Archive for the ‘Raw feeding’ Category

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Meet the Breeder – Molly Barr of Mythicbells Persians

8 April, 2011

A little peek at Mythicbells Persians

This is the first in a series of interviews with cat breeders. I met Molly through my blog. It turned out that she also fed her cats raw. I was thrilled and impressed by her dedication because she’s got more cats and has multiple litters than I do so it must have been hard work.

Molly breeds Persians that have a more traditional look – they have a ‘bit more’ nose. You can catch up with Molly and her cats on her own Mythicbells Persians website and blog.

http://www.mythicbells.com/index.htm

http://mythicbells.wordpress.com/

Question: Why did you become a breeder?

Molly:  I’d always had the intention to breed cats. About 7 years ago, several things came together in my life more or less at the same time:

I’d been retired for quite a few years and realized one day that if I wanted to breed cats, I now had the time to do it.

I also had 3 elderly Persians, all with health issues and this factored in heavily.

First, I knew “my” breed — it had to be Persians.

Second, my beloved cats were so important to me that I was very fearful of how I was going to handle losing them.

(One cat had just had surgery for intestinal lymphoma, one had just been diagnosed with heart disease, and I’d been fighting inflammatory bowel disease in the third cat for years. I wanted the distraction of a younger generation of kitties coming into my life. Breeding would allow me to do that.)

The third reason I wanted to try breeding was feline nutrition. I’d raised my 3 older Persians on the usual — dry kibble.

When it finally became obvious to me that the vet wasn’t going to figure out a way to help my cat with the IBD, nor were any of the medications working, nor any of the prescription diets, I took the plunge into (GULP) raw feeding.

Over the next few months I began to feel so strongly about it, I felt that I wanted my next cats to be raised on a species-appropriate diet.

I felt that kittens born to such cats and started out with good nutrition would also be healthier overall.

Question: How did you get started?

Molly: The general plan was to get one kitten with breeding rights and have a litter every year.

(Looking back, that was a terribly naive plan, but there you have it.)

However before I made my move I researched for several months, so was a bit more tuned in when I actually did approach a breeder for a kitten. And that was just the tip of the iceberg of the many things I was to learn in the next few years.

I wanted to do it right, so registered a cattery name with CFA and began my search for registered kittens from a reputable source.

I purchased 2 female kittens with breeding rights, and arranged for stud service with the breeder.



Simba Khan, the majestic studcat

Question: What was your happiest moment?

Molly: I don’t recall a happiest moment, but the kittens a so incredibly precious, I enjoy every second they are with me.

Question: What was your saddest moment?

Molly: My saddest moment was the loss of a kitten in an accident here at home. She was six weeks old and had a family waiting for her.

No matter how careful you are, most breeders are eventually going to experience this, and it’s very difficult.

Question: Do you have any tips for anyone thinking of breeding cats?

Molly

1. Have a mentor if you can find one. Someone experienced you can call.

2. Do your research…. and I would like to tell you to “do it right,” but I know many of you won’t listen.

By “do it right”, I mean breed only from registered cats.

I KNOW that your undocumented [i.e. not officially registered with a cat registry for breeding] boy (or girl) is the most precious cat in the world and you’re probably thinking: what a pity that his or her genes won’t go on.

Well, I don’t know how many times I’ve had this conversation with someone wanting a kitten to breed. Though I can understand people who want to have some pretty kittens to play with and, yes, I know many do it without undue consequences or heartaches, but many do not.

3. You will also want to consider these questions:

  • Who are you giving (or selling) these cats to?
  • Do you know the health consequences to your queen and stud?
  • When your stud starts spraying, then what?

… the list goes on!

4. Do not breed unless you can find quality homes for your kittens and do not breed unless you can be a source of support and information to the families who adopt your kittens.

5. Many breeders will tell you to not breed unless you show your cats. I don’t show my cats and I do breed. I’m not listening either. You’ve got to follow your heart.

6. Never stop learning. Your kittens depend on you.

7. The business end of breeding cats is tough. I’m in the United States, so I know it may be different in other countries, but you will need a good website.

Do not trust your kittens to ads in the paper. You should have a contract and be able to guarantee your kitten buyers various things as far as the health and pedigree of your kittens.

Sirocco, one of the queens at Mythicbells Persians

Question: What advice do you have on how to sell kittens?

Molly: If you are breeding unpedigree kittens and plan to sell them cheaply or give them away, I want you to think of how you are going to feel when a perfect stranger arrives on your doorstep, hands you a couple hundred bucks and walks off with a kitten you’ve raised and treasured. If you give the kittens away, same thing.

I’ll never forget the adoption of my first litter. I vetted the people carefully and felt that they were good homes, but when they drove off with those kittens, I felt that nothing short of full FBI and CIA profiles on them as well as their extended family would suit.

1. I now have an extensive questionnaire that must be filled out in detail and I pour over them weighing the pros and cons of each family.
2. Also, I charge a good price for my kittens to weed out that young kid who is going to buy his girl friend a cat, or the impulse buyer.

3. I like my kittens spoken for early so that by the time the family arrives to pick up the kitten, I know them pretty well. There are no guarantees, but you have to try.

Question: What cat breeding books would you recommend?

Molly: There are many fine books on breeding cats. I wouldn’t choose any one over another, I would have them all.

Your greatest resource for information, however, is the internet. Make sure you find the cat breeder forums and particularly a few of the ongoing Yahoo lists regarding feline health. Breeders from all of the world participate in these. You will find over time that you will know more about some the latest developments in feline reproduction than your vet.

One book I strongly recommend to anyone who has a cat and wants it to live a long and healthy life is: “Your Cat” by Elizabeth M. Hodgkins, DVM.

All photos copyright Molly Barr of Mythicbells Persians

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Great Cat Breeder’s Blog – Mythicbells Persian Cats and Kittens

13 February, 2010

I’m so please to be able to tell you about a great cat breeder’s blog:  Mythicbells Persian Cats and Kittens, written by Molly Barr.

Molly breeds (as you’ve guessed!) Persians, and also feeds raw.   She’s not just a cat breeder, she’s also an artist.

So do check out her site for some great information about raw feeding, cat health, and photos of breathtakingly beautiful Persians!

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Raw feeding recipe using Woldsway Rabbit

9 July, 2008

Raw Rabbit Recipe

INGREDIENTS

1 x 0.5kg pack of boneless wild rabbit chunks

1 x 0.5kg pack of mixed rabbit offal (heart, liver, kidney, lungs)

1 x 0.5kg pack of minced wild rabbit (bone-in – VERY IMPORTANT for the calcium content)

2 x raw egg yolks (preferably organic or free-range)

2000mg taurine (very important if using frozen meat, or will be freezing the meat)

400IU Vitamin E

100mg Vitamin B

2000mg salmon oil

1 tsp kelp

1 tsp psyllium husk

Preparation

Cut rabbit chunks into smaller chunks if feeding kittens.  Puree offal in meat grinder.  Mix with mince.  Place in large bowl.  Add approx. 200-300ml of water.  Add egg yolks (not the egg whites).  Open supplement capsules and sprinkle over mix.  Mix with spoon or if feeling bloodthirsy, hands.  Spoon mix into small freezer bags.  Approx. 3 dessertspoons per bag will feed 5 kittens (at 7 weeks’ old) per meal.  Will make approx. 10 bags x 3 spoons per bag.  This is approx. 3 days’ worth of food.

Rabbit from http://www.woldsway.co.uk/acatalog/Pet_Meat.html

Supplements from various sources (mostly dry, powder version for ease of mixing)

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Kittens 2008 – their first meal

25 June, 2008

Here is a photo of the first meal I gave the kittens.  As mentioned in my previous post, even though the kittens were just 4 weeks’ old, Mum Cat kept bringing them chicks to eat.  Of course they were too small to even attempt to eat them, but I felt they might be old enough to attempt solids.

I wean kittens onto raw meat.  In this photo, they are tucking into wild rabbit mince gound with the bone, mixed with pureed offal (lungs, heart and liver) and little kitten-mouth-sized chunks of rabbit.  I got it all from Woldsway Rabbit who this year have started doing offal packs – many thanks!  Into this mix I add egg yolks, taurine, Vitamin E, Vitamin B-complex, kelp and psyllium husk.

It is a labour of love – it is more time-consuming to have to put together a home-prepared diet rather than just open a bag of cat biscuits and pour into a bowl.  From reading other breeders’ experiences, I do believe that kittens take more readily to raw food.  Certainly, as you can see from the photo they seem to recognise what food is. 

Not all the kittens ate the raw meat in that first encounter.  In the photo are Mum Cat who’s setting them an example – she frequently calls them to their food – the two boy kittens and one of the creams.  I don’t try to force the kittens to wean if they’re not ready.  All of them are still suckling from Mum.  And the littlest cream kitten isn’t eating as much raw.  However, to date all the kittens are now eating some raw.

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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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Kittens – raw feeding – importance of fibre

22 July, 2007

This follows on from my post on the kitten with the sticky bum.

Turns out the pumpkin did the trick and Roly produced a beautiful one.  It was firm, solid and everything that sites on raw feeding claim raw-fed cat poo should be.

Unfortunately, he did it on the front door mat.  But hey, at least he didn’t wipe his bum clean on the carpet.

The thing is, I almost didn’t find it either because it was relatively smell-less.  A lack of smell is not something you normally associate cat poo with, but it’s true with raw fed cats/kittens.  It’s something that was mentioned in the Winn Feline Foundation Report on diet and cats too.

Fibre is something that raw feeders may or may not have to add to the raw food.  It helps to ease the passage of food along the bowels.  Some cats don’t need additional fibre.  Some do.  It all depends on the cat.

If you think about one of the natural food sources of a cat in the wild, it’s a mouse, which would have a stomach full of digested grain (or  bird, with its fibrous feathers).  That would be a source of fibre for the cat.  How to duplicate this source of fibre for our domesticated cats?

I used pumpkin in this instance with Roly.  Some experts advocate adding psyllium husk instead, but some (e.g. rawpaws) don’t.  It’s something you’ll want to investigate and try out for yourself.

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Mr. Sticky Bum

19 July, 2007

Good news: Roly (the male tabby kitten) has finally got the hang of using the litter tray for the Big Ones.

Bad news: Roly’s poo is still sticking to his bum and to get it off he drags his bum on the floor. This morning was a frenzy of cleaning as the floor was smeared. I had a look at his offering in the litter tray, and it was quite well-formed, so I’m not sure why it’s sticking to his bum.

Bad news: Roly’s not cleaning his bum properly, and mum hasn’t bothered either. So I had to do it. Yum – just what I needed before breakfast.

So I’m off to find some pureed pumpkin which is supposed to be very good at firming up the poo. I think maybe the raw food I’m giving the kittens needs some fibre in it.  In the meantime, Roly has a new nickname: Mr. Sticky Bum.