Kuro's journey to a complete & balanced raw diet: PART 2

So I ended my earlier post around the 5 month mark of Kuro's raw transition. 

I was feeling lost and overwhelmed and frustrated. I had a lot of questions. 

Do I prepare a fully 80-10-5-5 diet from scratch? Can I get a mix that's pre-prepared and safe for him to eat? Does that even exist here? Is it nutritionally correct? What if i buy it and he hates it? How do I prepare it correctly? Does it have to be frozen for a certain amount of time to kill the bacteria? What's better, mince or chunks, or whole pieces? How many different proteins? How often do I rotate the cuts and 'flavours'? Can he have snacks in between meals? Do I supplement with wet food if he only eats a bite (or less) of the raw? 

After giving up several times I found a couple of premixed complete raw meals called Proudi and BARF {look them up if you like}. I liked this idea as it saves time and I don't have to think about ratios and what to put in there. I'm not sure if they are completely balanced, it only lists the ingredients, not the amount or percentage, but at least they have the bone content. BARF says it contains seasonal fruits and veggies, but I don't think this is even necessary?? Cats are obligate carnivores and do not need these in their diet. So I tried a couple and persisted for about a month, but I wasn't overly impressed, and neither was Kuro. I really just didn't feel there was enough nutritional information regarding the ratio/percentages. 

My mentor breeder in the US feeds raw, both a DIY recipe from scratch, and also a meal completer by Feline Instincts that you mix with the boneless meat to make a balanced meal. I am very interested in this and have since been researching similar products. The main goal for me though is to use local products. Feline Instincts is made in the US and serves as a good back up, but I really wanted something made in Australia. 

So like every good scientist, I trawled Facebook for a while to see if there were any others in similar situations to me. <DISCLAIMER: Do not use Facebook as evidence-based research, guys> 

I came across several raw feeding pages, and then I finally found one called Australian Raw Fed Cats and to-date this has been the best all-rounder page for humans who raw feed their cats. It has loads of advice and friendly members. Any and all questions are welcome and the main admin Laura is very knowledgeable and always willing to help. There is little to no bullying or fighting on this page, which just shows the great management and the tolerance of the members. I don't have time for that s---t. Check them out if you'd like to see some kitty raw feeding chat and lots of meows!

This page is owned by a Perth-based business called Raw Meow and that's how I came across them. Raw Meow have a few products, but the one I'm most interested in at the moment is the Raw Meow Mix. This is a meal completer, not a supplement. It is designed to be re-hydrated with water and then mixed with boneless muscle protein. It is quick and simple. You can add it to a single serve, or you can make bigger batches, portion, and freeze for later. It is based on the 80-10-5-5 ratio. It has a nutritional label, and lists all the ingredients. It also contains eggshell powder as the bone source. Raw Meow have a website with lots of quality information about raw feeding and how to transition properly and safely. 

Knowing that Kuro likes kangaroo mince, I tried the Raw Meow Mix with a few single serves. I had to mix in some of his royal canin wet food during the transition, but long story short, he began to eat it more and more, and it has been the only product to-date that I can say Kuro has really appeared to enjoy. After 6-8 months of frustration and hitting brick walls, we finally found something that is nutritionally correct AND that Kuro loves. I really am excited about it. I plan to use this with the rest of the meows too. 

I am on the fence about whether to feed RMM forever, or slowly begin to do my own recipe from scratch. Both methods are pricey (if you're getting quality human-grade meats). RMM just makes life so much easier, it's quick and easy to prep and serve. For me, being time-poor (like most of you I suppose), this works for us for now. 

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UPDATE June 2019: I actually did a price check on everything, and I think Laura has her own calculations on the Raw Meow website too. IT REALLY ISN'T THAT PRICEY! When you're buying meat at, say $15 / kilo, and adding the RMM, each meal breaks down to about $2.50-3.50 PER SERVE. When you compare this to a can/sachet/pouch of food and kibble - it's really quite comparable, and sometimes even cheaper if you can get meat on sale. The main thing here is that it FEELS expensive while you're doing it - probably because you're actually handling and preparing it (whether it's full DIY or using RMM) but when you truly break it down, it's honestly great! Even better...? Your cat is getting a diet that's balanced and appropriate for it's needs!!! There are lots of pathways to feeding a balanced raw diet - this is just the one I have chosen. Again, as I always say, I'm not always right, and I'm keen to take on suggestions and improvements - but you need to do what's right for you!

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Kuro is now completely accepting of roo and RMM. We are trying other proteins though, as I want him to have a variety and I would hate him to become hypersensitive or develop an allergy to the one protein that he really loves. I've been mixing chicken, lamb, beef, and some pork with it (not all at once). When he looks at me in disgust, I don't mind so much at the moment, as my patience has been renewed and I'm totally committed now. 

The other hurdle we need to get through is mince vs chunks. Mince has a greater surface area percentage and hence more area for bacteria to grow, and this is further made worse by pre-minced meat that has been sitting on the supermarket shelf for days on end. Kuro very rarely will touch chunks. I have been slowly adding 2-4 tiny chunks per meal, but generally he will avoid them. 

So that's where we are at. We need to continue transitioning to larger pieces, and introduce other proteins to the point where he will enjoy at least 3 types of protein in larger pieces that he can chew and tear at. I'd love for him to try some wing tips or chicken necks (or other bony cuts) as well for treats, but that is a separate challenge altogether! 

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UPDATE July 2019: 9 months into this journey now and KURO IS EATING PROPER CHUNKS! He has even tried Raw Meow's freeze dried chicken necks. Kuro really dislikes chicken in general (still trying to work out whether he is fussy / sensitive / or simply just doesn't prefer the taste). Anyway these are such great steps, and even without the chicken necks, the chunky meat pieces allow him to tear and rip at his food, and this is great for his teeth. Most people tend to think that if they don't feed their cat kibble, they'll miss out on the "teeth cleaning" properties. In actual fact, the kibble and commercial wet food actually largely contributes to the tartar build-up, and the raw food decreases this build-up in general. The chunky meat helps also, along with raw bones (monitored of course whilst eating). So basically you have a win-win.

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The other important point to make here is that the meat needs to be frozen for at least 3 days to kill off the bacteria, before you feed it to your meow. There's science involved somewhere here, but I won't bore you with all the details. 

Both the Raw Meow website and the Facebook pages mentioned above have lots of info about raw feeding. Of course, don't take my word for it. Research raw feeding yourself, and if you have any handy info or links please drop them below. I'd love to know your thoughts. Please bear in mind that I have sought many opinions, including from vets and people that have a lot of knowledge and experience. I have read a lot of articles and information, some evidence-based and some not so much. This is where I'm at as a result, and it doesn't mean it's an end-point, or the best way. It just works well for us at the moment, and we're certainly open for improvement.

Thanks, as always for reading.

Rosie ♡


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