Archive for August, 2007

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Raw feeding – UK sources for meat and supplements

28 August, 2007

Many raw-feeding web-sites are of US origin, with suppliers based in the US.  Here is a list of UK suppliers and stockists of raw pet meat and supplements:

MEAT GRINDER

There are many meat grinders on the market, but not all of them are equal! And don’t even consider a hand-driven meat grinder unless you are an arm wrestler! There is only one meat grinder I use – it’s the one that’s also recommended by many raw-feeding forums. About £85 (excluding delivery). There are cheaper brands on the market, but they can’t grind bone. This workhorse is made from aluminium and will last.

Electric Meat Grinder from Northern Tools (Item No.: 168620E)

http://www.northerntooluk.com/products.asp?partno=168620

MEAT

Rabbit meat

I’m currently using the pet mince made from wild rabbit from Woldsway Rabbit. It’s ground with the bone-in for that important calcium content. It’s a richer red than the farmed rabbit mince. However, the quality of all Woldsway rabbit is always good. But go for the wild rabbit mince – your cat will thank you. I buy the mince and the farmed rabbit chunks, thaw slightly then mix with supplements and offal, and refreeze.

Woldsway Rabbit – http://www.woldsway.co.uk/

0800 298 5000. The meat is delivered frozen with ice packs.

General pet meat

Graig Farm Organics. http://www.graigfarm.co.uk/catalog/cat_11.htm

This is an award-winning organic-meat company. The pet mince is mainly from offcuts and offal and is of human quality. The mince is a dark paste, you cut a corner off the packet and squeeze it out. The meat is delivered frozen. They also sell chicken heart and liver.

Yeoman’s Meat Company: 01773712226. I’ve never used this company as they’re based in Nottingham and don’t deliver this far South. Some breeders have used them and like the quality. They do ox cheek, rabbit and general pet mince.  [please see one of the comments left below – Yeoman’s has been taken over by http://www.back-2-nature.co.uk – I haven’t tried their products yet as I haven’t see it being sold in the London area]

Prize Choice from Anglian Meat Products: http://www.prizechoice.co.uk/.

Set up by some vets who were interested in bones and raw food (BARF). Some of their meat has the bone ground in. I haven’t really tried their meat. You will find them in large pet stores.

Chicken

You can get this from any supermarket or poultry butcher. My favourite butcher is in a farmer’s market. I trust the quality of his free-range chickens, and he gives me free giblets because of the amount of chicken I buy.  Please try to use free-range chickens because they don’t stand all day in their shit and therefore the risk of contamination from salmonella is lower.

Lamb/Beef: look in your supermarket and buy casserole chunks. Don’t buy the mince because (1) you don’t know how long it’s been sitting on the shelves (2) mince gets contaminated more easily with bacteria because of there is more surface area with mince. Don’t feed pork to cats – it can contain a parasite that is fatal to cats.

Offal

Often, many raw-feeding recipes call for offal to be added, namely chicken heart and liver. Now, chicken liver you can get from any supermarket or poultry butcher. However, the only places I’ve been able to source fresh chicken heart are ethnic butchers or Chinese supermarkets. As for kidney, try a supermarket or a butcher. If you make friends with your local butcher he may give you giblets (i.e. a pack made up of a chicken neck, liver and heart) for free.

Whole prey

You may like to give your little tiger a taste of a small chick or mouse. Livefoods supplies frozen food for people who keep reptiles as pets. Postage can be quite expensive as they use a courier. I usually order in bulk – if I order 400 chicks, then even with postage, it works out to about 4p a chick.

SUPPLEMENTS

If you have friends or family visiting the US, beg them to buy vitamins and supplements and bring them back for you. Fact: Supplements are cheaper in the US: you’ll pay $ for what they charge £s for in this country. And you can’t get certain supplements, like glandulars (extracts from glands) in the UK due to EU regulations.

If you want supplements that are pre-mixed, then either Feline Future or Feline Instincts from the US are your only sources. These supplements often come with dried egg yolk in them. Note: not only will you have to pay shipping (i.e. postage costs), but also import Tax when it comes into the UK – anything over £18 is charged tax plus VAT. The costs can be prohibitive.

It might be more cost-effective to get each individual supplement itself. The supplements you will need to get are: Taurine, Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin E, kelp and dulse powder, fish oil capsules. I use Google to try to find the discounts. However, some of the sites I have used are:

Nutrisun for Taurine (Solgar) 500mg capsules, Vitamin A (Solgar) capsules, Vitamin B Complex (Solgar) capsules, Vitamin E (Solgar) 268mg capsules. Be careful when you buy Vitamin B – often manufacturers add herbs like alfalfa which they claim is synergistic in action. Maybe that’s so for humans, but not for cats.

Hellenia Health Foods has a Vet’s Choice section with good value kelp powder.

Another online source of supplements is Nutricentre.

Psyllium husk – this is usually ridiculously expensive, and sold in teeny packets, I’m not sure why. However, the best value so far is a brand called Maxicol. It comes in a large tin which contains psyllium husks together with pre-biotics and digestive bacteria.

I have not been able to find a source of reasonably-priced dulse powder in the UK.

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Cat Litter 2 – why not clay-based clumping litter for long-haired cats

23 August, 2007

The previous post on cat litter was meant to be a one-off, but now it seems my musings may become a series.

As the title of this post so succintly implies, clay-based clumping may not be the best choice for long-haired cats.  Or kittens, as the case happens to be.

If you recall, in Cat Litter 1, I was comparing World’s Best (a corn-based clumping) with Catsan clumping (clay-based).  Despite the fact that WB is more expensive, the kittens went for the Catsan.

I was on the verge of transferring my loyalties to Catsan.  [sigh of relief from bank manager]

Anyway, last night I changed my mind.  I got back to find the waft of cat poo in the house.  I couldn’t track down the smell until the little boy kitten started digging up a rug.  He only does that if the rug is dirty so I knew something was up.

I picked him up and ohno-ohyes, the smell of kitten bottom hit me.  Turns out that his poo must have been slightly squishy and stuck to his bottom and he’d tried to get it off by sitting in the cat litter.  Unfortunately it was the Catsan, and it was stuck to his bum and his furry pantaloons.

I tried cleaning it off with wet kitchen towels, but it only just set the mix so that it was like a plaster cast.

In the end, I had to plonk him into the kitchen sink and run the tap.  He struggled and lashed out and the resulting stigmata he inflicted on me has me running for a sainthood.  He did hold still for about 5 seconds when he felt his bum ease.  It was a nasty task, needing much fingernail work – best not read this if you’re eating.  Finally I gave up and dried him off and he scampered away without a thank-you.  Then I had to clean the kitchen floor which had suspicious paw stains on it, and the living room floor.

So … this is the last time I use a clay-based clumping litter for the kittens.  Seeing how hard it clumped and stuck to his fur, I can understand why the kitten was unable to clean his bum.  And thank heavens for that, because if the kitten had swallowed the litter, imagine what would happen to its insides.

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Cat Litter 1

13 August, 2007

Well, it’s happened again, Murphy’s Law of Multiples.  You bulk-buy something the cats like and then they decide something else suits them better.

 In this case, it’s cat litter.

World’s Best Cat LitterCatsan

I’d rWorld’s Best Cat LitterWorld’s Best Cat Litterun out of the staple, World’s Best Cat Litter and placed an order with my usually- reliable supplier on a Thursday only to be informed the the litter wouldn’t be delivered until the following Monday.

 I was tempted to wait until then, but I usually wash, bleach and totally change at least one of the trays weekly and hadn’t been able to do it for the past week.  What made it imperative to have a dump and total replacement of the litter was the Bengal – she walked into one of the trays and straight out again, holding her breath.

So it was off to the supermarket for a temporary stop gap and I bought 3 bags of Catsan clumping.

I don’t usually use clay-based litter having read loads of warnings about how it clings to cat’s fur and when they lick themselves, it clumps in their intestines and clogs up their insides.  So I decided to use it only in the adult trays.

Of course, what happens next is that the kittens stumble on the adult trays in their explorations of the house, and suddenly I hear this scrape-scrape and when I next clean the litter tray, it’s obvious from the size of the deposits that the kittens have used the tray filled with Catsan.

The following week, voila, 4 bags of World’s Best arrive but on Thursday, not Monday.  In the meanwhile even though they have 6 six litter trays in the living room to choose from, the kittens have chosen to hold their bladders and bowels until given access to the Catsan-filled tray.  (ooh, don’t you love the way cats love to keep you in a state of uncertainty?)

So, do I continue with WBCL?  Or should I switch to Catsan clumping?  With the latter I could afford to change ALL the trays every week, and still have change left over for a set meal at the local Japanese. 

 So far the odour control of Catsan has been passable, but then, the kittens are fed raw, so the poo doesn’t have that fermented commercial food pong that lingers.  Catsan is heavier than WBCL though, because it’s clay-based, not corn-based. 

It’s serious business, this thing about cat litter, amongst breeders.  We are conscious of the fact that we have to have whiter-than-white standards of hygiene when breeding, and all dream of the perfect cat litter that is 100% harmless and 100% cheap.

A study was done on the effectiveness of cat litter in providing a medium of growth for coronavirus (see my post on FIP) and apparently the cat litters that were most hostile to the coronavirus were Everclean (clay-based), a brand from Costco (clay-based) and Tesco (yep, clay-based).  And the problem with clay-based (or fuller’s earth litters) is that they’re quite heavy too and if you’re into saving the earth, you can’t just flush it down the loo like you can with World’s Best.  [Addendum 14/08/07:  aha – I’ve found the study – it’s on Dr Addie’s web-site.  I did google the site last night, but it wasn’t up-and-running.  Here is the link for the Cat Litter League table – you need to scroll down the page a bit.  Also please note:  Tesco’s Value litter scored high on the scale, but I’ve heard that it allegedly doesn’t control odour that well, and sticks to the tray etc.].

It’s a toss-up between what won’t hurt the cat’s insides and is easy to clean, and economical to use (especially in the lavish quantities that breeders have to use).

In the meantime, buy shares in World’s Best.

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Worming (again)

6 August, 2007

Just a short update:  I took the plunge and wormed the kittens.

 I ended up using Panacur because my vet was adamant that it had the gentlest effect on the digestive system of kittens.

I did have a discussion about using tablets, but he wasn’t convinced that they were easily digested.  I asked about wormers you could add to food, but with this method there is no guarantee that each kitten will get the dose they require.  (I’d been warned off a wormer starting with “M” because of rumours of a kitten allegedly suffering an intussusception after taking this wormer).

It did have to be done 3-days’ consecutively.  Because I used a 10% suspension, the dose was 0.7ml per kitten, once a day. 

It wasn’t as messy as the previous time.  There was a bit of foaming at the mouth, but on the whole most of it went down the kittens.

One tip that was given to me by an experienced breeder is to put a teat on the syringe so that you can reach further back in the mouth so the kitten will swallow the liquid more easily.

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Squirming Worming

1 August, 2007

It’s that time when I hum and ha about deworming kittens.

Some vets recommend a protocol of deworming kittens from as young as 2 weeks of age and to repeat every 2 weeks until 3 months’ old. One argument is that worms, such as roundworms can affect the digestion and well-being of kittens, causing failure to thrive.

Another argument is that prior to vaccinating a kitten, you want to get rid of parasites, otherwise the toxic overload from dying parasites can affect the kitten’s ability to cope with the vaccination.

Then of course there’s the possibility of a kitten passing on parasites to whoever handles it.

I really don’t like the idea of having to stuff chemicals down perfectly-healthy kittens. And of these three above reasons, the second is the only one that might convince me deworming is necessary.

I don’t think you can really prevent a cat from acquiring parasites, especially if they go outdoors. Worming an adult cat every 6 months probably only keeps the parasites under control.

And if the cat is raw-fed and has a healthy immune system, it should be able to cope with parasites.

Last year I used Panacur in its liquid form for the litter of 7 kittens.  The liquid formula had to be administered by mouth for 3 days running, in order to ensure that all the parasites were killed.  It is a mixture that has the texture and consistency of white paint.  Smells like it too.

Oh my, what fun.
For 3 days I ran round the house armed with a syringe full of Panacur, chasing kittens who seemed to sense that something nasty was up.  It was like something out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  And once I’d got hold of them, they squirmed like worms to escape and spat out the mixture. The carpet and floors resembled a Jackson Pollock painting executed in spatters of white.

There must be a better and easier way to do this.

Perhaps a better solution would be to get a faecal test done to see if there are any parasites. And then dose if necessary.  More later.