Cat Forum banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I’ve been (trying) to transition my two furballs, Diva and Dopey, over to raw food for about a month now and it’s had its ups and downs so I was hoping to get a little encouragement and maybe some suggestions and information here. I’ve had the little darlings for 6 years now, and just within the past year they’ve become very unsatisfied with the all the foods I’ve tried. They’ll get a little excited about something new for a couple months and then they’re very unenthusiastic. I had been free-feeding kibble and a breakfast of wet food and Diva particularly shows
a strong preference for the kibble. (I know, I'm a horrible mom. I didn't know any better at the time. I've learned better since then.)

The kibble has been taken away now and I started mixing some raw food into the wet food (AvoDerm - which BTW, whose idea was it to make cat food out a fruit known to be mostly toxic to cats?? Again, I've learned better since then.) and it seemed to be going really well at first. They were really excited about meal time again and even started picking around the canned food in favor of the raw. When I ran out of canned food about a week in, I gave them just the raw. I was using Bravo frozen pattys and they were pretty cool with that for a few days and then they started turning up their noses at it. By that time it was time to get more food anyway so I tried a Blue Ridge beef grind and added the supplements to it. Suddenly meal time was exciting again! But I noticed that contrary to what the pet store person told me, it was only muscle meat, no organs or bone, so I went back and picked up a Bravo chicken grind that has those things (as well as vegetables – I have no idea why they put that in there) did the supplement thing and proudly served up my kitties a delicious and nutritious meal made with love. They turned their noses up and walked away.

The girl, Diva, really misses her kibble, I think. She loved that stuff and grazed all day, just small bites here and there. She’s also very delicate and is prone to vomiting when I change her diet, diarrhea when she's stressed, or sometimes both because it's a day that ends in a Y. She hacks up a hairball at least once a month, sometimes more especially during pollen season, she forgets to be hungry sometimes and she's always been too skinny. I've used a new pet sitter recently for when I go out of town and she suggested that Diva might have hyperthyroidism, possibly allergies to pollen, and definitely shouldn’t be getting hairballs so frequently. She’s never been a big feeder, she’s only 6 lbs to her brother’s 13 lbs,and she’s been having litterbox problems for the past 3 or 4 months. In fact, she’s the one who prompted this experiment with raw while I was trying to figure out how to help her. She doesn't want to use it for pooping anymore, especially if it's not completely clean. Most of the time she uses the bathtub which I guess isn't the worst place, but it's odd that she'd start doing this now unless there was something irritating her. Dopey is healthy, hearty, and usually pretty non-picky about what he eats. For him to just walk away from a food bowl is extremely unusual, even if he isn’t really excited about what’s in it.

This past week, both of them went about 5 days without leaving a deposit in the litterbox. They both finally pooped. (Yay! I've never been so happy to see a cat poop.) They don’t show any other signs of being constipated but I was really worried, especially for Diva. She hasn't had a hairball all month which normally I'd be thrilled about, but going that long without a BM, I was wondering if there's a blockage in her stomach or intestines and where is all that hair going if it's not coming out either end? Still a little worried about that, actually. However, I was thrilled that when she finally did go, she used the litterbox. I’ve added a bit of pumpkin to their meals but now they’re not eating it. Actually, they’re now pretty excited if I get out the emergency pouches of Wellness that just a few months ago they decided they hated. It’s the only way I can get them to eat as both seem pretty fine with starving themselves rather than eating the raw stuff. What I really don’t get though, is that they had been eating it, they look interested while I'm preparing it, and will still lick it off a spoon or my finger. So what’s different about their bowl? How do I get them to eat? I know they're hungry because they beg for food and get all eager until I put it down and they sniff a bit, maybe take a lick or two and then leave. I’ve tried putting some Vitakitty treats on it which is like kitty crack for them and that worked last week but it’s not working now.

On the recommendation of my pet sitter I've found a vet who might be able to help and made an appointment with her for next weekend. Now just I want to make sure they survive the week and know what I should be telling her once we get there. I don't know this vet and have no idea how she'll react to a raw food diet and honestly, I'm a little worried she'll say the not eating and pooping thing is due to the raw diet and discourage me from pursuing it. But I know this is the right choice... if only I can get my cats to agree and get some assurance that they're getting everything they need. If you made it through this wall of text, any advice or tips or just some encouragement would be very much appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
This is the picture that convinced me I had to have these guys. Just two little 11 week old kittens hoping for a forever home.
View attachment WeeBeasties.bmp

This is Diva. She's my official box and bag inspector.
Shopping.JPG

And here's Dopey cuddling with his sister. This is an older pic, he's filled out a bit since then. Sorry, I'm not good with cameras so I don't have a lot of pictures of them. At least not ones that are sort of in focus and have lighting that isn't all shadows and bright spots.
D&D_Cuddles cropped.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
804 Posts
They are both gorgeous babies! I don't really have any advice, but I wish you the best and I'm sure you'll get great advice from other people on here. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Sorry, was that just too long? I've got a couple of other questions, I'll try to keep this shorter.

I know that going completely without food for a 18-24 period is bad for their kidneys, but how little can they get away with? I just fed them and Diva ate maybe 2 oz of food. Dopey would not eat from the bowl, but I sat down with a spoon and he licked about 3 spoonfuls before walking away. Dopey could stand to lose at least a pound so I'm not worried about him wasting away but I do worry about his digestive system.

Over the weekend they were into the beef and were enjoying that. However, it's only beef, there's no bone or organ. I add the supplements based on this recipe, but cut in half for a 2 lb chub. But is that a complete meal? I'm concerned that they're not getting everything they need and wonder if it would be okay to feed that for breakfast when I don't have time to spoon-feed the boy, and do the other for dinner so Mr. Picky can be catered to. The pet food store is supposed to be looking into ordering turkey for me. Once they get that in, I'll see if the little darlings like that better than chicken. At least for this week. I get the impression from reading a few threads on here that lots of cats want a rotation of meats.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
245 Posts
Your cats are adorable :)

I don't use commercial raw for my cats (I do homemade prey model), but I'll see if there's any advice I can give you anyway. Hopefully someone who feeds commercial raw will chime in soon :)

Usually if cats are constipated on a raw diet it's because they're getting too much bone. It's suggested that bone make up about 7-10% of their diet, so check the percent of bone in whatever raw your buying. Bone is much cheaper than meat, so I think some companies can be tempted to add more of it to their formulas. If there's more than 10% bone in what you're feeding them you should add some plain meat to their diet to help even things out.

I think using hunger to get them to try new things is fine, but you're right that you can't make them go without food for too long. If they're only eating 2oz a day I'd be concerned. They need more food than that, even if you have to go back to mixing raw with the canned to keep them interested in eating. If you're having trouble with getting food into them in the mornings you could always do canned food in the morning, and then raw in the evening. I did that when I first started, and I think several people on here feed their cats part canned and part raw.

You can also try bribes when they seem uninterested in their raw food. Tuna or clam juice, Parmesan cheese or treats sprinkled over the food... The first few months my cats were switching to raw I sprinkled a crushed up Temptations treat (aka kitty crack) over their meals whenever they were hesitant to start eating. It didn't take long before I was using just half a treat each, then a quarter each, then I would just hold my hand over their food and PRETEND to sprinkle something and they would both tuck in! I think if you have a kibble addict two or three pieces of kibble could be a successful bribe too.

Anyway good luck with the transition! My Sassy is an older cat and she was rather difficult to transition to raw - but it was so so worth it. She was always underweight and since being on raw she's put on some weight and even some MUSCLE, she's more energetic, and her joints bother her much less. But it took a couple months and a lot of bribery to get her eating 100% raw consistently.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,194 Posts
The general percentages to shoot for are: 80% muscle meat such as heart or cuts that we would eat, tongue, ect; 10% bone but TBH mine do fine with a little more, some people's cats need less, go by how hard the bowel movements are; 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ, like speen, kidney, ect.

Most commercial raw isn't anywhere near these percentages. They are usually marketed towards dogs who IME have a heartier system and can tolerate variations much better. Cats do better with less bone, more muscle meat. I think it's actually a GOOD idea to feed them some meals without bone and organ, especially if they seem a bit constipated.

All that being said, it is a transition. Some cats just take time for their bodies to adjust to the food.

Some tricks to get them to eats it are quite simple, my favorite (and something I do to all the commercial raw my cats eat) is add hot tap water and mix it in until there's no 'sauce' left. I add about 1 Tbsp at a time, and mix until it's combined. I don't know why but most of the commercial raw I get has very little liquid in it, which can contribute to constipation of course!

The only exception I have found is the company I buy the majority of my cat's meals from and they make sure to add the 'juices' that come with the meat. IMO the cats need that stuff!

If adding a little water doesn't work try making a sort of raw food pablum, so it's like very thick soup, generally between the heat of the water bringing out the smell of the meat and the thinner texture they'll be much more likely to at least try it.

Another good trick is to use chicken breast and just barely sear it in a pan (Not a microwave!) then chop it up into tiny pieces and see if they'll eat that. Once they're eating some of it you can gradually sear it less and less until it's completely raw, and cut it less and less to they're eating larger chunks.

I don't know if you're aware of it, but one of the main benefits of feeding raw is the satisfaction they get from really chewing their food. My kitties LOVE their bone-in meals and chunks of meat. They love to gnaw at their hunks of heart and they usually purr or make other happy-kitty sounds while they do. You have to work them up to it, but aside from the mental benefit of chewing they need to do this to help clean their teeth. Chewing kibble doesn't clean their teeth, in fact the crumbs of kibble get stuck in their teeth and can cause problems, chewing raw keeps their teeth healthy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks librarychick! I get a frozen grind and the percentages seem about right and the meat handling on my part is pretty minimal so that works much better for me. I tried giving them a chicken neck as a treat but they had no idea what to do with it even after I cut it up into little chunks. They don't seem thrilled with chewing their food and I'm not really looking to do a prey model. Mostly, because I'm not willing to deal with hearts, livers, and gizzards. I've heard the bones are great for cleaning teeth, but at the moment they're not quite up for that. One of the things we're seeing the vet about this weekend is a pre-dental check to see if they need a cleaning. I have noticed a tiny bit of plaque build-up and definitely don't want that to get out of hand.

We had slightly better success today though. I got them a few cans of EVO and that's what they get for breakfast so at least I know they're getting at least one substantial meal. I wish it was a better mix of things they actually need and less of just filler stuff, but this is what they'll eat without me having to babysit them. For dinner I bought some freeze-dried beef liver and crumbled up a couple cubes to sprinkle on top of the raw food. I got them a turkey grind this week since they seemed to be fed up with the chicken and I think they like that even less than the chicken, but Diva dove right in and ate about a third of what she should have in a day. Dopey was very interested in the liver sprinkles but every time he got a lick of turkey he looked offended, like he'd been tricked. However, he did manage to eat a substantial dinner. I've also heard parmesan cheese works? He'll probably get wise to the liver crumble trick and then I'll see if the cheese can tempt him again. I'm still playing with the amount of water they seem to prefer. No conclusions on that yet, but both of them have pooped twice this week and it looked pretty good. I mean... y'know... for poop. But you add it right before you feed? That's interesting. The grind I get is also pretty dry and I've been adding water to the whole thing, along with the supplements, before sticking it in the freezer in individual serving sizes. I'll try it your way with the next chub.

There seem to be a lot of benefits to raw food, especially for Diva. She's more playful, more aggressive when she's "hunting" her thing-on-a-string, she's filling out and I can barely feel her spine anymore, she's more affectionate, and there still hasn't been a single hairball. Seeing that change in her is the one thing that makes me continue to pursue this even though it's a huge hassle and I feel like I'm floundering around in the dark most of the time. Again, thanks so much!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
It was a lot of bone for my poor knife too! But even after I separated the meat from the bone into bite-sized pieces they still wouldn't eat it. I can barely even get them to eat the grind slurry. The last thing I want to do is have animals be slaughtered on behalf of my picky kitties who turn their noses up at it and it ends up going to waste. Also, I could only do it as a treat because, again, I'm not willing to handle the bloody, stinky parts that comes already ground up in the chubs. My cats clearly have their limits and I have mine.

They were pretty interested in a cut of fish I got them and though, and thought that was a pretty nice treat, but then I learned more about why feeding raw fish is bad. They do sell small wings (probably chicken, but I'm not sure) from humane sources at the Whole Foods here, but I've had concerns about would they eat it and how fresh is it. Would that be less bone and is it safe? If I lightly cook it like librarychick suggested, is the bone still okay to feed or should I cut off the meat? And finally, if I did that, can I just put it in a pan on the range or would it be better to bake it? I don't know much about cooking meat. Thanks hoofmaiden!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,194 Posts
When I said 'sear' I meant heat up a pan to medium heat, drop the meat in, wait 30 seconds, flip, wait 30 seconds, remove from the pan. You aren't even cooking it really, just trying to heat it up enough to get a good odor coming off it. That will encourage their appetites. If you do that pick boneless pieces, chicken breast is a good place to start because it has a mild flavor.

I do add the water after it's thawed, just before I feed. That way I can add water, the hottest the tap gets, and it just heats the meat enough to release a bit of smell.

A cat's appetite is regulated by their sense of smell, that's why they're hard to transition. Your cats are used to smelling wet food or dry food, both of which have a strong odor. Raw meat does have a smell, but it's completely different to the scent of cooked meat, and much milder. Basically they smell it and their brains go "Hey, THAT'S not food. It doesn't smell like food!" If you can get it to emit a bit of it's smell then they're more likely to give it a go. Usually once they've gotten a taste the hard part is over ;)

I do give my cats fish occasionally. Usually when I buy trout for us as a treat I buy with the head and tail on, so I chop those off and cut it all up for a special dinner for that cats. They get something like that maybe every two months...or more. It's like steak for us; can't afford it too often, not healthy to eat regularly, but man is it delicious! (if you're vegan...then substitute your favorite naughty junk food for steak ;) )

Elizabeth, I give each of my cats 1/4 chicken neck once a week. They love to chomp them down (including 6 1/2 lb Torri now!) and it's great work for their teeth. I wouldn't feed them every day, but once a week or so would be fine as long as you make sure there's less bone in the proceeding and following meals.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Ah, see here's my meat ignorance kicking in again (I'm not vegan, just vegetarian) but the wings looked kind of pointy and not like something that would just lay nicely flat in a pan for searing. I guess I'll just have to experiment. Should I omit the bones until they're eating it totally raw?

What I'm currently doing with the food is storing it in snack-sized sandwich bags and I heat those in a small bowl filled with the hottest water the tap will produce until it's "mouse temp". Or close to. It's smelly, but it doesn't smell anything like the canned stuff they're used to. Is that why they're so opposed to it?

Diva will whine and complain that she's staaaaaarviiiiiing. When I put the warmed food down she might take a few licks, maybe even as much as a couple of oz if we're lucky. Dopey never complains about being hungry and I'm pretty sure he'd just wither away into starvation without ever saying a word, but he's eating patterns are about the same hers, except with him I can offer a spoon or a handful of the exact same food and suddenly he's willing to eat a little more. There's a very slim chance Diva can be convinced to eat just a few more bites if I put her back in front of her bowl, AND if Dopey isn't crowding her too much, AND if there's absolutely no distracting noises. Then I don't want to waste the extra food so spoon it back into the bag and put it away and then wash everything. We go through this about 3 or 4 times a night. It's exhausting! (Sorry, I just had to whine for a minute there.)

Also, it's good to know I didn't damage them with the fish. WF had fresh, wild, salmon in and I got them some small steaks. The guy said it had been delivered just 4 hours previously. It didn't come with a head, but I totally would have fed them that if had. Why do you get rid of the head?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
245 Posts
I don't think it's safe to attempt to sear, bake, or boil anything with bone if you are going to feed it to your cat. Raw bones are edible, but cooked or partially cooked bones can splinter and cause a lot of internal damage. If you're going to sear something for them just stick to plain meat. I would never ever try to sear chicken wings - it seems like it would be way too easy to overcook them, and that's dangerous. When heating something with bones I would stick to floating it in warm water.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
So maybe I should just get a boneless thigh until they're eating it totally raw? Will it stick to the pan if I don't add oil? Most of my stuff is stainless steel clad but I do have one teflon pan. It's flaking a bit on one edge though. Thanks catinthemirror!

Our vet trip went very well. She was totally cool with the raw diet and asked me just a few questions about what I was feeding them and said it was nutritionally sound. She said Diva is a perfect weight and didn't exhibit any signs of what they typically associate with hyperthyroidism but I had the bloodwork done anyway and should get results back next week. She told me it was perfectly normal for them to be pooping every 4-5 days on their diet and neither of them were constipated or had any blockage. We'll be going back next week for a teeth cleaning because they kind of need it and she said that could be put off for 6 months or so... I don't see a reason to do that though.

I'm so happy I've found a vet I feel comfortable with and is completely okay with a raw diet and thinks my babies look totally healthy aside from needing a little teeth cleaning. You just can't put a price on that kind of relief and reassurance. Well, maybe you can, but this didn't come anywhere near approaching that price.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
So a vegetarian walks into a butcher shop...

Yeah, there's no punchline here. Except me trying to deal with meat, which most people would probably find fairly amusing. I got a tiny little chicken thigh... it was so small the cashier asked if I just buying bait. The thighs only came with the bone in so I was confronted with the task of getting the meat off the bone prior to searing (which I'm pretty sure I'm doing wrong) and I had no idea raw meat was so difficult to deal with. Or maybe my knife just sucks. I have a serrated one that I bought specifically for a carnivore during one of his visits, but it's a pretty cheap knife.

Meat is pretty well attached to the bone and does not like to be cut when it's raw. Do people who eat meat usually leave the bone in when they cook, or is there a trick to getting the stuff all separated? But I finally managed to cut most of it off; the cats were not interested in gnawing at the bone while I "seared" the meat. They were also not interested in eating any of it once it had been partially cooked but did express some mild interest in the skin, which I fried like bacon.

Until, in a moment of frustration, I brought the food into the living room where they were hanging out and shoved it in front of them. All of a sudden, they ate! So for the past couple of days, they've been taking their mostly raw meals in the living room. I have no explanation for why the exact same food is more palatable to them there than it is in the kitchen, but it works! And I'm very excited about that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Hey Angel! ^_^

So far, a really extended time away hasn't come up but I'm already worrying about Christmas, when I go home for a week and leave them with a pet sitter who comes by once a day. But during my normal schedule, they go about 9 hours between breakfast and first dinner (they're like hobbits... they have first and second dinner and sometimes third or even fourth dinner).

It won't kill them to go without food for a while and there's a lot of evidence that suggests it's actually better for them. They just got back from seeing the vet for a dental cleaning and had to go for about 16 hours without food because of anesthesia. I wouldn't do that to them on a regular basis, and the poor kitties were famished when they finally got home, but they were fine.

Raw food shouldn't sit out for more than 30 minutes from what I understand. I don't leave it down that long though. By 10 minutes after putting it down, they've either devoured it or decided they're not hungry enough to deal with it. Funny... they seem almost as disgusted by raw meat as I do. Maybe I have vegetarian cats.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
245 Posts
Or maybe my knife just sucks. I have a serrated one that I bought specifically for a carnivore during one of his visits, but it's a pretty cheap knife.

Meat is pretty well attached to the bone and does not like to be cut when it's raw. Do people who eat meat usually leave the bone in when they cook, or is there a trick to getting the stuff all separated?
When I first started with raw for my cats I bought a pack of cheapo kitchen sheers (they're like serrated scissors for cutting meat). I got two sheers, one pair of regular scissors and poultry sheers (for cutting through chicken bones) for like $14. They are so much easier to use on raw meat than knives. I bought mine from Canadian Tire but they also have some at Bed Bath and Beyond, Walmart, and they might even have some at your grocery store. I definitely recommend getting a pair!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Oooh, I have a ton of BB&B coupons just hoping to get used up someday. That's a great suggestion. Thanks, catinthemirror!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Hoofmaiden, in the past I've had my cats free-feeding kibble and I only fed them wet food once a day. So having the pet-sitter come once a day didn't deviate from my schedule at all.

But since I've taken away their kibble, obviously something will have to change. My pet sitter charges for every stop she makes and I'm not exactly rolling in dough right now. I'm considering leaving out freeze-dried raw kibble for free-feeding and having her feed raw when she comes and leaving canned on her way out. Other suggestions are welcome, of course, as long as it doesn't have me paying to have her stop by twice a day. Given the way they eat raw now, I'd actually have to have her come over at least 3 times, possibly 4, and that's definitely not in the budget.

On another note, I got some poultry shears and those things are scary efficient at tearing into raw meat and bone! I actually got Dopey to gnaw on a thigh bone for a bit and Diva accidentally ended up chewing on a small piece of wing bone. She wasn't thrilled with that, but it's a start, I guess.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
804 Posts
Leaving kitties really does cause anxiety... I have to leave all four of my babies with my mom when I go to MN with my hubby for Christmas for 2 weeks, and mom is 63, so the two kittens in particular are a bit much for her, and I mix their food up, so I'll probably end up sticking premixed in the freezer too. I feel like your solution sounds good for your babies, rotating in different types of food! I'm not certain, but I feel like at least with my picky loves, if the food had gone off, they'd turn their nose up at it anyway so no huge need to worry about that...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
201 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Thanks, Minikin. It's hard to leave them, isn't it? Especially when they're just kittens. I hope yours do well with your mom and don't give her too much grief. This was so much easier when I lived two hours away from my family and could just pack them up in a crate and take them with me.

Mine definitely won't eat food that's been sitting out for too long. My main concern is Dopey eating all the wet food before Diva can get any. He's such a piggy! If she's eating, he has to have some. If she's getting affection, he needs attention too. If she's playing, he has to get in on the action. He's just so needy. Which is sort of adorable most of the time, but when I'm gone I can't make sure Diva's getting enough food unless there's something sitting out that's more than even Mr. Piggy can eat.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top