With the recent recall of pet food, my fiancée and I became very concerned about the welfare of our cat. Squidward is a 2 year, 9 month old Maine Coon, who enjoys his perception of himself as king of our household. He occasionally enjoys the can of wet food, but finds that his heart desires nothing more than his daily dose of kitty crunchies. Dry food has always been Squid’s favorite, so our decision to try the homemade food route is not going over well at all.
As pet owner’s, our first mistake was leaving food out for Squid at all times. We created a monster who likes to munch throughout the day, and with our recent foray into making our own cat food, this has caused a huge problem because his new food can easily spoil, we can only leave it out for about thirty minutes at a time.
My first action on this journey was to thoroughly research what nutrients my cat would require for good health, and what types of food were acceptable for him to eat. After determining that a cat vitamin each day, along with powdered calcium would be more than enough to sustain our cat, I called the veterinarian, who confirmed that our plan was a safe and healthy one for Squidward, I started planning the menu for the first day.
I decided to keep it simple, and following the advice of the veterinarian, I cooked one cup of rice, and thawed a piece of frozen fish. Placing it in the blender, I ground the mixture into small pieces, added the crushed cat vitamin, and another supplement. I then placed the food in the usual spot. my cat to eat. Knowing that he must be hungry, I left it out for the recommended thirty minutes. In this space of time the cat did only three things: First, he sniffed the dish of food, turning his nose up immediately. Next, he gave me a filthy look, accompanied by a tail flick. Lastly he took a nap. As you can see none of these things involved any eating.
The veterinarian had told me this would happen, so I wasn’t really surprised that it had happened. As hard as it was, when the thirty minutes had passed, I placed Squiward’s food into the refrigerator. Now it had been almost twelve hours since my poor boy had eaten, and my fiancée was telling me that I was mean. However, this time the advice of my mother resonated the loudest with me: your pet would eat when he got hungry enough.
Three hours later, I placed the food out for Squidward again, and this time he seemed a little more interested, taking a bite or two, when I suddenly remembered an idea that I had read in a news article. It was time to lace the new food with the old stuff that Squidward. Placing about a handful of dry food on top of the homemade food, I mixed it throughly with a fork, and gave it back to the cat. He visited his plate several times in those next few minutes, eating his fill. Still accustomed to eating several times throughout the day, we had to feed him pretty much whenever he wanted for the first few days.
It didn’t take long for Squidward to learn that whenever he was hungry, we would feed him, which was something that we didn’t want to become a habit. Loving the cat as a family member is one thing, but waiting on him hand and foot is quite another. He was going to have to learn to eat just twice a day.
We soon learned that rice was filling him up quickly, but wasn’t substantial enough to last him from one meal to the next, so the rice had to go. I now found myself going to lengths that I never imagined possible out of concern for my little buddy. I had to go back to the grocery store, prepared to stay until I found all of the things I needed to make Squidward’s new diet work for all of us.
Finding the correct type of baby food was very important because many contain onion powder, and onions aren’t healthy for felines. Next, I headed to the meat department in search of some ground turkey, which I found to be inexpensive. Finally, I found some fresh spinach leaves and a couple of organic carrots. The next two days proved interesting as I continued down this path toward madness…
At the next feeding time, I carefully sliced bits of spinach leaves and carrot into very tiny pieces, and set them aside. I then I boiled a pan of water. I took a half pound of ground turkey into the water for a couple of minutes to kill any bacteria, as well as moisten it, which gives the food a gravy-like appeal. Straining the excess water, I carefully mixed the vegetable throughout the meat, sprinkled on the vitamin and the supplement, and served it to the cat.
This was meant with far less disdain than the last time, but Squidward still wasn’t terribly enthusiastic. However, he was starting to adjust to the new feed schedule, which was making our lives a bit more manageable again. I continued feeding Squidward this new concoction through the next day. You can keep the cat’s leftovers for the same amount of time you would keep your own.
The next batch of food was Squidward’s favorite: Boiled ground turkey, cooled exactly to room temperature, with one heaping tablespoon of vegetarian baby food stirred in. (And of course, his nutrients.)
There are those who think that I’m insane, and some days, I think that I’m insane. However, I also think that I learned a lesson from all of this: Animals have basic rights too, and if we keep them as pets, it seems reasonable that we should try and treat them as cherished family members. The quality of care that they receive should reflect the love of their owners.
If you decide to take your own journey through the maze of changing your pet’s diet, I wish you much success, and advise you to consult your own veterinarian when planning the menu for your cat.