Hi all critter people!
This is my first post here, done at the urging of my husband. I will post his concerns below as he wrote them to me. I am interested in any feedback some of you who are familiar and experienced with a high quality pet food diet may have. I have been feeding my cats a diet inspired by Anitra Frazier's book, for 8 years, thanks to Max who in 2000, was sent home from the vet's office to die in a month from kidney failure. He lived for a year on Anitra's "I'll Do Anything For My Cats" diet; he improved and lived well for a year before he succumbed peacefully to kidney failure. My two cats, Freda and Elvis, are three years old and have been on the high-quality diet ever since they adopted us two years ago.
I would appreciate any comments on this!
Here are his concerns:
My wife and I, has two cats around 3 years old who, from the beginning, have been fed a home-made diet of either raw ground chicken, turkey or beef, plus barley, bone meal and peas. This is ground up and frozen, and later thawed by the container for them to eat. They get fed ample portions 2 times a day, occasionally a third. The cats look fine, sleek and healthy and have unusually friendly and outgoing dispositions; the comment we hear most is "these cats are more like dogs!"
Their behavior, however, was a problem for me. They appeared to be constantly ravenous, almost like dogs again!
At every dinner the cats attempted to come up on the table or onto our laps and go for the food. They did this between 4 and 14 times (I started counting). Most frequent is around 4-5 times a meal. We had a plant sprayer at the dinner table and sprayed them as well as making a 'tch-tch' sound, the combination of which got them to back off. It deflected them but did not deter them. They were usually back in a few minutes. This went on every day at every meal.
In addition the cats went after food left on the stove, the counter or in the sink. Some of this is not normally considered cat food, such as cheese, butter and bread. We couldn't leave a salad topped with some shaved feta cheese without the cats going after it. We couldn't leave pita bread or bagels on the counter or they would tear open the wrapping at each some of it. They would tear open a pretzel bag too. They'd go after a cup of ice cream. We had to hide food in kitchen cupboards normally reserved for dishes.
One of the cats, with claws, has successfully opened some of these cupboards and gone after the bread or pretzels we'd hidden inside and my wife installed child-proof latches to stop this. There's a plant sprayer in the kitchen that we used to keep them at bay while making dinner when the ingredients are out on the counter. If we're absent for a few seconds they would go for the food. They also were frequently walking on the stove and kitchen counters, leaving hair and footprints behind. I don't think this is terribly sanitary. On several occasions, one cat went after dishes that were rinsed and soaking in the sink and it took 3 or 4 seconds of turning on the tap water full force on his head to get him to run.
Sitting down for a late evening snack the cats would head for and swipe a small piece of cheese unless I protected it with my hand. They would grab for it even if I was sitting within inches of it. Once I actually fought one of the cats who had grabbed the cheese and literally pulled it out of his mouth, I was so angry.
Another time a piece of pretzel broke off and skittered away on the floor. Both cats were sitting a few feet away intensely watching and as the piece hit the floor one of them made a dash for it and I just managed to grab the piece first. A third sprayer sits in out living room to deal with this situation.
I don't think this is normal behavior for cats. I have had cats in prior living situations, feeding them conventional wet and dry cat food. No cat ever went after my food, took any food off the kitchen counter or tried to grab a piece that had fallen. They never went up on kitchen counters or the stove. I never had a plant sprayer at the ready. I never even gave it a thought.
I've seen cats in other people's houses fed commercial food never bother "people food." I saw one cat ignore an entire holiday buffet of cold cuts spread out on a table with no one to guard it. There was no need. A party we had with snacks for that same group of people required me to stand guard like an old-time western marshall, sprayer in hand, to fend off our cats. It got to be a joke among the people there. Eventually I persuaded my wife to lock the cats in a basement room.
The cats have become a serious nuisance to me because of this and I tired of spending some time each day trying to fend them off, and clean off the stove and counters. This was not pleasant and made me feel tense and irritable with them. They're really nice animals but their behavior around food is awful. I felt under siege by them. I am not alone. Several friends have been shocked by their behavior and have mentioned it. One friend, whose kids we've had feed the cats when we're away on vacation, has told us the kids don't really want to feed them any more - the cats just overwhelm them when they come in the house, and now the parents tend to do the feeding instead.
I don't know if the cats' diet is missing some essential nutrient, mineral or vitamin or if it's perfectly healthy for them but lacks variety or flavor. We added torn up pita bread to their meal in the hope this would satisfy them. They ate it but it has made no difference. We were not skimpy with their portions and if we gave them lots more in one sitting they would wolf it down and sometimes throw it up.
My wife refuses to consider commercial cat food, because of firsthand experiences with feline health problems and death brought on by and/or exacerbated by poor quality commercial pet food. The two cats I had previously on very commercial pet food did not seem to suffer from anything but I'm no expert on this and I have no memory nor knowledge of how the cats ultimately perished.
Most of all, I just found the situation to be taxing. I'd rather enjoy cats rather than spend my time fending them off.
Does anyone have any ideas, insights or suggestions about this situation?