Kittens – weaning through raw feeding – importance of Taurine16 July, 2007
Here’s a photo of the kittens at one of their first meals of wild minced rabbit (whole, with no tripe, bone-in).
It’s said that weaning kittens is relatively easy using a raw diet. I can only speak from personal experience and say that seems to be the case: the kittens seem to recognise what natural food is.
I know some sites on kitten weaning mention offering first meals of rice/rice pudding/milk/porridge. If those work, great! However, I don’t think rice/porridge are what cats would eat in the wild. And cats lack the enzymes to digest cow’s milk.
The first meal the kittens had was freshly-minced whole chicken with bone-in. The recipe was the same as the adult recipe, except that the chunks of chicken were cut into smaller, kitten-sized pieces. I also made sure that each chunk wasn’t joined to any other chunk. Last year, a kitten nearly choked when she swalloed a chunk which was joined to another by a tendon – she couldn’t chew on the second chunk and it stuck in her throat until I managed to hoick it out with a finger.
I tried them on lamb as well, but they didn’t like the mince as much as just chunks. And Poly, the black girl kitten prefers lamb to the chicken. When I feed lamb chunks I am careful to add some calcium supplement (Stress) to it because the lamb chunks don’t have minced bone to provide calcium. This is very important. When you look for suppliers of pet mince, make sure that it’s been minced with the bone-in.
Last year, I got my wild rabbit whole from my sister-in-law and her husband who have a smallholding which is overrun by rabbits.
This year, I discovered that Woldsway Rabbit have started offering wild rabbit in their pet food range. They already do a range with farmed rabbit, but my cats prefer wild rabbit. It’s got a richer look to it too. I’m usually cautious about using commercially-made raw pet food, but David Blythe of Woldsway assures me that he’s had to implement EU standards of food preparation that are usually used in human-food preparation.
The rabbit comes frozen in packs of 0.5kg. It’s a little on the large size to thaw out completely, so what I do is let it defrost slightly so I can break the pack up into smaller meal-sized portions which I then defrost totally.
One caveat is that you should always vary your cat’s diet, so that it does not consist exclusively of one type of meat.
And if you do feed a frozen-type raw meat diet, you must supplement with taurine.
Taurine is an amino acid which helps cats digest fats. Unlike other species of animals, cats cannot use another amino acid for this function. Taurine is essential in healthy heart-functioning for cats.
A Winn Feline Foundation Report on diet and cats showed that feeding only ground rabbit led to a Taurine deficiency. This was possibly due to the fact that when meat is frozen, it loses taurine and Vitamin E.
So always supplement raw diets with taurine. You can buy powdered taurine in capsules. Solgar is one such brand. Michelle Bernard of blakkatz.com recommends adding at least 2000mg of taurine for every 2.5 pounds of meat.