to Raw? or not to Raw?

nat_urge

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Hi guys, Skype is almost 2 years old now and has been to the vet once each year like clockwork every august for GI blockages or gas. for some extra background he is my first cat, I've only ever had dogs, and anything that looks even a lil suspicious..like random diarrhea freaks me out. We found out he likes to snack my dogs food sometimes and gets stopped up and will stop eating for a day, which is when I take him in.
His last visit to the vet was just gas, and I found out he has some minor swelling in his gums, and his breath has gotten a lil funky over the last month or so. He's on a Sensitive stomach Purina pro plan, and has recently not been too crazy about it. I think another family member giving him turkey slices every morning has a lot to do with that last part.
Anyways, aside all that, I've been reading about a raw diet for cats, and am considering freeze dried for now, since I don't want to do all the mental gymnastics of sourcing a homemade raw diet right now, though I absolutely won't mind getting some raw treats from a local butcher if its beneficial.
I guess my question is how did you start introducing raw to your Creatures? any things to look out for? and does a raw diet usually help the things I'm currently dealing with? what was the trial process like to see if your cat even tolerated it?
 

lisahe

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I think most people just start feeding a little raw food to their cats... that's what we did. Some cats take to it right away but others don't.

Honestly, though, the first two things I'd do would be: Make sure Skype stops eating the dog's food and tell the family member to feeding him turkey slices! The dog food and/or the turkey more than likely have ingredients Skype really shouldn't be eating. The turkey, for example, is almost certainly too salty plus some cold cuts have stuff like carrageenan in them. And if the dog food has stuff like peas, lentils, or chickpeas in it, well, that would probably explain the gas.

If there's something in the dog food and/or turkey that's bothering his stomach, raw food may not help a bit if Skype is still getting the ingredient from the dog food or turkey. Every cat is different but in our experience with stomach issues, a diet high in protein and low in carbs (which can come from grains, legumes, potatoes, and all sorts of other things) is the best place to start. The next thing is to address is thickeners, like agar-agar (which even bothers our cat who hardly ever has stomach issues!), carrageenan, and various gums.

Mouth problems -- swollen gums and bad breath -- can be caused by foods that a cat is sensitive to. One of our cats got nasty bad breath and gas from potato, which is in lots of food. Both problems went away as soon as we stopped feeding her foods that had potato in them. Which cats shouldn't really be eating in the first place!

Good luck! It can be hard to sort out what's causing a cat's digestive issues -- I hope some easy changes can help you figure out what's bothering Skype.
 

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In my estimation (as an avid raw feeder myself) this would be a very positive move for you on multiple levels, but would be especially helpful with the two specific needs.

To mitigate GI blockages it is best to feed a low-residue (highly digestible) diet that produces the minimal amount of waste/feces that needs to be passed through the GI tract. A raw diet is superlative in this regard.

Likewise, "gas" is typically caused by carbohydrates being broken down (fermented) by bacteria in the GI tract. Cats have zero nutritional needs for carbohydrates (and feeding an obligate carnivore carbs has serious downsides) so eliminating them is a win-win.

As to your questions, the day we brought our Desmond home (not quite a year ago) I made a platter of food that included the canned food he'd been eating at the foster family, some cooked pork, cooked chicken, raw pork, and raw chicken. He ate them in reverse order.

I'd already been a raw feeder with my Vizsla (dog) so this sealed the deal for me. Desmond has been raw fed from that day forward, using a Prey Model Raw (PMR) approach.

I would not be more delighted with his health, vitality, and condition.

I do prefer feeding at least some appropriate bone-in pieces that cats need to crunch and tear flesh from in order to keep the teeth, gums, and the jaw & neck muscles strong.

A raw diet also helps ensure that cats stay well-hydrated, which is critical given chronic dehydration is at the root of most common feline illnesses.

Bill
 
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nat_urge

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Thanks for the insight! as the one with the dietary issues in my family, I was hoping to not have to do the same with my cat :ohwell: Silly me
I just went out and bought a few different brands of more Whole Foods for Skype to try and see what he likes best. Looking for high protein and less grain ingredients was super helpful in narrowing the list down.
 
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nat_urge

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In my estimation (as an avid raw feeder myself) this would be a very positive move for you on multiple levels, but would be especially helpful with the two specific needs.

To mitigate GI blockages it is best to feed a low-residue (highly digestible) diet that produces the minimal amount of waste/feces that needs to be passed through the GI tract. A raw diet is superlative in this regard.

Likewise, "gas" is typically caused by carbohydrates being broken down (fermented) by bacteria in the GI tract. Cats have zero nutritional needs for carbohydrates (and feeding an obligate carnivore carbs has serious downsides) so eliminating them is a win-win.

As to your questions, the day we brought our Desmond home (not quite a year ago) I made a platter of food that included the canned food he'd been eating at the foster family, some cooked pork, cooked chicken, raw pork, and raw chicken. He ate them in reverse order.

I'd already been a raw feeder with my Vizsla (dog) so this sealed the deal for me. Desmond has been raw fed from that day forward, using a Prey Model Raw (PMR) approach.

I would not be more delighted with his health, vitality, and condition.

I do prefer feeding at least some appropriate bone-in pieces that cats need to crunch and tear flesh from in order to keep the teeth, gums, and the jaw & neck muscles strong.

A raw diet also helps ensure that cats stay well-hydrated, which is critical given chronic dehydration is at the root of most common feline illnesses.

Bill
Thanks so much! ill definitely start giving Skype some raw protein mixed it..and definitely with the bone in. I can see how kibble didn't do much for my 14 yr old dogs teeth, his teeth and breath have not been in good condition for years now. can I ask any suggestions of what are appropriate bone-in pieces?
 

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Hopefully you can find options with zero grains (and no other forms of carbohydrates) as IMO these are counterproductive to Skype's known issues and carbs are unnecessary to a feminine diet.

I hope you have great success.

Do you rehydrate these freeze dried foods? I assume so, yes?

Bill
 
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nat_urge

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Hopefully you can find options with zero grains (and no other forms of carbohydrates) as IMO these are counterproductive to Skype's known issues and carbs are unnecessary to a feminine diet.

I hope you have great success.

Do you rehydrate these freeze dried foods? I assume so, yes?

Bill
I did find grain-free. He gravitated towards it right away! I intended to use the freeze dried, as just treats, so I can get rid of the cold cuts issue. I didnt realize additives would be an issue/potential irritant and of course there were a few. I know if its replacing a meal it should be rehydrated, but even as a treat?
 

Box of Rain

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Thanks so much! ill definitely start giving Skype some raw protein mixed it..and definitely with the bone in. I can see how kibble didn't do much for my 14 yr old dogs teeth, his teeth and breath have not been in good condition for years now. can I ask any suggestions of what are appropriate bone-in pieces?
For a newbie cat, some good starter bone-in pieces include chicken necks, chicken feet (you might need to cut into portions, and (a little more advance) sectioned chicken wings.

The rib bones from chicken breasts (with some meat attached) are also good starter bones.

Cornish hens are pricey in my area, but they also have nice soft-edible bone pieces.

What is actually reasonable here are four packs of quail, most typically found at markets with a Mexican oriented consumer base.

Always monitor a cat (and a newbie especially) when they eat bones as a precaution, removing bone if it gets to start looking like a choking hazard.

Desmond, who is on the small side, now has such powerful jaws and dental structure that he can strip and crush chicken legs and turkey necks. It really is impressive, like a little lion. I'm quite convinced that this sort of activity promotes good dental health (in addition to the soothing mental health benefits--and not kidding about that). Attacking a bone with meat on it takes strategic thinking and it is a workout.

Most dogs and cats unfortunately develop periodontal disease. I was just at the vet with my dog. She [the vet] was astounded at my Vizsla's phemonimal dental health. She is a breed expert and owned my Vizsla's grand-sire. Chester's teeth are clean and the gums are perfect )at 8.5 years old). And--not unlike the cat--his jaws and teeth are incredibly strong.

The aspect of raw feeding that I'm most enthusiastic about isn't the "rawness," but rather the ability to serve edible bone (which must be raw) for the dental and behavioral benefits.

Bill
 

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I did find grain-free. He gravitated towards it right away! I intended to use the freeze dried, as just treats, so I can get rid of the cold cuts issue. I didnt realize additives would be an issue/potential irritant and of course there were a few. I know if its replacing a meal it should be rehydrated, but even as a treat?
I have no first hand experience with freeze-dried raw cat food, so I'll demure on giving advice.

Generally speaking, cats (a desert species) evolved to get their hydration needs met by consuming moisture-rich prey. They tend not to drink much water, which persists as an attribute of the species, and eating foods that draw (rather than supply) moisture is typically not a positive.

You will have a better sense than I of how much moisture-rich food is being eaten vs the freeze-dried as treats. Just something to be aware of when you feed.

Bill
 

lisahe

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I did find grain-free. He gravitated towards it right away! I intended to use the freeze dried, as just treats, so I can get rid of the cold cuts issue. I didnt realize additives would be an issue/potential irritant and of course there were a few. I know if its replacing a meal it should be rehydrated, but even as a treat?
I'm glad you're going to try to get rid of the cold cuts! And that you were able to find some foods that Skype likes.

Dry treats are fine. Our cats love freeze-dried chicken treats. Pure Bites is a popular brand and PetSmart sells a house version, but our cats particularly love Chewy's freeze-dried chicken treats, the ones packaged for cats. (The treats that are packaged for dogs are usually in big pieces that are easy to break, there's nothing wrong with them, but every brand seems to have its quirks!) All three of those brands are raw chicken breast. (Pure Bites also makes turkey treats, labelled for cats.)

And yes, freeze-dried fed for meals is best rehydrated.

One thing about foods with bone: they can cause constipation in some cats so if Skype is prone to constipation, be sure to keep his bone consumption down. (One of our cats had a definite problem with constipation from raw foods, even when not all the cats' foods contained bone -- she was clearly very sensitive to it.)
 

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Edible bone (for cats) should be limited to about 6% of the overall diet. Dogs do better with 10-12% bone.

Learning about the bone percentages in various parts and portioning out bone in balance to meat and organ ratios are part of feeding PMR. It takes a little effort. But so worth it for me.

It is true that too much bone can be constipating. It is all about balance.

Bill
 

lisahe

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Edible bone (for cats) should be limited to about 6% of the overall diet. Dogs do better with 10-12% bone.

Learning about the bone percentages in various parts and portioning out bone in balance to meat and organ ratios are part of feeding PMR. It takes a little effort. But so worth it for me.

It is true that too much bone can be constipating. It is all about balance.

Bill
Yes, it's all about balance... unfortunately, a lot of commercial raw foods contain far more than the 6% that you mention. (There was one that our cats loved that had around 20% bone... I fed a few very small bits of it before I remembered to call the company!)
 

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Yes, it's all about balance... unfortunately, a lot of commercial raw foods contain far more than the 6% that you mention. (There was one that our cats loved that had around 20% bone... I fed a few very small bits of it before I remembered to call the company!)
I think many commercial raw products have assumed that dogs and cats have the same needs when it comes to edible bone percentages. 20% is really too much for dogs, (the standard PMR amount is 10%) but most could probably deal with it.

However, that seems like a formula for constipation with cats.

As with many things in life (and with nutrition) it is all about balance.

Bill
 
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nat_urge

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Wow, thank you both so much! After looking at the ingredient lists, I ended up getting Orijen wet food for Skype since it had the most whole ingredients and no grains at petco. He liked it so much its making scheduled feeding a lot easier, even after a day. I even got some of the senior dry food for my dog, not that it will help his teeth at this point, but he should improve a little overall with less fillers (we changed his food to something of less quality because it was all they had at the supermarket and the difference in his clarity was almost instant)
After all this info I think I will also start introducing some raw foods to Skype, and definitely some bone for the teeth and mental stimulation. He has always been a fan of the freeze dried treats, as is Ozzy (the dog) which kind of makes life easier since they are both jealous of each other. Hopefully all this helps to clear up some of his GI, dental, and now that I think of it, some hot spot issues. Lucky for me, I live near a butcher that is priced pretty reasonably and shouldn't have trouble finding some good quality meats.
 

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Wow, thank you both so much! After looking at the ingredient lists, I ended up getting Orijen wet food for Skype since it had the most whole ingredients and no grains at petco. He liked it so much its making scheduled feeding a lot easier, even after a day. I even got some of the senior dry food for my dog, not that it will help his teeth at this point, but he should improve a little overall with less fillers (we changed his food to something of less quality because it was all they had at the supermarket and the difference in his clarity was almost instant)
After all this info I think I will also start introducing some raw foods to Skype, and definitely some bone for the teeth and mental stimulation. He has always been a fan of the freeze dried treats, as is Ozzy (the dog) which kind of makes life easier since they are both jealous of each other. Hopefully all this helps to clear up some of his GI, dental, and now that I think of it, some hot spot issues. Lucky for me, I live near a butcher that is priced pretty reasonably and shouldn't have trouble finding some good quality meats.
Glad to be of help.

One thought about "senior" dog food. For due diligence I'd double check the protein and fat levels on whatever you purchased just to be sure this formula hasn't done what so many manufacturers do--which is to reduce these (in favor of carbohydrates) at a life stage when getting adequate protein/fat is vital for dogs (and cats).

Enjoy exploring the raw food options. Hopefully Skype provides you with some "entertainment value" as he tackles bone-in pieces. LOL.

One more option there (that I didn't mention previously) is to feed pieces (like say a rib) where the bone is simply too big for a cat to eat, but they can gnaw off the meat. Some friendly butchers will cut the ribs crosswise with a bandsaw (into more user friendly sizes for cats) and then they can be cut into separate pieces. Cats won't get much "bone" ingested from these, but flat bones are relatively soft (tooth friendly vs hard bones like ruminant femurs) and it is a good "workout."

I'm repeating myself, but I'm convinced that giving cats (and dogs) regular opportunities to work their gnawing, tearing, chewing capacities is critical to keeping teeth and gums healthy. The old aphorism "lose it, or lose it" is instructive.

Have fun!

Bill
 
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nat_urge

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this is awesome to know! I'm used to not giving any kind of bone to animals, as the tiny dog gets HELLA aggressive with bones to chew. I didn't even think of providing different bones for nutrition and others for chewing. Unfortunately I was already adjusting his food, when I had to get him some antibiotics for some eye redness that is either conjunctivitis, or an allergy (we did some renovations like painting, and moving lots of furniture around so I'm thinking a cleaning product could've done it.
You guys have been a wealth of info for someone who doesn't really know shit about cats.
 

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Edible bone (for cats) should be limited to about 6% of the overall diet. Dogs do better with 10-12% bone.

Learning about the bone percentages in various parts and portioning out bone in balance to meat and organ ratios are part of feeding PMR. It takes a little effort. But so worth it for me.

It is true that too much bone can be constipating. It is all about balance.

Bill
My larger dogs always did better with more bone, usually around 10% but one dog was up to closer to 15%! My smaller 5 pound dog seems to be more like a cat and is around the 6% range. If I give her grinds, I have to remember some grinds are different. I can order whole ground chicken and she gets more of that than if I order ground turkey necks, which she only gets a little bit of.
My Papillon Tag never did well with raw bones at all, but for chewing and dental health he got chunks of beef or tripe (very gross, but very effective) and recreational (non-ingestable) bones. He was a toy breed who lived to be almost 13.5 and never had a dental cleaning, but he did not enjoy good health at the end unfortunately, something I was hoping a good diet would avoid. :(
My older cats (10-14 years) weren't introduced to raw until they were adults and never caught onto eating chunks, so they get grinds. Lila was raised on it, and she can settle down and slowly eat almost anything. She has the best teeth I've ever seen in any of my cats at 8 years old.
 
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nat_urge

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Little Update; Skype is loving the little raw bites I'm throwing his way while cooking. Im not making any more changes until he's done with his meds, and fully off of his Purina. Actually he is now staring and meowing expectantly at me while I'm at the cutting board.
 
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nat_urge

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Update: So with the freeze dried bits (Instinct), which Skype is literally obsessed with, he lost interest with most canned food in general, including the Origin cans he was loving for a bit there. My fault in trying several diff things in a short time. He eats, but not as much. He also loves bites of raw chicken and chicken hearts..but he isn't into chewing so I will probably have to mince anything I give him for a little bit. Maybe that was just the case with chicken hearts, which he licked for like 10 whole minutes and bit a bunch but didn't chew and just left it. His eyes have cleared up, is no longer on meds, and an older skin allergy is healing faster than a previous hot spot while on lower quality food/kibble.
Did you guys use ground food when first getting your Cat into raw, and did they eventually enjoy putting in the work for larger chunks?

Also, I'm reading a bunch on PMR and doing the math for portions so that I can fully get into it in the next few weeks
 

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Update: So with the freeze dried bits (Instinct), which Skype is literally obsessed with, he lost interest with most canned food in general, including the Origin cans he was loving for a bit there. My fault in trying several diff things in a short time. He eats, but not as much. He also loves bites of raw chicken and chicken hearts..but he isn't into chewing so I will probably have to mince anything I give him for a little bit. Maybe that was just the case with chicken hearts, which he licked for like 10 whole minutes and bit a bunch but didn't chew and just left it. His eyes have cleared up, is no longer on meds, and an older skin allergy is healing faster than a previous hot spot while on lower quality food/kibble.
Did you guys use ground food when first getting your Cat into raw, and did they eventually enjoy putting in the work for larger chunks?

Also, I'm reading a bunch on PMR and doing the math for portions so that I can fully get into it in the next few weeks
I started mine on grinds, except for Lila who I started on chunks that were actually huge to prevent any kind of choking. With my numbers, I feed more grinds these days because it's just quicker and easier, and a few of my cats are slow eaters. If I feed anything in chunk form, it's at night when I have time to make sure no one steals anything from anyone. All of my cats are technically seniors, so the chunks they get these days are usually boneless chunks with a mixture of ground RMB's and organ meats + any supplements.
 
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