This is a frequently asked question on every raw vegan forum including mine. As the raw foodist’s health improves and he/she has the experience of more energy and a brighter outlook on life, it’s natural to wish the same for a beloved pet. Or two or three. A bird is no problem. A dog will eat just about anything, anyway, including cleaning out the cat box if it gets a chance. A cat is another matter.
Cats can be finicky eaters at best and downright terrors at worst. I’m in the unenviable position of knowing all about transitioning Ms. Twinkle to a raw food diet.
The first thing a person starting down this path wants to ask is, “Do I really want to do this?” There are several things to consider.
- The time
- The mess
- The time
- The squeamishness
- The time
- The expense
- The time
- More time
First point, I put an inordinate amount of time into researching the very topic of feeding an animal raw food. There is as much of a mish-mash of information on raw food for pets as there is for humans.
Second point, when I did decide to get into it, I found that it was something else to clean. If any of you have watched cooking shows on television you’ll know what I mean. It’s imperative to have a kitchen clean as an operating room if “proteins” are part of the picture. In turn, the handler must keep the hands sterile as a surgeon. I’m not used to treating my bananas, oranges, and tomatoes that way. A little schmutz from them gets on something, I wipe it up and go on. Animal parts are a different thing. How a person can cook something that disease-ridden and dangerous, then eat it is beyond me.
Third point. All this cleaning takes time. Lots of time. Plus I had to do more research to find out what is environmentally safe that will still take care of the bacteria. Bleach is out. I use a tea tree oil based cleaner. I wash my hands thoroughly with ::gasp!:: soap after I handle her food.
Fourth point is the squeamishness. Now, if you were brought up in a meat-eating household, this shouldn’t be a problem for you. I wasn’t. My father was the only meat-eater and my mother had a separate pan she used for the occasional meat she’d fix for him. I’d never touched the stuff, myself, except for a brief interlude when I fixed it for an unfortunate ex-husband. I had no idea what I was doing and I’m sure he suffered because of it. I wouldn’t handle Twinkle’s meat except either with plastic bags on my hands or gloves. There is a definite “yuck” factor.
Fifth is the time you spend on actually learning where to get the meats. I never shopped for meat. Never needed to. Even when I was eating cooked, I had no need to frequent the meat cases except to stand in mourning with hand over heart. I went to the supermarkets where, I was to later understand the signs proudly proclaiming “We butcher our own meat” had nothing to do with chicken. The forums told me I could get chicken backs and necks there for free. Not so. They get their chicken parts already packaged and hermetically sealed.
Sixth is where the bottom line comes in. The expense. If I could have gotten chicken backs and necks and if they were free and if Twinkle would have eaten them, it would have been different. I tried her with a cute little Cornish Game Hen. She would have nothing to do with it whether it was light meat or dark. I apologized for its sacrifice for naught. She scarfed down little hunks of stew beef but promptly upchucked it on the carpet. No matter what I tried, it wasn’t tasty enough for her to eat it or it made her sick. That’s when my research paid off and I found some prepared foods I imported from Only Natural Pets. After much trial and error, we are down to two kinds of food Twinkle will eat—Primal Beef and Salmon Feline Formula and Nature’s Variety Venison Diet (don’t pay any attention to the fact the bag says chicken—Twinkle would turn up her nose at it). The Nature’s Variety all has pictures of dogs, too. Cats get no recognition.
Which brings us to Point Number Seven. This is the actual transitioning process. It takes time. I bought an assortment of canned cat food. “Huh?” Yes. Canned cat food. Starting out, I tried the straight raw meat but Ms Twinkle would have none of it. Then, I thawed the prepared meat and mixed 1/4 teaspoon with half a can of cat food. She barely tolerated it. Cats are picky. After a few days of this, she would eat it with no problem. I increased the amount of meat to 1/2 teaspoon, then 3/4, then a whole teaspoon. All these increases was over a period of days which equalled to weeks of bringing her along. After many moons, she was eating straight meat and the little cans of cat food were a dim memory.
Now, number eight. If I go anywhere for more than a day, I have to put her back on dry food. That’s no problem. She loves it. The time it takes to get her back to her raw food is the time that will try a woman’s soul. I hate it that she prefers other food to what I give her for her own good. When she’s eating her raw food, she is more energetic. Her poop doesn’t have a foul odor and her urine doesn’t smell. She visibly feels better. If I had it to do over and know what I know now, I have mixed feelings about whether or not I would do it. It’s a huge responsibility and not at all cheap. A dog would be a much easier animal to transition and feed because it probably would eat all the things Twinkle spurned.
If anyone out there is considering such an undertaking, think all the angles through. Above all, buy in small quantities until you know your animal will eat what you’ve chosen. One of the women on my forum bought 20 lubs of chicken and her cats wouldn’t eat it. That was a hit her budget couldn’t easily handle. I don’t know what she did with it. Maybe she’ll leave a comment and update us.
One last piece of advice. Feed your animal the way nature intended. Cats are true carnivores. They aren’t meant to be vegan as we are. Meat is their food and what they need to thrive.