I had the pleasure to ask Marissa, the founder of the cat-centered raw feeding Instagram account @rawfedcatstagram
, a few questions about herself and her advice on things like introducing raw meaty bones to your cat and ensuring your food has enough taurine.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! What is your background and how did you start creating content for cat owners on Instagram?
As far as background, I’m a recent university graduate, but there’s not much to me – a lot of my identity is wrapped up in Hazey, especially because I haven’t started working yet.
I got Hazey in May (she’s 9 months now) and she kind of wonderfully, fell into my lap. I had wanted a cat for a long time and was recommended to get one by my psychiatrist but didn’t have the ability for a year +. Because I waited such a long time before actually getting one, I want(ed) strictly the best of everything for her. It’s like when you wait to have a child and when you finally do, you want to give them the world – I don’t want any children of my own and Hazey is not an Emotional Support Animal for no reason, she’s literally my baby 🙂
I was visiting a friend in Northern California and the day before, she had rescued Hazey from a situation like when you see people giving away kittens in front of Walmart. My friend already had two cats and thought three was too many so I took Hazey home (to Boston) with me at the end of my trip. We were told she was six weeks old at the time, apparently because the lady just wanted to get rid of the kittens. Baby Hazey was already eating hard food and I had never had or grown up around cats, as my mother is extremely allergic, so I believed it. When we saw a vet in California and they had told us she was closer to four weeks old. After flying to Boston, I took her to the vet when I thought she was six weeks old to get her shots. The vet told me, yet again, that she was most likely four weeks old. So it turns out, she was only about two weeks old when I got her. As soon as I had brought her back to Boston, I started feeding her raw for two of her four meals a day. The others were kibble (because I didn’t know any better, though it should have at least been wet food) and I wasn’t confident in balancing her meals myself yet.
I started creating raw feeding content on Instagram because I felt other people needed to know the benefits and importance of an appropriate diet. A lot of people don’t even know there are other options besides “cat food.” I also created the @rawfedcatstagram page because I was turning into one of those vegans who has to tell everyone they’re vegan, but with raw feeding instead.
2. What prompted you to start feeding your own cat(s) a raw food diet?
Someone on imgur (an offshoot of reddit) had actually posted something about it. Then, shortly after, I saw one of the cats that I followed on Instagram eating ground raw meat, long before I got Hazey. Before this, I thought cats ate “cat food,” I didn’t know any better – so this started opening my eyes. I started doing light research on the topic, but didn’t fully divulge into it until right after I got Hazey. I knew that meat would be the best option for her, but didn’t know or think about what was actually in kibble or wet food. Now that I know, I could never even dream of going back. I didn’t bottle feed Hazey when I had gotten her, simply because I wasn’t aware of her true age. I think that feeding her 1/2 meat until she was 3 months old really helped her because eating kibble alone at that age wouldn’t have sustained her and I am very thankful for that.
3. What is the biggest thing you’ve learned since starting your Instagram account?
The biggest thing I’ve learned since starting my Instagram has been that while there are MANY accounts for raw feeding dogs, there are very few for cats. I don’t know if it’s just that people don’t think about raw feeding cats or what, but I’ve found the information I write does help and guide people. I wanted to help people and this account has done just that, which is very rewarding.
4. Where do you source your cat’s food from?
I get most of Hazey’s regular meats from the grocery store, plain and simple. Things, like pork brain, cuckoo bird, or rabbit I get from the Chinese Market. I get her chicken hearts and quails from a local butcher and order her mice online.
She eats: chicken + hearts, Cornish game hen, gizzards, black chicken, rabbit, cuckoo bird, duck, pond smelt, quail, and raw egg yolks. She used to eat pork and lamb as well, but has recently stopped eating them. The more variety, the better!
5. Do you ever feed commercially prepared raw?
I’ve never fed commercially prepared raw, but I have no problems with it. Hazey has always eaten whole chunks and bones, never ground. I prefer to do it all myself so I have control of every step in the process, down to exactly what she’s eating, where it’s coming from, cleanliness, freshness, etc.
6. What supplements (if any) do you give your cat(s)?
Hazey gets raw goat’s milk mixed with her organ juices every day for lunch as a probiotic, then 148mg of DHA + EPA from krill oil capsules daily for Omega-3. Sometimes I’ll give her homemade bone broth in the mornings for extra liquid, but she’s not a huge fan. While not exactly a “supplement” it is full of electrolytes and nutrients.
7. What are you tips for transitioning picky cats to a species appropriate diet?
My number one for transitioning any cat is to be patient and don’t give up. Since Hazey was a kitten when I started giving her meat, it was a very easy process, but I know most cats can take a good while. It can be a long road for some and I don’t want people to get frustrated or give up, so being patient is the most important thing. I always recommend squishing diced meat into their canned food until you can switch up the ratios with more meat and less processed food.
8. How do you make sure your cat’s raw has enough taurine? Do you calculate the amount you give on a daily or weekly basis?
I don’t calculate taurine down to an exact science. I know that chicken hearts and gizzards have the most, dark meats have a decent amount, and “white meat” parts have barely any. Because of this, I feed two chicken hearts a day, gizzards at least 3-7 meals a week (she eats 3x a day, so 21 meals a week), and feed dark meat like chicken and turkey thighs instead of breast as often as possible. I tend to buy dark meats for her at the grocery store anyway because they’re a bit cheaper. For instance, last week at the grocery store I got a pack of two turkey thighs for $4.55, after removing the bone (which was super simple), I was left with 21 oz of pure meat.
9. When I think about raw meaty bones my mind doesn’t automatically jump to cats. How do you get cats started with RMBs and what are some of the best ones to feed?
Because Hazey was still eating 1/2 kibble until 3 months old, I didn’t want to give her too much extra calcium/phosphorus so I didn’t serve her bone to eat. I gave her chicken legs with meat on them and watched as she used them as a recreational chew to build jaw muscles and get the idea that they were for eating. When I started giving her only raw, I gave her things like Cornish game hen ribs, chicken wing tips, and quail. These are the easiest to start with because ribs are flexible thin bones (make sure to give them as a set, not individual ribs or they’ll swallow them whole). Wing tips and most quail bones are hollow for flight, so they’re easily broken and eaten. It’s always important to supervise to make sure your cat is actually chewing and eating the bones and not just swallowing them – well chewed bones are fully digested, giving your cat the nutrients they need. Other bones she eats now are rabbit ribs, chicken, black chicken, Cornish, and duck wings (without drums, and for duck, only the tips), ribs, and necks, whole cuckoo birds, quail, pond smelt, and whole prey hopper mice. I would feed her heads and an occasional foot, but she won’t eat these things; which for me, isn’t a problem considering all the other bones she can pick from. Make sure you’re feeding your cat non-weight bearing bones (unless it’s something appropriately sized like quail or cuckoo birds) and never give them large animal bones like pork feet, beef ribs, etc unless ground.
10. If you could tell cat owners one thing about raw feeding what would it be?
If I could tell owners one thing about raw feeding, it would again be to have patience, whether that’s for transitioning, prepping foods, whatever. If you’re feeding raw, I’m sure you already know the horrible things that go into kibble and wet food and you’re ready to stand up to the pet food industry, creating your own change – so just don’t give up. Even though it can be a lot of work (more so for kittens, like Hazey), the time I spend on her food is invaluable to me, just for the simple fact of knowing exactly what’s going into her body. You should really be able to stand up for your raw feeding reason, because behind Instagram, it’s not the most glamorous thing – it can get difficult or tedious to cut up whole birds, prep food, and/or plan meals, but if you’re able to stick to the root of why you chose to feed this way, you’ll never look back.
Thanks again to Marissa for taking the time to answer my questions! If you are looking for a quality source of information on feeding your cats a species appropriate diet I highly recommend checking out her Instagram account!