Easy Raw Diet Feeding for the Busy Person

Easy Raw Diet Feeding for the Busy Person

There are now many easy raw-feeding choices for the person on-the-go. In stores and on the internet, you can purchase frozen complete diets, frozen ground meat/bone/organ mixes and pre-mixed supplements that you just add to raw meat. There are a few national brands, and many smaller, regionally available products that make it easy to feed raw. It's as simple as thawing and serving. We discuss some specific products here, but there are many others, with more being added all the time as demand for easy-to-feed raw foods increases. Feeding complete foods is probably the most convenient, but it can be more expensive and it gives you the least control over what ingredients are used. Finding a producer whose product you trust, and who uses quality ingredients is very important. Remember, your cat will eat less when on a raw diet, so that is a consideration when looking at cost. Look for foods that are grain-free, and are low carbohydrate if they contain vegetables or fruits. Try to use products that contain meat from quality sources, and that use whole animals if possible. Most of these foods are available online in addition to being sold at retail outlets such as natural pet stores, natural grocery stores and some veterinary offices. Check the maker's websites to find out where their product is sold.
 
Commercial Frozen Complete Diets
 
These are diets that are complete as is. You don't need to add additional supplements. It is still a good idea to include variety in your cat's diet, so varying the type of meat fed is recommended.
 
There are many brands available now and most specialty pet supply stores will have freezers with raw foods available. The variety of foods will vary considerably depending on where you are. You can also order online and have the food shipped frozen.
 
The market for frozen raw pet foods has expanded considerably in the past ten years. There are a number of brands available nationally in the US and Canada. Some of the larger brands even have brand-specific freezers in place in stores, a phenomenon unheard of just a few years ago. In addition to the major, nationally-distributed brands, there are now many local and regional brands and some store brands, too. See what your local pet supply store offers. Most will order a brand or type if they don't currently carry it.
 
These frozen diets come in a wide variety of forms: nuggets, patties, tubs, pellets, blocks or long tubes called chubs, ranging from one to ten pounds each. So, there will be a form that works for your situation.
 
Some raw food makers will offer both supplemented, complete diets and unsupplemented foods. Be sure to check which type you are getting.
 
Frozen Ground Meat/Bone/Organ
 
Buying pre-ground meat/bone/organ mixes and adding your own supplements can substantially lower your costs. It's also very easy. This is a good option for people who would like to prepare their own cat food, but don't want to grind their own meat. Also useful for those who want to use meats that are either unavailable or too expensive to purchase whole, or meats with bones that a home grinder can't handle. Many suppliers sell in packages ranging from one pound to bulk packages of 30 pounds, so it is very easy to purchase the amount that fits your needs.
 
Please note: buying ground meat from the grocery store is not recommended. Meat from a grocery store has been ground and then refrigerated and displayed for who knows how long, giving bacteria ample time to multiply. Meat needs to be frozen immediately after grinding. Also, it is best to grind the bone with the meat, and grocery store meat doesn't include the bone. In some places it is illegal for stores to grind the bone on machines used for meat meant for human consumption. Meat ground for raw pet food is always immediately frozen to reduce bacterial proliferation. If you do decide to purchase ground meat from a grocery store, make sure it was ground within the previous 24 hours.
 
Remember, you must add supplements to these grinds. This is not optional. Feeding a nutritionally deficient diet can have serious health consequences for your cat.
 
Hare Today: They offer a wide range of ground, whole and parts products, including rabbit, chicken, duck, turkey, pheasant, quail, salmon, beef, pork, mutton, goat and mice. Quality is excellent. They ship it frozen direct to you via UPS or FedEx, from Pennsylvania. Products shipped 2-day air will arrive still frozen. Tip: place the tube of ground meat in a plastic bag or a large tray in the fridge; the tubes will leak liquid as they thaw. They also sell dehydrated items. My cats recommend the dehydrated rabbit ears.
 
My Pet Carnivore: Based in Indiana, they offer a wide selection of ground and whole meat products including chicken, turkey, beef, pork, alpaca, llama, deer, elk, goat, goose, rabbit, lamb and fish. Over 80 different products available. Deliveries to many Midwest states or shipping nationwide.
 
Keystone Natural Foods: A family-run company based in Western Pennsylvania. They offer about 40 different products for pets including ground meats, organs, whole meat items and whole prey items. They ship to nine Eastern and Mid-Atlantic states.
 
Check with natural pet food stores in your area, as many offer meats from local farms, sometimes organic. They may offer locally produced items in their stores or be able to put you in contact with the farms directly.
 
Here is a supplement recipe for five to six pounds of pre-ground meat/bones/organs:
 
  • 8 to 16 oz water, use 16 oz if your cats like it soupier, 8 oz if they like it firmer
  • 4 raw egg yolks
  • 4000 mg taurine
  • 4000 mg wild salmon or wild caught small fish oil
  • 200 IU Vitamin E (use dry form)
  • 200 mg Vitamin B Complex
  • 1 ½ tsp Lite Iodized Salt
  • 4 tsp psyllium husk powder (optional, mostly recommended when your cats are starting out on raw)
 
Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly, and add to the thawed or partially thawed grind. Portion out into plastic containers, glass mason jars or Ziploc® bags and freeze immediately. You can put any that you will use that day or the next in the refrigerator. If you would like to make your own nuggets, spoon the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. These have the advantage of being quick to thaw and a mostly uniform size which makes portioning easier.
 
Pre-mixed Supplements
 
There are a number of pre-mixed supplement formulas available. This makes it easy to add the necessary vitamins and minerals. Please note that some of these pre-mixed supplements are meant to be added to ground meat with no bone. They contain added calcium to make up for the lack of bone in the grind. Please don't use this type of supplement if you have purchased a meat/bone/organ grind, as it will result in too much calcium in the mix. Besides constipation, too much calcium in the diet can have other health consequences.
 
Alnutrin: Makers of Alnutrin® supplement for ground meat with bones. They also have a formulation with calcium for use with ground meat without bones. Alnutrin will send you a free sample to try.
 
Know Better Pet Food: Makers of Better in the Raw® premix for use with any ground meat.
 
TCFeline: Makers of TCFeline® Premix. Add this supplement to raw boneless ground meat, liver and water. They also make TCFelinePLUS® for use without liver. Only ships to Canadian addresses. TCFeline is available in the US from The Total Cat online store.
 
Wysong: Call of the Wild® powder. Add to fresh meat without bone.
 
Many people use a combination of different methods when feeding raw meat diets. In fact, we encourage you to feed a wide variety of different meats in different forms including supplemented ground and whole meat cuts with and without bone. Feeding whole parts such as chicken wings, necks or gizzards is an easy addition to their diet and provides chewing exercise. Chewing on whole meat cuts helps keep their teeth, gums and jaws healthy. However you decide to feed a raw diet, you will see improvements in your cat's energy level, coat and digestion.
 
Margaret Gates is the founder of the Feline Nutrition Foundation.
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