BARF & RAW FEEDING
There is no doubt that feeding BARF and raw meat is the best way to feed cats and dogs. BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Real Food and shall be referred to as BARF from here on in.
Cats are obligate carnivores and that simply means that cats need meat to survive. Without it they will become ill. They are hunters not grazers and the unhealthy approach we have adopted in feeding our pets as a nation is harming them long term.
Cats were never designed to eat grains and cereals but most commercial kibble contain these very items. The nasty sugar filled animal derivatives loaded with chemicals to make them palatable that most people purchase from supermarkets have virtually no nutritional value at all.
Since we have transitioned our cats here at Ayudamist to a raw diet the difference has been out of this world. Their general behaviour has improved, the breeding cycles have become regulated and the females spray a whole lot less. There are no longer weight issues and there is no longer any smelly or runny poo episodes that used to occur when on a commercial kibble diet.
The animals are happier in themselves and actually chew their food, so no more bolting down of biscuits which results in vomiting from time to time.
One direct result of feeding raw is that litter trays are cleaner, less litter is used as they used as constant toilet use is no longer an issue.
We always urge people to do as much research as possible before committing to this way of feeding but once the decision is made you and your pets will never look back.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RAW AND BARF ?
Raw is simply as it states, raw and should always be fed with the correct ratio of meat to bone and offal . Taurine may be needed to be added for cats.
BARF is the same as raw but with some fruit or vegetables added to the diet.. Either way a little effort is needed but the rewards are well worth it.
You will need space in a freezer for the meat and again space in your fridge where you can defrost the meat naturally. A good supplier is needed for the meat used. Check out their credentials and certificates and ask questions. Do not presume the supplier is good because they say they are.
If you purchase a pre manufactured pack of meat from a reputable supplier follow the feeding guidelines on the pack, they normally have the correct ration of meat to bone and blood so you shouldnt need to add taurine..
Pumpkin, mango or pineapple are added to our cats diet twice weekly, it adds variety to their diet and all the cats love it.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I FEED ?
For kittens 4 to 6 months old , they should be fed little and often, 4 times a day should be sufficient allowing them to eat as much as they want, at 5 to 6 months this can be reduced to two meals a day totalling 4% to 5% of their body weight, then 2% to 3% of their body weight as adults.
WHAT SHOULD I BE FEEDING ?
The diet should consist of 80% muscle meat 10% offal and 10% bone. Note that heart should be fed as muscle meat, not offal.
DO I NEED TO ADD VEG OR OTHER SUPPLEMENTS ?
if you are feeding a balanced and varied raw diet there should be no need to supplement, veg can be added and is beneficial to some pets and it add variety. but it is not essential. Cat enjoy mango , pumpkin and pineapple.
WHAT ABOUT BONES IM TOLD THEY ARE DANGEROUS ?
Cats are obligate carnivores they are designed to eat meat and bone . Poultry bones are super soft and make a great staple to include. Never feed cooked bones as they are brittle and can splinter and are dangerous. Large weight bearing bones of cattle are not advised as they can break teeth.
CAN I GIVE RAW ALONG WITH KIBBLE ?
In a nutshell NO , we do not advise this as it can lead to digestive problems. Two types of food take different amounts of time to digest and kibble is very often packed with grains, cereals, cheap fillers,, by products and chemical preservatives. Feeding carbohydrates with protein can lead to weight gain and it defeats the object of feeding your cat with a healthy species appropriate food.
Poo is a good indicator of whether all is going ok. An average cat will poop once every 1 to 2 days on a raw diet. It should be small and well formed. If you find the poop is too crumbly then is too much bone in the diet and it will need to be reduced. Too much bone can cause constipation.
Always remember to follow the same hygiene standards when preparing cat meat as you would for yourself. This will ensure feeding raw remains a safe practice.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF FEEDING PUMPKIN TO CATS
There are three main health benefits of feeding pumpkin to cats and dogs.
Pumpkin can be fed using the canned version (not pie filling)) It should just be pureed pumpkin with no added sugar or spices , or you can use real pumpkin freshly cooked.
Every year we buy several pumpkins in October and then cook and puree them and freeze them in ice cube trays.This gives a years supply It is not advisable to allow your pet to eat the Halloween pumpkin that has sat on your porch as this might be harbouring bacteria and fungus. There is though no harm in preparing , cooking and freezing the fresh flesh before you turn your attention to the shell for your Halloween carving.
Pumpkin is a wonderful source of fibre so it can help dogs and cats with both constipation and diarrhoea. Give one to two tablespoons in comparison to the size of your pet.
The oils in pumpkin flesh are believed to support urinary health and are an excellent source of vitamin A beta carotene , potassium and iron as well as vitamin C which is vital for its antioxidant and immune supporting effects. Pumpkin may even reduce the possibility of your pet developing cancer though further research might be needed to prove this.
If your cat or dog is overweight reducing a small amount of their food and replacing it with pumpkin will help as it is fibre, which will help your pet feel fuller for longer and aid weight loss.
See the health issues section for Georges story and how he moved to a natural diet for a better way of life