This is a companion blog to our DIY for Raw Dog Meals article.
Watch the supplemental video on the Fetching Foods YouTube channel if you learn more from the visual presentation: https://youtu.be/WBUgDDw1pzU
Here’s an additional (entertaining and humorous) video by The Two Crazy Cat Ladies, using the recipe.
Fetching Foods is in the business of making and selling amazing food for dogs and cats. One of our motivations is to do our part making pets, dogs and cats, more healthy. In most cases that means finding a way to feed them something other than kibble (dry food), including teaching you how to feed raw to your pet.
Studies are constantly emerging showing the healthiest diet for cats is the one that nature serves up, not a highly processed meal like kibble (dry food). Their external appearance may have changed but the internal processes and organs have not evolved significantly over thousands of years, from the times they were wildcats, to eat food humans find cheap and convenient.
If you took the profit motive out of manufactured cat foods you would find a lot more raw options with most people feeding raw. Our attempt here is to make feeding raw easier and cheaper, giving you the more control over your cat’s health.
It’s largely undisputed in the veterinary medicine community that diet is integral to extending the life of cats (Kelly et al. 2002). One can take that to mean feeding the healthiest, bioavailable, nutritious food will also promote overall health, not just longevity.
What you find here is a process to craft a simple, feeding raw-for-beginners. This recipe will satisfy most or all of your cat’s essential nutritional requirements. While it’s a basic diet have confidence it’ll be very healthy for your kitty. Way better than kibble. You can add better and more exotic ingredients as you create more advanced meals with time, like what you’d find in Fetching Foods Custom Meals or Just Cat products.
Another reason we wrote this blog to cut through the noise of the numerous opinions and methods that are often contradicting. Even with humans there are so many popular diets that people enthusiastically rave over like Atkins, Southbeach, Paleo, Weight Watchers, etc. It’s the same in the pet world. Each diet system has their passionate group of followers. Add in all of the folks who are one Google search from sounding like an expert. Basically there is a great deal of noise to sift through to find a diet that works for you and your kitty. The way to get started feeding raw is to just do it. Start, then improve and build on your results. You’ll learn so much from actually taking the action.
Fetching Foods produces excellent meals, but is only second to the meal YOU prepare just for your cat. You know your cat better than anyone. You know her likes, dislikes. You regularly see her poop (one of the most obvious indicators of health). His moods, energy level, and all of the micro fluctuations over time that only you can notice, providing valuable clues on what and how to change the diet. Doing it yourself means you can make necessary changes at the next feeding. Feel confident in what you already know. You’re ahead of the game.
As always, you should check with your vet prior to changing your cat’s diet. Kittens, older cats, and cats with diseases need extra consideration in their diets. Discuss your cat’s particular needs with your vet.
Now, down to business.
This recipe will make approximately 4lbs. It’s easy to double, triple, or halve this recipe. The recipe as is will feed your cat for 1.5-2 weeks. Remember to monitor poop and waist size to see if the food works well with them and you’re not feeding too much or too little.
You can get all of the ingredients for this recipe at Whole Foods Market. You can also shop around for sales or go to your favorite butcher shop or grocery store. Select better quality ingredients (e.g., pasture-raised vs cage free, organic fed, hormone-free, etc), to ensure a more healthy meal for your cat.
In this recipe the weights don’t need to be exact. A little here, a little there won’t make a significant difference.
Ingredients: Your shopping list for 4lbs of Raw Cat Meals
3lbs of fresh, raw boneless chicken thighs, skin on. If you can’t find this exact form and cut, get whole thighs and remove the bone. I have found boneless thighs with skin on at Whole Foods Market. It’s okay to use boneless, skinless thighs in a pinch. You can substitute chicken with turkey legs or thighs. Make sure it’s only thigh, not a saline solution which will add extra salt and other ingredients that can be harmful to your kitty. If there is a nutrition panel like below. Raw, unadulterated meat is not required to have a nutrition panel.
1 whole raw egg — shell, yoke, and white. Organic fed, pasture raised is the best. Duck or chicken.
4oz poultry liver — chicken, turkey, duck. Don’t drain, add the juices to the mix.
1lb poultry hearts — chicken, turkey, duck. Don’t drain, add the juices (and blood) to the mix.
1/4 – 1/3 cup of water — you can vary the amount of water based on how much liquid drains off of the liver and other ingredients. You do not want a soupy mixture. The water is to facilitate the chopping in the food processor (don’t add if you have a grinder). Add gradually while chopping to get the correct consistency. Use bottled water if you’re unsure of the water from the tap’s purity.
8 or more 12-16oz freezer safe, air-tight containers. Look for BPA free. You can also use freezer ready ziplock bags, sandwich/quart size. Canning jars can be candidates too, and they’re recyclable. It’s not likely you’ll make precisely 4lbs of food. It’s better to have a few extra containers just in case you need them.
A simple scale that can measure ounces accurately.
1/2 cup PURE whole-milk yogurt. The ingredient list should look similar to this: Grade A pasteurized whole milk and live cultures (L. Acidophilus, L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, B. Bifidum). Yogurt is rich in protein and calcium, and it’s a great source of probiotics.
3 oz gizzards. Gizzards are very fibrous and tough to chew. Your cat may eat them alone, which can be used as a snack.
Diet supplements for specific health needs, like CATalyst antioxidant formula (http://bit.ly/2gjFKvB)
A package of nylon gloves
Blender or Food Processor. A meat grinder with the most course grate is the best tool for this job but it’s not a common appliance in most kitchens.
Put on the gloves. You’ll be glad you did if the phone rings or an important text comes in as you’re making this batch of food. You can just strip off the gloves and respond.
If your cat is thin and needs the extra calories, leave all of the skin on the thigh meat. If your cat is chubby, has or had pancreatitis, remove ~80% of the skin. If he is just right, remove ~50% of the skin. Remove the bone if it’s not already boneless.
Combine all ingredients in the food processor or blender. Or feed the ingredients into the grinder (except the yogurt and water— add those after grinding the meat then mix well).
Do not just turn on the blender or food processor and walk-away. You will puree the ingredients into something that will resemble a meat slurpee. Pulse the machine (turn it on for 2-3 seconds, then off for 1 second) repeatedly until everything resembles a fairly uniform chopped state and is evenly combined at a texture your cat will enjoy best. You may need to stir things around a bit to get texture consistency. Use caution.
You can skip the machines if you don’t like to use them, or don’t have access to one, by just chopping/cutting the ingredients into 1/3”-1/4” sized chunks and thoroughly and evenly mix the ingredients. The finer chop the better. It takes a bit longer but I think it’s the best solution if you have the time and patience.
Most cats eat approximately 4-6 ounces/day. Select containers that will hold 1-2 days worth of meals (8-12 ounces). Store 4 days worth in the fridge and the remainder in the freezer. When you’re down to one day’s worth of food in the fridge, pull a container from the freezer to defrost in the fridge so it’ll be ready to serve.
This recipe will yield around 700-750cals per pound (16oz).
Get a simple (or invest in a digital) portion scale. Depending on what kind you select you can pay anywhere from $10-$50. Make sure it can weigh accurately to the ounce, but even better to the tenth of an ounce. Measure out 2-4 meals per container.
If the frozen meals aren’t defrosted by the time you’re ready to use them, draw a sink full of warm water. Set the container in the water. Usually the meal will defrost after 30mins or so. Serve the meal then refrigerate the remainder.
You’ve done all of this work and now it’s time to feed your kitten a delicious, healthy meal that’s a perfect proportion. That can’t be all, can it? It might be.
If you have fed your cat kibble or canned food for a long time then consider a transition to a meat-based diet. It’s been shown that it is preferred by cat food manufacturers to convince you to feed your cat kibble from birth and nothing else. Doing so creates an extremely narrow palate and can make it difficult for them to try novel tastes, like fresh, raw meat later in life.
That should be all you need to feed! Good luck and healthy days.