If you like the idea of 'less-hassle, better nutrition' then Frankenprey and whole prey feeding may be more suited to you. Bearing in mind that there is still preparation involved and getting your hands dirty, boneless products such as chicken and hearts etc need to be cut to a size your cat will enjoy, then weighed into appropriate portions and packed in labeled freezer bags or freezer-safe plastic containers. Organs don’t generally make up a whole meal, so add as much meat necessary to reach the desired portion size. Make sure if there is any fat on the kidney or heart has been removed as much as possible. You need to get it completely fat-free but most of it is generally recommended for weight control and also if you will be weighing it then you want to make sure that the cat is getting the recommended amount of it excluding any fat. "Bone-in meats" with small edible bones such as day old chicks, quail, chicken ribs, wings and necks can be cut into single cat portions using kitchen shears and then packed for the freezer. Meats with weight-bearing bones such as turkey drumsticks and chicken leg quarters can either be packed for the freezer as they are and the meat cut off the bones at serving time, or de-boned, weighed and packed for the freezer in single cat portions, depending on your needs.
Did you just say cut the meat off the bones?
Yes, but only for anything past an F1. I would be comfortable with them left in a wild cat or F1 hybrids bowl. The reason I'd not give these to F2 onwards is because weight-bearing bones are difficult for cats to break and as result, many cat owners do not feed them. If you are adamant to feed the bone then you can reduce it with a large hammer although this can get pretty messy and you could start to feel like you are suddenly taking on the real life role of Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" (face to match) and most importantly the risk of sharp edges is increased. It's something we aren't personally comfortable with. If you are feeding bone then make sure you always feed bones with meat on them because this will encourage your cat to be excited and enjoy it but, more importantly, make it easier and safer for the cat to digest.
Never feed cooked bone, as it can splinter and cause serious complications. There aren't any retailers online who will sell you whole prey without being frozen to reduce the risk of bacteria build up in transit. You may be able to obtain it as a special request though but this method is expensive. The problem with buying pre-packaged frozen whole prey is that getting even a butchers knife through it is almost impossible without sounding like a gentleman throwing a Caber Pole in the Scottish Highland Games.
Be prepared to have to gut whole prey too. Some cats won't eat the contents in the wild generally unless they are starving, so this might be the same where you are. Most whole prey is guaranteed to be played with. Some whole prey feeders suggest cutting it down into small pieces to discourage play and focus on eating it. We highly recommend leaving it whole and letting them get a good hour or so of quail tennis to tire them out! What about fish I hear you say! Due to a variety of factors, including toxins and histamines, fish shouldn’t make up more than a very small portion of your cat’s diet. Feed only wild-caught varieties, not farm-raised, to avoid antibiotics, and make sure they are packed in water with no added salt. Sardines, invariably wild-caught (often in a sustainable manner), are among the safest to feed. They grow to adult size quickly, live only six or seven years, and eat mostly plants, all of which limits their exposure to PCBs, mercury and other heavy metals and toxins. They are full of Omega 3 fatty acids, making them a valuable – if minimal – contribution to your cat’s diet with just one per week. Insects can be a fun addition to a cat’s menu, too. Just throw a few crickets in the tub once or twice a month and watch your kitty go into hunting mode :)
Does your food stay on the place where you place it for the cats? Do you have a "darting dinner"? It's true when they say if you give a cat whole prey then it will run away with it but cut it into smaller pieces and they will just eat it. The best thing you can do is feed your cats at different sides of the enclosure and have various spots for the food. We have cats that know where they get fed. This can mean, one on the walkway beam, one on the table and the other underneath the bench. It gives them a space where they know their food is theirs without running away and hiding with it. This behaviour is very common in any cat, not just a hybrid or wild cat, especially when it's something yummy! If need be, you can crate feed, which on occasion we have had to do and it's actually quite good because not only do they get a reward for going into the crate, but if they decide to knock the raw meat out everywhere, which we all know is too common, then it's easily cleaned with disinfectant inside the crate. Servals and caracals especially can be very fierce with food when it's about. Depending on your setup crate feeding might be something you want to consider for practicality, hygiene and also most importantly - knowing each cat is getting their full daily meals and not shifting around each others bowls as they can do!
So how do I defrost the frozen food?
In the fridge, not on the worktop. After studying food hygiene you wouldn't believe the rate of bacteria growth in comparison to a fridge, when at room temperature, I won't freak you out or you won't even eat your own food if it's been on the plate longer than 2 minutes! Cats are much more sturdier internally than us though and not likely to get as ill as us. But what's the point in taking the chance? We never heat our cats food. Some people do. If the food is absolutely freezing and it's winter, then you can put the meat into a sealed bag then place it inside a basin of hot water for 2 minutes to take the edge off the cold. Don't let the water get into contact with the meat or it will start to steal the nutrients. Watch you don't start to cook the meat - so make sure it's warm, not hot. If using frankenprey then the only supplement recommended is Omega-3 fats. If they are free range meats and fed on greens then they will have higher levels of omega-3 but if they are general meats, they are likely fed on corn and soy, which leads to higher omega-6 and lower omega-3. You can end up with an imbalance in a cats diet if you don't supplement it. If you are feeling really brave...buy a few heads with brains and eyes to feed as they contain quality omega-3 levels. We actually buy Salmon oil HERE and dispense it 'per pump' as per the guidelines per kg of cat. We only do this three times per week as it can be more damaging with too much. Don't buy or be tempted to use cod liver oil because it can be high in Vitamin A and in conjunction with the liver already being offered, could push those levels too high and don't give non-animal oils such as flax and grape seed. No, no..
Are you excited about creating your cats weekly menu?
What about Taurine - everyone is talking about increasing it?
Now we all know that hybrid cats require more than your average domestic cat and wild cats. What is Taurine? Taurine is a colourless, crystaline compound which is found in the free form in invertebrates and in the bile of mammals. It promotes the intestinal absorption of lipids (fats) as cholesterol.
Taurine is so important because it prevents a disorder called "dilated cardiomyopathy" which is heart muscle failure. Taurine also helps with feline reproduction and prevents "feline central retina degeneration" (FCRD) which causes blindness. Taurine deficient cats have more still-births, fewer live kittens born and fewer that make it through weaning.
Cats can't make enough taurine on their own internally to meet their needs so we supplement this in their food. Since the studies into taurine came out you will see it is added into all commercial pet foods now. Not all taurine is equal though and some companies need to have even more taurine added to allow for proper feline absorption and use of taurine in their foods. Our hybrids require even MORE than this.
Now, the harder a muscle works, the higher its taurine content. For example, chicken thighs have more taurine than chicken breasts, and heart, of course, has the highest taurine content. Feeding heart a couple of time a week is a great way to ensure your cat is getting all the taurine it needs. And taurine is water soluble, so there’s not too much to worry about over-feeding it.
As for feathers... I have absolutely no idea of their nutritional value but I do know how much enrichment they provide cats with. Messy? yes. Fun? YES!
NOTES Skin is quite fatty, so watch your cat’s weight and cut back if necessary (chicken skin is especially high in fat). Gizzards are tough to chew, which makes them great for exercising your cat’s jaws or slowing down a fast eater. Rabbit is generally a very lean protein source. Cats require more fat in their diet than we do (20% – 35%), so, while rabbit is great as a part of the diet, it shouldn’t be the sole protein source. Beef, pork, lamb, bison, and venison are completely acceptable meat ingredients, but some cats may be reluctant to eat them. Most raw feeders happily feed these products, but a few balk at doing so, saying such prey is “unnatural”. Contradicting this, however, are historical accounts describing the African black-footed cat killing and eating sheep and goats.This cat is a genetic ancestor to our own, so these accounts should put to rest any doubts about feeding products from hoofed animals. Whole eggs are fine as occasional additions, but be aware that too much at one time may cause loose stools.