Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cat rawfeeding; scroll down the comments

Just like to say thanks to everyone who posted comments on the last blog entry.

Thanks, they're appreciated.



Anonymous said...

This is a great blog --- much, much better than anything else out there.

One request, would you do more posts on general practical aspects of the hyperlipid approach, such as recipes etc etc.


Scott Weigle said...

I must agree with varangy. I just found this blog and have gone back and read nearly every post. Great stuff that has impacted my thinking on several topics.

I wouldn't mind seeing some more on the limitation of protein and how you arrived at an average of 65 g/day. I know that protein can cause an insulin release, but are there other issues?

Thanks again.

Charles R. said...

Yep, great blog. Stuff you definitely won't find anywhere else.

To echo the comment above, I'd also be interested in the issues surrounding protein. I was just thinking about the insulin-protein issue, and would be appreciative of and discussion of that or other protein-related studies.

LJ said...

I'm also a fan of your blog. Anyone who eats scrambled egg yolks for breakfast and likes VNV Nation is a-okay in my books!

I know it's slightly off topic for your blog, but since you're a vet, I'd be interested in your two cents on pet nutrition. I feed my dog a mostly prey-model raw diet, with some cooked foods here and there. You could say we both eat mostly paleo. :)

Cheers from Canada.

Peter said...

Hi LJ,

Bit slow replying but I've been trying to get a pic of either of the cats eating their chicken wings. They don't cooperate in terms of eating when I'm at home with the camera!!!!

There are a number of rawfood vets around, not many, and it tends to become a bit religious (no commercial food at all) and I have to bend this slightly on a practicality basis occasionally. So the occasional can of ceral/soy/carb free cat food sneaks in when my neighbour feeds them for me. Mostly raw with some tinned fish.

Goodness knows when we'll get to our next gig. Weekends at the Whitby Goth Festival are OUT with a 1 year old baba. Probably aim for daytime festivals with scope to picnic in Summertime... Roll on.

Can't imagine Sisters of Mercy or Rico performing in daylight though, any more than VNV Nation!

Depressing that Rico lost his guitarist, sad for just a youngster. Hope it wasn't drug related. Been too long since Rico's last album.


Anna said...


You mght want to take a look at this regarding fish food for cats:


Anna said...

Umm, I phrased that fish & cat link comment wrong.

Given your vet experience, what do you think of the info at that link? If you have time, that is.

There, that's better.

Peter said...


I recently read your thoughts about artificial sweeteners on your blog and it looked a bit like I'd copy pasted them in to a comment about stevia in icecream here....

Low calcium levels was a significant concern for my youngster when he was a growing kitten, I used a bone meal supplement at this time as he was quite slow to start destroying chicken wings. As an adult I'm less concerned, see Mg comment below. Bear in mind I've not got hard data for much of this, especially in cats.

Thiaminase, yes. Cook the fish. Clearly way off of cat behaviour here!

Urinary tract problems. FLUTD, as far as I am concerned, is simple carbohydrate poisoning. Maybe complicated by gluten intolerance for the non struvite interstitial cytitis cases. Peter Markwell published this paper.

At the time of the study the ingredients in Waltham dry urinary diet were (roughly) meat, meat extract, wheat, vits and minerals. Tinned Waltham urinary was water, meat, meat extract, vits and minerals. I had the Waltham clinical diets guide for the 1990s lying around the practice when I first read his paper (only recently) so could check. Peter came up with water as the significant difference. I beg to differ!

Then if found these papers on Mg and carbs/insulin


hyperglycaemia Mg loss

And this one on low Mg and Ca stones. Oxalates are the interesting bit.

Epidemiologically there is a progressive on going replacement of struvite crystaluria with Ca oxalate stones in cats. There is still a high incidence of "idiopathic" obstruction and/or mucus plug obstruction, the latter I think are gluten related (pure opinion). The stress behaviour "associated" is probably neurological effects of gluten. Way out on a limb here. Back to stones, my feeling is that kibble fed cats are chronically hyperglycaemic, hyperinsulinaemic and magnesuric. So form struvite. Deplete them of Mg and the magnesuria/struvite stops while the IR gets worse and the stones become predominantly calcium oxalate based and we can inject them with insulin to tx the diabetes!!! It's so neat.

On the human front, people eating to the Food Pyramid are urinating their bones down the loo!

Addiction, yes can happen. Not surprising cats like fish, at least fish is an animal not ground up grass seed! But yes, watch it I agree, ditto liver. Liver; they probably need vit A but certainly not liver to the exclusion of all else. Does happen but rare nowadays.

Heavy metals, also vit E depletion. YES, hence sardines and pilchards not tuna, lower on food chain. I'm interested in this because Paul Flecknell, who did the original cats/tuna/vit E/pansteatitis work, never looked at heavy metals as free radical generators which might deplete viltamin E. However, the flip side is that fish oil/vit E interaction ala Swede paper about Lp(a) suggests Paul may have been correct. Dunno, but the two could be related as it was tuna addiction cats that he was working with rather than lower food chain fish. Not 100% sure on this as I was still an undergraduate at the time and don't have my Vet Recs from then! Personally I'd never heard of mercury in the food chain at that time, except maybe Panorama talking about human Hg poisoning in Japan. Also Bruce's ideas on PUFA in general may have some bearing here.

Hyperthyroidism is a wide open field. Preservatives in canned food too, I've heard. Maybe, all round! It's undoubtedly environmental.

Allergenic. Well yes, but the allergen needs to be seen by the immune system and that means gluten in the gut. A bit like eggs being number three allergen after wheat and milk in humans...

I agree completely with the basic point that fish as in no way evolutionarily appropriate for cats, any more than pork! I use fish to balance up the omega3-6 ratio a little. I push all sorts of rules in myself too, chocolate, glucose powder etc. Ideally a large supply of (male) day old chicks from a hatchery would be their food, but that I can't arrange!!!! And day old chicks are grain "fed" too so...

What am I saying?

You're right but I'll keep bending a few rules!


Anna said...

Wow! Great commentary fo rme to digest on fish for cats. Mostly I want to show it to a neighbor, who feeds her many elderly cats fish all the time; interesting that hyperthyroidism has been a problem for several of them.

If you took a look at Anne's (www.catnutrition.org) basic ground chicken recipe, that is basically what I make for my two cats (though I'm a bit more lax about a lot of stuff compared to Anne - I don't measure the meat as closely and my cats will eat their food cold from the fridge, even with ice crystals, so I never bother making it "mouse" temp).

It's been a little more than two years since I stopped all kibble and went to canend food, and about 18 months since I started making raw ground food. My older cat is still obese, but his blood tests no longer point to development of Chronic Renal Failure, according to the vet. We saw a huge behavior improvement in a week (chasing his tail, running around the house), and I retested blood at 2 mos and 1 year and no CRF signs anymore. Of course, the vet (my neighbor and friend) advised against raw/homemade and gave all sorts of dire warnings, but it has worked out well. If I get behind and feed the older one (now 12 yo) canned food even two days, he starts hobbling down the stairs. Back on raw food just one one day, he's walking fine again, though he's clearly got some premature aging and damage from all the years of feeding kibble and canned food.

Two friends were quite convinced and switched their cats to raw homemade.

My cats don't seem know what to do with whole pieces like a wing or a leg, so I debone the meat from the chicken thighs and breasts and chunk that so they can chew it up. The rest goes through the grinder with the coarsest die. The cats love it. Takes me about an hour or so every ten days for the two cats. Cheaper than the premium canned food, too, even with buying the grinder.

Meart muscle is the hardest recipe ingredient for me to get, because the local butcher has to order chicken hearts in frozen 40 pound boxes and that's too much for me to store at at time. I buy meat from a local "hobby" farm for us, and they save quite a few organs (beef, pork, lamb, goat, turkey and chicken, poultry necks, giblets, etc. for me). Not too many others want all that stuff.

g said...

Thanks Anna for your info! Is the meat you purchase 'organic' or grassfed?

My 3rd cat Lynx (who was more like a DOG) cat raw fish all the time. We hand fed him sashimi (yeah lucky cat in fact he often ate MORE than me!!). That's how he was raised before we got him and then Lynx was lucky enough to find the best sushi (Japanese-trained elite sushi chef of course) restaurant owner who happened to live across the street from us... so we often never saw Lynx in the wee late hours of the night... he was FEEDING ON HIGH GRADE TUNA AND SALMON BELLY !! He often left his lame kibble in the bowl for my other two sucker-cats...

We miss Lynx a lot -- he passed away from Graves 2 yrs ago. My kids still cry everytime we bring him up... He's the only cat that let's them pet and hold him -- and he'd lick their faces (again, he thought he was a dog).

I think the fish may have had PCBs or other chemicals in it. There are countless studies that show that furniture (read: IKEA and others) flame-retardants cause Graves/hyperthyroidism in cat models. probably human models as well... (My sister had Graves too) so we have had two family members that have had Graves!

Anna, how do you store the minced meat? do you freeze it until use? or is refridgeration enough?

Thanks in advance! g

Anna said...


Glad I scrolled back through the many comments. I almost missed yours. Think we can lobby Peter to put in one of those "recent comments" sidebars so it's easier to go back and follow threads?

Sorry to hear about Lynx. The last few years I seem to be learning of just too many extraordinarily super cats developing hyperthyroidism. Nearly every one of my neighbor's 4 cats has had it so that does seem to have a diet or environmental nature. That neighbor is transition her cats to raw food, too.

I use a variety of sources for the cat food. My first choice is locally raised "hobby" farm chickens. They aren't organic or entirely pastured, but they are humanely raised by a nice rural couple (they are also a fairly good bargain, at $8 for a pretty large chicken, which competes quite well with store chickens). I also get extra necks, giblets, etc. from this same farm whenever they process chickens, and turkey "goodies" at holiday time. They are also much more work to cut up in preparation for the grinder. The bones and connective tissue are much stronger from an active life. But I can't get enough of these for my needs so I have to buy conventionally raised from stores too. The egg yolks from from this source, too. I also ask for the livers and hearts from the other animals they process (beef, pork, lamb & goat) but those are more sporadic. I prepare those in recipe sized portions and freeze them when I can get them.

Those times I just get a whole chicken or whole legs (legs are the easiest in terms of prep work and cost) and chicken livers at my local stores when I do some other shopping (usually Trader Joe's or a local chain that is like a small Whole Foods). For convenience, I have also bought conventionally raised and/or organic chicken from Costco (membership warehouse), and even conventional supermarket chicken in a pinch.

So my "ideal" is organic or locally raised, but cost/convenience/driving miles and whether I am running late, the last batch is gone, and there are two hungry, grumpy cats at home is sometimes the final answer. When I was bothered with elbow tendonitis for a few months, I only bought whole chicken legs from a meat counter, because they would also cut them in half for me, which saved my elbow. I only had to debone some thigh meat chunks to set aside from the grinding. I'd rather not buy supermarket (organic or otherwise - they're all raised intensively in un-chicken-like environments and the huge, fast processing plants are not good places to work ) because I don't really want to support that industry, but I don't lose sleep over giving the meat to the cats. Even homemade food from factory-farmed chicken is nutritionally head-and-shoulders above premium canned or kibble cat food. But locally raised, pastured poultry has not been easy to find in So Cal where land and pasture irrigation is extraordinarily expensive.

I do try to get only get the livers from either the local farm or the small "natural" foods store with the meat counter. Those are always freshest and there is minimal price difference. The conventionally raised liver in plastic tubs from supermarkets is not always very fresh (& often has lots of gall bladders mixed in).

I do have a second freezer, which I use to store the ingredients that were purchased in larger quantities (divided into recipe sized portions before freezing) as well as the prepared food. I like the Ziploc 2 cup screw top plastic containers for freezing the finished cat food. They freeze well (though the plastic can shatter if dropped when frozen), "nest" and stack nicely, fit well in the freezer door shelves, and hold just the right amount for 1.5+ days for two cats (my friend uses same containers for her one cat but fills them less full). I try to transfer one from the freezer to fridge to thaw in time (though my cats have been known to eat their ground chicken in "ice cream" form if someone forgot to get one out to thaw). It varies, but each batch generally makes about 6-7 of these containers (with "head" space for expansion in the freezer).

Probably way more detail than you wanted, g. Hope Peter doesn't mind the topic detour. If you haven't checked out the www.catnutrition.org website, be sure to - there is a photo display of preparing the food as well as all sorts of other links and info resources. She also has a link to Lisa Pierson, a vet who uses a similar, but a bit less work and less costly version of the recipe for her multiple cats, with her photos (I think that one is www.cat-info.org or something like that).

g said...

Hi Anna,

Thank you for the details (and I' so glad you saw the post)! I appreciate all the info on the grinding, storage and sources!!! I guess once I take the plunge Freckles (my last remaining cat) will not want to go back to store bought kibble... I know she has an appetite for raw (although not apparently for raw salmon) b/c she was much more adept at killing mice than Tiger was (she NEVER let the heads dangle... yeah, sorry gross). I hadn't thought about the other sweetmeat/organs, but I'll try that too!

Lynx was actually transplanted from San Diego (La Jolla/ Hillcrest)...

Take care! G

Anna said...


If you go raw or homemade, just be sure to not only feed muscle meat. It is not complete. Bones or bonemeal is necessary for calcium/phosporus ratio, and the organs provide essential nutrients not found in enough density in meat, too. Feeding only muscle meat is very incomplete and will result in malnutrition.

Gordon said...

You're right! organ mean has vitamins A, D, etc. I see the grinding is necessary for the bones... thank you ANNA!! -g

Peter said...

Just to add that the original (or at least a very early independent proponent) prey model idea person (Tom Lonsdale, google "raw meaty bones") is adamant that the in-tact bones are essential. His followers are very anti grinding. I don't have a view on this, it tends to become religious. The raw bones clean teeth well and Lonsdale is of the view that calculus is intrinsic to many diseases. His ideas are quite interesting and go some way beyond food in to evolution and wolf behaviour. And the Gaia hypothesis.


Anna said...

I would happily not grind the chicken bones if the cats would chew them up. But if I put out chicken wings, for example, they lick them, drag them all over the room, then give up and come whining for food they can more easily eat. I would definitely consider trying a non-ground "more like prey" approach if I was starting with a kitten, because that would be even closer to a natural diet (hey, less work for me, I suppose). But for now, I am satisfied that what they are getting is sooooo much better in every way compared to the commercial food options. It only takes two days of even premium canned food for the old guy to hobble down the stairs and act very pained and grumpy (well, more than usual).

I do use the coarsest grinding plate, though, as well as leave chunks of unground muscle meat to chew on. I'm considering buying an even coarser grinding plate. Anne at www.catnutrition.org and Lisa, a vet at www.catinfo.org, feel that it is the chewing of the meat flesh chunks that is most beneficial for teeth and jaws. I really don't know. I do think that the kibble/clean teeth argument is faulty. The ground food seems is working well enough for us and provides the majority of the benefit that a prey model would, though perhaps not 100%.

mtflight said...

I speculate the the original cats/tuna/vit E/pansteatitis work done by Paul Flecknell (some time in the 70s?) was done with canned tuna, which was then packed in vegetable oil--possibly the cheapest grade that is not high in E content.

Water-packed tuna is probably a product of the "low fat" concept. I could be way off on these. This reminds me I should probably increase my kitties' calcium content.

Peter said...

Hi Alex,

It was all so long ago it's very hard to tell what was in tuna in the 1970s! It was before the low fat craze took off and I can't remember what tuna was like then. Isn't modern tuna de-fatted, making it a poor source of any PUFA, unless sunflower oil is added? In which case it's a health risk, never mind the mercury.


trix said...

I've been feeding my cat raw since he was a kitten. I also make a raw chicken recipe from the same website Anna linked or similar to that. I also feed my cat a large mouse a day (from RodentPro). It is the highlight of his day. He comes in at 2 pm to remind me to take it out of the freezer then comes back in at 4 pm to eat it. He is an excellent hunter and have kept us rat free. He eats his catches with little mess; he leaves rat tails. He'd probably be able to support himself if he could be out at night but we have to keep him in at night due to coyotes.


Szara said...

Hi Peter, I have a cat dilemma. I have been feeding my 2 maine coons raw since they were babies. There is a local place in town that grinds raw food for pets.

Recently one of the cats became listless and uninterested in eating. A trip to the vet and bloodwork showed creatinine on the "high side of normal" with normal BUN. The urine sample showed good concentration. My vet thinks this is a early sign of CRF.

Do I keep feeding them a raw/cooked meat diet? Or is that bad for a cat with CFR? The cat is about 22 months.

Peter said...

Szara, in the most general of terms I do not accept that a cat which is able to concentrate its urine is in CRF, especially if it can produce urine with SG >1.035 (bear in mind that RMB is high in water and tends to produce normally relatively dilute urine anyway). The failure to concentrate urine PRECEDES changes in blood chemistry in CRF...........