My first cooked chicken cat food!

mschauer

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First, this wasn't actually the first time I've made a cooked cat food. I know it tried it some time ago but for some reason I can't remember much about it. So technically this is my second experience making cooked cat food. I normally feed a ground raw diet to my cats but I wanted to try out a cooked food just for the heck of it.

I cooked the chicken in a  pressure cooker. I cooked 5 1/2 lbs skin on, bone in chicken thighs for 20 mins. The internal temperature ended up at 200 F. I was shooting for 160 F which is the temperature needed to kill most pathogens. Next time I'll cook them for 15 mins.

Edit: I meant to mention that I added 1 cup of water to the pressure cooker before cooking. 

The meat was easy to remove from the bone. It pulled off easily using my hands but it was even easier to scrape it off using a sharp knife. I removed 1/2 the skin as per Dr Ps recommendation. I should have removed that skin before cooking though. Doing it after cooking means a lot more fat got rendered into the cooking liquid than I intended. I ended up with 2 lbs 11 oz of meat and 4 cups of liquid. 

I ran the meat and skin through my grinder and added back all of the liquid. The result was quite a nice texture. Not that the kitties care but I really didn't want the pasty looking stuff I've seen at sites showing cooked homemade cat food. 
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And here it is with the liquid added:


It isn't as watery as it might look. The liquid just tends to separate.

Clean up only took a bit longer than if I had left the meat raw because of having to clean the pressure cooker.

All in all the cooking didn't add as much time or work as I thought it would. It certainly isn't as easy as just dropping the raw thighs into the grinder. On the plus side it was much more pleasant working with cooked chicken rather than raw!

As for the kitties, Jeta and Zara ate it fine. I knew they would. They aren't too finicky. Coco and Toby, as expected, required their favorite toppers to be added before they would even try it. Once they decided it might actually be food they gobbled it all up.

I'm a little disappointed though that I really can't come up with a nutritional analysis for it. All the USDA information that I depend on assumes liquid used for cooking is discarded. I expect my cooking liquid has quite a bit of nutritional value. I don't have any choice but to just use the nutritional information minus the liquid. And, of course, the database doesn't contain any entries for meat cooked in a pressure cooker. From my research pressure cooking is the cooking method that preserves the most nutrients.

Adding liver and using the Alnutrin calculator (knowwhatyoufeed.com) would be an easy way to finish it off. Of course premixes other than Alnutrin can be used also. For this experiment I just added the supplements I would use if it were raw.

I didn't add liver or gizzards or eggs. If I make another batch I might try just tossing those into the pressure cooker also.

All in all I'm quite happy with the result! 
 
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vball91

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Thanks for sharing this! I think home-cooked cat food is a great alternative to raw for folks who are concerned about pathogens but would still like to control the quality of ingredients.
 

peaches08

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That looks yummy!

I love boiling bones out for dishes such as turnip greens, but I admit to being clueless as to what the nutrients are. Any ideas? I ask because I wonder if it might help someone's cat in some way.
 

denice

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I am going to try the cooked diet.  I have to get the Alnutrin, extra taurine and a grinder.  I don't have a pressure cooker, to be honest I've always been a little afraid of them.  I think I got that from my mother.  My dad occasionally cooked and he used it a lot.  My mother wouldn't use it because she was afraid of it.  I've heard that they have electric ones that are pretty much idiot proof, maybe I will get one of those
 

peaches08

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You can bake the chicken. I used a pan with a rack in it, and added the drippings after grinding.
 

aprilprey

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Originally Posted by mschauer  

I didn't add liver or gizzards or eggs. If I make another batch I might try just tossing those into the pressure cooker also.
Hmm...we use a pressure cooker all the time for our own cooking. Based on my experience, if you put something that cooks a bit quicker than meat (like eggs or liver) those items will cook into a mush.  You might want that effect, but if it were me, I'd probably cook those quickly, separately, to preserve some of their texture.  And I wonder if the egg would get over cooked and rubbery?  For example, for many stews, the meat is pre-browned with a head start cook before it gets tossed into the pressure cooker.  And those are small chunks of meat that cook faster...a whole chicken?

But try it and report back - I could be wrong!  Maybe mush is what you want.
 

peaches08

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That brings up a great point, aprilprey. Didn't someone cook thigh bones into mush using a pressure cooker? For some interested in using bone, I wonder if that is an option for them?
 

lcat4

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I've been doing quite a bit of cooking lately, chicken thighs, venison, a roast or steak of some sort. I've been baking in a Pyrex dish under foil, then dice the meat, add back all the liquid and add Alnutrin based on raw weight. I haven't been adding the liver. I either give them some freeze dried or rely on the fact that their other food with liver has enough to cover their needs. I also add in extra taurine since Alnutrin assumes raw and cooking the meat causes taurine loss.

So, a couple questions...what's the best way to cook liver if I want to add it to the cooked food? Would baking with bone, and then removing the bone, add some nutrients from the bone to the meat? I'm still talking about baking, I don't own a pressure cooker.

My cats like the cooked meats. These days, the raw they get is almost exclusively ground turkey, and Clark and Socks quickly get bored with their food. This gives them some variety, texture difference because it's diced, and I don't worry about buying the meat from the grocery. I put the turkey and cooked meat in the same plate and stir. Happy cat.
 

denice

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I might try dicing the meat.  My two are kibble addicts so I'm always struggling to get them to eat wet.  They don't have a preference for chunky wet food over pate but I remember a number of years ago they had some food in pouches.  They were like chunks of meat in a gravy.  I had the best luck with them but I haven't seen the ones that they did pretty good with in a long time.
 
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mschauer

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I am going to try the cooked diet.  I have to get the Alnutrin, extra taurine and a grinder.  I don't have a pressure cooker, to be honest I've always been a little afraid of them.  I think I got that from my mother.  My dad occasionally cooked and he used it a lot.  My mother wouldn't use it because she was afraid of it.  I've heard that they have electric ones that are pretty much idiot proof, maybe I will get one of those
The modern stove top cookers are pretty idiot proof also. The electric ones are easier to use. BUT, they are smaller and don't get as hot so cooking times are a little longer. The size difference is what would matter more to me. I like to make big batches so I don't have to do it so often.

I forgot to add taurine. 
 Oh well, next time. 
 
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mschauer

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Hmm...we use a pressure cooker all the time for our own cooking. Based on my experience, if you put something that cooks a bit quicker than meat (like eggs or liver) those items will cook into a mush.  You might want that effect, but if it were me, I'd probably cook those quickly, separately, to preserve some of their texture.  And I wonder if the egg would get over cooked and rubbery?  For example, for many stews, the meat is pre-browned with a head start cook before it gets tossed into the pressure cooker.  And those are small chunks of meat that cook faster...a whole chicken?

But try it and report back - I could be wrong!  Maybe mush is what you want.
I wondered about that. I'm sure you're right. I think I'd probably use the microwave for the liver and eggs. 
 

peaches08

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LCat4, I doubt that you'd get much from the bone if you baked it with the liver...it takes hours for me to boil out big bones with vinegar added. Liver cooks more quickly than meat, by the way.

Denice, I chunked the raw when I first started since the grinder was on backorder. Since you have kibble addicts, that might be the perfect start!
 
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mschauer

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That brings up a great point, aprilprey. Didn't someone cook thigh bones into mush using a pressure cooker? For some interested in using bone, I wonder if that is an option for them?
I tried that. I was hoping the bones cooked like that would add a flavor punch to my raw chicken recipe because the kitties aren't wild about it. It didn't help in that regard. They didn't seem to like it any better.
 
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franksmom

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Thanks so much for this thread the above pictures look like food that Frank might actually eat. 

I too am going to start trying a cooked diet and was going to use this recipe from TCfeline that LDG provided in a previous post (http://tcfeline.com/2010/08/16/cooked-meat/). I will probably just use pre-ground organic free range turkey, which I can get down the street, and since I am cooking the meat it should kill off all the bacteria that is found in ground meat should be killed. I am going to use the TC feline with liver and bone meal added and will also add extra taurine. I may also try roasting some meat because Frank does love gravy
 
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mschauer

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So, a couple questions...what's the best way to cook liver if I want to add it to the cooked food? 
From what I've read the best way to cook to preserve nutrients is to cook for as short a time as possible at a temperature high enough to get the food to a temperature high enough to kill most pathogens (160-165 F). Here's a table of nutrient losses for several cooking methods. I will probably microwave the liver.

Nutrient Loss

Vitamin loss by different cooking methods

Cooking                Vitamin loss

methods               in % (C, B1, B2, B6)

==============================

Boiling                 35 – 60

Poaching              Less than boiling

steaming              10 – 25

Pressure cooking   5 – 10

Microwave cooking 5 – 25

Roasting               10 – 47

stewing/Braising    10 – 12

grilling                  10 – 12

Baking                 10 – 12

Frying                   7 – 10
Would baking with bone, and then removing the bone, add some nutrients from the bone to the meat? 
I'm sure some nutrients would leach from the bone during baking but I'm guessing not many. Mostly fat, again just guessing.
My cats like the cooked meats. These days, the raw they get is almost exclusively ground turkey, and Clark and Socks quickly get bored with their food. This gives them some variety, texture difference because it's diced, and I don't worry about buying the meat from the grocery. I put the turkey and cooked meat in the same plate and stir. Happy cat.
I'm also thinking about adding some cooked homemade for variety. I'd probably still feed some raw.
 
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ldg

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Just a quick reminder here: if you are cooking bone-in meals, you must remove the bone before feeding to the cats, because cooked bone splinters and may cause damage if eaten.

mschauer REMOVED the bone before grinding, and added in freeze-dried bone powder for the calcium and minerals needed to balance the diet. :nod:
 
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ldg

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Oh - and I forgot to say thanks for sharing this. Very interesting, actually. Personally, I'm too lazy to add the extra step of cooking. But as I have aging kitties, and a kitty that at some point may be subject to higher risk of inappetence (Chumley's FIV), cooking may be a way of making the food more palatable. :dk:
 
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mschauer

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 I have to get the Alnutrin, extra taurine and a grinder. 
I missed this at first. If you use Alnutrin you don't need to add taurine even if using cooked meat. Since there is so little information available on the taurine content of foods they just assume all the needed taurine has to come from their supplement.

I took at stab at reverse engineering the nutrient profile of Alnutrin w/Calcium from their online calculator and used it to analysis a recipe using it with cooked chicken and liver. All nutrient levels are fine:

Cooked Chicken Dinner w/Alnutrin

What I called 'water' in the recipe is actually the broth after cooking. That broth will have quite a bit of nutritional value so the analysis should in reality be even better than shown.

Edit: I forgot to say that I had to use roasted and simmered entries from the USDA database since they don't have entries for pressure cooking.
 
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ldg

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So wait - did you run the analysis?

I know it would be understated, because of this link, that does at least indicate the nutrient loss both WITHOUT adding back the water/juices/drippings and WITH adding back the water/juices. They don't have pressure-cooked. :rolleyes: But whether juices are added back or tossed makes a big difference in nutrient retention: USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12354500/Data/retn/retn06.pdf
 
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