All cats are what are known as ‘obligate carnivores’, including your Maine Coon. Obligate carnivore means that cats can get all their necessary nutrition from the meat and flesh of smaller animals. Cats have always been great hunters. If you have an outdoor cat then you must have received a dead mouse or bird as a gift on your front door. These are the kinds of things cats would eat on a regular basis if they were left to their own devices in the wild. Cats do not need carbohydrates or vegetation as part of their diet. Unfortunately, things like dried cat food (kibble) is mainly made with these two unnecessary ingredients.
Many cats live indoors now and eat dry kibble or canned cat food regularly. While these are marketed as the best option for a cat, it might not be the best for yours. You are not the only one to have come to this realization. More and more cat owners are feeding their cats home-made raw cat food instead of store-bought food. Cat owners who have changed their cat’s diet from factory manufactured food to a mostly organic and raw diet will tell you that their cats health, energy, fur coat and even poop, improved dramatically.
Making raw cat food for your Maine Coon does take a bit of work, but in the end, it’s really worth it. Raw cat food is the only type of food that resembles what cats would be eating in the wild. With a mix of raw meat, organs, bones and a few added vitamins, a raw food diet for your cat can be the answer to all those annoying problems. By annoying problems we mean, too much shedding, stinky poops, dull hair, food allergies and other tummy problems they might be facing.
Before we look at how to make raw cat food for your Maine Coon, we have to debunk a myth about chicken bones. For as long as we can remember, we have been told that chicken bones are dangerous for cats. In part, this is true, but only in part. The chicken bones that are bad for cats are the ones which have been cooked, boiled, baked or grilled. There is a huge difference between cooked bones and raw bones.
Cooked bone is brittle and dry. It breaks off in splinters and pointy bits. Of course, that would be bad for your cat as it could pierce their esophagus or their guts. But what most people don’t know is that raw bone is completely different. Raw bones are soft, full of natural moisture and do not break apart in splinters.
That said, if you are going to make raw cat food, it must include bone. We will look at a couple options for bone substitutes, but the general consensus is that bone and its nutritious value is important. Just think about how a carnivore eats their prey, they aren’t deboning the meat, they are eating all the bits, the entire animal.
The main ingredients needed to make raw cat food are raw meat as well as raw organs, and raw bones. Added to that is a bit of egg yolk and some vitamin supplements which are very important for balancing out the nutritional value of the food.
In terms of tools for making the food, a good quality meat grinder is highly recommended especially if you will be feeding a raw diet long term. It’s best to get a meat grinder or blender that can handle bones as well. If this isn’t a viable option just yet, you can get the butchers at the supermarket to grind the meat, skin and organs together and just give you the bones separately. Then at home, you can use a strong blender like a Vitamix to grind the bones to mush.
You will need a few medium bowls and one large bowl for mixing everything together. It’s much easier and faster to make a large amount of food in one go and then separate into portions. All tools used to prepare the raw food must be cleaned and sanitized afterward, to prevent salmonella infections to the humans and the cats in the house.
Most homes don’t have meat grinders in their kitchens, but what they might have is a Vitamix. If you have neither you will need to get one or the other. Otherwise, you won’t be able to process the bones. If you want to start making raw cat food without bones, then you can use a bone substitute. We recommend that you find a way to use real bones since they are much better for your cat.
Below is an easy recipe to get started with your cat’s raw food diet. There are ratios to how much fat, protein, and actual meat should be in each batch of food so if you don’t want to make a batch this big, use a raw food calculator to figure out the different measurements.
As to what your Maine Coon will like, it really depends on them. Some might like the food chunky while others like it all mushy. If you are transitioning your cat from manufactured food to a raw food diet, you will need to do it slowly and maybe include some psyllium husk powder in the recipe for supplementing the carbohydrate fiber they are getting from the kibble.
A Vitamix or equally strong blender.
Two medium bowls as well as one large bowl, preferably stainless-steel or glass but certainly not plastic.
A measuring cup for water
A cutting board
A non-porous spoon or spatula
Small containers to be used for portioning, around 7 or 8. Or 10 Ziploc-baggies for the freezer.
A chopping-board and sharp knife if you want to include chunks of meat in the food.
6 pounds of chicken thighs, including skin and bones. The final mix will only use 80% of all the bone in these thighs and around 30% of the skin. The rest can be discarded. For example, if you have 12 thighs, keep the bone of 9 thighs and the skin of four of them. The amount of skin included will depend on your cat. If your cat is overweight, reduce the amount of skin. If your cat is at an ideal weight, then use 30% of the skins of the total amount of meat.
7 oz / half-a-pound of organic chicken livers.
14 oz. / almost a pound of chicken hearts.4 egg yolks, preferably from organic and pasture fed chicken eggs.
A teaspoon of lite salt. If you can’t find lite salt, use half the amount of regular salt.
A full teaspoon of Taurine powder.
⅛ teaspoon of Vitamin E powder.
1 teaspoon of Lysine powder. This supplement is optional but it helps with the eye gunk that most cats have due to cat herpes. Which by the way has nothing in common with human herpes.
4 Wild Salmon oil capsules. Another option could be Wild caught small fish oil. Don’t use cod liver oil as that isn’t good for cats.
2 Vitamin B complex capsules.
1 cup of filtered water.
3 – 5 teaspoons of Psyllium husk-powder for a transitioning raw food diet. Diminish the amount as they transition. This is a completely optional ingredient.
The first step is to grind all the animal products, meat, skin, organs, and bone.
How you get this done will depend on your available tools.
Get the butchers at the supermarket to grind up all the meat, organs, and skin together. They will probably not want to grind the bones so those you can take home and grind in your Vitamix.
Collect all the meat parts at the store and take it all to the butcher’s counter. Explain how much of the skin needs to be taken off and discarded and how much bone you will need to take home. This might take some explaining and better if you give them a little written note so they don’t forget.
The grinding might take around 30 minutes, so get the meat first as you arrive at the store and do the rest of your shopping while they grind. Then come back for the ground meat before you leave the shop.
Grind all the meat, skin, organs and bone together in your trusty meat grinder at home.
If you want to include chunks in the food, keep some meat intact to then cut into chunks. Add that to the big bowl with the rest of the ground up meat. Some cats can handle chunks while others don’t like it at all.
Put it all together in the biggest bowl.
If you have the meat ground but the bones still intact, grind them in your Vitamix with a little water and then add it to the ground meat.
If you used a meat grinder then it’s all ready to continue on with.
Prepare the egg yolks with the supplements.
Separate the yolks from the whites and put away the whites for a meringue or something later.
Add all the supplements into the yolks and mix together. The capsules need to be opened and the powder emptied. The empty capsules need to be discarded.
The Salmon oil can be added here or into the big bowl. The smell is very pungent and can stay on utensils. If using a meat grinder, the gel capsules can be added whole along with the meat and bones, helping with lubrication of the grind. If adding by hand, pierce the capsules and squeeze into the mix.
Add the psyllium husk if you are transitioning the cat into the new diet.
Whisk it all together with a bit of water.
Add the egg mixture to the big bowl of meat and mix well.
Separate the food into the containers. You can either use 7 or 8 Tupperware containers, or 10 small Ziploc baggies. You could even use an ice cube tray and once hardened, put in baggies for better-measured portions. Just make use to wash and sanitize the ice tray before using for human consumption.
If you have no practical way to grind the bones then you will need a bone substitution for your cat’s raw food. We suggest that real bone is always best but while you figure out a way to grind those bones, here are a few options.
Eggshell powder. This powder is made from clean and baked ground egg shells. They can be kept in an airtight container and used in the mix with the meat. For the above recipe, you would need about 4 teaspoons of eggshell powder.
MCHA (microcrystalline hydroxyapatite). This is a pure raw bone powder which comes as a supplement.
Raw bone meal. This comes as a powdered supplement.
Following the recipe above, there should be enough food to feed one cat for two weeks. Keep all the food in the freezer and defrost in the fridge as you run out. Depending on how you portion it, you could be defrosting every two or three days or every evening for the next day.
Cats like to eat their food at “mouse temperature,” and definitely not cold from the fridge. The best way to heat up raw cat food is to put it in a sealed baggie and let it sit in warm water for ten minutes. Putting it in the microwave for longer than 5 or 10 seconds will defeat the purpose of having made raw food to begin with so be careful with that. Some people add a couple spoons of warm boiled filtered water to the food to warm it up.
Most cats prefer to eat from flat plates rather than bowls. Avoid using plastic bowls as they can harbor bacteria inside scratches or could even give your Maine Coon a plastic allergy. Using metal, ceramic or glass plates is better. Try using a pyrex baking tray, its heavy enough for the cat to not push around and can be easily put back in the fridge with a cover when there are leftovers. That said if the cat is leaving food at meals, just serve them less next time.
Below is a video showing the process of how to make good quality raw food for your Maine Coon, or any cat for that matter. If you are new to making raw cat food and are a bit squeamish about touching raw chicken, don’t worry the woman in the video is too! This kind of diet is so good for your cat though, that you will get used to making it. It’s just how moms get used to gross baby spit up.