By Eve-Angeline Mitchell, Contributing Writer
Have you ever wanted to make your own cat food, but didn't know how? My husband and I have been feeding our cats a raw food diet for a little over two years, now. In our two years of doing this, there's a lot that we've learned about how to make the food, and how to make that process easier. Here's how we make our raw cat food.
Supplies you'll need
Meat grinder labeled for grinding both meat and bone
Large measuring cup
Meat cutting scissors
Mixing bowls and regular bowls
Kitchen scale capable of measuring fractions of ounces
Safety pin (optional)
Mortar and pestle (optional)
3 pounds chicken thighs with bone and skin (must be free of hormones and antibiotics, does not need to be organic, though that is best)
4 oz chicken livers
400 IU vitamin E
50 IU vitamin B-complex
2000 mg taurine
5000 mg fish oil
1 tsp iodized salt (must be iodized)
2 eggs (scrambled)
1 cup water
A note about the supplements
We prefer to use the Source Naturals brand of supplements from iHerb.com. This is especially important for the B-complex, because the Source Naturals vitamins don't contain the same amounts of vegetable cellulose that store-bought vitamins do. We found out the hard way that our cats' digestive systems are very sensitive to vegetable cellulose when we subbed store-bought B-complex for the Source Naturals B-complex, because we ran out. Even though our cats were only getting tiny amounts of the store-bought vitamins, all four ended up with nasty cases of gastritis. One had to be hospitalized. Thankfully, they're all fine now. This is why we get the Source Naturals supplements from iherb. This B-complex also doesn't have any vitamin C in it, which is good.
One more note: It's best to order fish oil capsules, because they'll stay good for much longer than just a bottle of fish oil, and make sure it's not cod liver oil. According to Dr. Pierson, cod liver oil is not good for cats.
However, if your cat doesn't need to lose weight or otherwise avoid higher amounts of fat, then don't remove those two deposits either. Just remove the skin.
At this point, you can bake each piece of chicken in the oven to kill surface bacteria. We don't do this, however, it's a wise idea if you're getting your meat from the grocery store. Dr. Pierson cooks her poultry thighs until they're about 10 percent to 20 percent cooked. Avoid cooking them any more than that, because doing so will destroy necessary nutrients, and make the bones so brittle they'll shatter in the grinder. That can make the food very unsafe for your cat to eat.
Put each finished piece of chicken into a mixing bowl. Once that's done, cut up one de-boned, trimmed thigh per 3 pounds of meat into small, bite-sized chunks, so your cat has something in her food to chew. Put these into a separate bowl, because you don't want to put them through the grinder. Cover the bowls, and put them into the fridge to chill while you're working on other parts of this process.
Once those three parts are finished, I use a safety pin to poke holes in the vitamin E and fish oil capsules, and then I squeeze the oil out onto the water. Oil sits on top of water, which is why you want the powders done first.
The gelatin in the shells for the fish oil and vitamin E won't hurt your cats any, but they take forever to dissolve in water. The same is true with the vitamin B pills, and the taurine shells. You can do it that way, but you'll be waiting a long time for everything to dissolve. It's more work, but ultimately easier to do the supplements this way. When you finish with this step, set the mixture aside. It doesn't need to be refrigerated.
Now, the eggs
Take your two eggs, scramble them, and cook them lightly. We find this to be easier than separating the yolks from the whites, and then only cooking the whites while leaving the yolks raw, as Dr. Pierson recommends. We do that because we tend to make 120 pounds of food at one time, and that is a lot of eggs to separate. So we scramble them and cook them. When they're done, set them aside. It's time to start grinding the meat.
Once it's all mixed, that's your cat food. At this point, because you'll have to transition your cat from her normal food onto this diet slowly, I suggest that you first divide it into half-pound portions, and store them in quart-sized Ziploc baggie. If you only processed three pounds of meat, this should give you about six or seven baggies' worth of food. You might end up with a little more or a little less.
One more thing that might make it easier for you if you're making a whole lot of food, too: We've recently started de-boning and trimming the chicken as soon as we buy it. This way, food-making day takes a lot less time, and all those pieces of chicken take up less space in our freezer. If you think you'll eventually make a lot of food like we do, this could work for you, too.
Feline Nutrition Education Society
Dr. Karen Becker's Healthy Pets
Dr. Lisa Pierson
Eve-Angeline Mitchell is an experienced writer and blogger, and an animal rights and welfare advocate. She has been writing about cats, from pet cats to feral cats, to the history between cats and people, and even about bit cats, on Examiner.com for four years. She is also an avid do-it-yourselfer when it comes to home improvement and enjoys learning how to do new things.
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