How We Feed Our Cats a Species Appropriate Diet

I’ve posted before about how we feed out cats a natural whole meat diet, but it has changed over time so I thought I’d give an updated version of our cats’ diet.

Feeding a raw pet diet isn’t any more difficult than feeding store-bought.  It just takes a few hours of time for part of a day……every couple of months.  Once the portions are separated out then it’s just a matter of taking out the next day’s food the night before so it an thaw in the fridge.  Their food never goes bad before they eat it.  One, or possibly two days in the fridge for raw meat is totally fine.

For a while we were buying a tube of raw cat food from Whole Foods Market and adding a few things to it.  But we wanted a bit more control of what they are eating.  After doing a lot of research on the nutrients and variety that a cat needs we’ve come up with a recipe that is working quite well for us.  What we purchase lasts about 50 days for our two cats.

I found Hare-Today, Gone Tomorrow to be a great source for naturally raised, raw meat designed for pets.  You can get whole ground animals or whole prey, depending on how you prefer to feed.

The Meat

Here is our most recent order recap:

What we buy has grown over time.  Our first order just consisted of: ground rabbit/bones/organs, ground chicken/bones/organs and ground boneless turkey thighs.   When Isabelle came to live with us, however, we needed to buy a bit more at a time.  So the rest has been added to increase the amount, as well as add in a bit more variety.

 

Hare-Today, Gone Tomorrow uses 2-day FedEx delivery.  Our order comes packed in a styro-foam lined box (for added insulation) and the meat is inside a thick black garbage bag with cold packs.

So far the meat has still always been frozen solid when I open the box.  I let it sit out in a bucket, which sits in the kitchen sink, for the afternoon then move it to the fridge to finish thawing over-night.  The next morning all the packages get opened and I squish all the meat together so it’s all mixed up well.

Supplements

There are a few supplements we add in that I buy from iHerb.  <—— If you check out my link you’ll see a referral code to use to get $10 off your first order.  It will also help me earn credits towards future purchases of my own.  So it’s a win-win for both of us.  Not exactly an affiliate, but a referral account.

Anyway, the supplements I add to our cats’ food are taurine powder, vitamin B, and vitamin E.  I don’t take a lot of supplements myself, but when a cat is in the wild catching it’s own prey and devouring it whole it gets all that it needs.  But we bring animals into out homes as pets and they aren’t eating quite like they are designed to eat.  So we must take extra precautions to insure that they get all the nutrients that are so vital for them to not only survive, but have optimum health.


The Full Recipe

This is my doubled recipe since I’m feeding 2 cats now.  If you have only one cat then by all means cut the amounts in half. 

Ingredients:
5 lbs. Rabbit, whole ground (includes all bones, organs, head, brain, eyes)
5 lbs. Beef, ground (organs/tripe/bones)
3 lbs. Chicken, whole, coarse ground
1 lb.  Turkey Thighs, boneless ground
1 lb. Mutton, whole ground
1 lb. Sardines, whole ground
4 cups Water
8 Egg Yolks
3 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt (or Real Salt + Kelp for iodine)
1,600 IU Vitamin E
200 mg Vitamin B-Complex
8,000 mg Taurine Powder (my calculations came up with 3 tsp.)
If the rabbit doesn’t include heads, then add in 20,000 mg Fish Oil

Currently I only have Redmon’d’s Real Salt on hand, which does not contain a significant amount of iodine as Celtic Sea Salt does, so to that I add in a slightly smaller amount of Kelp powder than the salt amount, to make sure they have enough iodine in their diet.

The supplement amounts may seem a bit high, but keep in mind that this is for for nearly 2 full months of food.  Over that span of time it’s not a huge amount per meal.

Steps:
1.  Separate egg yolks from whites (be sure to save the egg whites for other uses, such as facials).  Beat the dry supplements into the egg yolks until blended.  Whisk this into the water.

2.  Once you’ve squished all the meat together pour the supplement slurry into it and give it a good mixing.  It’s not hugely important that you make sure it’s 100% mixed, just what seems right to you is fine.  There may be some parts of the mixture that has more meat or more supplement mixed in, but over-all throughout the days/weeks/months they will get all the nutrients in.

3.  I use those small “snack” bags to divvy up the daily portions, which are then stuffed into zip-loc freezer bags for storage.

Each snack baggie is approximately one day of food for our two cats (combined, not each).  As they grow that will change, they’re still pretty young now.  Izzy eats much more than Kat does.  Some days Kat just takes a few nibbles and is done till the next meal time.  I feed them once in the morning and once in the evening.  What food is not consumed in a feeding gets covered and stored in the fridge to finish the next feeding time.  Of course it’s added to to give each cat a full meal.

With this current order of meat we ended up with 47 bags, which equals 47 days’ worth of food for 2 cats.  Depending on how full you fill your baggies will determine how many days it lasts, but always keep in mind the amount of food your cat should have every day for his/her weight.  There is even a handy-dandy calculator on Hare-Today’s website to help you figure that out, plus a lot of really great and useful information about feeding your pet raw food.

Currently I have to supervise feeding times or Izzy will bully her way into Kat’s dish to eat her food before her own bowl is even empty.  Izzy is a few months younger, but she’s already our dominant cat in the household.

Added Bonuses

On top of your cats just generally being healthier and spending less, if anything, on vet bills….if your cat is an indoor cat, you’ll save on litter as well.  Yep!  Being that there’s no “crap” in this food their bodies actually utilize more of the nutrients.  This translates into needing to use the litter box a lot less often.  Plus when they do use it, there is literally no smell!  “What?  Can that be true?”  Yes, really it is true!  Within a week of being on this raw meat diet I noticed a HUGE change in the litter box area.  I still clean it daily as I always have, but literally the only smell emitting from the box is the smell of the actual litter ~ and it smells just like it did when I pour it fresh out of the box.  Their “poo” is a bit different as well.  Instead of being really dark and sticky, it’s actually very pale as if there’s not much left in it, it’s a lot firmer (not so much to cause problems for kitty though) and there’s considerably less to clean out.  The times we have had to buy crunchy, cheap store-bought food we were having to buy a new box of litter about every week.  But almost as soon as we get the girls back on raw food, a box of litter will last for weeks.  It just doesn’t get yucky anymore!

This has really been an amazing discovery for me.  We have a very small place and the litter box is in our small bathroom.  Unavoidably, there are times when we have to be in there and one of the cats will need to come use their litter box.  Well, now we don’t feel like we want to run out of the room just because that cat is in the box. 

Another thing we’ve noticed is their behavior.  Both cats are more active and more well behaved on a raw diet.  Processed cat foods contain grains and vegetables that our feline friends are just not designed to eat.  Yes, they do eat grass on occasion, which is why we provide a wheat grass tray for them on occasion.

Do you feed your pets a natural diet?

I am not affiliated in any way with Hare-Today.com.  This is the source we found to purchase food for our kitties and I like them so far.

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17 responses to “How We Feed Our Cats a Species Appropriate Diet

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I am very excited as I have been working on switching over my cats to homemade cat foods, and I have been thinking about going raw but have not yet attempted it. I have 2 cats that won’t touch anything but dry kibble, so I have to bake theirs, but the rest are loving the stuff I make. I am thinking they are going to love this. Thanks for me and the hoard of cats at my house =)

    • You’re very welcome! It can be difficult for some cats to transition over. But with time and patience it can be done. I’d suggest mixing small amounts of the new food in with what they are used to and gradually increasing the amount. This has worked very well for us in the past. Luckily our present two kitties were very young when we got them started and they gobbled it up like it as completely normal as it should be for them to eat this way. 🙂 Good luck with your hoard of cats!!! I’m so glad to hear from you. 🙂

  2. What about dogs? Do you have any info on moving dogs to a raw diet?

    • The process to get them adjust wouldn’t be much different. Although where we feed our cats a diet of primarily rabbit/fowl, a dog needs more of a red meat based diet than cats do. I was searching around for some info a few months back for a friend on feeding dogs a raw diet and I could not find much on supplements, that leads me to believe they need less in that area than cats do. For info on how much to feed you could use the simple calculator on Hare-Today.com’s website. Hope this helps some. I don’t have any dogs presently and haven’t since I’ve gotten serious about my animals eating a natural diet, so I can’t give personal experience in that area yet. I hope to be able to one day soon. 🙂

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  4. I’m so glad I found your post. We lost our Gabe this past March, and it always takes me a while to be able to get another. We’re thinking 2 kitties next time, and I think the time is getting close. I want to feed raw this time, but I didn’t know how. Love this super helpful article, which I shared on my fb page.

  5. Do you have any advise on how to research different diets? I’m thinking of giving Isaac something better for him, but you know I’m very cautious and not sure about raw food yet. So I’m looking for something better than Science Diet, but I’m not ready to transition to raw yet. There’s so much information, I need some guidance about what sites to trust. Thanks!

    • I looked at a few successful cattery blogs and sites before I narrowed down our cats’ diet. If we had a dog I’d take the same steps to figure out the proper diet. A step above ANY dry kibble is canned, but then you still have to be careful which canned foods to choose. I wrote down a list of safe canned cat foods to buy in a pinch and the cats have had no qualms about eating any of my choices. Once we moved to totally raw they’ve really been doing quite well. Keep searching info on raw food, that was how I came across a lot of info on how canned is the middle choice between kibble and raw. I guarantee you that Starbuck would get down to a healthy weight and be even more kitten-like again. He might even gain confidence and not be so shy when people come over. It really does make that much of a difference!

      What we all have to keep in mind is how animals eat in nature. They NEVER cook their food in any way. What nature intended is always best! But keep in mind that most vets will NOT support this choice.

      • Isaac is my first concern, although I’ll look at Starbuck’s diet too. I’m looking at Instinct brand food right now. Can you take a look and tell me what you think?

        • Well, if you’re looking at their raw line, my first impression is it’s still processed using “High Pressure Processing”. If the food is left frozen then I don’t see a need for this extra processing. In nature, animals will sometimes eat the same carcass for several days at a time. While I never leave our animal’s food out for days waiting for them to eat it, I just don’t see a need for their food to be processed in any way. Cut up, ground or whatever to make it easy to give portions, then frozen, makes sense to me. I do, however, like that this brand states that their food is grain and gluten free. I don’t like that their cat food includes fruits and veggies, cats just don’t need that since they are designed to be strict carnivores. So that would make me question their knowledge on creating an optimal dog food.

          Again, the least processed food is absolute best! And it needs to include the entire animal such as whole ground rabbits as we get from Hare-Today.com. Our beloved pets would be eating the entire animal that they killed in nature: hair, bones, intestines, organs and all.

        • I would say that if I was considering this brand that I would think of it as a stepping stone working my way up to the absolute best. I’m sure it’s better than any of the best canned options and most definitely better than ANY kibble! I consider kibble, even the most expensive vet recommended brands, to be nothing better than junk food. Like you and I trying to live off of boxes and processed meals only.

  6. Thanks Heather! I’m going to work on switching our cats over to a raw diet–we’re just so unhappy with the mainstream cat-food options. It seems like their health is not 100%, and from what I know about processed pet-food this is a really great move to make. Great post!

  7. Something to think about. Cats in the wild don’t eat morning and evening – they eat small amounts all throughout the day – bugs and such. I have read many times that a cat that does not have 24/7 access to food will not be as healthy or live as long as one who does. I make food for our cats that needs refrigeration also, but I offer it at least 6 times a day (when home) and I always leave out a dish of dry food for them to nibble on. I know dry food is not the best for cats but feeding only twice a day is harmful as well. I buy cat food with NO fruits or vegetables (they are harmful to kidneys). The best I can find is Kirkland in the purple bag.

    • Thank you for your input, unfortunately I have to respectfully disagree with you on this one. Every source I’ve read that believes in a natural diet disagrees with cats having access to food 24/7 and my cats are doing great and super healthy eating on a schedule. They are thriving, have wonderful shiny coats and are full of energy. Our youngest, Isabelle, is so much more healthy and filled out beautifully since we switched her over. If they have a well balanced diet I see no need to kibble of any kind. Mine are also perfectly content between meals.

  8. Great post! I do the same thing for my chihuahua. Have you ever read the book Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats – by Richard H. Pitcairn? It talks about a lot of the same things. I had forgotten about Hare Today, I will have to look into that again. I have been getting meat from US Wellness Meats for my dog. I think it is great to see other people concerned about the diet of their pets! I was just able to heal my dog of worms naturally from suggestions in Dr. Pitcairn’s book, and I love that it is all natural and not harming my little guy! 🙂

    • Actually I have that book and love it! 😉 Although I don’t completely agree with the recipes – I just disregard those and focus on everything else. LOL! There’s a lot of great info in there and a one of a kind resource for sure. I have another book on herbal pet care, but I don’t refer to it quite as often.

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