I’m a bad cat mom.
No really, I am. I’ve been free feeding my three cats and giving them dry food exclusively.
Okay maybe that was a bit extreme. I’m not a bad cat mom, but I feel like one. I just didn’t know any better. I’ve been feeding my cats Orijen dry food for a long time. I thought I was doing great. I did my research, I knew it was the best dry food out there and “grain free,” what I didn’t know was that an exclusive dry food diet is bad for both cats and dogs, but more specifically cats. Cats are notoriously bad drinkers, and with dry food being, well, dry many cats are chronically dehydrated which can cause kidney issues, UTI’s, and an array of other health issues. Not to mention dry food is high in carbohydrates, and even the best dry food contains fillers such as fruits and vegetables that cats, natural carnivores, don’t need much of. With pet food companies regularly issuing recalls, or even being sued for killing hundreds of animals, perhaps its time to rethink the quality of the food we’re feeding our pets.
My oldest boy Fluff is 12. He adopted me back in 2007 wandering around my then apartment complex. He’s been on an exclusive dry food diet his entire life. While I’m incredibly lucky that he’s healthy and never had any health issues, I recognize that at his age he needs more wet food in his diet in order to ensure he can live a long healthy life. Also – he’s my CatBoyfriend I need him to live to be like, 28 in cat years. Despite being a former stray, Fluff is incredibly particular about his food, which is the main reason he’s been on a dry food his entire life. Once I realized how important it was to get him on some wet food I feverishly tried every brand/flavor of wet food available that wasn’t completely shitty (aka friskies). Although a lot of people believe feeding wet, even shitty wet, is better than even the best dry food, I’m a believer in quality, and to me high quality dry is better than low quality wet with and a fuck ton of fillers and carcinogens. But with that said, out of desperation I even tried low quality stinky friskies and he still turned his nose up to it. I did have some success feeding Stella & Chewys freeze dried raw food for awhile, but then he lost interest. He also enjoyed Natural Value Seafood Platter, but once I realized that feeding seafood was dangerous too (Jesus Christ, now I feel like a bad cat mom again) that food was out. In the end the only wet food he wouldn’t turn his nose up to was Tiki Cat Salmon and Chicken. While excellent food, all he would do was lick the juice, and that wasn’t giving him enough calories to do much. I was beyond frustrated.
With my wet food failures, I was convinced that my picky cats wouldn’t ever touch raw food. I mean if I can’t convince them to eat wet food that smells more enticing and has more flavors, why would they ever touch raw food? On top of that, I wasn’t sure I even believed in raw feeding. I like the idea of feeding both humans and animals a ‘natural’ diet, but raw? It just seems weird. However, when I consider the fact that I’m incredibly particular about what I eat and my preference is to eat as much unprocessed foods as possible, it only seems logical that it would be good for my cats too. After much research, I decided raw was worth a go. When it comes to raw feeding there are a lot of options. You can buy freeze dried raw, make your own raw food, or buy several different brands of commercially made high quality human grade raw foods such as Rad Cat, Primal, Or Stella & Chewy’s (to name a few). You can also feed raw in combination with wet or dry food (raw in the mornings, wet at night, etc).
I decided to pick up all three flavors of Rad Cat and give it a shot. Considering Rad Cat had excellent reviews online and extremely high food quality standards I felt Rad Cat was the best options for my cats. To my surprise, despite the fact none of my cats really like chicken, turkey, or lamb, results so far have been incredibly positive. In a little over a week two of my three cats are eating raw food for their morning meal, including my picky Catboyfriend. While I am utilizing treats as a topper to entice them to eat it (yes they love the Orijen duck dog treats), the process is really exciting, especially considering Fluff’s resistance to all wet food (even with treats on top). Fluff also has a sensitive stomach and sometimes vomits his food, however since starting on raw he hasn’t vomited any raw food at all. Unfortunately, our Bengal Rocky is still resistant to both raw and wet food despite trying several tricks raw food advocates suggest (she also doesn’t like any treats), but I’m optimistic she’ll come around once she’s hungry enough.
Although I am excited my cats are eating raw, there are some downsides to the process:
- Rad cat is only available at one pet store about 30 mins from my house (so not super convenient), and only comes in three flavors (chicken, turkey, lamb), so boredom could occur and i may need to add in another brand.
- Because the food is raw, it can’t be left out for extended periods of time like other foods. At best I can leave it out for a couple hours and then I need to pick it back up and throw out any uneaten portion. I don’t work outside the house so this isn’t a big deal for me.
- There are some risks associated with raw feeding, and many veterinarians still aren’t on board with raw feeding.
- Safe food handling. I’m a bit of a germaphobe so I feel like I’m obsessively washing my counters and running the dishwasher like, twice.
- It comes froze and takes several hours to defrost. Once defrosted it needs to be portioned out into separate containers and then refrozen. It also only lasts 3-4 days in the fridge. So proper planning is a must.
- If I choose to feed this raw food exclusively it’s going to be expensive. Although cost isn’t an issue for me, I’d like to feed raw in the AM and supplement with the Orijen in the PM. I’m not hardcore about feeding raw 100% and totally eliminating kibble, but some people are and that’s fine. I’m leaving this up to my cats though, if they want to eat raw 100% then that’s what we’ll do.
- Raw foods can be difficult to measure calories, so balance raw/dry or raw/wet requires measuring food out to make sure I’m not underfeeding/overfeeding my cats.
I’m hopeful that as this process moves along more my cats can get around 80% of their daily nurturance from raw. And oh yeah, I have a dog too, so she’s next on the raw food train after I get these cats in order.
If you’re at all interested in feeding your pets a higher quality diet I encourage you to read about the benefits of raw feeding vs. wet and kibble. If raw is out of your budget and you’re not keen on making your own raw (I’m not either) at least consider freeze dried, or at the very least do your research and feed the highest quality you can afford. Your pets will thank you.