Feeding a raw-based diet doesn’t have to be complicated. As more cat owners choose to feed raw, the market for commercial products increases in size, and easy thaw-and-serve solutions are readily available.
If you do choose to prepare a homemade raw diet for your cats, then keep on reading. This article brings together a nice list of tools our members use for preparing and feeding raw. Please take a minute to read about the safety issues associated with preparing and feeding raw. These are not necessarily unique to preparing raw food for pets. If you feed kibble, or if you prepare raw meat, chicken or eggs for the humans in your household, take care to practice safe food handling.
Depending on the number of cats in your household, you may want to invest in a good freezer. Many of our members stock up on meat while it’s on sale, or just prepare food in advance, freezing up serving-size portions for later use.
The freezer can also play an active role in the preparation process, as it can help destroy potential pathogens. Freezing meat for 24 hours at 0F (-18C) ensures your meat is free of toxoplasma. The freezer temperature should be monitored with a freezer thermometer.
Don’t be deterred by the expense. A second-hand freezer can be just right for the job. Even a brand new freezer can pay back its price within a few months.
The Meat Grinder
Not every raw-based diet calls for grinding meat. In fact, there are distinct benefits to letting the cat chew on her food. That said, many owners opt for feeding ground and many cats refuse anything else as they begin their journey into raw. Read more about the types of raw diets.
If you do feed ground, you’ll need a high-quality grinder that can handle bone as well as meat. At least one of our members reports using a manual grinder, but these require quite a bit of strength to operate. A strong electric grinder is probably a better choice for most cat owners.
When buying a grinder, go for a powerful model. Even if your initial recipes don't use bones, you may want to experiment with bones down the road and you should get a grinder that can deal with those.
Working by a recipe often requires accurate measuring. A kitchen or a postal scale is what most of our members use. Measuring cups and spoons can also come in handy.
Remember, it is your responsibility to keep the cat’s diet complete and balanced. Opting for a homemade diet, whether raw or cooked, means using a nutritionally balanced recipe and sticking to it. Follow the instructions without deviation and use the scales to measure the ingredients.
These are not necessarily any different from what you use in your kitchen to prepare meat for human consumption. Our member LDG recommends a good pair of scissors, along with an easy-to-use quality sharpener (works well for knives too!)
Other utensils mentioned by our raw-feeding members include: large mixing bowls, large mixing spoons, and push pins (to poke holes in the fish oil gel caps used as supplements).
Storage OptionsFeeding raw doesn’t mean you need to work on preparing meals every day. Many of our members make a stock of raw meals ahead of time, storing them in the freezer for future use. Ziploc bags, disposable food containers and even ice cube trays are all used to prepare serving-sized meals that can be thawed and served.
Keeping it HygienicLast, but not least, keep things clean and hygienic. Just as with preparing raw meat for human consumption, have separate cutting boards for raw meat and never use the same ones to prepare vegetables or other produce. Our member mrsgreenjenes reports using a plastic cutting "sheet" on top of the wooden cutting board for ease in cleaning.
Washing and disinfecting utensils is crucial. Anything that you would usually use to clean up after preparing raw meat works well here. Clorox and paper towels are always handy, but you can use any other bacterial disinfectant.
This article is based on a thread compiled by our members in our Raw & Homemade Feeding Forum.
Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!