INTRODUCTION: There are a number of different recipes, methods and ideas around raw food feeding. Some recipes don't use grinders, others do. Some don't use supplements, others promote them. This is the method I follow and as time goes on, my recipe changes depending on what research I do - that doesn't mean believing the first thing I read on the internet about it!
The basic common flow through all the recipes I have seen is still 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 10% offal. If you get this right, you're doing fine Most recipes make sure 5% of the offal is liver. Only you can make your mind up what you want to feed your kitties. In the wild cats won't get exact ratios right of anything. Many times my butcher doesn't weigh the meats to the gram but so long as it's pretty much 80% meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, 5% other offal then it's good enough for me.
Every improvement I make, I'll update this thread and add info to the change log found in post 2.
BACKGROUND: I have two cats. Luckily they will eat pretty much any type of food I give them so I didn't think home made raw would be a challenge. I have fed commercial raw, which was fine.
With tinned food, I usually feed about 200g per day per cat, which works out well as most tins are around 400g. However as raw food is much better, they don't need as much so it's about 130g. Some cats will eat more than this, others less but don't be afraid if coming from commercial pouches or tinned food how small the portion looks; it's got a lot more goodness in it.
NON-FOOD ITEMS: Grinder: The initial ~£65 for a grinder is fairly expensive let's face it. However if you really want to go full in with raw feeding, then it'll save you money in the long run. Plus, if you decide to no longer grind anything (my eventual plan), then you'll be able to re-sell the grinder at a good price and re-coup most of your money. Just remember to keep the box and all attachments. I purchased an Andrew James Premium Grinder. Check other websites (such as eBay) as it may be cheaper, particularly with regard to postage costs. Other members have a Kenwood MG510, which does look sexier in the kitchen.
IMPORTANT: After cleaning I found the grinding disc/plate had rusted slightly so I emailled to ask for replacements. The company told me to call, then I was told to email with pictures, no response, called again, told to email (again)... In the end I sent a message through ebay who then gave me another number to call. Finally they arranged a return for the whole grinder and after three further weeks, I was finally refunded. There are also questions regarding AJ and their ethical stance. Here's a post describing the price fluctuations since the horse meat scandal of 2013. In a nut shell, it went from around £80 to £400 within a couple of weeks. However the going rate can be anything from £60 to £99 - anything outside of this and you've got a bargain or been had. The Kenwood grinder on the other hand seems to keep a steady price.
Other Grinding Thoughts: After grinding the chicken wings for the past few years, I would recommend it, especially for a beginner. However I have now begun to ask my butcher to simply bash the chicken wings up. This means I am grinding nothing. Sometimes the kitties eat them, other times they will leave it to come back to during the day. I always remove any leftovers before the next meal.
Bowls: Have a number of bowls ready. I bought some cheap Asda Smart Price bowls, which are great for preparing the food. Obviously the number of bowls depends on the quantity and different flavours of food you make.
Whisk: While not really needed (a common fork has been used for decades), these Nova Whisks make whisking really quick, easy and fun.
I use a slightly altered version from the Cat RaP facebook group. An active user of the group has asked some interesting questions regarding another recipe I used and in my quest for simplification, it all made sense. Check the Files from that group for the original spreadsheet of ingredients, which also includes costings.
Chicken Wings: I estimate chicken wings are 50% bone, 50% meat, so have adjusted the flavour meat to reflect this.
Sardines: Most come in a tomato sauce, which can be washed off. Others come in oil, which isn't healthy for the kitties at all and avoid brine as this contains a lot of salt. Some premium brands come in spring water, which is preferable but pushes the price up.
Eggs: There is no evidence either way on whether the albumen (the clear/white part of the egg) is good or bad for cats. I use both parts but if you're using yolks only, you may want to add a little water to the mix.
Heart: Morrisons' heart comes chopped up in chunk pieces, so if purchasing from here, you can add it just as it is.
NOTE: Asda smart price chicken wings come in 1kg packs. As only half is required per one batch, you could look at purchasing a second flavour of meat and make two flavours at a time. Remember to double up everything else too!
SUPPLEMENTS: Here's a quote from the Cat RaP facebook group:
"Either grinding, or freezing, or both will degrade taurine levels but it is only minor. It is only really an issue with low taurine meats like rabbit or chicken breast, most other meats including the rest of a chicken has enough that the slight degradation will not take it below the minimum requirements.
The idea that you need to add vitamins, minerals and amino acids is a throwback from commercial pet foods where the heat treatment destroys them and so they HAVE to be added at the end. This has led people to think they must be added to raw and the myth propagates through the raw feeding community and somehow elevates to a fact.
Adding extra taurine is not a problem, but adding some vitamins, fat based like E and A could result in an overdose"
I can see the logic in that so have dropped them all together. Further reading: Vitamin A overdose.
METHOD: Get all the containers, bowls, grinders and knives ready. You don't want to leave the meat hanging around while you find containers to put the mix in. Also make sure you have room in the freezer!
NOTE: You can either slice, dice, chop or grind. Whenever you see the grinder being mentioned; there is no reason you can't chop that item up instead.
1: Whisk the eggs in one of the bowls. If adding taurine, do this now to mix it in nicely.
2: Add the "flavour" meat in chunks to the eggs. Chunks allow the kitties to chew, thus strengthening their jaws.
3: Get those chicken wings through the grinder and add them to the bowl.
Ground chicken wings.
4: Wash the sardines in a bowl of cold water. Then chop them or grind them and add to the mix. This is when things start to get a little smelly!
5: Next add the heart to the bowl. Any blood "juice" can be added to the bowl directly.
Meats prior to mixing.
6: Slice, dice, chop or grind the rest of the offal and add those to the bowl and mix well!
Meats after mixing.
NOTE: Half fill a bowl with warm water to rinse your hands.
NOTE: I put each ingredient through the grinder, then just split the ground result between the different flavours I made.
NOTE: Wash, dry and coat the grinding disc/plate part of the machine in cooking oil. If you don't coat the plate, it will go rusty.
TUBBING UP: Grab a ladle and fill those empty takeaway containers. 99p stores also have great tubs.
Ready to be frozen | Weighing | Close up
Around 520g fits in one container which should feed my kitties for around two days. Once in tubs they sat in my freezer section for cat food quite nicely.
Packaged in the freezer
COST & WEIGHT - DETAILS: As you don't have to grind anything, getting started is relatively easy. All items can be bought at major supermarkets, but it would be worth taking a trip to your local butchers. The latter means you can ask for the weight you need, which is especially useful for the offal.
As you can see, the weights I use are slightly out from the 80/10/10 guide. However in reality, the amount of chicken breast I use is 1650g as it's sold in 550g packs. The bone is also an estimate. Nobody will every get it exactly right but it's good to keep an eye on when changing things.
You will also note I don't count the fish or eggs as part of the 80/10/10. The weights are nominal and they are present for their nutritional value more than anything else.
CLOSING WORDS: Is it worth it? Yes I think so. The grinder can be used if I want to make some nice mince or burgers from a "proper" piece of meat and because I am selecting the flavours and meats then I know what is going into the kitties' food.
If there are any further questions, I'd be happy to answer them
A big shout out to Cookieandme and Paddypaws for guidance, and the many other raw feeders who inspired me to get started