This post is part of our “Journey to Raw” series, published every Wednesday, and comes to you from Louise Balmforth, Proprietor of Frenzy Cat Toys and group owner and admin of the wildly popular Facebook group, Cats Completely Raw And Proud (Cat CRAP).
I am ashamed to admit that I fed my cats kibble for years, even more so that for many of them it was not even ‘good’ kibble – not that such a thing exists as I now know.
My journey started when I got my first Bengal, Toshi, and joined a few cat forums and started looking at the quality of the food I was giving him and my two moggies. I went through a few different kibbles and settled on one which was less rubbish than most.
Then Spike had a nasty bout of cystitis and at the time I was unemployed so went to the PDSA vet hospital with him. The vets told me to never ever feed him dry food again because it causes these problems, and urinary blockages and renal failure. Thus started my education in things pet food related.
I started the search for a tinned food, unfortunately what was fine for one or two cats invariably went through the others like a dose of salts, it was an absolute nightmare, but eventually I found 3 flavours of Bozita Tinned food which agreed with all four cats.
My neighbour in the flat below me then came to my door in a panic, one of his cats was very ill and distressed trying to go to the toilet, I rushed him and his cat to my vet and they diagnosed urinary blockage, estimated the cost would be in excess of £1000 and wanted an up front deposit. My neighbour was on benefits and although I was now working I could not afford to spend that kind of money and especially not on a cat that was not mine so we went to the PDSA and the cat was treated there. It was 3 days in hospital with a catheter, and he was told the same as I was some time before to NEVER feed dry food again.
Then I got Bengal number 2, Yuki, because as all Bengal owners know one is just never enough and of course Bengal number 2 could not eat the Bozita tins that the other three were eating and so we were back to square one again.
Not only that but I could not find ANY food that did not run straight through him, I tried everything I could lay my hands on and nothing worked. He was so bad that he was sleeping in the litter box because as soon as he left he needed to dribble a bit more liquid poop, it was really awful to watch him suffer like this.
I took him to my vet and he was tested for pretty much everything including TF at a cost of nearly £500 and everything came back negative. In the end my vet said, “The only option left is to feed him Royal Canin Digestive Comfort dry food.”
I went ballistic and said “I have gone through hell to get my cats OFF dry food on the advice of several vets and there is no way I am going to go back to that, I will switch them all to raw.” My vet’s response was basically that if I fed them raw they would strike me off the books and no longer treat them. I indicated they can do as they please, but these are my cats and I will feed them what I think is best, end of story.
So I went home and ground up some chicken and beef, added some Felini Complete and gave it to the cats. They turned their noses up and I said, “Eat it or bloody starve because you ain’t getting nothing else.” Within half an hour all of them but Spike had eaten it. Spike held out until next meal time and then gave in and ate the raw and that was that – the four cats switched in 12 hours.
The very next day Yuki went to the litter box and did his first ever solid poop. I could not believe it, after 2 months he finally did a proper poop! Within 3 days all four had been to the toilet and all of them had perfect poop, it was just unbelievable that they were all eating the same thing and having no problems with it!
Of course the benefits did not end there. I noticed that they were not drinking at all but still peeing for Scotland, within a month it became clear that the two moggies were shedding much less and their coats were really super soft and silky, not that I ever thought they were bad previously but clearly they WERE because now they were superb.
The two Bengals were very clearly getting much more muscular, Yuki in particular who had been somewhat less than ideal, as you can imagine, was now turning into a solid ball of muscle. They all seemed much happier, Spike was playing like a kitten which he never did; it’s not that he was an old cat as he was only about 7 but since the switch he was running about and playing with toys like a kitten.
I very quickly went from ground meat and Felini, through ground meat, organs and bone with loads of additives and vitamins to chucks of meat, bone and organs with raw eggs and no additives, then started adding in whole prey as well, including day old chicks, quail and grown-on chickens. Nothing caused a problem except pork, if I fed to much pork two of them got softer poop so that was the only thing I avoided using in any great quantity.
After about 8 months on raw we had an incident, during a play session Toshpot got scratched in the eye and it became a bit red and weepy so I thought best take him to the vet just to be safe, the same vet who threatened to strike me off the books if I fed raw. She gave me some drops for his eye and commented on how well he was looking, I said, “Yes, it’s due to the new raw diet.” She then asked about Yuki and how he is doing now and I said, “You would not believe me if I told you, the difference is just incredible.”
She said, “Well, if he is that good then bring him in and let me examine him for myself.” So I agreed as I live round the corner from the vets, took Toshi back home, put the leash on Yuki and went back.
She examined him closely, poking and prodding, listening to his heart, etc., checking his mouth and teeth, and eventually she said, “Well you were right, if you had told me he was this healthy, I would not have believed you. This is the first time since I have been a vet that I have seen a cat over 6kg that I have not had to say he needs to lose some weight. His body condition is just superb, his muscle tone is the best I have ever seen, this is without a doubt the healthiest cat I have ever examined. The change from what he was like 8 months ago is absolutely nothing short of a miracle!”
I gave my best smug look…
She went on to say, “I have been speaking to a few colleges I met at a vet ‘do’ and they were telling me they have seen some miraculous turn-arounds of cats and dogs that have been switched to raw, but as you know I’ve been skeptical about it. But now I have seen the miracle with my own eyes, I have to admit that this cat has improved so much since I last saw him that I cannot believe what I am looking at, it is a real miracle.”
So then the conversation turned to what I feed and why, for over an hour we discussed raw feeding, she asked about carbs and I told her they are not needed etc., at the end I said, “Really it’s nothing magical, it is just common sense, cats are OBLIGATE carnivores and they have eaten raw meat, bones and organs for thousands of years, they have never eaten carbs in all that time so why would they need it now?”
She then made the admission, she said, “Well this is not what we were taught in vet school, we were taught that raw diets were extremely dangerous, that bones are extremely dangerous, that diets rich in protein lead to renal failure and that they need a properly balanced diet including protein and carbohydrates to be healthy. Obviously with hindsight that is absolute rubbish because they are carnivores and I can see now of course, it’s common sense a carnivore needs meat. But when you are taking out loan after loan to pay for a university education you just assume that what you are being taught is the truth ,not that you are being recruited to sell commercial pet foods!”
Of course there lies the problem with commercial ventures providing ‘education.’
Anyway, moving on from that I started the Facebook group, Cats Completely Raw And Proud, this was the second group with DogCRAP being the first but I left that one to others while I concentrated on CatCRAP. In the five years or so that the group has been running it has gone from a few pals to almost 9000 members. The rewards are incredible! Spreading the raw word has helped so many people and time after time I read posts in the group from people who switch to raw and then start experiencing the benefits and post about how amazed they are. It’s such a simple thing to do but makes such a huge difference to cats’ lives, and if the owners make their own raw they not only know EXACTLY what their cat is eating and have the satisfaction of knowing they are making the best food that you can feed, they also save a HUGE chunk of money into the bargain.
With raw feeding there really is no downside, it’s only win, win, win!
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!