This post is part of our “Journey to Raw” series, published every Wednesday, and comes to you from finance analyst Ann Bee, whose desperation to help her cats drove her to finally try what she greatly feared but knew they needed.
I turned to raw feeding out of desperation for two reasons, Queen Eva and Mazy cat. Queen Eva came to me at 8 weeks old, flea ridden, full of worms, skin and bones. By the time she was not much past a year old, even though she had been on a good canned diet since she came to me, she wasn’t thriving.
Chronic diarrhea (all parasites ruled out) was partially solved by adding probiotics and eliminating carrageenan, but she continued to look seedy, skinny, and malnourished, her stools were still often soft and large and odorous, and she had a very poor appetite.
Mazy cat was suffering from 6 years on “Hills c/d kibble”. The daily puking was a nightmare and I finally got smart enough to get her back on a canned diet. It took a long time to find foods she could tolerate, and she did better but not much. Even a year and a half later, on a single canned food (organic), she was still regurgitating way too often.
I was feeling pretty desperate at the time Carolina Lima began her cats’ transition.
I followed her and then Laurie Goldstein as they chronicled their transitions. I was envious of their triumphs but I still felt fearful and reluctant. I had so many excuses. “No freezer space”. “Too much work.” “Afraid of doing it wrong.” “Can’t afford it.” And so on.
Then Laurie said something that made all the difference. She said, “You don’t have to commit to feeding an all raw diet. Even just one meal a day of raw will benefit them.”
Her words put everything in perspective. Of course! I could just make this one tiny change! That wouldn’t be scary or difficult at all, right?
So, in May 2012 I took the plunge. Well, it would be more accurate to say, I tip toed in. I decided to try some Stella & Chewy’s freeze dried raw with Queen Eva. The day I ordered it, before it was even delivered, that night I had dreams of me dropping globs of raw meat all over the house, and constantly forgetting to wash my hands. Nightmares, haha!
I started Queen Eva on the Stella & Chewy’s slowly, just a few nuggets a day at first, eventually working up to one full meal of S&C a day, continuing with the usual canned foods for her other meals. The change, after about 6 weeks, was incredibly dramatic. Queen Eve began to fill out. Her stools were perfectly formed. Her appetite increased, not just for the raw, but she ate her canned foods with appetite now too!
All this, from adding just ONE MEAL of raw a day? Wow!
I knew then I had to get Mazy cat on raw. Mazy, however – because of her “FLUTD” (and as I found out later, digestive issues) – could not eat bone-in meals. So I turned to Rad Cat for her. I bought a tabletop freezer. I bought some Rad Cat. Queen Eva and Jennie loved the Rad Cat! Mazy cat wouldn’t touch it. In fact, after first trying to pick the canned away from the raw with her paw, she wouldn’t even go near her eating area if I put out Rad Cat for her, even if I put it in a separate dish.
The battle of wills, my efforts against her refusals, were quite comical actually. Forti Flora wasn’t working as an incentive for her but she loved the Vets-Best, so I relied heavily on that. Since she wouldn’t go near her table if the Rad Cat was set out, I put a dish next to her canned meal with the tiniest dab of Rad Cat, buried in crushed Vet’s-Best.That she ate. Gradually there was more Rad Cat and less Vet’s-Best. She continued to accept it.
Then came the day that I didn’t put any canned in front of her at all, just the Rad Cat lightly dusted with Vet’s-Best. Imagine my joy when she ate it!
After a few days of that I put the Rad Cat in front of her with no Vet’s-Best. She balked, so I dusted the Vet’s-Best over it. That method went on for a few days, then came the day I let her smell my fingers, pretended to dust the Vet’s-Best but didn’t, and she ate it any way. After that she needed no more help.
So it took about about three months to get Mazy cat eating the Rad Cat raw, and loving it. Her outward physical improvements took longer than Queen Eva’s to become evident, but eventually her coat, which had always been rough and dull, slowly became soft and glossy. Her short little whiskers became long and lush. Her energy level improved. Everything improved, including the length of time between regurgitation episodes.
So for Queen Eva and Mazy cat, the changes and improvements have been quite remarkable. Now comes Jennie. Jennie already had a nice soft coat and no digestive issues of any kind. She really seemed to be as healthy as she could get on a low carb canned diet (no carrageenan) But, even she improved dramatically on raw!
Jennie needed no coaxing at all. She took to raw immediately and the chunkier it is the better, and she absolutely loves her wings and necks.
My girls are still not 100% raw. Queen Eva and Jennie are 75% raw, 25 % canned. For raw they eat Stella & Chewy’s freeze dried and frozen, Rad Cat, and homemade prey model raw. They get a pretty wide variety of proteins between the two commercial brands and the homemade PMR meals. Neither cat ever throws up hairballs or anything else, their poops are prefect and predictable.
Mazy cat is 50/50. She can still only eat Rad Cat, and only the chicken and the turkey. Attempts to broaden her variety continue to fail, her digestive tract is just that damaged. The organic canned she eats was discontinued almost a year ago, so when my stock of it is gone she will be going full time Rad Cat.
I still worry about her having only 2 proteins, and only one brand of food. Sometimes supply availability is unreliable. But I do have this hope that going full time Rad Cat might heal her enough that maybe, just maybe, she would be able to tolerate something else. A PMR meal now and then perhaps.
One final thing to add. The improvements in my cats has been phenomenal over the past 3 ½ years, and I take a lot of pleasure in that. I’ll be honest – I find the work and expense of doing it the way I do it quite challenging. What makes it all worth it, along with the benefits to my cats, is the deep personal satisfaction I get from feeding them this diet. That really caught me by surprise, and it has not faded with time.
If you feed a home-prepared raw menu to your kitties and would like to see your story featured here, please contact us via private message through Facebook on our page or in our group or leave a comment below!