Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Raw Feeding Update #1

Well, we are now about four weeks into the raw feeding trial here. Again I am pleased to report that Cora, Brodie, and Shadow are still doing extremely well on their new diet (which is still, and likely to remain, in a state of flux, for variety's sake if nothing else). Nobody has grown wings or become telepathic or anything -- I am certainly not one of those who believes raw food is some sort of Miracle Serum, but everyone seems plenty active, playful, etc.

On the gastrointestinal front, I continue to be astounded at how little the trio's poops stink these days, and how even Brodie's, er, deposits have been so consistent in their consistency. Even on the grain-free regular cat food (which was far more friendly to his system than some of the early grain-based foods I tried) he often seemed to have intestinal gas. As in, I could hear his guts gurgling from halfway across the room -- which can't have been comfortable for him. That's possibly the thing I am most pleased/excited about in this whole endeavor...Brodie just seems to FEEL better to a degree he never could on anything else we tried. Yay!

We've had a mere one incident of puking in the past month. I don't know who it was, as it was one of those "woken up by the Hork Alarm, but cats are all arranged at opposite corners of the living room by the time I manage to get out there" affairs.

I am not super concerned about this, though -- anyone who lives with cats for any length of time tends to learn firsthand that the feline approach to reverse peristalsis borders on the recreational. Moreover, all the cats had eaten some grass (from the yard, during one of their supervised outdoor jaunts) the previous day and of course there's always the Hairball Factor to consider.

Truth be told, only one incident of Gastronomical Splatter Art in the course of a month is kind of amazing when you live with four cats! So whether it was grass, hairballs, or perhaps a tad too much liver (it's very rich and I've since been strictly portioning it out so nobody gets more than a dime-sized piece per meal), it doesn't seem to have been a sign of anything sinister.

So, I expect I'll be keeping this up. It's actually far more logistically easy than I ever imagined -- I mean seriously, plopping one-third of a whole thawed quail down in someone's dish isn't appreciably more complicated than setting out half a can of wet food.

That said, the kitties are still also getting some commercial cat food, though probably less than 20% of their diet is currently comprised of this. I know some raw feeders encourage a complete switch as soon as possible but as I am taking an evidentiary approach rather than an ideological one, I figure I should probably not rush things or even necessarily assume before I have more data that All Raw, All The Time is the Absolute Best Ideal Cat Diet.

I am convinced at this point that there are aspects of raw feeding that are truly awesome and ought to be studied/explored/acknowledged, and my cats seem to be doing great so far, but I see no reason to make a religion out of it.

But I digress. The trio take their supplemental taurine no problem when it's mixed into a spoonful of meat-byproduct-pate', and while their "crunchies" (dry food) have pretty much been reduced to "treat" status, they each end up getting some of those most days as well.

I find that the crunchies are very handy for "enrichment"-type putting a few of them into a tall cup on the floor and seeing if they can figure out how to knock it over (yep, they can). Or putting them (the crunchies, not the cats!) into weird apparatusses (apparati?) like the one in my Informal Cat Cognition Experiment.

The youngsters also LOVE the "chase the crunchie across the floor" game, and Shadow has become incredibly proficient at catching his treats in mid-air (yet another thing he taught himself to do...I really must post a video of it sometime!)

I still haven't tried raw with Nikki and I am kind of afraid to. She is such a "Princess and the Pea" about food and pretty much everything (this isn't an insult...she just has extremely keen senses, even for a cat, and her sense of taste is particularly acute) that I suspect even a micron of raw chicken mixed into her Fancy Feast would set off her alarms. I would still like to try at some point but give how picky she is I am reluctant to risk potentially putting her off the only well-hydrated thing she will (at least when she's not going through one of her "I Hate Everything" weeks) accept.

Oh yeah. And the bone thing. Wow. I have never SEEN such enthusiasm at mealtime. Shadow especially LOVES his chicken and quail wings and legs and ribs, etc. LOVES them. Like to the point where he will stand up on his hind legs, paws on the kitchen counter (he is REALLY tall now!), shrieking at me as I portion out the carcass of whatever it is I'm preparing.

And then when he gets his Meaty Bone Of The Day he sits there gnawing on it and growling and making noises that literally sound like "OMNOMONONONMMNOM!"

Cora does this occasionally as well which just amuses me to no end because she's so little and sweet-looking...she is truly the epitome of badass adorable.

Brodie, meanwhile, tends to stand off in a corner (or, lately, under the dining room table -- he seems to prefer eating with a "roof" over his head) politely and methodically chomping away, then licking up the bits and quite daintily cleaning his paws when finished.

I've actually been having to put Shadow in a different room once he's finished his own meal, as he can be a bit on the pushy side and Brodie (the resident gentle Gamma boy) is more of a pushover. He doesn't challenge Shadow if said brother tries to steal his chicken wing...he's more liable to be all "Okay, bro, no problem...take it...backing up now, I'll just be over here..."). This is turning out to be a wholly manageable situation, though, and with the raw stuff I prefer to watch them eating anyway so monitoring isn't a big deal.


  1. "Hork Alarm" absolutely cracked me up. What lucky kitties you have.

  2. Ha, you must know exactly what I'm talking about then! :P What's uncanny is how the Hork Alarm, if it's going to occur, tends to go off just before my actual alarm goes off.

  3. "woken up by the Hork Alarm"
    LOLOL--one of my friends coined the term "horkalepsy": when you wake up just enough to figure out if they're horking on something unimportant, like the doormat, or on your Persian rug.

  4. Haha, well thankfully most of the floorage around here is hardwood (and linoleum in the kitchen and vinyl in the bathroom). No Persian rugs here, and the doormats are all cheap. My one "splurgey" area rug (a brown looped cotton thingy from Restoration Hardware -- it was on sale!) has thus far gone unblemished but it's fully machine-washable anyway. Still, though, I definitely like to make sure and clean up the hork ASAP because, good grief, there is nothing like stepping in a cold, sticky wad of half-congealed hairball. Yurgh!

  5. Well, we actually do have a nice Persian area rug, but we have to keep it covered with sisal runners due to unpredictable horking and our tuxedo cat's prediliction for evil claw-sharpening. One of our cats is an older rescue cat who often gulps her food down too quickly and then barfs it up very spectacularly. This has earned her the nickname "Little Miss Barfarama." It's also one of the reasons I'm interested in learning more about raw foods. I think she lived outside for quite a while before we rescued her, so it will be very interesting to see what she does with a quail.

  6. OTOH, start worrying when the barfs get frequent and spectacular. Our beloved Madison (RIP) started projectile vomiting. Typical splatter was about 4 feet long by 1 foot at its widest. Several times a week. We never fully identified what triggered the damage, but we suspect cat-toxic plantage in the garden, perhaps Irises. Whatever it was, it precipitated acute kidney function failure. The next 6 months were - interesting, heartbreaking, difficult (see the story at his blog, if you're interested).

  7. AbrashTX: Ha, I literally LOLed at "Little Miss Barfarama". For some reason that makes me think of Tim, the Siamese kitty I grew up with, whose inordinate fondness for Puppy Chow and incredible breaking-and-entering skills (enabling him to access said Puppy Chow) meant the occasional "Run All Over The House Yowling and Puking" Spree. My little sister composed a song about this phenomenon (mainly comprised of the words "Tim, barf, barf, Timmy, barf, barf, barf") which I may well have on cassette somewhere. It was pretty epic!

    Okay, enough about What Comes Out...certainly good luck with the raw feeding if you do try it! My guess is that if your kitty lived outside for a while, she probably has SOME raw-food experience (unless she's like Nikki and can't hunt to save her life). But be prepared for a slow transition if it's been a while -- that whole "cats are creatures of habit" thing. With my kitties I initially just snuck in some chopped raw chicken or turkey with their usual wet food and they lapped it right up. It took me over a month to get up the nerve to try them with bones!

  8. GrayGaffer: Gah, well I am terribly sorry for your loss. I peeked at the blog; Madison sounded like quite a guy. :/

    That said, thankfully we do not seem to be seeing any increases in pukage lately. Just the one incident described in my post. Nikki (the eldercat here at nearly nine years old) has projectile-puked a few times in the past, but that was before I figured out it's just a bad idea to give her more than half a can of wet food in a single sitting. If she really likes the food she tends to gulp it down really fast, and if she gets too much in at once that way it doesn't exactly sit well.

  9. Have you considered putting yourself on a raw food diet, or are you mostly raw already?

  10. Matthew: Hmm, while I do like vegetables and fruits quite a lot, many of them in a raw state, there are some cooked things I'm fond of that I can't see giving up. E.g., collard greens (which we have a ton of growing in the garden)...if I eat those raw or "under"-cooked it tends to cause, well, interesting gastrointestinal effects that are not entirely pleasant. And some things (tomato sauces, etc.) are quite nice simmered with garlic.


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