I’ve been contemplating feeding my new cat, Ecchi, a raw diet ever since I got her. Even though she’s approximately two years old, she’s only five and one-half pounds heavy, clearly far too light for a cat of her age. I got to thinking — why is she so small? Every time I’d put out dry food for her (an expensive brand I bought at the Humane Society’s pet shop), she’d only nibble a small amount of it, leaving the rest of a normal portion behind to get stale. Something had to be done, especially now that she’s been fixed and will be somewhat more sedentary.
Then, I realized the key: feed her what she’d be eating if she was in the wild! I got this idea from watching Mamoru Oshii’s brilliant film Avalon, in which the main character feeds her dog only fresh raw food, one of the few splashes of full color in the film’s mostly sepia tone presentation. Interesting note: my friend in Japan who worked with Oshii-san a while back tells me that the dog was, in fact, Oshii’s own pet dog, who passed away during the filming. Animated or not, that dog has appeared in all of Oshii’s films, leaving the integration of the animal into this film as a spiritually satisfying memorial to an obviously beloved pet. Oshii’s new dog also appears in the film briefly. Regardless — any director who shows on-screen how he used to prepare his dog’s food, healthily using raw meat and vegetables is OK in my book, and inspires similar levels of devotion to one’s own pet.
I started doing some research on the ‘net, and with my vet clinic, for an appropriate raw diet. I bought some Bones And Raw Food (BARF) diet, made here in Ontario in chicken and rabbit flavours, and she seemed to like it well enough. That was proof enough for me! Time to find a good recipe.
To learn more about your cat’s nutrition, I strongly recommend Feline Future’s The Backyard Predator: a guide to nutrition for companion cats. Read it cover to cover; it’s short and will tell you everything you need to know in one place. Most of the other references I’ve read corroborate this information, the only difference being the vegetable proportion in the food. I’m comfortable with the 5% vegetable proportion in this recipe.
My recipe is mostly based on Feline Future’s recipe, with slight variations only due to availability of ingredients near my home. Note that Natascha Wille d/b “Feline Future” holds the copyright to the original recipe, and that I make no warranty as to the suitability of this modified recipe for any cat but my own. Go read their original recipe first, then read mine. I use the information contained within Feline Future’s website here only under Fair Use, and don’t intend my version of the recipe to be authoritative in any way, shape or form. That said, I welcome constructive criticism and further suggestions on this post.
- 1 lb. AmorÃ© Raw Free-ranged whole chicken
- 1 lb. AmorÃ© Raw Free-ranged Alberta buffalo
- (Qty. 2) ½ lb. AmorÃ© Raw Free-ranged ostrich or emu (all AmorÃ© products from a local pet shop)
- 2 c. water, room temperature
- 4 raw organic egg yolks (President’s Choice brand)
- 2 T. kanten flakes (agar) (from The Big Carrot on Danforth)
- 8 drops Bernard Jensen Liqui-Dulse (from The Big Carrot’s dispensary)
- 2 t. powdered Kelp powder (Swiss natural sources, from Shoppers’ Drug Mart)
- 8 t. whole psyllium husks (Swiss natural sources, from Shoppers’ Drug Mart)
- (Qty. 4) 1000 mg Salmon oil (Swiss natural sources, removed from gelatin capsule, from Shoppers’ Drug mart)
- (Qty. 8) 500 mg Taurine (Now brand, removed from gelatin capsule, from The Big Carrot’s dispensary)
- (Qty. 4) 200 IU Vitamin E (Life brand, natural source, removed from gelatin capsule, Shoppers’ Drug Mart)
- (Qty. 2) 50mg “B50” Complex (Jamieson natural Sources brand, crushed in mortar/pestle, Shoppers’ Drug Mart)
- 7 t. Solid Gold Seameal (additional to original recipe, from a local pet shop)
My deviations (!) from the recipe (oh, right . . . ) are basic. I’ve used 3 kinds of meats, all of which are high on Feline Future’s own list. I’ve eliminated the bone meal and liver, since the AmorÃ© products already have crushed bones and organ meat in them, in correct proportions to their original animal sources. Agar was substituted for gelatin, perhaps incorrectly, because I didn’t go anywhere today that had actual gelatin. I will substitute real gelatin the next time, as it contains many animal-derived ingredients that Ecchi probably needs. Liqui-dulse is used instead of powdered dulse, as it’s more convenient, though it’s hard to be sure that 2 t. powdered dulse is the same as 8 drops of Liqui-dulse. (I guesstimated from the human dosage information, and calculated feline proportions based on their relative weight proportions.) Finally, I’ve added the Solid Gold Seameal supplement, as it contains flax seed meal & ProzymeTM, which includes plant-derived digestive enzymes like protease, lipase, amylase and cellulase. This is the only non-scientific modification to the recipe. As cats can have indigestion problems with organ meat, and Ecchi is moving to the raw diet from being fed exclusively dry food, I felt some digestive enzymes might be a good addition. We’ll just have to see how well she tolerates the supplement.
And now, the cost:
AmorÃ© meat products: $24.00 total
4 raw egg yolks: $1.33
2 T. agar: $1.00
8 drops Liqui-dulse: $0.15
2 t. kelp: $0.35
8 t. psyllium whole husk: $0.75
4 capsules salmon oil: $0.54
8 capsules Taurine: $0.64
2 capsules 200IU Vitamin E: $0.18
2 caplets B50 complex: $0.25
2 T. seameal: $0.50
Tax (GST + PST = 15%): $4.46
Total per 1/2 cup portion: $1.22 ($2.44 a day for Ecchi)
Given that my local clinic sells the chicken or rabbit raw food diet at $3.30 per 1 cup container, I think I’m doing pretty well, at about ¾ the price. And I’m 100% sure it’s got all of the supplements she needs, in the correct proportions, plus I get to adjust the amount as I so desire. I’ve frozen it in freezer bags, so I guess I should add that price to it at well (though I’ll eventually switch over to reuseable plastic containers.) 4 cups in each bag means I only have to defrost once a week, though for safety’s sake (raw meat doesn’t keep long in a refrigerator) I may move to 2 cup containers.
The only disadvantage was that I had to buy most of the supplements in much larger quantities (100 pill bottles, for instance). Each bottle’s price varied between $10 and $20, meaning I laid out over $200 today. But all I need to do in the future is pick up the raw meat, some eggs, and mix it up good.
I love my cat, and she seems to be loving me more and more each day. I hope she appreciates her new diet, handmade with love! ^_^