However, our youngest cat, the 1 year old male, has urinary issues. At just three months old, he developed Feline Idiopathic Cystitis - which, as I'm sure many of you know, is extremely uncommon at such a young age and very concerning. Since last October, we have been battling with on-again/off-again flare ups. At first, we switched him to a more canned-food based diet with much less kibble, after learning about his moisture needs, and my refusing to put him on vet-prescription crap. After a few trial and error attempts that did nothing, a couple months ago we ran him into the vet when he seemed unable to urinate - turns out he had a blockage, but thankfully I'm extremely aware of my pets and we got him there very quickly; they knocked him out and cleared the blockage. They pushed putting him on vet prescription kibble specific for urinary/crystal issues, and canned food as well. He's been eating that for two months, and after all their promises that it would work wonders, at his last urinary test a couple weeks ago, the report was "better, but not clear".
Now, I've been extremely unhappy about him eating this vet junk right from the get-go. I do NOT want him eating such a junk food his entire life - he's only a year old! If it gets to a point that NOTHING else works, and it's eat this stuff or die - well, then, okay, I guess I can live with it. But I fail to see how after telling us "he needs moisture, he needs moisture", how they can think putting him on a dry kibble diet, and a kibble full of corn and rice no less, is the answer.
About a week ago, I saw a post on a Facebook pet page from a woman who has an extremely similar situation with her cat - serious chronic urinary issues since about 4-6 months old, tried everything, was about to have him euthanized (to be clear, I'm NOT considering that option!). But then she tried a raw diet as a last resort, and a year later it has worked wonders for her!
So, for a week I've been doing some seriously heavy research on raw diets. There is a LOT of information out there, and it's a bit overwhelming. So I've come here for help
I think I have the basics - make sure your pet is getting at least three types of different proteins, include bones and organs, etc. I've read a lot about how badly a raw diet can go if it is not a COMPLETE nutrition meal - can't just grind up some chicken and feed that, need to supplement. As a result, I decided I would like to ease in with commercially prepared complete nutrition meals, such as Stella & Chewys. I decided I wanted to do frozen raw vs. freeze dried - seemed more "raw". However, after doing recon at our local stores as to what is actually available to us (we live in a small town, so availability is often an issue), it may be difficult. Our "complete nutrition" meal options are very limited. There does, however, seem to be a ton of "incomplete" raw availability. So I have a few questions:
1 - what, EXACTLY, needs to be included to be a "complete nutrition" diet? There are a number of brands that after reading their website, I'm very unsure about whether I can thaw and feed as-is, or if I need to add supplements. If I do, WHAT supplements?
2 - is freeze dried raw food just as good for my cat IF REHYDRATED as frozen is? There seems to be a lot more variety in proteins available for freeze-dried complete options, than frozen. Can I look at freeze-dried and still get the same benefits, particularly for the cat with urinary issues, if I rehydrate it properly?
3 - can frozen complete nutrition dog raw be fed safety to cats instead of cat, as long as it's not loaded with fruits and vegetables? We're switching our Chihuahuas over as well, and there seems to be a LOT more available to us locally for dogs than for cats. I know cats need the taurine, but my understanding is that taurine comes from organ meat, so raw food naturally is high in taurine and meets their requirement. So dog food with organ meat would cover that. I'm wondering if I can buy frozen "dog meal" patties that have a very minor or no produce content to give to the cats?
4 - any other information you can impart!
I apologize for the long post, but wanted to make sure I was giving the complete situation clearly. Thank you so, so much.