kittensMy first foray into fostering was admittedly spontaneous. There has been a wonderful cat rescue agency in my neighborhood for as long as I can remember. Nearly all my friends and neighbors’ cats were from this rescue and it is the kind of place that fosters a sense of community not often felt in urban areas. When my daughter and I heard that they needed to relocate and were in dire need of additional foster homes, we were excited about trying out fostering.

We stopped in as they were preparing to move, and ended up taking home two 7-month-old male kittens who were not well – they had upper respiratory infections, which can be common among kittens and cats who have been dropped off at shelters. We were given a bag of dry food and a bag of natural litter, and I offered to buy future supplies as a donation.  

Of course, we loved the little orange tabbies immediately. They were so curious and playful. Surprisingly, their illness did not dampen their appetites. They plowed through their supply of dry food quickly, although since I knew the importance of a high moisture diet, I planned on incorporating canned food as soon as I could get to the store to buy some.

Their healthy appetites were good news, but the impact on their litter box was fast and – horrible! Although we’ve had cats for years, these two little ones made our whole house smell, despite the fact they were in a room with a shut door (to protect them from our other animals and prevent the spread of their infection).

When I was sharing my experiences with Susan Moss, the owner of All The Best Pet Care, she encouraged me to try raw food.

Now, I had heard repeatedly about the transformative effects of a raw, biologically appropriate diet for dogs and cats. All of the arguments for this made sense to me – I firmly believe that a healthy diet is paramount for all of us. What was holding me back? It was two things – my budget and the yuck factor.

First, the budget.

I have two dogs, a large cat, a daughter in college and another daughter heading there soon. I need to make sure that I’m making the right choices with my money. And, one thing was certain, these kittens eat A LOT  – nearly double what my adult cat eats. At their age and activity level, they’re the feline equivalent of male high-school athletes. Have you ever seen THEM eat?

Calculating actual feeding costs differences isn’t easy – there isn’t a simple “apples to apples” way to determine this, but here’s what I came up with:

Kibble

Kibble is definitely the least expensive food.  I could feed them both a high-end kibble for about $2.50 a day. However, my beloved cat died earlier this year of chronic kidney disease. I will never know exactly how much harm the kibble I fed her did, or how much the resulting chronic dehydration shortened her life, but I am certainly now committed to providing a high moisture diet to the cats in my world. Kibble is out.

Canned food

I know canned food is less processed than kibble, and will provide the moisture the kittens need for their urinary and renal health. There are many highly nutritious, highly palatable options. I could feed them both canned food for about $6 a day.

Frozen raw food

Here’s the gold standard – it’s the option that’s closest to what Mother Nature intended for the kittens to eat. It’s completely balanced and has the least amount of processing of any option.  I can feed them both Primal raw frozen chicken and salmon for $4.50 a day – saving about 30% over the cost of canned food.

Now onto the yuck factor…

I have been a vegetarian all my adult life and have had no meat in our house, other than the “meat in disguise” in the kibble I bought. As a vegetarian, it’s easier to pour out neat little balls of dry food into a dish. No question there, but again, I have eliminated that option in honor of my dearly departed cat. Canned food isn’t all that difficult to feed, but it is somewhat smelly and I need to wash out the cans before recycling. In the past, I have tried other raw foods, but some were so bloody that it was hard to take. Primal frozen raw wins this argument as well. The raw food has very little odor, and I just put the neat nuggets in the kittens’ dish. I have a system for thawing them in my refrigerator – I reuse the plastic tubs that take out food comes in to store the food in the refrigerator as it thaws.

Susan knows best

Susan Moss was right – Primal frozen raw cat food is the best option for my foster kittens. It delivers the superior nutrition they need to thrive, it’s a relatively affordable option and it’s convenient for me. The kittens love it so much that they pounce on me to try to get it a fraction of a second sooner that waiting for it to get in their dishes. Every bite is happily and immediately gobbled up.

But, here’s the kicker…the raw diet reduces the kittens’ waste and odor so dramatically that it’s almost hard to believe! After switching to raw, their once almost unbearably smelly litter box became nearly odorless overnight. Their poop doesn’t stink. Their urine doesn’t stink. I need to remind myself to scoop the litter box because it’s so odorless. I also notice that they now drink very little water because they’re getting the moisture they need from their food.

The results

I have been bringing the kittens to adoption events every weekend. The people at the rescue agency are amazed at their transformation. The sickly kittens we took home now have soft, silky coats, clear eyes, and are the picture of health. Whatever the future holds for these sweet kittens, I can feel good about the great start they got from eating Primal Frozen raw.