Kuro's journey to a complete & balanced raw diet: PART 1

Kuro, our beloved MC x Ragdoll pet and recently self-appointed CEO of Maynetree, would like me to tell you about his journey into his transition of a completely raw diet. 

Kuro is 3 years old (2019) and was addicted to dry kibble and Royal Canin pouch/wet food. 

This transition has been about 7 months so far. The first hurdle was taking away the kibble. We went through several months of Kuro-rage and salty glares when we took away the all-you-can-eat-24/7-buffet. A lot of crying and howling, and hangry leg attacks occurred. My patience won out over his disapproval.

We were finally down to the wet food. I think Kuro's addiction to the wet was definitely on a greater level, if that can be possible. The taste was like kitty crack to him and when I started putting down morsels of raw chicken, roo, beef or lamb mince, he would look at me with absolute disgust, sniff it, and walk away. 

I began with a teaspoon sized piece next to the wet food, and so began the second time in my life of getting a hangry toddler to try a new food {the first is my fussy human son}. I read somewhere that it can take 75 times for them to even LOOK at it {let alone taste it}. This feels true, ha! 

Wanting to try something different, I started mixing the raw into the wet food at small ratios, and then slowly increasing it. I also wanted to try different organs/cuts, and separately offered him chicken necks, hearts and wing tips. He was indifferent to all of those, until I tried some chicken liver...  finally, success! He loved it. But I couldn't just feed him liver of course.

After several expensive weeks of throwing out uneaten food and hunger strikes {I didn't let him go more than 12 hours without eating}. I admit I did give in several times. However, I persevered.

So the sciencey stuff behind the concept of raw feeding is that you need to give a complete balanced meal. Cats are obligate carnivores. They don't need fruits, vegetables or grains. You may have heard some scary stories from your vet or on social media about animals getting seriously malnourished, contracting a bacterial infection, or worse, death.

Let me just say that, surprisingly, most vets do not get a wide or thorough education on nutrition. The education they DO get is often heavily biased and influenced from large chain pet food companies throwing their labels at their veterinarian practice. 

The other point is that most vets either swing strongly toward raw feeding, or strongly toward commercial pet food (usually the latter), and they don't seem to have any middle ground. This obviously can influence the pet owner toward only ever buying commercial food, without being open to accepting that there could be a better/different way. 

The next concern was bacteria, diseases, and food processing. I found evidence that most "pet meat" sold at some pet stores, supermarkets and butchers, does not go through the same process as human grade meat. Now whilst our kitties have a different gut to humans, they could still get sick from poorly treated meat. Overall, I was given advice to only feed human-grade processed meat, which I agreed with. When Kuro kept refusing plain meat protein, we both became frustrated at the lack of different options around, and I wholeheartedly admit that we relapsed several times, even back onto the kibble as well. I think the flavour he was used to with the kibble and wet food, was the main addictive factor {in his case, other cases could be different}, and the plain meat was just so uninteresting to him in comparison.

I did go through a moment of: let's buy a whole heap of random organs and cuts of meat and just kinda mix it all up and hope for the best! Well that was a waste of time - and money - AND it wasn't balanced. That was the real kicker.  

I read more and more, and realised that to prevent malnutrition, a meow needs 80% protein, 10% bone and 10% secreting organs (half of which need to be liver). This 80-10-5-5 DIY recipe intimidated me because not only do you need to closely adhere to these ratios, you also need to provide variety. If you only stick to one protein, your meow can become hypersensitive to it. It's best to rotate the proteins and try to get organs and muscle from different animals, not just the one. I saw on different social media pages that people were obtaining things like sheep's brain and ox tongue and I become SO overwhelmed. I thought, not only do I have to search my whole bloody state for different meats and organs, but it's also really expensive! To top it off, I would buy something, and then Kuro would refuse it. 

My breeder lives in the US, and she has access to whole baby chicks, feathers and all. Now, I haven't looked into the legislation or production locally here, but my impression is that you can't get these here. If you can, I'm not sure where. A baby chick is a whole complete meal for a cat, feathers, bone, organs, and protein. I like the idea of it in theory, and I bet the meows would love it, it's a natural meal for them. I tell you though, the animal activists would put a flaming stake in my heart if they found out I was breeding baby chicks just to feed to my cats. Even though in the wild, a cat would hunt a live animal and this is perfectly natural, having a human do it for them, well, that would be sacrilegious. For now I'm sticking to getting my meat from the butcher {which is like, adding several humans down the chain to eventually feed my cat, but somehow more accepted? who freaking knows... ha}. 

My breeder did mention that she uses a meal-completer to mix with the raw meat, and this got me thinking. Is it complete? Do I still need to add supplements? Are the ratios right? Does it create/change flavour? The one she uses is from the US, and I was very interested, but would prefer to source something local, or at least Australian, if not from Adelaide. 

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***UDPATE May 2019: I found frozen whole quail (plucked) and whole chicks (feathers on) from Angelakis Brothers (known for being a seafood retailer in SA), but they are expensive and I've not yet tried any. There are a couple of places online that all sell both whole, and also expensive. I may look into these as treats, but probably not for a regular whole meal. 

***UPDATE June 2019: I was talking to my cattery guy (where Kuro goes for holidays if I'm working remotely) he owns a small farm in the Adelaide Hills. They raise chickens for eggs and meat, and he says in particular seasons, they have plenty of male chicks that get terminated for normal production reasons and we could organise something there. In addition, we could get some very fresh chicken meat too. Now I know that this may raise eyebrows. But where else does chicken and chicken products come from? I would rather get it straight from the source than 15 hands down the line at the supermarket. Plus it's supporting a local business. Also - if the chicks are being terminated anyway, they may as well get eaten by an obligate carnivore which is designed to eat such an animal, and at least it can sustain another living being, and it's death then has a purpose. That's just my opinion. 

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So after about 5ish months of going back and forth and scratching my head with what to offer him, I still had the following 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? So many questions! It's easy to see why this whole thing can become overwhelming. 

My next post will continue on from here, and I'll introduce you to a Perth-based company called Raw Meow.


Rosie ♡


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