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Hi,

I’m hoping you can help me with my transition to raw food. Two years ago, after my oldest cat Bonnie got fatter and fatter even when using Prescription diet weight loss foods (r/d, m/d, o/m you name it), I finally did my own research and switched my five cats to grain-free food. I fed a mixture of canned (Innova, Evo, California Natural) and the Evo kibble. Everyone loved it and my “old fatty” safely lost close to 4 pounds.
Of course I did more research and figured out that cats should be eating canned food, so I transitioned to canned only. And that’s when all the trouble began. My two youngest boys, Heckle and Jeckle, surprisingly put up quite a fight. It’s not that they love kibble all that much and hate the canned, they just simply never ate enough of the canned. If I got lucky they’d eat 1 ounce twice a day. I tried different brands, textures, and flavors – the first time around they may have eaten a bit more (yet never enough) but then back to licking the food basically. I even tried Friskies! Both cats are very active and skinny and I like them at around 10 pounds. Well, while only feeding canned food, they went down to under 9 pounds which was just too much. Therefore, I went back to mixing kibble and canned and ended up putting weight back on those two cats.
Because I don’t want to feed kibble for obvious reasons, I decided to make my own cat food following the recipe on catnutrition.org and catinfo.org. I started June 26 and for the first two weeks everything went well. Heckle started hesitantly at first and needed Fortiflora. Then he wouldn’t eat it with Fortiflora – progress! Then he stopped eating it for a couple of days, vomited once but is now back to loving it. Providing he decides to continue liking it, we’re in good shape.
Now my problem child Jeckle: He loved it at first, couldn’t get enough, and even asked for seconds which is surprising since he’s such a terrible eater. Then the vomiting or rather regurgitating started. He’d eat, walk away a couple of steps and it all came up undigested. Every time. Consequently, he stopped eating it altogether because he associated vomiting with the raw food. I switched back to canned and took him to the vet in case something else was wrong. Bloodwork came back completely normal and the U/A showed that he needs to drink more water and has struvite crystals. So he really, really needs to eat canned or better yet raw!!!! He did get a cerenia injection (anti-nausea) and I was sent home with Famotidine to settle his stomach. He eats the canned just like before – he takes forever and when you think he should be done, half the food is still on the plate. I’ve tried low sodium chicken broth, clam juice, Fortiflora, and Parmesan cheese to make him eat more. Nothing works. For the time being I’m not feeding raw but I leave him exposed to it. I’ll put a teaspoon on a small plate next to him, for example and he may give it a couple of licks but won’t eat it. I don’t want to force it so I decided to feed canned only for one week and then start mixing some raw in starting at 5 or 10%. He likes Trader Joe’s canned and I bought some Merrick canned but no enthusiasm here. Today I’m going to exchange the Merrick for, sigh, Fancy Feast in hopes he’ll eat that with more gusto. He needs to eat! I’m seriously considering getting an appetite stimulant. Also, I’m only putting out a quarter can first and then I offer another quarter an hour or so later hoping that will help. I don’t mind doing it but I can’t be doing this forever since it creates a lot of jealousy with my other cats. I have to “guard” Jeckle while eating.
Does anyone have ideas how to get this cat to eat normally? And to get him back on raw? The food I make is chicken (thighs, liver and hearts) but in August I will try turkey hoping he’ll like that better. I grind it through a 4mm plate so there aren't big chunks.
My vet doesn’t support my decision to feed raw (no surprise there) but I know it’s better for them. Explaining that to Jeckle has led nowhere however...lol.
 

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Wow, tabbylvr76, you sound like you have done some solid research on feline nutrition and are completely on the right track with your food choices - so sorry your clowder is not cooperating!

You would think that all cats' digestive systems would do better with raw than with anything else since it is their natural diet, but unfortunately I've read on here multiple times that's not always the case. I have no words of wisdom for you as far as getting Jeckle to eat the canned food with more gusto, but I can say that it sounds like he is a grazer who is unlikely to change in that way. I think your best option is to feed him separately from the other cats, in a bathroom or similar easily closed off area, and keep giving him his extra meals. The others will get over it.

I feed raw with one of my cats (the other two won't touch it) and I wonder if Jeckle might do better with frankenprey than he does with the ground with all the supplementation mixed in with it. I would try him with some actual meat chunks and see if he keeps that down any better. It might not matter in the least, but it's worth a try. The other thing that comes to mind is the fact that you've only fed chicken so far with the raw food, and he may possibly be allergic to chicken. I would definitely try another protein sooner rather than later to see if this could be the problem - Sunny loves pork, beef heart and turkey.

Yeah, your vet not supporting the raw diet is definitely not a surprise. My vet who is a cat-only vet no less, told me she did not recommend it. I told her I was going to feed it regardless, because my cat Sunny who I adopted last December will not eat anything else, and she did say she would work with my choice. When we first got him I went crazy trying to get him to eat something, and he was always trying to get in the trash and was way too thin. Then one day I unwrapped a pork roast in my kitchen and he lost his mind lol - I tried him on raw and he was in heaven and has never looked back.
 

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Hi tabbylvr76,

I've also had some recent troubles with my cat, "G". He was vomitting up his raw too, but after some fecal tests, he was diagnosed with having two types of harmful bacterial strains that were causing him to feel sick anytime he ate raw. He was also having loose stools, so I originally thought he was having some kind of IBD issue and was trying different types of raw protein for a while. In the end, it was only canned food that he was able to keep down. After a round of antibiotics, he was totally eating normally on raw (started slow and added probiotics). Since then, however, he's been much more leery and careful when consuming raw, but he's now able to eat about 70-80% of it with a small portion of canned and water. He's still verrrry slow at times, but have found that using different protein sources such as rabbit or venison really helps his appetite more than poultry. If you can get these from your local store or butcher, it may help to offer different types of protein for some variation and interest. Another thing is that both my cats prefer more chunkier types of ground meat, so using a different grinding plate may help, or try offering them small chunks like in prey model raw? I started mine with small 1 inch chunks of thigh meat, then slowly added chicken necks, also in small pieces. It may take a while for cats to learn to eat meaty bones. "G" still has an aversion to large bones since his vomitting episode, though. :-?

Another tip I found great to help them eat raw was Stella & Chewy's freeze dried meals. It comes in chicken, turkey, duck, etc. Both my cats love these, and technically you're supposed to add water to the pellets and serve as meal replacements. It's quite expensive to feed as meals, so I mainly use those as toppers by pinching small bits and pieces or use them as treats to my cats to finish off "left overs".

I know that high protein and lots water will definitely help ward off crystals by keeping Jeckle's urinary pH balanced (6-6.5). You could also buy urine pH test strips online to check his alkaline/acidity levels when he eliminates, too.

Hope this helps your Jeckle in some way...persistence is key!! Don't give up!
 

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For moisture, I think if he doesn't intake enough water from the water bowl, how about having a pet fountain? I know some cats are spooked by it, but if you buy one with a bubbling type rather than a "waterfall" feature, it can possibly get him more interested in drinking. I'd probably pick one more like ones from Pioneeer Pet or Catit Design Senses more than the Drinkwell brand, for example.

Best wishes...
 

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Thank you Heather for your advice.
Yes, I believe Jeckle is a grazer which is not a good thing in a multiple cat household. I tried feeding him separately just now but because he's an ex-feral cat, closed off spaces stress him out. I think I continue guarding him on the kitchen counter.
On the upside, everyone else is eating the raw fine. I need the Fortiflora only for my oldest cat now and I'm fine keeping it that way for as long as it takes. So 4 cats are eating it out of five.
Jeckle licked a bit more tonight but then didn't touch the canned at all. I bought Fancy Feast and will try feeding him that in an hour or so.
I was also thinking that the chicken could be the problem. He ate it fine at first but I guess your body catches up to those things. I will try to dig up some turkey and/or rabbit tomorrow and make a small batch just for him. To be honest, I personally hate the smell of the B-Vitamin and am surprised the cats are touching the food at all, lol. Frankenprey came to mind BUT I did chunk in larger pieces in the first batch and it wasn't a huge hit. And before I started to make the food, I bought chicken drumsticks and cut them up to see how open they were to eating raw. Jeckle came running and greedily took it but he had a lot of trouble eating even a relatively small raw piece. He eats weird as it is. He's had several dentals because I know he has terrible teeth and he always has gingivitis even after anesthetic dentals and with daily brushing. I always feel he looks painful when eating (even canned food) but his teeth have no fractures and aren't loose. I'm not sure if he could actually eat a bigger piece. I do, however, have some quail - maybe I'll give it a try anyway.
Do you happen to know if Cornish Game Hen tastes/smells different than regular chicken? For the time being, I have a reliable meat source but it may dry up at the end of this year which makes me panic already. Tomorrow I'm going to check out an Asian market because I've heard they carry rabbit and some other unconventional things like chicken hearts etc. Where do you get your meat? How does the whole prey model work in terms of balance?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Water Fountain

For moisture, I think if he doesn't intake enough water from the water bowl, how about having a pet fountain? I know some cats are spooked by it, but if you buy one with a bubbling type rather than a "waterfall" feature, it can possibly get him more interested in drinking. I'd probably pick one more like ones from Pioneeer Pet or Catit Design Senses more than the Drinkwell brand, for example.

Ironically, his water intake has actually increased! I have a conventional ceramic water bowl as well as a water fountain (ceramic, I believe it's the Raindrop model). He loves it and I see him at the water bowl a lot. But who's to say how much he actually drinks?
 

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Fecal test

Hi tabbylvr76,

I've also had some recent troubles with my cat, "G". He was vomitting up his raw too, but after some fecal tests, he was diagnosed with having two types of harmful bacterial strains that were causing him to feel sick anytime he ate raw.
What fecal test did they run, do you remember? My vet actually suggested a fecal but I didn't want them to get one. I can collect it at home and submit it. Their regular fecal also screens for giardia. Is that sufficient or should it be a different test?

And yes, I'll be looking for some rabbit and/or turkey tomorrow and will make a small batch for him to see if it's just the chicken. I'm still giving him Famotidine. Maybe he just ate something weird. The cats have an outdoor enclosure and I found some green vomit in it on Friday evening. Could he have eaten a frog or an avocado (we have a tree but I didn't find an avocado in the enclosure)? He also brings in baby possums occasionally but I don't think he's ever eaten one.

Where do you guys get your meats like rabbit and turkey? I live near Los Angeles and right now I'm using the BARF co-op but that may cease to exist by January 2015 :crying.
 

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What fecal test did they run, do you remember? My vet actually suggested a fecal but I didn't want them to get one. I can collect it at home and submit it. Their regular fecal also screens for giardia. Is that sufficient or should it be a different test?

Where do you guys get your meats like rabbit and turkey? I live near Los Angeles and right now I'm using the BARF co-op but that may cease to exist by January 2015 :crying.
I first did the standard stool sample and it came back clean, including Giardia. The second fecal was called the PCR diarrhea panel. That was costly, but I wanted to rule out any other possible parasites or bacterial strains and frankly I was tired of the diarrhea. I always had to mix in about a tablespoon's worth of slippery elm bark to control it. Anyway, it turned out that "G" had c. perfringens and cryptosporidium, so after a few days into the treatment with abx, his litter box droppings had much improved. After a few weeks went by, I slowly introduced a small portion of raw along with his wet food and experienced no more vomitting or diarrhea. Stools were also finally normal and not "cow patties".

I buy commercial raw that is locally based here in my city, which I can buy from local independent pet stores or directly from the company stores. I get the venison and rabbit (favorites with both cats) which have all the vitamins and supplements in and prepackaged in 1lb pks. I buy 2 lb chubs of ground chicken (with bones) from a neighborhood butcher who also sells ground pet foods. Since he also sells chicken hearts, livers, and necks seperately for reasonable prices, I also get those rather than pet stores or even the grocery stores.

I feel you should be able to find local shops or butchers; Seattle is much smaller than L.A. and I feel would have more selection and resourcing. However, I guess you can also say Seattle folks are a bit more "crunchier"/"granola"-like?? Lol.
 

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I first did the standard stool sample and it came back clean, including Giardia. The second fecal was called the PCR diarrhea panel.

I feel you should be able to find local shops or butchers; Seattle is much smaller than L.A. and I feel would have more selection and resourcing. However, I guess you can also say Seattle folks are a bit more "crunchier"/"granola"-like?? Lol.
Jeckle doesn't have any diarrhea at all. I wonder if he is either raw chicken intolerant or simply associates raw with vomiting. Years ago, I tried eating refried beans for the first time when I was already feeling unwell. By the next day I was vomiting (not food poisoning, just under the weather). I couldn't eat refried beans for 6 years because just looking at them reminded me of vomiting! LOL. I hope Jeckle has a much shorter memory span!

I did buy Fancy Feast last night and offered it after he didn't even eat his TJ canned food that he normally loves. He was clearly hungry because he kept jumping up on the kitchen counter (that's where he eats) meowing but wouldn't touch the canned. Fancy Feast is definitely not my first choice but at this point he has to eat so I gave it a shot. He ate the entire can which is a LOT for him! I could tell he was hungry. He licked the plate and seemed content which made me oh so very happy. He ate another can this morning, yeah!
So my plan is this: providing he keeps enjoying Fancy Feast (which may not happen as we all know), I'll feed him FF. I've only tried the turkey varieties so far but also bought some chicken since he's never had problems with canned chicken before. FF has a lot of flavors and textures to choose from which may keep him interested. I'm only feeding FF for the next few days to get him to eat regularly. Today I'm going to track down some rabbit and will make a really small batch of rabbit food just for him. I don't think I'll mix it with the FF because I don't want to take the chance of him getting sick and refusing FF. I'll offer it on the side. If he won't eat or tolerate it, I use it with the other cats. On Saturday I'm picking up another chicken order (at least the other cats are eating it) and in August I will make a mixture of chicken carcass (the skeleton) and turkey thigh meat. I'll save some of the chicken skin that I normally discard when making chicken (I remove 50-70%) and add it to the turkey thigh meat for fat. Maybe he'll like the turkey. If not, and he keeps eating FF, he'll remain on FF.

As far as meat is concerned...you WOULD think it's easier here but I've had tremendous trouble. I do have a butcher right down the street who could get me all the freshly slaughtered chicken parts I need but he'd charge me $4/lb for thighs and $20 for 5lb of livers and hearts each. That would be extremly costly seeing that I go through 35lb of thighs, 8lb of hearts and 4lb of livers a month! Obtaining hearts and livers can be quite difficult around here. I have friends in Oregon who get their meat wholesale with all kinds of exotic meats because there are so many raw feeders. Like I said, I'll be checking out an asian market today because they supposedly carry rabbit and, who knows, maybe even venison. I'm hoping the co-op will continue in 2015. I know Sprouts and Fresh & Easy carry chicken at a reasonable price ($0.99/lb for legs) and I think Sprouts can order chicken livers at least. Turkey will be harder to come by at a reasonable price. Looks like I'll have to start breeding rabbits in my backyard...jk
 

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Frankenprey

Hi,
I just recently posted about one of my cats throwing up and now refusing to eat raw. I grind their food according to the recipe on catnutrition.org. Four out of five cats are eating it just fine. The fifth one is now only eating Fancy Feast - which is better than kibble but I really would like him to eat raw. Someone in the other thread suggested frankenprey and at first I wasn't too interested because I feel he wouldn't be able to chew it (he's a slow eater and strange chewer). I believe the suggestion that this cat doesn't like the added supplements could be correct. He comes when I'm making the food and tries to steal thighs or hearts but won't go near the finished product. Personally, I don't like the smell of the Vit B-Complex either! So I'm currently defrosting a quail and some chicken hearts for him to try "straight up". I may have to cut it into really small pieces but I guess we can work up to larger pieces :wink:
I do have some questions and hope you guys can help:

1) Would someone share their weekly meal plan with me? I can do the calculations (would wanna switch some of the other cats to frankenprey also) on my own but I'm a little worried about getting it all balanced. Also, I can only feed twice a day due to my work schedule.

2) How big are the bones you feed? I can see quail being a good size and a chicken wing but I've seen turkey drumsticks on the menu before which seem rather large...

3) How can I be sure to get the bone ratio right? For example, assuming a cat needs 2.5oz of bone 3x per week and you feed chicken wings. I believe I read that a chicken wing is about 46% bone. Obviously, each wing has to weigh more than 2.5oz but how can you be sure the amount of bone is right? I'm sorry if that makes me sound stupid but I know bone is important and all these numbers/calculations are kind of scary :yikes

4) Where do you guys all shop? Currently, I'm able to get food through SoCal Barf at a really good deal but that may stop in 2015. I haven't checked if they carry secreting organ meats yet. But I would have a source for chicken gizzards and possibly hearts. "Regular" chicken, turkey, beef and pork I know I can get everywhere. But where do you get your organs if not at a butcher? Do places like Stater Bros, Ralphs, Sprouts, etc carry them? What about rabbit and quail? I believe Walmart may carry quail actually. I know ethnic markets carry a variety of "exotic" meats and I just bought some rabbit there but returned it because it said 'Product of China' on it and I didn't want to take the risk...

Hope it's ok to ask this many questions. I've been checking online too and found several helpful pages. I just want to get it right (my vet is not supportive by the way)!
 

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Tabbylvr,

So sorry for my late response. I can't really share my menu with you since I currently feed a combination of ground commercial raw with a few chunks of meat here and there along with a bit of canned food to my male cat because he's always intimidated and doesn't like eating heavy bone products like chicken necks. I usually have to cut the necks into smaller chunks, but even then I'm lucky if he eats one or two 1-inch pieces!

Anyway, regarding the size of bones, I don't give anything larger than chicken necks or thigh bones. You could cut them up like I do to make it easier to consume...having a nice hefty pair of kitchen scissors also helps a lot! Turkey bones are too big in my opinion, but I suppose you could feed it if you smashed it with a hammer first and most cats like turkey anyway. My cats are weird; they don't like turkey (even canned flavors), so I don't bother.

Because I don't stick to frankenprey exclusively, I don't put much bone into their diet, but do add one chicken neck or two in a week to Maya's diet. You'll need to balance it out with organ meats like liver or kidney, for example as organ meats tend to form softer stools and bone-heavy meats tend to do the opposite. Keep an eye on the litter box activity to make sure they're not constipated, too.

Where do I shop? I think I mentioned on your other thread I go to my local butcher and found a specialty grocery store that carries exotic meats, but I often go to my local independent pet store in my area since I buy commercial raw a lot and canned foods. It's not cheap by any means, but I don't want to purchase a grinder yet as I don't have counterspace for it nor enough freezer space to store all that raw food.

If you have a grinder, I've found that adding all supplements in water first, along with the egg yolk, etc, and whisking it all together first before you mix it into the ground meat and storing it in the freezer for 1-2 days often helps my cats to eat the food more. (I think they don't like the strong scents of vitamins or fish oil I put in.) Maybe you can try that as well? Hope others will add on their opinion to help you further...good luck!
 

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I didn't see this before, sorry. My menu for my cat Sunny (adult male, approx. 10-11 lbs.) includes approx. 3 oz. of meat chunks twice a day consisting mostly of pork, beef heart and boneless chicken thighs. Sometimes I will throw in some turkey or regular beef chunks as well (still not more than 3 oz. per meal though). He also gets 1.5 oz. of liver (whatever kind I happen to find) and 1.5 oz of kidney per week (again, whichever type - I have used chicken, beef and lamb), and I cut up those organ pieces very small and add a bit of one to each meal so that at any given meal he is also eating a small amount of kidney or liver. I get all of my meat/organs in a regular chain grocery store, plus a local small market that tends to have things like the lamb kidney.

As far as the bone goes, more experienced raw feeders will weigh in here I'm sure, but my understanding was that they need 2.5 oz. of raw meaty bones 3 times a week, so that would include whatever meat is on the chicken wing. I don't think it needs to be 2.5 oz. of just bone with no meat involved at all. As I say though, I'm not that up on the bone part because my Sunny pretty much refuses bone although I keep offering periodically. What I use instead is ground up eggshells that I keep in a shaker and 'salt' his food with. He also steals just enough of his sister's catfood that I don't worry about him lol. And she isn't hurting in the weight category, so I don't worry about her.

For ease of feeding, I take an hour or so every so often and cut up his meat into chunks and freeze a lot of it into single serving ziplock snack bags so I can just pull out a small bag to defrost in the fridge for each meal. I'm not surprised your vet isn't supportive, I don't think too many are unfortunately. :roll:
 
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