Friday, December 28, 2012

Homemade Cat Food: Update 06/09/13

Homemade Cat Food: Update

Some of you may have read about the different specialty foods that are targeted to various cat health issues. After reading up on cat nutrition I saw a common problem. All these foods had grains. Since cats are obligate carnivores I felt there was a better way. Searching online I saw that many talk about the Raw Food diet.

I bought the grinder and gave it a try. Of course my cats said “DO NOT WANT”. Ah, for the love of cats. So while I agree that it may be very healthy since my cats would not eat it I needed another way. My cats would eat cooked chicken. In fact they will eat it all day long. I figured why fight Kitty Hall. That’s funny, right? So cooked was the way to go for my kitty family.

When I started researching cat food I bought the same books that are used in Veterinary College. (I figured the cost of textbooks can be covered by a couple vet visits) I do not say I am equal to a good vet as I am simply an Advanced Practiced Registered Nurse who worked in ICU CCU ER. I do have a good grasp of Anatomy and Physiology and was intrigued by the way the bowels of cats get their nutrition. 

The bowels get this from the food itself along with the bloodstream. This is highly simplified of course for brevity. These cells only live a short time and need constant replenishment. Nutrition is key. Feeding a better quality food and cutting out things a cat does not need like carbohydrates while adding small amounts of key nutrients is answer.

I laugh when I look at some cat food labels. No kitty should have a nice bowl of cereal with fruit with a side of veggies. That will not help her in the least. She needs the right mix of vitamins and minerals with plenty of good quality protein. I like Chicken but some cats, due to allergy may need rabbit or another novel protein. There may be renal (Kidney) disease or diabetes. In those cases I suggest having a nutritional consult by one of the several companies that are on the web.

You may wonder why I did all this. The reason was my Rumpy Bump Stumpnots. He is an American Bobtail that was a pure breed rescue from Virginia. After being here a month he started with an on again, off again, GI problem of very loose stools. We went to the vet numerous times over a year with no answers. Checks for parasites were negative. Medications were given. Nothing worked. 

The worst part was that the endless washing and wiping was impacting Rumpy's behavior, and, our relationship. He  terribly hated being washed and stated being very shy of me. I wanted my boy to have a fun happy life and this was not it. I did the homemade in desperation.

Imagine my surprise when after only two meals the problem resolved completely. It was simply amazing! We have been on the meal plan for a year and he is still fine. Our only problem is when I forget and put down one of the stringy or gravy like cat foods when a can gets in with my normal purchase of Pate. My others love that goop but it goes right through Rumpy. 

I think some may ask this so, Yes, he still eats regular cat food along with the home made. I have found a meal in the morning gives his bowel what it needs. Will this be right for another cat? I do not know. Paying attention to your cat and keeping a food diary is how you will know. For Rumpy I feel it is the Guar-Gum that is the magic ingredient. I made a batch and forgot to add the additions and in 3 days he was having problems. I whipped up a fast batch correctly and he was better in one meal.

Another cat who benefited was my big Buddy, He was slim and trim due to being on wet vs dry, but, being an elder had a big of sluggishness. Not really constipation but very hard stools that may have been uncomfortable Adding soluble fiber to my cat food takes care of this too. Yes it seems odd that it helps loose and tight stools but it does. Again it has to do with how the intestines and colon get nutrition.

This recipe is thought to be complete to the best of my knowledge.Please remember that this if for information only! You should ALWAYS discuss any medical issues and interventions you are planning with your cats veterinarian! 

Pete's Famous Cat Food Recipe. Per Pound (Multiply for additional chicken)

It really helps to have a grinder. I have heard of cutting the meat into small chunks but that will really wear you out if making a bigger batch. My grinder is from Amazon and was for a reasonable price. Not cheap but no more than a vet visit or maybe much less depending.

I use chicken thighs from my local grocer. Many times I get them for $0.99 a pound. They have a good bit of flavor and enough fat which cats like. If eat the all natural type of foods then go to it. I do not for myself so do not for my cats either.

1. Strip the skin from 1/4 of the thighs. Cover with foil. Add ½ cup water to pan and cook at 325 for about an hour. I like to slightly overcook so the meat comes off the bone easily. Remove from 

oven and allow to cool. Pour off drippings. Set aside.

2. Add the vitamins and supplements to 1/2 to 1 cup of warm water (except the Guar-Gum) in a jar with a lid and set it aside. This allows the capsules time to melt. Shake now and then as your are doing the chicken.

Vitamins, Supplements, Additions per Pound of Meat:

3. Strip chicken from bones and grind with the medium plate. You can also cut chicken by hand into small bits. This is much easier if well cooked. (I do not suggest using cooked bone. It splinters and this can be very dangerous to a cat. See Below)

3a. Optional: Grind Bones. First with coarse plate and once with the medium plate and once with the fine plate. My grinder needs the plate cleaned several times during bone grinding. Discard this material. Cooked bone is very sharp so better to be careful. I no longer grind the bones as it adds a LOT of time.

4. Put the drippings, vitamins and supplements and about ¼ cup water per pound to large bowl. (A Blender is even better) Mix in Guar-Gum very slowly as it and thoroughly mix. You will find it really thickens the mix up. Then add ground or cut up chicken and mix well. I use a 3 gallon pot I got at the local thrift store and mix by hand.

5. Ball jars are really great to store food and once you buy them you have them. The 16oz size that stores about 2-3 large dishes of food. I give about a cup a day.

To Serve: Let thaw in refrigerator. It will be very thick. I spoon about a 1/3 cup of food into a 2 cup Pyrex measure with a half a cup of water. I heat in the microwave for 30 seconds so it is just nice. Stir well and make sure it is not too hot. Yes it looks odd and soupy but the cats love it. They lap it up.

As I stated before I only give one meal of this in the morning. Rumpy, Buddy and Buttons jockey to get the first slurp. Ms Fitz will finish what is left. I put this down when I have my morning coffee and by the time I am packing my lunch I clean the dish as it is gone.

My cats water consumption has gone way down as they get a lot with this type meal. This may be a big plus if you have a cat that needs extra fluids.

Feel free to contact me through the blog with any questions. May health be with you and yours in 2013.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Chicken Cat Jerky Treats - Update

My prayers go out to all those in need or have lost in the recent Storm.

So on to the Home Made Chicken Jerky Treats Update. 

The local grocery had Chicken Thighs on sale for ninety nine cents a pound. A nice discount so we got some packages.

Here is the simple recipe: 

  • Strip skin and fat from 4lbs. chicken.
  • Place in Pyrex or other type pan.
  • Add a bit of water to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Bake at 325 for 45 minutes or till done.
  •  Drain liquid and skim fat. Dispose of the fat. Save liquid.
  • Cool chicken and strip off the bone. 
  • Grind with course plate. 
  • Add 1 cup liquid back in.
  • Grind with medium plate.
  • Chicken should have a cookie dough consistency. If not very smooth you may need to send it through again. 
  • Load Jerky Gun and put on trays.
  • Dry at 180F for approximately 5-6 hours
  • Store in an airtight container.
  • Sprinkle with Forte Flora or Cat-Mint (Optional)
This recipe made 5 trays of jerky.

Yes this is 4 pounds of chicken with bone and skin removed

This batch was nice and crispy.  To top off this batch I sprinkled some Forte Flora over them. Yummy. All the cats like them.

They should stay fresh for a  bit of time. I think it best to keep a few days out with the rest in the refrigerator or freezer. When there is more info on how they keep long term I will post it. They do not seem to last long enough to find out. A good thing

I no longer feel guilty about feeding my cats kibble or other treats with cereal. They get Pure Chicken Jerky Cat Treats! If you are interested here is the link to Amazon.

Nesco American Harvest Food Dehydrator

The kit is really complete and easy to use. Now that I have one I think it is a great addition to the kitchen. You can dry all kinds of things and even do flowers and the like for crafts. A very neat thing to have. And It comes with some jerky mix.

Now I have not been an aficionado of jerky besides the odd Slim-Jim eaten when younger. As the first trial I did do a pound of lean ground beef. It looks like in the store. I think it is MUCH better. Less fat. I bite off an inch or less and just kind of suck out the flavor and then chew it up. It last a long time. Much better than candy. It does have a bit of additive in it. Something to watch if you are on a restriction of one kind or another. 

So that is it for my plugging jerky and dehydration. For today.

Be kind to yourself and your cats.
Love you all.
Pete (AKA Pops)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Homemade Chicken Treats! Success!

HOMEMADE Chicken Cat Treats:

Well I have experimented a bit with making treats just like with the cat food. Trial and error gets the kinks out. 

They did not like the treats I made from Shrimp.Who knows they got the slight sniff and then the paw shake. 

The Dried Treats from Chicken Breast Strips were a bit hard. The Boys ate them and liked them but I felt they were a bit hard. You needed pliers to break them apart. When I saw Buddy choke a bit on one they went right in the round file. 

I made a batch of Cooked Chicken Cat Food and decided to try making treats like I made my Jerky. Jerky Cat Treats!

I cooked off 4 pounds of chicken thighs. Stripped the bone and skin off about a pound and a half for treats. I did not do a triple grind for the Cat Jerky as it had no bone. It was pretty dry and needed a cup of water. Popped it in the Jerky Press and Zip Zap Zam nice Jerky Treats in about 3 hours at 180 degrees. 
They come out a bit crispy but not hard. Still a bit soft. 
This is about a pound and a half. Amazing how things shrink with the water dried out.
A nice pile that should last the week. At about 1.49 a pound a little over two dollars. Less than Store Bought. More then Kibble but no gluten, corn meal, cereal, nada, no, zilch!

I did not add any salt or other preservatives as I do not want my cats to have that in their food. It may alter how long it will last without refrigeration but this is not really an issue. They will be fine for a day or so and that is exactly what I wanted. 

They are dry to the touch. Not greasy. This was why I really wanted an alternative to plain chicken. I do cook that as a treat but it is sticky and cannot be put down where they happen to be as a reward. 

Rumpy, Buddy, Timmy, Toby and Fitz all like it. Buttons seems he still wants to check it out. The vacuum cat wants to sniff test. It figures.

I will post updates when I see how it holds up. I will keep some in the refrigerator and some out as an experiment and let you know what come about.


Since I was cooking chicken I made some meals. I have found smaller batches are easier to make. A half hour forty five minutes with clean up is fine. This was about 2 1/2 pounds.

With all of the meals I find they need water added when I serve them up. I leave it down for about an hour and have to mix in more water as they lap the liquid juice up and leave the bottom. So I add a bit and back down and they finish up the bowl. Kind of awkward. I noticed that with the raw the moisture separates also so it is not just the cooked chicken meals.

I decided to add Guar Gum which is a soluble fiber used for thickening and smoothing in cooking. I also does add nutrition for the large bowel so a thought for any GI Problems. WOW it is powerful. I did a bit more than a rounded teaspoon. It made a cup of thickened liquid as I added it to the Taurine, Vitamins, and Supplements I add to the meals. 

It blended well into the chicken but the results will not be known until the current batch is eaten. I want to see how it holds up after being frozen. 

Will keep you all posted.
Head Bonks, Purrs, and a hearty Good Day to all!
Pete (AKA Pops)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Making Cat Treats at Home

You do all you can to keep your cats healthy and happy. You switch off of that dry kibble, get them eating home made, make sure they have checkups when needed, enrich their environment and play with them daily. You do all that and there is still that hangover from the past, Treats!

Come on and be honest. They love them. You like to give them something special. They like it, you like them being happy, on and on.

I decided to try and figure out something else. I researched Freeze-Dry. Nice but Expensive. I even bought freeze dried salmon treats to try out. Not a success. They look odd too. They were expensive.

I figured let me try Dehydrating food. I bought a nice Nesco American Harvest food Dehydrator and Jerky Maker on Amazon.

From my minimal research I got a model with the fan on top and right out of the box I noted it is well made. It came with a jerky gun so I am ready to make all kinds of things for the cats and myself.

I got a half pound of shrimp and a pound of chicken breast for the cats. I got a pound of 95% lean ground beef for myself.

There is a recipe for cat treats in the booklet that comes with everything. I got 1/2 pound of larger shrimp as they were on sale. The recipe calls for those tiny canned shrimp. I added a pinch of catnip and started the machine. Here are the shrimp after about 2 hours at 140 degrees.
21-30 per pound shrimp with a pinch of catnip
They were a bit moist in the middle while the outside was very crisp. I think the smaller shrimp would be better or cutting the larger in half lengthwise. We need to experiment.

I cooked a pound of chicken breast as this is a good low fat treat. I put it in the dryer overnight at about 140 degrees. Here it is.
Chicken Breast
As with the shrimp they were a bit slow eating the chicken. I called every cat into the kitchen for a treat. This is where we have our morning snack so they all came running. I put out a bit in each of their bowls and as with the shrimp they took a minute to examine this new food and then it was gone.

It was a bit dry. I had this on about 10 hours at 140 degrees. I will try 8 hours next time. The instructions say it takes a bit of time to learn what you like and it will take a bit of experimentation.

Here is the Ground Meat I made for myself. You take a pound of low fat meat and add the flavoring along with the preservative. The Jerky Gun worked like a caulking gun. I was surprised at how easy it was. You lay out a line of meat and use a knife to clip the meat at the end of a squirt. It may have a bit much sodium to use for treats so that is yet to be decided.
95% Lean Ground Meat with Seasoning.
They came out after 5-6 hours at 150 degrees. They look just like Slim Jims. Taste like them too. Maybe a bit less spicy. Much better than I thought they would be. I have been looking for something to replace the hard candy so this may be it.

I tried a bit with Rumpy and Mr B. They were not interested so I cleaned the machine which was a simple matter. Just use a brush and some water and detergent in a bowl. Dip and brush, dip and brush, rotate, dip and brush, repeat for each level, rinse, done in five minutes. So I turn back to pick up the... nothing there. The old "No I do not want that but do not turn your back." cat trick.

So this is a success so far. Some may think it is a bit expensive buying chicken breast or shrimp but have you checked the per pound price for treats?

I think the chew factor is a plus too. They inhale the little dab of dry food they get now. They take a minute to work on the dried food. It may be better for their teeth. I will let you know what I learn about this addition to making our cats food at home.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

*New* Recipe for Cat Food and Help Please!

Hello and Happy October to All!

Hey-Ho and Hi-De-Yo it is so nice to have cool weather. We are in Eastern Pennsylvania about 5 miles West of Philadelphia. The trees are starting to change. The wind is cool and crisp. The evenings slowly chill so a light blanket and sharing warmth with warm furry friends is so nice.

I am about half-way through the research I started. Very interesting when you read the reference texts used by veterinarians. I hope to have a new recipe good to go by the end of the month.

So what help do I need? Please, if you can, Chip in for these cats who have Cerebellar Hypoplasia. They are loosing their home and are soon to face euthanasia if we cannot get them transferred to an accepting no-kill shelter or rescue. Thanks in advance.

Have a wonderful week! See you soon!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rumpy and Nutrition Info to Come

Well no news is good news with the Excitable Boy. Rumpy was really good all night. Amazing considering I did not work with them as I needed an early mental health night.

He was good and although he did wake when I did and started grooming whoever was near a simple word and he stopped. He also decided to stay in the spot I like for him. When he lays next to my pillow he is away from any other cat so altercations are kept to a minimum. When he gets antsy he just hops onto the floor and meanders into the living room. Since they keep it quiet out there I am none the wiser. Fine with me.

Nutritional Rant
I have some veterinary texts coming this week. I am tired of the Rants so decided to end this for myself once and for all. Now not to dis those who have web sites dedicated to the various causes, BUT, and this is a capitol BUT for a reason!

Have you looked at some of their backgrounds? OK there are one or a few that actually have a degree in the sciences. BUT when there are "Recipes" with Garlic for cats it makes one wonder. Makes one think of overflow from the human organic movement. Which if you follow is just plan fine. Unless you RANT!

Now I am not a vet BUT I am not totally lay. I did have to learn all about anatomy and physiology. Yes I had to learn nutrition also. And I am an advanced practice RN. Yes, I was the guy who used to care for loved family and I did a darn good job too. If I still had my leg maybe I would have started the Medical School I was supposed to next semester. That is history and a mystery. I may add very few of our ilk, humans, seem to have any knowledge at all. BUT, they may have read the internets. Scary.

I also have a bit of anecdotal nutritional understanding from 10+ years of power-lifting and body building. Yes those halcyon daze of yore are gone BUT the work I put in learning about nutrition is not. Again, no, it is not Cat nutrition, BUT, the metabolism is very similar. The Anatomy is different.

The Cat uses ATP just like we do. Since they are Obligate Carnivores their Anatomy is different so the production of ATP the same but there is a twist. Proteins and a bit of fats more than carbohydrates. Well, Duh! BUT why then do those "Recipes" include, uh, starch or green veggies? Then there are the essential amino-acids we all need but cats do not produce Taurine. Why should they. The prey does.  So as you see there is more to come! Much much more!

Commercial-Crew  vs Raw-Ranting
Remember that there are those who Rant on both sides of the Raw Issue. The Commercial-Crew say that any home made and especially Raw will cause endless Cat-astrophe to all concerned. The Raw-Ranters say that only the food a cat eats in their wild state is acceptable.

I wonder which side with go down the route of those who live by flushing their systems to remove "Pounds of Fecal Waste". You know it is true because it is on TV.

It should take a week or so to get through the texts and give me an idea on the reality of a cats needs and to compare to the Rants. No I will not have a degree in Feline Nutrition. Not even close. But I will know the Runts in the Rant and the Chumps in the Crew.

Whoa! Looks like I have been on a... RANT!

Have a Great Week

Friday, August 17, 2012

Behavior: Odd Grooming at Night

I have been working my cats and Rumpy every night at about 730 or 8 for a good 15-30 minute play. Then I give some treats and put the dinner down. I am trying to trigger the chase-eat-groom-sleep routine in Rump so he lets the other cats sleep without attacks.

I have a problem with his engagement. Most nights he is ready to go and while playing has a very intent look with large pupils and intense movement. About one out of four sessions he is just going through the motions. These are mostly the nights he causes problems with the others. Last night he was very engaged with play so I figured it would be a good night.

The whole crew was kind of off schedule and trickled in after I had fallen asleep. Tim, Toby, and Buddy are usually in place when the lights go out but it seems some nights every cat is doing some business in another part of the house. I was surprised that I had five cats in place at about two AM. They each have a spot staked out so all was well in bed world. Until 330 AM that is.

I happened to wake for my normal 90 minute change of position for pain and I caught Rumpy up and grooming. Now a normal grooming you never notice with the lights out since you do not feel the motion. Rumpy gets worked up and GROOMS. The bed shakes.

This is one of his triggers. He starts grooming and proceeds to really get going with strong head movements. Then he will start grooming any cat close by. This transitions to the other cat getting upset from the attention and BANG an altercation.

The funny thing is if I reach down and say "No Rumpy" while gently moving him away from the cat he has chosen he will stop but he keeps grooming. If there is another cat close by, like last night, he may choose the next cat to groom and we repeat whole moving him away routine. Last night he did Buttons then Toby then Tim.

I did finally get him to move back to his normal sleep spot next to my foot. He seemed to calm down a bit but then jumped down and headed off to the living room. Probably to chase Fitz since she was not on the bed.

As this was one of the times I caught his behavior before a full fight developed I worked to defuse his programming. He got quiet encouragement to be good the whole time along with head rubs. Maybe if he can be redirected enough it will change his behavior a bit.

This was not any solution but rather an intervention to prevent escalation. My Rough little Boy is a challenge. Thankfully we are past the days when I considered re-homing. I guess there has been progress. I do still get exasperated at times but then he jumps into my lap. Kneads a bit and settles in.
Who could be upset with this face looking at you!
Ah well we shall see what comes next with my Excitable Boy. Yes that will be his new name. The name of my boat from back when I was young and dumb. Remembering those days I had better give him a break. Maybe 10 breaks if he is anything like me. LOL

Have a great day


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Behavior: Is it Aggression or Feline Hyperesthesia

There are six cats in my home who have filtered in over the course of almost five years. During that time there have been some small arguments, but, they since the addition of one particular cat they have really gotten annoying. I use that term as there have been no trips to the vet, no bleeding on the floor, bites, scratches, sequestering of one or the other while I am away from home. So what is it I am all cranky over? Let me tell you.

3:30AM Wake-Ups to Screaming Cats! Having the Great-Escape over my head while reading in bed. Having to check a page for errors after a cat uses my laptop pathway in his Great Escape. Come on cats and give dad a break. I do hold the treats you know.

And that is the crux. They may not be dangerous or hurtful but they sure are a real annoyance. There was a time there was never a day without some kind of wild crashing and dashing, jumping and lashing, growling and gnashing. It can wear a feline father figure down to the nub. It can put everyone on edge and impacts healthy and loving relationships. What to do?

I have started a regular program of play. We have at least a half hour of play every night that is planned on the Hunt-Catch-Kill/Eat-Groom-Sleep plan. That means I always give them a treat when we are done the play. I think that really gives them a bit of added excitement since they all come running at playtime. Why not? Treats follow. Now with all that said and done we still have a problem with Rumpy.

He is just an endlessly nudgey cat. If another is sleeping on the couch he has to go over and poke him. If one walks by he purposefully intercepts them to cause a confrontation. He just does out of his way to bug the other cats. I admit he is better about breaking off fights when cats are done but not always.

Now Rumpy was born to a breeder of Bob-Tails. and abandoned to a no kill shelter since he was a Rumpy. When I adopted him I asked if he had neurological issues which can come with a genetic lack of tail. I have heard that Bob-Tails should not be bred together to prevent this but I am no expert. Needless to say he was not incontinent so I felt they told me the truth.

Now that he is older I have found that he may have a bit of a problem. For the first year he was with me he had an issue with diarrhea. He would get very messy and need cleaning every couple of days. On observation I noticed he had a very odd way of going. Good old breeder taking a kit from his mother too soon. I also saw he would get up before being done. I feel he does not feel his back end like he should. He gets up and when he turns to cover his duty he smears himself. My poor little man hate this since it means a cleaning. Now that may be the problem but since that is an issue he may have more problems.

It looks like he also has Rolling Skin. He lays there and his whole back rolls. He also gets a wild look and his pupils fill his eyes. When this happens he is more prone to his attacks. I really love my Rumpus but he is a troubled teen. He just howled up at the ceiling.

One of the things that is said to trigger the behavior may be hypoglycemia. I feel this is right on the money as he gets all bent out of shape at night if I have not put out an evening snack. He has been better since staring on Home Made Chicken Cat Food and many think that additives can cause this also. So there are no hard and fast answers which drives me crazy. I am a solution kind of guy and feel like my wheels are spinning out here.

Help for Neurological Hyperesthesia

  • Frequent meals to prevent hypoglycemia
  • Feed natural home made and avoid additives
Not much I admit but when this problem presents every little bit helps.

Please send any information you may have to help others and I will add it to this page.
Pete aka Pops

Cat Nutrition: Getting Cats off Kibble

Cat Nutrition: Getting Cats off Kibble

But They Like Kibble
My fur family started down the road of better nutrition after the addition of our elder states cat Buddy. He came to us on New Years Eve, 2009 and I give him the credit of our family getting
its nutritional act together.

A Common Story
Buddy may not have had the best life before he came to us. I do not think he was actually physically abused but he was neglected. He was a fixture and decoration at best. In those conditions food fills the void. People eat when bored or unhappy so do cats. He was almost 20 pounds. I did not give it much thought. I figured he was now in a much better home. He seemed very happy and then one day something changed my mind.

Big Buddy-Bud at almost 20lbs Summer 2010

That day he got a nice morning pet. He then jumped down off of the table and limped away. I mean Limped. The old rolling gait. I checked him for injury and there was none. Figuring he had pulled something in rough play with one of the boys I felt keeping an eye on him was all that was needed. Sure enough that night he was better. Until he jumped off the table that is. RIght then it hit me. It was joint pain related to impact. Impact is velocity and mass. Since it was a normal cat jump of thirty some inches the mass was the issue. Now mass is not really weight but, the reality was my Big Buddy needed to slim down. He has a lot of cat company.

Education on Cat Food
It was pretty obvious that Buddy ate too much kibble. He ate as much at Timmy and Toby together. The reason is most likely that he eats to feel better. Not exactly like a human since I doubt he dreams of chocolate or ice cream but similar. He feels satiety from a big meal along with feeling relaxed. I knew that as a responsible pet parent the goal was to help him manage his nutritional intake.I had to learn how. Imagine how I felt when I went online and found he was a kibble addict.

The Reality of Changing your Cats Diet
Getting our Kibble Addicts to start eating a more nutritious diet is a daunting task. My Buddy simply refused to eat anything but dry. He even demanded a special brand. Remember that this is a Billion Dollar Business and getting our cats to stop eating something that is engineered to be just what they desire will be difficult, but, worth the effort five times over.

Today when I feed my guys I am assured that I am helping and not hurting. Buddy is now about 13 pounds which took almost two years. The benefit is really getting him off the kibble. I do not worry about diabetes and his joints giving out. This is how I got my guys into Kibble Rehab.

Slim Buddy-Bud 13.1lbs June 2012 Even his feet smell good!

Some Caveats:

First: Do No Harm:
Do not let your cat go more than 24 hours without eating. This is very important. Many try and starve their cat into eating a new food. Starvation can cause hepatic lipidosis which can be Fatal. Never Starve Your Cat! Let me say that again. Fatal.

Second: Be Ready for Emotional Blackmail
Come on and admit it. Your cat has you just where he wants you. He says jump and get me a treat and you say how many. That may be the way we laugh about our cats but remember this is for health. Your cats will love you for longer when they live healthy happy lives.

Third: Gradual progress is the best progress
This is no different than a person starting a diet or beginning an exercise routine. Start slow. Ease into it. Do not expect your loving cat to know that you are helping them be more healthy. Be firm but consistent

Fourth: No Backsliding
You may be in a rush to get ready for that vacation and figure that the cat sitter may have an easier time with a fast pour of kibble. Remember you will have to start again at the beginning and the cat now thinks you can be manipulated. It will be harder the second time around.

Kibble Addict Rehab:
It is not rocket science as long as you remember the caveats.
  • Use trial and error to find a wet food your cat is CRAZY for. Try the gourmet foods and the wet treats. There will be one that kitty will eat. It is a science just like the dry food.
  • If you cats are grazing you have to start picking up the food between meals. I like a Breakfast-Dinner schedule because I work days. If you want you can do a Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner. Pay special attention to the second caveat when doing this change. Just pick the plates up and put the ear plugs in.
  • Once on a meal schedule your cats should be more animated and ready to eat at meal time. The idea is a very gradual change. Just start adding a bit of the favorite wet to the meal. You may find it is left behind. If so cut back a little on the kibble and try again.
  • Once your cats eat the whole meal the work is over. It is just a matter of a slow change of the amounts. Less and less kibble more and more wet food. SLOW is key.
  • Remember that treats are like dry food. Your cats may be more demanding of treats. My guys actually get dry kibble as a treat. I keep it in jars and at treat time get a handful which I divvy out to the family.
  • Be PATIENT. My Buddy took almost 2 months. Mainly because I was rushed a few times and forgot to buy his favorite which cause Backsliding. My other two made the transition in a week or so. They were never food oriented. They want Attention which they grew up getting plenty of every day.

Transition to Raw Feeding
I am going to try raw again. I am not sure when since my Cooked Chicken Meals are doing so well. If that is your desire all you need to do is follow the Kibble Rehab Plan but now use raw instead of wet. I say that as they should be eating wet before the transition to raw. Of course that is just my feelings about it. You could try a kibble to raw and see what happens. Follow your heart and love your pets and you will be well served.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Herding Cats by Pops

Herding Cats by Pops

Hello all you servants of the cat world. I figured that since Tim has his own Blog I may as well join the fun. He will still report on the antics of the family, myself included, while I stick to the more mundane issues. My first post are about that most important of things, nutrition.

My guys are all healthy so I am paying attention now to make sure the status quo is maintained. I have started making my own food and you can read about that in previous posts. I figured I would give it a try as I had been thinking about it for over a year. It is worth it. If you like read about how I make them their meals and the positive response in a short time.

So I will see you all here weekly I hope with some new bit of insight into the care of our good friends.
Pete AKA Pops, Herder of Cats

The Complete Cat Food Recipe

Some Observations:

The family has been eating canned wet food without any added home made for maybe a week. It was an experiment to see any differences. Very interesting.
  •  They have been eating more, noticeably more, in only a few days. 6 cans along with two or three treat breaks and they were pushing for more.
  • They were producing more poop. Who would have thought that such a change would come right out. Sorry had to say that. I needed to add a cleaning of pans after work for 3 scoops a day. With the home made food once in the morning and after work is fine. And the smell came right back. Amazing. If I may be so bold to say, with the home made there is a noticeable change in the fragrance.
This Batch has everything needed for a balanced diet. 

I did change the way I make it a little bit.

A big thing I noticed with the last batches was how much fat and grease comes out of the chicken. Since the recipes all suggest taking some skin away to balance the fat content I figured taking it off ahead of cooking would be easier. It is. Way Easier

Chicken Skin Removed Before Cooking
If you give a good yank to the skin on a thigh or leg it peels right back. Using a kitchen scissors is a safe way to then snip it off. *Be careful if using a knife* As you can see I took about a pound of skin off.

I make treats out of legs and thighs. I took some skin off of that batch and found this was the way to go. The meat is ready to take off the bone without all the greasy-slippy. Easier to cut up and clean up is much easier.  This is the new plan for me. Skin off ahead of time. Foil on. Done deal.

This was a big batch. Almost 15 pounds of chicken thighs. I use two large Pyrex pans and this is about the limit.

This batch went through the grinder 3 times. That was due to having to clean the bone bits out too often if just using the medium and small holed grinder plates. I had to clean the large once, the medium once, and the small twice. As this batch was over two times larger than the previous ones this is most likely what you may find if you grind the bones. Meal would not have this issue.

I put almost all of the drippings back in for this batch. The last time the fat was removed along with some skin. Having to add a lot of water when I thaw the meals caused this change. Since I removed the skin before cooking I figured the mix would be about right.

This is a pretty good mixture as it does not need much water added after it is thawed out. Each meal for last night and this morning they got a half a cup of food with about a quarter cup of water added. I put the water and food in the microwave and mix it really well when it comes out. I always check it for temperature to protect small mouths. This was almost a full cup of added food which  looks to be equivalent to a can of wet food.

This batch has all the vitamins and Taurine added in. The last batches did not and that was why I was feeding wet also. Now I can give them just the home made meals and monitor intake and output. Now not adding the vitamins and Taurine would not really be dangerous if it was only for a week or so but I worry too much too often. Fathers duty I guess. Please if you do not add the supplements make sure you still feed you furs at least half canned. I would suggest not doing even this if you have more than one or two furs that you can monitor. I would worry if one was just eating the home made and another just the canned and you did not know. In time there would be a deficiency which can cause blindness. So do not do it. Period.

Strict I&O. Inside Joke for the RN crowd.

I have to thank Lisa A Pierson, DVM, as it was her site Cat Info that gave me the idea for making my own food in the first place. I also give her credit for the recipe I use. I have only made my food with chicken thighs and legs. I do not plan to use rabbit but Dr Pierson does alter the recipe for that meat. If asked I will work that out and post that information also.

My Recipe for Home Made Chicken Cat Food

Chicken Thighs: I buy fresh on sale at my local grocer. I have been paying approx $0.99/lb.
  • Minimum mix is suggested at 5 pounds.
  • I remove about 15% of the skin before cooking to cut down on fat
  • Add one cup of water and cook at 325 degrees for about 75-90 minutes. 
  • Pour liquid and fat off of cooled meat and put aside
  • Remove about 20-25% of the bones from the cooked thighs
  • Grind meat with coarse plate. 
  • Grind meat with medium plate.
  • Add liquid and vitamin mix into meat and mix well (See Below)
  • Grind with fine plate
  • Add to containers and freeze (I use Ball Jars now but have used freezer bags also)
Supplement Mix: If you use the same items that are listed below it will be a simple matter to mix the supplements before adding to the meat. All it takes is a cup or so of warm water to put the gel caps into. They dissolved in a few minutes and were ready to add.

All done: To thaw out the mix add some water or it may be too thick. Add about a quarter cup of food into a dish, heat for 30 seconds in the microwave and add water so it is a nice thick mix. I find they like it more when it is a bit thin.

Vitamins are all available at Amazon. If you check Dr Pierson's site she uses a different supplier.

Vitamins, Supplements, Additions per Pound of Meat:
Vitamins, Supplements, Additions per Five Pounds of Meat:
My guys have now been eating home made cat food for a good bit of time and I am very happy with their response. My Rumpy has no more problems with loose stools. My Buddy has no more constipation and is way more active. So if you are thinking of this give it a try. My Clowder gives it a paws up.

That stuff I have to say: Please remember that this recipe is for educational purposes only. You should always discuss diet changes with your veterinarian or a someone qualified in nutrition for pets. Please note that this diet would not be appropriate for a cat with CKD or any other medical condition.

Pops Pontificates on Making Cat Food

Making Home Made Cat Food - The Dash to the Dish!

So now that we are a few weeks into our family having an option on meals the results are in:

Previously they kind of moseyed in at different times.They would leisurely eat their fill. Get up and move off to begin their groom-nap cycle. All very plain and repetitive.

Now they all run in and jostle each other to get in on the action. Buddy, Rumpy and Buttons are always the first to the plates and I have now gone to 3 dishes where before I only needed 2. I also have to put a bit more down at dinner so there is enough for every cat. I may have to limit serving size if we cannot begin to slow down the vacuum effect a bit.

The best part is the results over the past few weeks in Health

Rumpy's Bump: Rumpy had one very small loose stool that I only mention in the interest of full disclosure. His bump has been so clean I smile every time he goes by. Even better is how relaxed he is during his "check up on Pop" morning bathroom patrol.

In the past he would be a bit jumpy on days after he needed his Bump cleaned. And then there was the subterfuge. How I hated the Bump Dance.

It would begin when I would see or, more often, smell my pals problem and right away we both start our Bump Dance; both playing that nothing is up. Rumpy with the "Bump? My Bump is just fine. Clean as a whistle" and me with the "Clean your Bump? Never. It is Clean as a whistle". Around and around we go, where we stop, we both know. Then the grab. The wipe. The double or triple wipe on bad days. Later on and for a day or so I would make nice while Rumpy would walk on egg shells. Not good for our relationship and now we are back to normal. Priceless.

Buddy's Bind
The old Galoot is doing well too. No problems with constipation have been noted. It has not been very long so I cannot tell for sure but I really think things look good.  Even better he is a bit more energetic. The best is how this has reinvigorated to enjoy one of his favorite pastimes. Nipping!

Buddy loves chasing other cats off of his table during our morning coffee. He starts with the evil eye. Then he goes over and gets in their space. Now you know when you get in a cats space it is put up or shut up. Buddy puts up with a nip that 9 out of 10 times sends the interloper running off to the cat tree. I love that my pal is feeling good. The little work in making this food has paid off wonderfully.

Cat Food Production Updates:
Making this food has been a learning experience. I think that the next batch will be the best so far.

Portion Control: I had been throwing some food away due to putting too much down. I now put about 1/4 cup per dish. As I put down a dish in the AM and 2 in the PM. I will be changing to glass Ball jars that will hold more.

Palatablility: Water Content is important. One of the reasons I was throwing some away was that it was too dry and after being on the plate for 2 hours it was just like a clump of stuff. Since it is chicken I do not want to leave it out to incubate what-ever.
I now add enough so that is like thin oatmeal after I thaw out a portion bag which is about a cup. I add at least another 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water. That really adds to how far it goes and it helps my guys stay hydrated.

Storage: I think using bags may is one way to go. I saw Giant store brand bags which were on sale but decided on Ball jars. I got 12 with lids for under 10 bucks. I decided on going with the glass for 3 reasons.
1. I like to conserve and recycle so glass is the way to go.
2. I am cheap. Although more at first the glass will pay back over time.
3. Cleaning. Glass is easy to clean. I had been thinking of plastic storage containers but they get a greasy film on them from the chicken fat. It may be in my head but they just feels slimy even after a bunch of scrubbing.

So there we are. If you decide to try it out let me know your results.

Pete aka: Pops

An Introduction to Home Made Cat Food

First I figure that the Clower needs to give an opinion on my efforts at providing them with a higher quality food. So I turn it over to the illustrious leader of the pack, Timmy Tomcat!

Thanks Pop
OK we have had some time to get our fangs into this new fangled, MEOW, I break me up! We now have a good idea on what we think of Pops Chicken Meals. Rumpy why don’t you go first.

Rumpy: Thanks Tim: Well I must say the Old Guy has been pushing his concoction for over a week, and, and, AND. I admit its not bad. Actually it is pretty good.
Yeah I know. I know, who would have thought. He does mix our tasty fishy food in with his mix which was a bit strange at furst, but, it is nice to have a bit of a choice. I can pick what I want and there we are. And the best part is... WHAT! WHAT’S THAT! YEOW I’M OUTTA HERE!

Timmy: Rump? It’s just the television! Come out from there.

Rump: No way. You stay out there. Me I keep friends close and my skin closer.

Timmy: Rumpy is a bit Jumpy. Ah well who’s next? Fitz? Toby? Buddy?

Buddy: Ah willz tellya. Purdy goodz. Yessir.And ah doan hav no probs wit blockage. Yessir

Timmy: Uh, right. I do not think everycat wants to hear about your constipation Buddy.

Buddy: Jus da trute. Nuttin but da trute. So halp me Bast.

Timmy: Right. Who else.

Toby: Yes, well, sirs, I agree. I must say it makes my coat nice and shiney. I think it is a good addition to our diet for this reason alone. One must stay sharp and looking good.

Buttons: Hey! Are you leaving me out? I like it. So does my girl Fitz.

Fitz: I am NOT your girl. Just because we were fosters together do not make ANY ASSUMPTIONS! Meow!

Buttons: Sorry Honey... Uh. I mean Fitzy girl. I am sorry. Forgive your little Buttons boo? 

Fitz: Oh My Cat...
Timmy: Well there you have it. Pops we like it.

Pops: I am really glad Tim. I worry about you cats and want you each to have the best health you can. This diet has much less residue and is very nutrient dense. Meaning you guys Poop less  and get more out of each meal.

Timmy: I thought so.

Pops: Yes You all have been really good about this. Lets share this with other Pawrents!

Homemade Chicken Cat Food

Hi there you lucky cat owners you. Thanks for stopping by to see what me and Tim are up to. So lets get on with the show.

I decided to try homemade cat food almost a year ago. I read about Raw and decided to give it a go. I bought a grinder on Amazon for about $110.00 if I remember correctly. Pretty good deal for an 1800 watt model. Mine has reverse and 2 speeds. 

So the grinder came and I bought some breasts and... Yuck! What a mess. They needed to be cut up. They got stuck and would not go through the grinder. A real P-In The-A. And the boys. Hah. They would not have anything to do with it. So best planned and all that the grinder went in the back of the closet.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was reading a great site and started thinking about making my own food again. Why? Glad you asked.

I worry about my guys. I will list some issues we have around here although who has what shall remain secret due to HIPAAF. (Humans Inserting Asinine Assumptions of Felines) 
  1. Aggression: I have noted that if I give a big handful of treat(I use dry food as treats) some become very animated. As we have a play session at night there is a reward for the excellent chase and catch behavior. So why were they still all wound up? I fell it was the dry. Cats do not metabolize carbs like we do. They do not store them well. They use them. I feel this equals the wild bunch I have some nights.
  2. Constipation or Diarrhea: I have an older gentleman who was getting constipated every couple months. He mopes around and I can tell he does not feel good. He is also a bit over weight. I have a guy who has had runny stools on and off since he came to live with me. Very messy as he never learned to keep his BUMP up when doing his duty. He also sometimes has hangers-on. He turns around and there you go: Smoosh-Yuck
  3. Health. I have a FIV fellow. I want to give him the very best of the best so his immune system is as good as can be. Now if you check the true information on cat foods you see that even the high cost brands may not be that good. Nutritional wise that is. Yeah they love the taste but...
Now at the same time I had some issues with Raw.

  1. Bacteria. I am a Nurse. OK cats eat prey out in the wild that is raw, and, may even be a few days funky. Truth is they say to remove the food in a few hours and throw it away. Well... My dudes eat at night. They like a nice snack at 3am and if it is not there all hell breaks loose    Dad-DAD-HONGRY-DAD-DAD. Sheesh. 6am is fine. 3am HISSSSSS.
  2. Ginding: I got a grinder that is actually more powerful than that most recommend. First time was a real pain in the hindquarters. I had to back up and cut it smaller and again again. No Fun.
  3. Will they eat it? NO. You would think it was, gee, I don't know, food. I went through the work of getting them off the dry and onto wet. I have no wish to repeat a similar endeavor. 

So what to do. Modify. I read the info at Cat Info dot org and modified the way I was making the food. No more big part. Parts is parts so I got Legs. I also decided to cook my legs. I cooked them pretty well. Wow what a difference. They just went right through the grinder without a problem. Actually it was fast. The cleanup was way more time consuming than the grinding.

Pops Cat Food Recipe
I did not add all the vitamins and Taurine. Why? This is in addition too regular cat food and is not a complete replacement. Now I will most likely start adding the other ingredients now that I know they will eat it. Which by the way only took a few hours with this cooked recipe.

  • I make at least a pack at a time of Chicken Legs. This was about 4 pounds in the first batch. They are from a local Giant where they were $1.99. The web site uses Whole Foods but that is a bit out of my league. If I do not eat Organic this and that my guys can pass too. Now that I was successful with the first batch I started watching for sales. I just got 10 pounds for $0.99.
  • I cook just as you would any baked chicken. I like a big Pyrex pan. I take out some bone and skin so the fat calcium ratio is correct. The photo is scrap from about 4 pounds of Legs.
  • After you cook the chicken there is quite a bit of juice and fat which I took the time to separate. I had added a cup of water to the pan. The first batch I was thinking that much fluid would make a runny mess. Not even! Don't bother with the separating. You will need more fluids added in later anyhow. This is the first pass with a large grinder plate. You use the big hole grinder plate for the first pass. Zoom. 5 minutes tops. DISCARD Bone Fragments when you change plates!

  • Here is the second pass. This is the large round hole grinder plate. It just goes right through.  DISCARD Bone Fragments when you change plates!

  • The third pass I added in the fat and liquid. Add it slowly! If you add too fast you get a river and it needs to be mixed later by hand.  DISCARD Bone Fragments when you change plates!

  • Remember each pass to  DISCARD Bone Fragments when you change plates! I stress this as I care about all cats. For the little bit of meat that may be mixed in so what. Just throw it out. I take all my scraps right to outside so no one gets into it at night. 
  • From 4 pounds I got about 8 cups of fully ground meat. It was so thick I added another 2 cups of water. I used small freezer bags and put a cup in each and froze the mixture.

You can thaw the mix in the microwave for 1 minute. You will see it still needs more fluids. This is from the bone in the mix. The first night I put it out by itself. Well there was some reluctance. I next put it over regular cat food. This worked well. The chorus was: "Hey Dad we LIKE it! "

I also had to really adjust how much I feed the guys. There are 6 cats here. All adults. 2 big guys. I was giving them 6 cans a day. Quite the cost even on sale. They love Friskies but it has gone to over fifty cents a can. I have been getting PetSmart Store Brands that are similar which is 0.43. I have cut back to 3 cans a day with one cup of my Chicken Mix. They get can and some chicken in the morning. Then we have a nice big dinner at 8PM. 2 Cans and the rest of the bag of Chicken.

So I have cut back 3 cans a day. The cup of Chicken is maybe fifty cents. So I save a buck a day. Not a whole lot but it make the difference in being able to feed your cats and maybe not.

I will keep you informed about how it works with the vitamins and Taurine added in.