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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have been transitioning Merry (8-year-old male DSH, Tabby) to a raw diet for two weeks (today is day 15). I've had to use some tricks, but 50/50 canned cat food (no grain or fish) mixed with coarsely ground quail had been working best.

I gave him a small mouse three days ago. He played with it but didn't eat it; same thing the next day.

Then, yesterday, everything changed...

The mouse vanished... I only found its hind leg. I gave him a second mouse and watched him eat it to make sure that's what was happening! I was delighted.

Today he has eaten three mice so far, so I put out another one. Just trying to find out how many mice he will eat for breakfast. He has walked away from the fourth mouse so far (oh, he just got the fourth mouse and is now eating it; that's his typical pattern, to come back an hour later and finish his meal). They are small mice, by the way. Three mice only weigh one ounce in total. I will buy bigger ones each time until he will eat a full-grown mouse. I can get them in all sizes here in Vancouver from a local person who raises them for the reptile community. They even deliver! Welcome to Annie's Rodents

Now I need to get him to eat chunks of other meat. He will eat raw chicken hearts and loves liver, but liver has to be rationed carefully, so that's more like a treat, really. I would like him to eat chicken, quail, rabbit, etc. that's not ground so he gets the teeth-cleaning benefit of chewing the bones. And I read that grinding can destroy some of the taurine, so I always add taurine to the ground quail. I guess I will try tossing down half a quail this week. After all, the mouse experiment proved very successful.

I would be happy to feed him just mice, but I don't want him to fixate on them and refuse to eat anything else. I'm sure he would always eat canned food in an emergency, but I read here on the forum that cats need a few different meats for variety. I can get rabbit locally and I will try to find a source of day-old chicks. I can get them on the Internet, but I have to drive to Point Roberts in the USA to pick them up and I haven't checked to see what the custom rules are (should be okay, though).

Merry has lost some weight and looks very sleek and lovely. He is also far more energetic and seems more interested in being outside on the patio. He's been such a home body that he virtually never leaves the patio, but he has shown more interest in going over the fence in the last couple of days. It's like his hunting instinct has kicked in! I notice he's thrashing his tail a lot... as though he's excited to be alive. I live in a ground floor apartment. On the other side of my very private, big, fenced-in patio there's a garden and a lawn, then the back lane, so it's reasonably safe. And it's a very quiet area; the only cars in the lane are those accessing our underground parking (it's a small apartment building, so not many cars). I am not going to deny Merry access to this bit of freedom, as life isn't about being wrapped in cotton wool, it's about living it to the fullest!
 

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Jonah was the same way. He was weaned to mice and it took a bit of work to get him to eat "fake" food LOL (chunks of meat, dressed quail, etc.). I just offered him the food he wasn't crazy about in small amounts and offered several meals a day. That was b/c he was a kitten, but even w/ an older cat going to multiple meals until you get the cat accepting different foods will help, b/c you can offer, say, a chunk of beef at 6 a.m. If he doesn't eat it w/in 20 min, take it up and nothing more until a few hours later when you offer it again. Just make sure he eats something every 24 hours but try not to offer the desired food until he's eaten some of the new food.

He WILL catch on. To this day Jonah prefers mice over everything--if I give him a mouse and a chunk of venison, he eats the mouse first (Calvin eats the venison first). But then he does polish off the venison as well. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Merry is still eating mice, but has decided to leave the guts for some reason the last couple of days. Sigh.

He still hates my homemade ground meat mixture (chicken thighs or whole quail) unless I add canned food to it, then he eventually will eat it. He will eat beef and pork chunks, but not chicken chunks.

How much should I worry about all this? Is there any harm in adding canned food (no grains, no fish) to his ground food forever? If he eats the mice, will that be enough bone? Could I just feed beef or pork chunks for the second meal?

His bowel movements are fine, every second day, but no straining, blood or anything that would indicate constipation. No odor, which is amazing.
 

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Merry is still eating mice, but has decided to leave the guts for some reason the last couple of days. Sigh.

He still hates my homemade ground meat mixture (chicken thighs or whole quail) unless I add canned food to it, then he eventually will eat it. He will eat beef and pork chunks, but not chicken chunks.

How much should I worry about all this? Is there any harm in adding canned food (no grains, no fish) to his ground food forever? If he eats the mice, will that be enough bone? Could I just feed beef or pork chunks for the second meal?
Don't give up yet! Are you taking away the food he doesn't eat and offering NOTHING ELSE until the next meal? Or are you caving in and offering something else if he doesn't eat? He absolutely needs to eat something every 24 hours, but otherwise if he doesn't eat just remove the food and let him be hungry. I recommend offering food 3X a day--mice or prey model raw (beef or chicken chunks, bone-in quail or game hen, etc).

Mice have enough bone if you feed ONLY mice. But if you mean feed mice and then also grond food? No, unless the ground food contains 10% bone. Mice are perfect--exactly what they need in one package. When you combine mice w/ frankenprey, however, you need to keep in mind that the frankenprey part still needs to hit the 80-10-10 %s over the course of a few days.

IMO most people are just too quick to offer the familiar food when the unfamiliar is rejected. HOLD OUT. Don't starve him--make sure he eats something every 24 hours--but the other 2 meals don't give in when he doesn't eat the good stuff!
 

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Thank you, Elizabeth, I will (and am) persevering. This morning he ate a mouse again after being very stubborn yesterday. I did let him go hungry overnight. Well, I left out one mouse that I had put back in the refrigerator after offering it several times during the day, but he didn't eat it. The mouse he ate this morning was from the same baggie, but hadn't been in and out of the fridge yesterday.

Yesterday he ate 3/4 of one mouse, one tiny sliver of raw chicken and about 1/2 T. of canned food (just enough to get some BioCalm into him).

I started him on BioCalm a couple of days ago as he's been overgrooming. The overgrooming is why I actually started the raw diet, but I wouldn't go back to kibble/canned now for anything! I decided not to add the BioCalm to his homemade ground mix (which does contain bone), since he was already not very happy with it.

Today he's already eaten one whole mouse. So now I'm pretty convinced that he won't starve himself, but will just test my resolve to the nth degree!

I will offer food 3X a day, as you suggested. Should I take up all food overnight? That's when he tends to finally eat the ground food, but no doubt it means he's not as hungry for breakfast. Do you leave any food down overnight, Elizabeth?

Thank you!

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Andrea
and Merry (8-year-old male, brown Tabby DSH)
 

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I never leave food available, period. My cats eat up their food right away when it's put down b/c I trained them to do so. :) And I did that by never leaving it available! I fed that way when I fed kibble, when I fed canned, and now that I feed raw.

I feed the larger meal in the late p.m. (8-9 p.m.) so that no one is hungry overnight (and hence, so no one wakes me up!). I feed the smaller meal 1 hour + after I get up in the a.m. (so that they don't think that getting up = food and hence, start bugging me earlier and earlier every day).

Most cats will do great on 3-4 mice or the equivalent a day.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I just hope Merry and I can survive this!

It's almost 3 PM and he has only eaten one very small mouse (three mice only add up to one ounce), a tiny sliver of pork heart and 1/2 T. of canned food with BioCalm in it.

He wants to eat; he just doesn't want what I'm feeding him. Sigh.

He's getting quite svelte, but I hope he isn't losing weight too fast. No spine or ribs showing. He's a big cat, so I'm not even sure what he should weigh. On Aug. 5/12, one week after starting raw/canned (no kibble) he was 16 pounds. Today he is 14.5 pounds. So he has lost approx. 1.5 pounds in two weeks. My scale only does half pounds, so the weights won't be 100% accurate. Nevertheless, that sounds like a lot to me. And now he's eating almost nothing. Am I playing with fire here?

Thank you!

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Andrea
and Merry (8-year-old male, brown Tabby DSH)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
See previous post...

It's 6 PM and Merry has now eaten another mouse and 1-2 T. of raw ground chicken thighs (with bone) mixed with about 1/3 canned.

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Andrea
and Merry (8-year-old male, brown Tabby DSH)
 

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If he's overweight (which, IMO, he must be at that weight), I would be careful. It's important for fat cats not to lose too quickly. Sounds like he's eating plenty though. Bear in mind that real food goes farther in a cat--there isn't all that plant material that just passes on through. He can actually USE all he gets to eat.
 

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Thank you, Elizabeth, I am hanging in there, not caving in yet!

He ate a little more during the night. I did leave the raw food down, as his pattern has always been to eat during the night and I haven't trained him to the "20 minutes and up" rule yet, plus I was really worried about his weight loss.

This morning he has only eaten 3/4 of one mouse.

He seems fine, but the litter box hasn't been used overnight which is unusual. I will keep a careful eye on that!

By the way, he is a very large cat, heavy boned, not delicate in the least. However, he was definitely carrying some extra weight. Now he's beginning to look more svelte, but with the rapid weight loss I was worried about hyper-lipidosis. However, you seem to think he's eating enough to prevent that, so I'm going to try to relax... a bit anyway! lol

I really appreciate your feedback and support. I just read your post about Erik and my heart melted! He's loved you all along, but didn't know how to show you... and now he does!
 

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Raw fed cats don't poop anywhere near as often as commercially-fed ones. My guys poop at most once a day. He should be urinating, of course.

I don't buy it that he wasn't fat. ;) I've only very rarely seen a truly "large-boned" cat who was more than 12 lbs in good weight. I owned one, in fact--he was HUGE and when he was in household pet classes at cat shows, the judges would laugh and say, "He's a short-haired Maine ****!" And his good weight was 12 lbs. Cats are supposed to be SLIM, period. They don't have sprung ribs like dogs do so their outline is very different.

It's "hepatic lipidosis," BTW. ;) Fatty liver disease.

Thanks re: Erik! I was practically crying over him (except that I didn't want to rock the boat--or the lap!).
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Hi, Elizabeth,

Okay, so maybe he's not as big-boned as I thought then! ;-) He is bigger than any other cat I've ever had, though. His brother Pippin (my son's cat) is even bigger, really long, tall and rangy, although he's quite slim. I've always had fairly petite cats (~7 pounds) before these two came along.

LOL - I thought hyper lipidosis looked funny when I typed it, but it sounded right in my mind (shows you how slippery the mind can be!).

Merry has since peed (whew!). He's only pooping every second day or so. No signs of straining though and he poops a good amount. So I think that's still okay.

So today he's eaten 1.75 little mice, 1/2 T. of canned food with BioCalm in it and a bite or two of pork heart. Similar to yesterday. He's not starving himself, but he's not eating as much as it says he should when I do the 2% calculation, even on 9 pounds (should be 2.88 ozs/day). Tomorrow I will start to weigh everything carefully, though.

Thank you once again for being there for me while I get Merry where I want him to be: 100% raw, eating well... and no longer over-grooming. If the over-grooming doesn't stop soon, it's off to the vet, in case it's due to a dust mite allergy or hyperthyroidism. I read that over-grooming the lower abdomen can be a symptom of both those things.

I hope you and Erik get to cuddle again this evening. :grin:

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Andrea
and Merry (8-year-old male, brown Tabby DSH)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Merry is resisting raw, but not starving himself...

Merry is still not happy with the new regime, but his weight is stable at 14.5 pounds (on my people scale so it won't be super accurate). He is peeing and pooping fine.

Yesterday he ate two little mice, some beef (a bit) and some ground chicken (but I had to add canned before he would eat it).

Today he has already eaten some beef chunks (small) and is playing with a mouse at the moment! I bought larger mice this time, so not sure how he'll feel about eating them. These weigh around .6 ounces (twice as much as the previous size, but they are the next size up). I'm going to feed him two a day and fill in the rest with chicken (ha! ha! - I think he hates it!), beef (likes it), and pork (likes it).

*** He also likes heart and I think it's safe to feed him that regularly as a muscle meat, correct?

Liver he would eat exclusively, but I'm only going to give it to him once a week.

I plan to try turkey soon. Lamb is expensive and so is rabbit here, but I'm going to visit the local ethnic meat market on Saturday and see what they have cheap.

I can get pancreas, kidneys, etc. at the big Asian supermarket, too. I'm not sure how much of those types of meats I should feed him, though. I guess I'd better do some more research.

We also have a source of green tripe in Vancouver. Might get some tomorrow as I have to drive into the city anyway.

Merry seems energetic and happy enough (lots of lovely tail thrashing). His evening play session has become more rigorous. He seems to have found his inner hunter as he goes after the toys with a real vengeance now! Scary! I have to keep his nails clipped and try to stay out of his reach when we play!
 

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Today he has already eaten some beef chunks (small) and is playing with a mouse at the moment! I bought larger mice this time, so not sure how he'll feel about eating them. These weigh around .6 ounces (twice as much as the previous size, but they are the next size up). I'm going to feed him two a day and fill in the rest with chicken (ha! ha! - I think he hates it!), beef (likes it), and pork (likes it).
If he seems confused by the larger mouse, cut it in half. I know--gross. But you only have to do it a few times and then they get it. ;)
*** He also likes heart and I think it's safe to feed him that regularly as a muscle meat, correct?
Correct. It's just muscle-feed it all you like!
Liver he would eat exclusively, but I'm only going to give it to him once a week.
Better to give smaller amounts more often. A lot of liver at once can give them the runs and it's more natural to feed a small amount every few meals. He's getting some w/ the mice but you're also frankenprey-ing it so he'll still need some liver.

I can get pancreas, kidneys, etc. at the big Asian supermarket, too. I'm not sure how much of those types of meats I should feed him, though. I guess I'd better do some more research.
10% of the overall diet must be organ--half of which must be liver. You're feeding mice, but for the meals that have no mice, he needs the organ meat. Doesn't have to be daily--easiest is to give a small (quarter-sized piece of either liver OR other organ (pancreas or kidney) every day, rotating back and forth.
We also have a source of green tripe in Vancouver. Might get some tomorrow as I have to drive into the city anyway.
Tripe isn't really all that. It's intestines, so really muscle. It's also kinda gross. I avoid it myself and I've never had a cat who liked it (the dogs love it).
Merry seems energetic and happy enough (lots of lovely tail thrashing). His evening play session has become more rigorous. He seems to have found his inner hunter as he goes after the toys with a real vengeance now! Scary! I have to keep his nails clipped and try to stay out of his reach when we play!
Great! :) Try playing with him for a few minutes w/ an interactive toy before offering his food. That gets their hunter mojo up and suddenly they're STARVING! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Thank you, Elizabeth, your replies are really helpful!

I will alternate liver and another organ meat like pancreas/kidney each day. I will use heart as his muscle meat regularly, since he loves it. I will forget about the green tripe, at least for now. I will cut the bigger mice in half, if he can't figure them out (I'm not the least bit squeamish about that). Often he waits and eats them in the middle of the night, so I'll see what happens over the next day or two. He's always been a "night eater." I guess it's normal for cats to be hunting and, therefore, eating at night.

I will try playing with him before meals to stimulate his appetite.

I'm proud of myself for hanging in when it seemed like he might decide to starve himself (not quite, but enough to scare me!). Now I'm finally starting to relax a bit.

I'm thrilled at how slim he looks (he has a very defined "waist" now). And there may be more weight to come off since you figure he should be more like 9 pounds than 14.5 pounds. I would even be happy with a final weight around 12 pounds. At his heaviest he weighed 17.5 pounds! His brother (who lives with my son) weighs 17 pounds and he's quite slim looking. They are both tall and long, although Merry is shorter than his brother (Pippin).

I don't know if I could have done this without your support, Elizabeth! I feel like Merry and I are really going to succeed at this now!

Thank you!

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Andrea
and Merry (8-year-old male, brown Tabby DSH)
 

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Go for 12-13 and see how he looks. Cats have different body types and carry weight differently--my Jonah is long and slim but is the same weight (8.5) as Calvin, who is stockier. They both look and feel good--light covering of muscle over the spine and hip bones, slab-sided from above. So go slowly and see how he looks Studies do show that pretty much every mammal they have tested is healthier and lives longer w/ some degree of calorie restriction so that they maintain a low normal BMI--cats are no different! :)

You're doing great! It's hard when you start, but trust me--it gets much easier. I'm 4 years on now and it takes ZERO thought at this point. I'm on autopilot!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hi, Elizabeth,

Things are going very well!

Today Merry HEARTILY ate pork chunks, heart chunks, ground chicken/bone mix (supplemented with taurine, etc.) mixed with 1 T. of canned food. If I have to feed him a tablespoon of canned food every day, that's no big deal.

This is the first day I can say he really tucked into his food, other than the one day he ate four little mice in a row!

He still hasn't eaten one of the bigger mice, even cut in two, but I'm hopeful that he will. If not, I will buy another batch of the smaller ones and grind up the larger ones and see if he'll eat them that way (I'll add a bit of taurine to them). I may have to add some canned food to the ground mice, but I've stopped thinking I'm failing because I still have to entice him with the canned. After all it's only been a few weeks!

If he starts eating mice again (and enough of them - two maybe?), I guess I can actually discontinue the ground chicken/bone at some point since he doesn't really like it all that much and he'll be getting enough calcium, etc. from the mice. I can just give him some of his favourite muscle meats every day and liver/glandular on alternate days.

I'm so happy I decided to take this journey with Merry. He looks wonderful and he acts so... alive!:jump

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Andrea
and Merry (8-year-old male, brown Tabby DSH)
 

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Great! Just keep it up. I'm sure he WILL eat larger mice eventually. It's hard for kitties--99.9% are raised on commercial food, which is smelly and easy to eat. It's no wonder it's difficult for them to transition to less smelly, more difficult food. ;) But he can do it and so can you! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Hi, Elizabeth,

Thank you so much for checking in with me again!

Merry continues to do really well... even better actually! He cleans his plate three times a day... even the ground chicken mix (with a little canned food mixed in). I haven't weighed him recently, but I suspect he might have lost a little bit more weight, but still no ribs or spine when you run your hands over him. He looks very nice and trim. He has wonderful silky fur and glistening eyes. He pees plenty so I know he's getting enough water from his food... and he has completely stopped drinking out of the toilet... yay! Poops every other day with no issues.

He hasn't eaten any of the bigger mice yet... sigh! It may be that he's gone off mice altogether, but I'm going to get some smaller mice to test that theory. Pork, beef, heart and liver (quarter-size piece every second day) continue to be his favourite meats. Turkey is a possibility, but he has very little enthusiasm for it (only eats one or two pieces).

Next week I'm going to try to reduce by half the amount of canned food in the chicken mix.

I can't get over how he chows down like a little lion on strips/chunks of meat. My minor frustration remains with not being able to find something he likes with bones in it that I don't have to grind. But, now that he's eating so well every day, that is not so much of an issue. Maybe I can just have his teeth cleaned occasionally. And actually, for an 8-year-old cat, his teeth are remarkably clean.

I haven't been able to assess whether the over-grooming is getting any better, because it takes time for the fur to grow back, but I will try to assess it over the next month or so. It's not getting any worse, anyway, and he doesn't ever break the skin.

Yes, I have had to learn patience, but it's paying off... and I agree with you that eventually he will eat the mice or something comparable and I'm sure he won't need the canned food as a crutch at some point.

Thank you!

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Andrea
and Merry (8-year-old male, brown Tabby DSH)
 
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