home-cooked: Alnutrin or BalanceIt?

abbyntim

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Background Information:

My male cat, Tim, has experienced constipation, urinary crystals, mild asthma, frequent hairballs, and occasional then very severe vomiting. He saw three different veterinarians in February, two at our normal place and one emergency veterinarian, who could not pinpoint the problem and prescribed medications. Each medication caused a new problem and I sought another opinion with a holistic veterinarian because I felt the problems were all related and due to inflammation.

Today, Tim is in pretty good shape. He is off all medication, except Cisapride for constipation, which we are weaning him off. I eliminated fish, chicken, carrageenan, guar gum, and xantham gum. Eliminating the fish resolved the urinary crystal problem almost immediately. He was vomiting foods that contained one or more of the other ingredients. When we recently tried feeding him Tiki Cat chicken, his mild asthma symptoms returned, which disappeared after stopping the chicken. He's not had a hairball or vomited since early February, which is a record for him. Recent blood and urine analysis results were described by the holistic veterinarian as "wonderful".

I mention all of this background information because my commercial canned food choices are very limited. I've been feeding Nature's Variety Instinct rabbit and LID turkey, with pretty good results. But it's higher in fiber than I want to feed regularly, given I may be dealing with chronic constipation (I pick out the veggies). Fiber can be good in some cats and not so good in others. My big fear is that his stools will bulk and his constipation will turn into megacolon. I would rather have more control over adding fiber or not to his food. Plus, my female has developed somewhat hard stools and I had to treat her for mild constipation last week; possibly the clay?

In general, I'm not comfortable relying on a single brand of food and I can't find anything else that doesn't contain one or more of our "suspect ingredients". We want to transition to raw, but the holistic veterinarian wants Tim off Cisapride first, due to concerns that raw will move too quickly through his system while he's still on Cisapride (and we experienced this when I fed him a raw snack one evening; I will wait and transition as the holistic vet advised). I am not sure how successful we'll be with getting him off Cisapride, given he has had a very irregular week and is on his fourth 36-hour stretch (I hope, he's not gone yet this morning and his last BM was Friday night) this week.

Because of my frustration with yet another possible bad experience with what I thought looked like a good canned food (Lotus Just Juicy, and I suspect the problem ingredient is agar-agar), I am going to do a mix of Nature's Variety Instinct and home-cooked food. I've read the stickies at the top of this page and have read many of the posts in this sub-forum and my questions are relatively simple, given my long lead-up.

Questions:

I am trying to decide between Alnutrin and BalanceIt. I'll need to order and would like to do so in the next day or so, so I can get going with home-cooked. I am interested in hearing opinions and experiences with both, as regards to home-cooked foods. I cannot consider TCSFeline because it contains xantham gum.

Has anyone followed Strombeck's recipes for cats? Assume these are to be cooked? I noticed there is no taurine supplement for the meat recipes. Is this an oversight, or does home-cooked meat really supply sufficient taurine for cats? With a quick trip to a health-food store, I could start this tomorrow.

Any other advice for a new home-cooker for a cat with the potential issues described above?

Thanks so much!
 

peaches08

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I believe @Willowy uses Strombeck's recipes, hopefully she'll chime in with her thoughts on them.

I think premixes are great, but as a broke penny-pinching student I make my own supplement mix using http://catinfo.org/?link=makingcatfood#The_Recipe.  I also add manganese and glandular supplements.  When I'm not using bone, I use homemade crushed eggshells as a calcium source.  I like doing things this way because I have the ultimate control over ingredients.
 

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As you know, Sebastian gets canned and home-cooked. I am always looking for ways to "lessen the load", if you will, by freeing up time, so I opted to go with Balance It. I had considered Alnutrin at some point and was going back and forth a bit with @mschauer about how to use Alnutrin with a home-cooked diet on one of the threads. But I ultimately decided with Balance It because it is meant for home-cooked and designed solely for the the purpose of home-cooked for pets.

Also, I think there was a concern at the time about the egg yolk powder in Alnutrin, not knowing whether or not Sebastian has a sensitivity to chicken and eggs. Balance It seemed safer in that respect.

Because of Tim's constipation issues, if you opt to go with Alnutrin, I would suggest using the Alnutrin with EggShell Calcium.
 
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abbyntim

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Thank you, both!

@peaches08, I can completely understand about wanting to be in control. My problem is that I feel like I have so much to learn and am afraid I may do more harm because of what I don't know.

@GoHolistic, I am also concerned about the time commitment to making home-cooked. But I've been cooking turkey and making broth every few weeks since early February. I'll just bump the quantity and possibly the frequency and see how it goes. I feel like I have no choices with commercial canned food and I can't try raw until Tim is off cisapride. BalanceIt appeals to me for the same reason: It is designed for cooked food.

I am considering purchasing BalanceIt and sending away for a free sample of Alnutrin with eggshell calcium. I found mschauer's recipes and instructions for cooked foods using Alnutrin and got a few recipes from the BalanceIt website. Depending on how it goes, I may rotate between the two. As I learn more about cat nutritional needs, I will consider supplementing on my own instead of using premixes.

Edited to add: I just ordered a trial-size of U-Stew for cats. It looks easy to prepare, like BalanceIt. However, it contains vegetation, so we'll see how it goes. Also just ordered a bottle of BalanceIt, which may be safer for now as I try to minimize any changes to Tim's diet.
 
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goholistic

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I have found that home-cooked is a lot easier if I can buy boneless meats. For example, boneless pork chops for his pork rotation, boneless turkey thighs for his turkey rotation, etc. I could only find bone-in turkey thighs locally, and it was such a pain to get the meat off the bone while still raw (when using Balance It Carnivore Blend, you have to measure the raw meat). For his current beef rotation, I bought super lean beef with no bone and very little trimming was needed.

I didn't purchase U-Stew because of the possible allergens in it for Sebastian. Of concern were egg yolk, whey protein, kelp and barley grass.

I know I already provided this link for you, but I am posting it again because it's important for others, as well:

http://www.thecatsite.com/t/263825/clarification-on-balance-it-supplement-for-home-cooked
 

peaches08

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Thank you, both!

@peaches08, I can completely understand about wanting to be in control. My problem is that I feel like I have so much to learn and am afraid I may do more harm because of what I don't know.

@GoHolistic, I am also concerned about the time commitment to making home-cooked. But I've been cooking turkey and making broth every few weeks since early February. I'll just bump the quantity and possibly the frequency and see how it goes. I feel like I have no choices with commercial canned food and I can't try raw until Tim is off cisapride. BalanceIt appeals to me for the same reason: It is designed for cooked food.

I am considering purchasing BalanceIt and sending away for a free sample of Alnutrin with eggshell calcium. I found mschauer's recipes and instructions for cooked foods using Alnutrin and got a few recipes from the BalanceIt website. Depending on how it goes, I may rotate between the two. As I learn more about cat nutritional needs, I will consider supplementing on my own instead of using premixes.

Edited to add: I just ordered a trial-size of U-Stew for cats. It looks easy to prepare, like BalanceIt. However, it contains vegetation, so we'll see how it goes. Also just ordered a bottle of BalanceIt, which may be safer for now as I try to minimize any changes to Tim's diet.
I completely understand.  My then vet wasn't super supportive of raw, but my mind was made up yet I was scared to death at the same time.  I bought TC Feline and Better In The Raw (U-Stew's cousin), and was thrilled at the results.  Then I calmly followed the recipe for www.catinfo.org once my backordered grinder came in and I've been fine.  Work up to making your own mix, or buy premixes forever.  The point is for your cats to be healthy. 
 
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abbyntim

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I have found that home-cooked is a lot easier if I can buy boneless meats. For example, boneless pork chops for his pork rotation, boneless turkey thighs for his turkey rotation, etc. I could only find bone-in turkey thighs locally, and it was such a pain to get the meat off the bone while still raw (when using Balance It Carnivore Blend, you have to measure the raw meat). For his current beef rotation, I bought super lean beef with no bone and very little trimming was needed.

I didn't purchase U-Stew because of the possible allergens in it for Sebastian. Of concern were egg yolk, whey protein, kelp and barley grass.

I know I already provided this link for you, but I am posting it again because it's important for others, as well:

http://www.thecatsite.com/t/263825/clarification-on-balance-it-supplement-for-home-cooked
Thanks for the tips about the boneless meat. And regarding the U-Stew, I may not use it right away. Balance IT looks a lot "cleaner" in terms of ingredients and right now I'm trying to minimize changes. And thanks for the link to your other thread; I noticed the recipes I obtained from the website stated this- mix with the raw meat, then cook.
 
I completely understand.  My then vet wasn't super supportive of raw, but my mind was made up yet I was scared to death at the same time.  I bought TC Feline and Better In The Raw (U-Stew's cousin), and was thrilled at the results.  Then I calmly followed the recipe for www.catinfo.org once my backordered grinder came in and I've been fine.  Work up to making your own mix, or buy premixes forever.  The point is for your cats to be healthy. 
I am impatient to start feeding home-cooked and was tempted to buy supplements today. But I have a busy week and wouldn't be able to do it until the weekend, anyway. Maybe my Balance IT shipment will arrive by then. :)
 

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I was using a modified version of Strombeck's recipe. . .thankfully she's eating cat food again :tongue2:. But she did very well on the homecooked recipe. I did add taurine powder (or used kitty multivitamins with taurine instead of a human multi) and liver. I can look up the exact recipe sometime, but I don't have access to that computer right now. It's worth whipping up a batch (if you have all the ingredients) just to see what he thinks. It takes a while for deficiencies to develop so even if it's not perfect it won't hurt for a week or two.
 

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Yes, as @Willowy suggested, some people opt to offer the meat first (not supplemented) and see if it's a go.

I opted to offer the home-cooked for the first time with the supplement already added. Some of the pre-mixes and supplements can have a funny taste, and I didn't want Sebastian to reject the meat later after the supplements have been added. So, he knows no different at this point. He's never had a meat without Balance It added to it.
 
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abbyntim

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Thanks, @Willowy and @GoHolistic!

I am expecting my Balance IT order today (shipping from northern to southern california doesn't take too long), so plan to prepare turkey this weekend. I've already been feeding them up to 10% of their calories with plain turkey for a couple of months, so don't want to feed any more than that without proper supplementation. We'll see how they like it with supplementation. Because I'm trying to get my boy off cisapride, I am going to stick with just turkey breast for now, in order to minimize changes. And I will likely only go up to about 25% home-cooked until we see how he does without cisapride.
 
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abbyntim

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As expected, I received my bottle of Balance IT on Thursday and cooked a batch of ground turkey last night. I used only half of the recommended supplement, in order to get Abby and Tim used to the taste; they've been eating a small amount of cooked, shredded turkey breast daily for about two months. They loved it! And it was so easy!

My trial size of U-Stew arrived today; will try that when this batch of turkey is gone. Still need to send off for a sample of Alnutrin with eggshell, but think I need to figure out where I can get livers first.
 

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Great that they liked it!  For liver, I use liver from the grocery store.
 
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abbyntim

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Thank you!

I do most of my shopping at Trader Joe's, so will definitely check the grocery store. A friend who home-cooked for her dog with a chicken allergy had a terrible time finding non-chicken livers at grocery stores, so I may also check non-large-chain grocery stores and even Whole Foods, as they have a nice meat department. We are staying away from chicken right now, as Tim seems to react each time we feed it. But once he gets off Cisapride, I would like to try feeding him a bit of home-cooked chicken and raw chicken, as I realize it may be the processing that causes the reactions.
 

goholistic

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There's a grocery store a few towns over from me that has beef liver as well as chicken livers. I believe that when you cook liver, it does get a much different consistency - more solid and dense.
 

jaya kishnani

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Hi

I plan to order BalanceIt. I was wondering what do you think about it? Is it safe? Have any of you cats had any reactions to it?
 

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Hi

I plan to order BalanceIt. I was wondering what do you think about it? Is it safe? Have any of you cats had any reactions to it?
The reason I went with Balance It was because it seemed to be a pretty "clean" supplement for my sensitive kitty. I did 30% home-cooked with Balance It and 70% high quality canned. He did really well on this for a time, but his chronic health condition forces me revisit his diet from time-to-time and try different things.
 

lisamarie12

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As you know, Sebastian gets canned and home-cooked. I am always looking for ways to "lessen the load", if you will, by freeing up time, so I opted to go with Balance It. I had considered Alnutrin at some point and was going back and forth a bit with @mschauer about how to use Alnutrin with a home-cooked diet on one of the threads. But I ultimately decided with Balance It because it is meant for home-cooked and designed solely for the the purpose of home-cooked for pets.

Also, I think there was a concern at the time about the egg yolk powder in Alnutrin, not knowing whether or not Sebastian has a sensitivity to chicken and eggs. Balance It seemed safer in that respect.

Because of Tim's constipation issues, if you opt to go with Alnutrin, I would suggest using the Alnutrin with EggShell Calcium.
This is fantastic info especially re: Balance IT. I thought U-Stew was the only premix available for home-cooked. I agree, Balance IT is far "cleaner" and contains no animal derived ingredients.

Just when I thought I had things figured out with chicken / egg sensitivities with my two cats, I get thrown a curve ball  :( .... so thanks GoHolistic. :)
 

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Trader Joe's has freeze-dried beef liver in the pet treats section. I keep a bag at home in case I have trouble finding non-chicken liver at the grocery store.

Remember to look in the frozen "weird" meat section of your grocery store. I have found that even the smallest stores have beef or calf liver there.

International markets and halal meat stores invariably have lamb liver.

My cat had a chicken allergy for months. It was probably caused by the fact that I fed him chicken almost exclusively. I cut out all chicken for a few months, then gradually introduced it back as part of a rotation. He is fine with it now.

Thank you!

I do most of my shopping at Trader Joe's, so will definitely check the grocery store. A friend who home-cooked for her dog with a chicken allergy had a terrible time finding non-chicken livers at grocery stores, so I may also check non-large-chain grocery stores and even Whole Foods, as they have a nice meat department. We are staying away from chicken right now, as Tim seems to react each time we feed it. But once he gets off Cisapride, I would like to try feeding him a bit of home-cooked chicken and raw chicken, as I realize it may be the processing that causes the reactions.
 
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