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Feeding Nemo | My life as Nemo

Feeding Nemo

I separate Nemo’s diet into three periods: Commercial food period (first 3 months), Transitional period (4-6 months), and finally Raw food period. On this page you will find out more about his Raw food period. Click on the link under “Pages” on the right to see other periods.

WHAT DOES RAW FOOD DO

There are lots of information on the internet explaining how animals should eat what they are designed to eat and the benefits of feeding them raw. I will not repeat that here. What I would like to talk about is Nemo’s transformation since he started eating raw.

As of April 2008, Nemo has been on raw food for almost 2 years. The first thing I noticed since we switched Nemo to raw was his eyes. They became clear and very bright. His coat also became softer. 2 years later, his body shape changed. He was always a large cat, slightly on the chubby side but never fat. Now he has a big head, VERY broad shoulders, and a slim behind with firm and muscular hind legs. His weight still hovers around 15lbs but you can’t tell by just looking at him. He is heavy but in excellent shape. I now understand why they say muscles are heavier than fat.

WHAT DOES NEMO EAT

As you can see in the daily notes, we feed Nemo non-medicated organic ground meat with bones and organs. We buy prepared frozen food in bulk and separate them into small portions. At meal time, we take one bag out and put it in warm water to thaw. We play with Nemo while the meat is being defrosted, which takes about 15 minutes. I believe in varieties. We try to feed Nemo different meats so he can get different sources of nutrients. We don’t add any vitamins or supplements in his food. “Non-medicated” mean meats only, no vitamins or vegetables. You’ll notice that we give him meats “for dogs”. That’s because we can’t find non-medicated meats for cats. I like the meats for dogs anyway. It is grounded a little courser than cat food.

Following are the kinds of food we give Nemo regularly:

Rabbit— Rabbit is said to contain the most appropriate amount of nutrients and fat cats need. I’m not sure how true it is but I can imagine a large cat catching a small rabbit as prey in the wild. We give Nemo rabbit meats quite regularly, perhaps more than any other kinds of meat. Rabbit is also the most expensive of all.

Chicken— Chicken is a common choice for “rawers”. It is widely available and relatively inexpensive. The raw chicken food we buy contains muscle meats, bones, heart, livers, and gizzards. Chicken is one of the mildest meats for cat’s stomach.

Turkey— Good alternative for chicken. It is as easy to find as chicken. We give Nemo turkey simply for variety in his diet.

Beef chunks— Beef, or any kind of red meat, is very important in cat’s diet. It is a major source for taurine. Funny enough, Nemo’s stomach can’t take prepared ground beef. We tried twice over a very long period of time and Nemo vomited on both occasions. We finally figured out it’s the organs in the ground food that Nemo can’t digest. We feed him beef chunks (stew meat, shank, flank…etc.) instead. I don’t trim off the fat because I think it is an important part of the diet. I buy organic whenever I can.

Chicken chunks— Sometimes I give Nemo boneless skinless chicken breast or thigh meats. I buy organic or free range whenever I can.

Salmon and Tuna— On special occasions we give Nemo salmon or tuna sashimi from Japanese supermarkets or restaurants. Nemo doesn’t particularly like them but he eats them. What I don’t like about sashimi is that it’s too soft. It doesn’t give that teeth-cleaning effect as other tougher meats. Lately I had Nemo try salmon tip (without the tail). It has just the right amount of meat and bones. The skin is also tough to break. I can see this as a good alternative to chicken drumsticks.

Chicken necks and wings— I have to admit, I love to see Nemo chew on these, even though he scared me to death once. He tried to swallow the whole middle part of the wing! He gagged on it and then finally coughed it out. I thought I killed him! I stopped feeding him wings but I’m still giving him necks. I make sure that the necks I buy are organic, free-range, and non-medicated. I understand that the neck is the part where they inject hormones so it has the most residues.

Chicken drumsticks— This was recommended by Doc P.D. for the purpose of cleaning Nemo’s teeth. I told him about the incident with wings so he recommended something bigger. In the beginning I was scared because the bones seemed very hard, especially the smaller end. Later on I noticed that it’s actually safer for Nemo to eat because he had to chew very hard. After eating chicken drumsticks for just a couple of months (about one a week), Nemo’s teeth and gum looked perfectly clean! One caution about eating chicken drumsticks: one day we noticed small amount of blood on Nemo’s chew toy. We took him to Dr. Peter Dobias but there was absolutely nothing wrong with his gum or teeth. After a couple of weeks we found blood again on his regular toy. We realized it was chewing on chicken drumsticks that made him bleed. I don’t know if it’s because Nemo’s teeth are tiny so the bone easily cuts into his gum, or that his gum is fragile because of FIV. I probably won’t give him chicken drumsticks often anymore. If I have another healthy cat, however, I would still try the drumstick because I think it gives the best teeth cleaning result among all the other meats and bones.

NOTE ON FEEDING MEAT CHUNKS AND BONES

1). First of all, do NOT give your animal ANY cooked bones, especially chicken bones. Cooked bones are much harder than raw and they splinter. It is VERY dangerous to feed them cooked bones. Raw bones dissolves in their digestive system just like muscle meats.

2). Do not just give your cat a piece of chicken neck and walk away. Sit there and monitor. Make sure that your cat chews thoroughly.

3). Eating meat chunks and bones is good for the cat’s teeth and gum. When they bite into the muscles or bones, the surface of the teeth get scraped, much like being brushed by a toothbrush. I used to cut the meat into ¾” to 1” chunks. I think it’s probably good for most cats. Most cats, yes, but not Nemo. Again he once tried to swallow an 1” beef chunk in whole! Most of the time he just chewed once or twice as if it was his duty and then follow by a swallow attempt. If your cat is a patient chewer I guess you can safely give him/her some chunks and sit back and watch him/her go.

4). After a couple of gagging incidences I started to worry. I thought sooner or later Nemo would die in front of me for sure! I started to hold on to one end of the meat or bone with my hand so Nemo couldn’t swallow. A nice weekend special dinner often turned into a tug-a-war between us. I was sure that pretty soon Nemo would start seeing me as a food stealer. That’s NOT good. I refused to give up on chunks and bones so I started to look for other ways to feed him. I finally found a perfect tool—metal kabob sticks! I cut the meat into longer chunks and put them on a skewer. When I feed him, I would hold on to one end of the skewer and offer the meat, piece by piece, to him with the other hand. I do the same with chicken drumsticks and neck. With chicken drumsticks I do have to rotate the skewer from time to time so he gets a better angle to bite. This method works perfectly fine. I often guide Nemo by holding onto the meat/bone. He is very careful with my hand. He never hurt me.

5). If you try the metal kabob stick, be careful not to let your cat bite down hard on the stick and chip his/her teeth. Watch how he/she eats and adapt to his/her chewing habit.

(–to be continued)

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