in which my cats are totally spoiled

When Cricket came into our lives as an obnoxious 28-ounce ball of fur and claws, NickĀ and I saw this as a good time to overhaul our cats’ diets. Our adult cats were overweight from free-feeding on dry kibble, and we had to figure out how to feed Cricket a kitten diet without the ladies stealing it from him. So we did a bunch of research (I recommend this book on cat nutrition quite highly) and decided to switch to an all-ages canned diet that we could feed in controlled portions at mealtimes. This has worked well for over a year for both Nukumi and Cricket – they eat Innova twice each day. Jackal doesn’t like any of the affordable canned cat diets, so she’s on measured portions of kibble (we’re still working on that one). All three cats are reasonably sized now, and we worked out a whole strategy for feeding the cats separately. Solving that problem was an exercise in logic and combinatorics.

At first, all I changed was food – but I also like to feed the kitties some treats each day, for doing tricks or being good or looking cute or whatever. Most of the cat treats at the pet store are terrible concoctions of grain and corn syrup and other garbage. You’re only supposed to give a few treats per day, but they can quickly make up a significant percentage of their daily intake. So I used up (or tossed out) all of the junk food in the cat room and looked for good healthy cat treats. I look for treats that are purely meat or fish – there is no reason an obligate carnivore needs treats made of cranberries, spinach, cheese, or other non-meats. It’s easier to find these 100% meat treats for dogs, but they are equally fine for cats as long as they also eat a balanced diet with appropriate taurine and other nutrient levels. I have a few staple treats I stock up on:

  • Pooch Passions Freeze Dried Chicken Liver Treats – Yup, freeze dried liver. These smell pretty strongly of… liver, I guess. I break these into smaller bits and sprinkle any crumbs on their food.
  • Vitakitty – This is dehydrated chicken breast (almost like jerky in texture) with added Vitamin E. These also come in a Happy Hips version with added Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
  • Pure Bites Chicken Breast – This chicken breast is freeze dried, and I break up the big chunks into smaller slivers. The cats go nuts over this!
  • WildSide Salmon Cat Treats – I use these more sparingly, since they are more expensive and cats don’t really need a bunch of fish in their diets. But Jackal would kill someone for these, so I keep them in there.
  • Hare Today Dehydrated Ground Rabbit – This stuff is ground whole rabbits (bones and organs and all), dehydrated into a solid jerky. The supplier sells a lot of frozen and fresh rabbit for people who make their own foods. I’m not into that (yet) but I like this dried stuff, and so do the kitties.

We store a mixture of these treats in a tin with a few food-safe pouches of silica gel to keep everything dry. I buy most of the treats in bulk and just break up more treats when things are getting low in the tin. We do still have one non-meat treat that I keep in there, and I haven’t decided when or if to drop it – these Milky Flake-ums are a household favorite, and they have a lot of vitamin content along with the cereal and crap. I’m not sure if we’ll keep buying those. Cricket may riot.

Nick’s mom also got us hooked on a particularly weird and creepy treat – dehydrated rabbit ears. Look at the picture in that link, if you have a strong stomach. They’re… bunny ears. Cricket is the top consumer of these, and he drags them around like prey and growls as he consumes them. We’ve also tried the dehydrated rabbit feet, but these were a little too creepy. They look a lot like cat feet, and stepping on one was frightening as fuck. Cricket also ate these, bones and all. Crunch crunch swallow!

Yes, I’ve turned into one of those crunchy granola holistic cat ladies. Shut up.

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