Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gourmand Pets

Yes, my belief in cooking from scratch and eating less processed foods extends to our cats. Our cats, Buena (background) and Zorro (foreground) have been with us for over 14 years. They certainly don't look or act their age - just like their humans - so we feel their diet is a huge part of that.

Additionally, many of our friends and family are allergic to most cats but don't typically react to ours. A homemade diet for pets can reduce dander (sloughed off skin), which is what people are sneezing at. Another bonus is that your pets coat will look beautiful and in our case very soft. Buena and Zorro are fairly social cats because people love to touch them.

I got turned onto cooking my own cat food after reading It's A Cat's Life by Anitra Frazer and subsequently purchasing The Natural Cat; her book on cat health and diet. I ended up modifying her diet somewhat accidentally when I had a to use some leftover Albondigas (Mexican meatballs in a garlic, tomato sauce). Our cats decided this tomato sauce was something that had been missing before and from then on they wouldn't eat their food if it wasn't seasoned that way.

A few years ago, I switched their diet to a raw meat version that my mother turned me onto from Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. She was using the recipes in there for her Jack Russell puppy (also known as my brother Toby) who had numerous food allergies. My oldest cat, Rocky was suffering from the beginnings of renal failure and we didn't feel it would be quality of life to give him daily IV treatments. So I tried one of Dr. Pritcairn's special needs diets that addressed kidney health and fed it to all our cats. Rocky was a good two to three years older than Buena and Zorro but they were all geriatric by cat standards so it seemed that the change might be good for all of them.

I believe the change to a raw meat diet gave Rocky another three years of spoiled happiness. Sadly his kidneys finally failed him in September 2007 but even three weeks before he died he was looking young and fit; his purr as loud as the roar of a lion. Below is the adaptation of the original recipe - I find oatmeal more economical and easier to cook in bulk than the rice indicated in Dr. Pitcairn's recipe;

1 1/3 to 2 lbs. of ground, raw meat – beef, chicken, turkey *
1 small carrot or zucchini, grated
¼ cup of safflower, soy or corn oil
6 raw eggs
½ tsp of Salt
½ tsp sodium ascorbate (Vit C powder)**
1-15 oz can of Tomato Sauce
Onion, (less than ¼ of a whole one more like 1 TBSP)
2 cloves of garlic
4 cups quick oats oatmeal

In a large bowl, mix the raw meat, grated vegetable, oil, eggs, salt, Vit C. Set aside for the moment.

In the blender, put the tomato sauce, 1 can of water, onion and garlic. Add enough water to make up a total of 4 cups of liquid. Blend until smooth. Pour the tomato sauce into a pot, rinse the blender and add another 4 cups of water to the pot (total eight cups of liquid) and bring to a boil. When boiling, add the oatmeal cook for about 1 minute (5 minutes if you use old fashioned oats). Let stand for a few. Add cooked oatmeal to the meat mixture and mix well; the consistency should be of semi-soupy oatmeal. Separate the mixture into various small containers and freeze all but one.

* At some pet food stores ou can buy meat that is is ground with bones – which is necessary for the feline diet – otherwise you need to add bone meal to the vitamix below.
** They sell this Vit C powder in Trader Joes.

Cats Vitamix
1.5 c yeast powder
0.25 c kelp powder
1 c lecithin
2 c wheat bran
0.25 c bone meal (if not using meal ground with bones)

Add scant ½ tsp of this mixture to each meal.

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