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Raw Food Recipes for Cats?

BashaC

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I care for a colony of 5 cats. I've been feeding them, for the most part, raw food for the past 7 out of 11 years. They were fed canned food in the beginning as well as in times I haven't been able to make raw food.

I've done quite a bit of research for recipes over the years and find myself overwhelmed with conflicting information. I've used a couple of different recipes but don't feel 100% confident they're getting everything they need. They love the raw food and prefer it over canned.

Except for one cat, who was just diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (I posted in the Medical Dis-Ease Challenges folder about this earlier today), everyone seems to be doing well - good attitudes, soft fur, etc. I don't see their poo habits since they're outdoors.

Does anyone have any specific homemade raw food recipes for cats that I can feel confident about the nutritional value meeting their needs? I use organic chicken for both recipes. Due to the expense, I'm not able to offer them much variation on proteins or buy pre-mixes. They'll occasionally get pre-ground turkey thigh mixed in.

I buy whole chickens and grind them up, bones and all, then add in the other supplements. I make large batches every two weeks and freeze them in pint jars. I add some supplements that might loose efficacy from freezing into the thawed food before serving them.
 

Dr. Jeff

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Yes, conflicting and overwhelming info. with all the raw recipes that are out there.
I've used a couple of different recipes but don't feel 100% confident they're getting everything they need. They love the raw food and prefer it over canned.
Yes! Most fresh and raw recipes are incomplete or imbalanced in some way. Either continue offering variety with supplements designed to help balance the diet (like Feline Instincts) or use a commercial prey model raw which contains meat, organs, glands and (raw) bones. Like Small Batch (or whatever is available locally).

The most cost effective might be to see what parts the local farmers are discarding and see if they will sell you that. Some will even grind up and mix together all of the parts.

Variety is still key.

Regarding cat-specific recipes, @Dr. Jean Hofve may have other pointers for you.

BTW-If you are near San Francisco, maybe see if Kasie at SF Raw can help out with affordable sources.
 

BashaC

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Thank you, @Dr. Jeff. – great idea to check with farmer's markets to see if they're discarding anything I could use. I'll start asking around. I'll also contact Kasie at SF Raw to see if she has any local sources to recommend.

I've looked at Feline Instincts and unfortunately with so many cats, it's cost prohibitive right now.

It's the supplements and meat to organ ratio I'm getting tripped up on – what supplements, in what ratio, combination and form. I make a batch of food every two weeks. Each batch is about 30 lbs of chicken.

This is the recipe I've been using lately, minus the psyllium husks: StackPath. This one has a recipe calculator, which is very convenient. You just put how many pounds of chicken (or other meat) you're using and it calculates what you need of everything else.

The other recipe I've used I got from a woman who runs a local holistic cat rescue. It calls for whole ground up chicken (with bones), added bone meal, hearts, liver, gizzards (about 1 per chicken used), nutritional yeast, and Solid Gold Sea Meal. She doesn't use exact amounts of supplements and organs per pound of bone-in meat. I also don't know how to calculate what vitamins and minerals they're getting with this one.

With one of the cats recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, I'm also concerned about the iodine levels in the recipe. The first one calls for iodized salt and the second for the Sea Meal, which includes seaweed. I know they need iodine, it's just what's the right balance. All five colony cats get the same food (they have different bowls but the one diagnosed with hyperthyroidism likes to sample what everyone else is eating once he's had some from his bowl).

@Dr. Jean Hofve (or any other forum members) – any specific recipes and/or specific supplements and how to use them in combination and ratio with each other, is greatly appreciated.

Many thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge!
 
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BashaC

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I just noticed I can reply to specific messages. See my post below.
 

BashaC

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Somehow I missed this, sorry! Here is my recipe. As long as you use variety in choosing meats and veggies, and don't skip supplements, it should work well over time. Homemade Diets for Cats and Dogs | Little Big Cat
@Dr. Jean Hofve Thank you!! This is great information and the kind of recipe I've been looking for!

Some follow-up questions about the recipe:

1. For the Complete Vitamin-Mineral Supplement made specifically for homemade diets, you mention Balance IT® Feline as one of the options. In looking at it, I'm unsure about the dose. You say, "the dose based on meat+liver weight so you don’t over- or under-supplement". Could you clarify what that means per the 1lb recipe? I didn't see specific dosing instructions on the Balance IT® Feline product page (Balance IT® Feline.

2. You mentioned a few brands if one was going to use a human multivitamin. Is there a specific one you use/recommend? What would the dose be per the 1lb recipe?

3. What is the benefit of the Kyolic Aged Liquid Garlic in the recipe?

4. This is the first recipe I've looked at that didn't include organs, other than liver. Is it okay to add chicken hearts to the recipe and, if so, is there an optimum amount? One of the cats was recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and @Dr. Jeff recommended chicken hearts as part of his diet. With 5 cats, it's not always possible to give one cat something without the others also getting it too :) If it's better to not put hearts in their ground food, is there an amount you would recommend giving them as a supplement to their food?

I make a batch of raw food about every 2 weeks, approximately 30 lbs of whole chicken. I currently mix all supplements in after grinding the bone-in chicken and freeze the food in pint jars. Before serving the food, we add a little extra taurine (I read the taurine that was added to the food can lose some efficacy in freezing so we put a little in the thawed food to make up for that), probiotics, Nordic Natural fish oil (I read that it looses potency in freezing it), and any other supplements needed for specific cats.

Any thoughts on the effects freezing has on taurine and oils?

It looks like you say it's okay to add digestive enzymes to the batch of food, even if it's going to be frozen. If the digestive enzymes are in a formula with probiotics, would it still be okay to mix in and then freeze or will they loose their potency? For example, the Only Natural Pet Complete Gut Health Complex you recommend (Only Natural Pet Complete Gut Health Complex Probiotics & Digestive Enzymes for Dogs & Cats).

I see you have a book about What Cats Should Eat. I looked for it but have only been able to find eBook version. Is there a print version available?

Many thanks for your recipe and guidance!
 

Dr. Jean Hofve

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Gosh, well I'll do my best!

1. Here's what BalanceIt says: "The dose of supplement is based on what is fed not solely body weight. Please use the FREE Autobalancer EZ tools under the Homemade Food tab to create custom recipes instantly. Balance IT® Feline is measured in 5 cc red scoops and 0.5 cc white scoops."

Since this involves math, I'm afraid you're on your own! My writing partner, the great, late Dr. Celeste Yarnall, did the original formulation. She was a PhD nutritionist, so I try not to second-guess her formulations too much.

2. I'm not tied to any particular one vitamin, especially since they often change formulas over time. I do like the whole-food brands I mentioned, but there are scads of possibilities! About 1/6 to 1/4 human dose per cat per day, so it depends entirely on how much your cat eats in a day. They will eat less of raw food, though, than any other form.

3. The Kyolic is a Celeste thing. It has a nice range of antioxidants. I should probably move it to "optional," since it isn't as crucial.

4. Heart is a muscle, so it's the same as any other muscle meat, though higher in taurine. Liver is important for fat soluble and B vitamins. Other organs are fine, but most have little or no taurine and may be missing other nutrients; we chose not to "dilute" the power of meat in the formula. I often sprinkle a multi-organ supplement for Perry... if he seems like he's in the mood to eat it!

Freezing does not hurt taurine or Omega-3 oils. All salmon commercially raised or caught on the West Coast has been frozen at least once (since it is all processed in China); wild salmon live in near-freezing deep waters! It's also fine to freeze probiotics (most are freeze dried anyway).

What Cats Should Eat is only in digital form on Amazon. That way it's easy to update, and new info comes out all the time. Can't do that so well with print books!
 

BashaC

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Gosh, well I'll do my best!

1. Here's what BalanceIt says: "The dose of supplement is based on what is fed not solely body weight. Please use the FREE Autobalancer EZ tools under the Homemade Food tab to create custom recipes instantly. Balance IT® Feline is measured in 5 cc red scoops and 0.5 cc white scoops."

Since this involves math, I'm afraid you're on your own! My writing partner, the great, late Dr. Celeste Yarnall, did the original formulation. She was a PhD nutritionist, so I try not to second-guess her formulations too much.

2. I'm not tied to any particular one vitamin, especially since they often change formulas over time. I do like the whole-food brands I mentioned, but there are scads of possibilities! About 1/6 to 1/4 human dose per cat per day, so it depends entirely on how much your cat eats in a day. They will eat less of raw food, though, than any other form.

3. The Kyolic is a Celeste thing. It has a nice range of antioxidants. I should probably move it to "optional," since it isn't as crucial.

4. Heart is a muscle, so it's the same as any other muscle meat, though higher in taurine. Liver is important for fat soluble and B vitamins. Other organs are fine, but most have little or no taurine and may be missing other nutrients; we chose not to "dilute" the power of meat in the formula. I often sprinkle a multi-organ supplement for Perry... if he seems like he's in the mood to eat it!

Freezing does not hurt taurine or Omega-3 oils. All salmon commercially raised or caught on the West Coast has been frozen at least once (since it is all processed in China); wild salmon live in near-freezing deep waters! It's also fine to freeze probiotics (most are freeze dried anyway).

What Cats Should Eat is only in digital form on Amazon. That way it's easy to update, and new info comes out all the time. Can't do that so well with print books!

Thanks so much for clarifying!

I don't understand #1 as it applies to your recipe, but maybe there are dosing instructions on the package of Balance IT® Feline that aren't shown in the image of the product on their website.

I wonder if Dr. Bob Goldstein’s Daily Raw Nutritional Supplement is discontinued – it's out of stock on every reputable website I could find it on.

So is feeding the cats raw hearts as a treat, or once a day, or a few times a week an issue? helpful? neutral?
Good to know freezing doesn't hurt the supplements. I guess that makes sense with prepackaged raw food – so much of it comes frozen.

It's great to have some of the contradictory messages I've read online about homemade raw food cleared up!

Having your book only available as an ebook makes sense to be able to update it easily.
 

BashaC

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4. Heart is a muscle, so it's the same as any other muscle meat, though higher in taurine. Liver is important for fat soluble and B vitamins. Other organs are fine, but most have little or no taurine and may be missing other nutrients; we chose not to "dilute" the power of meat in the formula. I often sprinkle a multi-organ supplement for Perry... if he seems like he's in the mood to eat it!
Hi @Dr. Jean Hofve Just following up about feeding raw hearts and if it's an issue to give them as a treat, once a day, or a few times a week, or what would be the ideal amount to feed to support Charlie's hyperthyroidism diagnosis and the other cats as treats? Below is my original question. Thank you!

4. This is the first recipe I've looked at that didn't include organs, other than liver. Is it okay to add chicken hearts to the recipe and, if so, is there an optimum amount? One of the cats was recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and @Dr. Jeff recommended chicken hearts as part of his diet. With 5 cats, it's not always possible to give one cat something without the others also getting it too :) If it's better to not put hearts in their ground food, is there an amount you would recommend giving them as a supplement to their food?
 

Dr. Jean Hofve

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Since heart is a muscle, it can be substituted/interchanged with meat any time you want. It's fine as treats too, my Perry loves his freeze-dried beef heart treats! You can't overdose taurine, so go for it!
 

BashaC

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Since heart is a muscle, it can be substituted/interchanged with meat any time you want. It's fine as treats too, my Perry loves his freeze-dried beef heart treats! You can't overdose taurine, so go for it!
Great, thank you!
 

BashaC

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Here is my recipe. As long as you use variety in choosing meats and veggies, and don't skip supplements, it should work well over time. Homemade Diets for Cats and Dogs | Little Big Cat
@Dr. Jean Hofve I've been looking at the multivitamin options you list in your recipe and have some follow-up observations and questions.

Dr. Bob Goldstein’s Raw Complete Powder contains kelp 3rd ingredient). One of the cats has a hyperthyroid diagnosis and, in another thread in this folder, I was recommended to not feed him kelp.
It's not possible to create a recipe on the Balance IT recipe program with raw food. According to their website, they are firmly against feeding raw food and don't offer it as an option to create a recipe. I created one with cooked chicken, but even then, there isn't an option for cooked chicken with bones. I made a small batch of food using the dosage for the cooked chicken sans bones, but am unsure if the dosing is accurate.
Also, the cost of this dosing for so many cats is not sustainable for me.

Your recipe says,
"Complete Vitamin-Mineral Supplement made specifically for homemade diets, such as Dr. Bob Goldstein’s Raw Complete Powder, Balance IT Carnivore Blend for Dogs & Cats or Balance IT Feline OR 1/4 adult dose of a good quality human multiple vitamin-mineral supplement (NOT One-a-Day or Centrum). Whole food-based products from companies such as Rainbow Light, Mega-Food or New Chapter are best. the dose based on meat+liver weight so you don’t over- or under-supplement."

If I were to use a human multivitamin, I'm unclear about the dosing. It sounds like 1/4 of the adult dose is recommended and then dosing based on meat+liver weight recommended right after that. Could you clarify this? Is it 1/4 of a human dose per day? If I were to base it on meat+liver weight, how would I calculate the weight to vitamin dose per day? Here is a human multivitamin I'm looking at possibly using: One Daily Multivitamin

For another cat formulated multivitamin, I found this as a possibilityOnly Natural Pet Ultimate Daily Vitamins Plus Feline. All of the cats I are 10 and over – would the senior formula be the better choice (over the regular multi of the same brand)? In the Question and Answer section at the bottom of the page, in response to someone asking if this supplement was appropriate for homemade food, the Only Natural Pet team said "Our ultimate daily vitamin is not formulated to specifically supplement a home made diet. It is intended to support overall wellness and can be used in conjunction with complete & balanced meals." In looking at the multivitamin formula, do you think that's just their safe response or would it be a good choice to use in your recipe?

I saw in another thread in this folder (Vitamin and mineral supplementation frustration) that @Dr. Jeff recommended this multi-vitamin for someone. Daily Multi Plus for Dogs and Cats
Would this multi vitamin work with your raw recipe for cats, taking into consideration the hyperthyroid diagnosis?

I am learning a lot in the forum and from the Drs. I'm grateful to have found HA! I'm trying to figure out what's best for a homemade diet while also having to stay in a budget. I really appreciate you taking the time to clarify and answer this list of questions.
 

Dr. Jeff

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I'm trying to figure out what's best for a homemade diet while also having to stay in a budget.
A local farm willing to sell (or give) you parts like heart, spleen, and leftover pieces is often most affordable (and sustainable).

You can use a supplement like this to balance fresh (or raw) food:

 

BashaC

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A local farm willing to sell (or give) you parts like heart, spleen, and leftover pieces is often most affordable (and sustainable).
Great suggestion! I've been looking locally but haven't found any farms/stores/stalls yet. I'm still on the hunt, so to speak :D

The organic chicken, livers, and hearts are budgeted for. Multivitamins are turning out to be much more expensive than the supplements called for in the two recipes I have been using. 10 meals a day adds up quickly! I know it's all worth it and I'm willing to do whatever I can to keep them on a healthy and balanced raw diet. I trust it will all work out.

You can use a supplement like this to balance fresh (or raw) food:

Thank you for the recommendation. It says it's formulated for dogs – is it okay for cats? Also, I see it has calcium derived from seaweed and added iodine. With hyperthyroid diagnosis, is this okay? I know they need iodine, it's just the amount. In my rabbit hole research, I've noticed that some feline multivitamins have iodine and some don't.

?
 

Dr. Jeff

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BashaC

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Hi @Dr. Jean Hofve I'm following-up on my follow-up questions above. I'd love to get started on using your homemade cat recipe, but could use some clarification on the multivitamin options.
Dr. Bob Goldstein’s Raw Complete Powder contains kelp 3rd ingredient). One of the cats has a hyperthyroid diagnosis and, in another thread in this folder, I was recommended to not feed him kelp.
Is the kelp in this formula an issue with the diagnosis? I know they need iodine (I'm feeding 4 other cats and they all eat out of each other's bowls), I'm just wondering how much and what's the balance of it for all the cats.
It's not possible to create a recipe on the Balance IT recipe program with raw food. According to their website, they are firmly against feeding raw food and don't offer it as an option to create a recipe. I created one with cooked chicken, but even then, there isn't an option for cooked chicken with bones. I made a small batch of food using the dosage for the cooked chicken sans bones, but am unsure if the dosing is accurate.
Without being able to create a raw food recipe, how can I create a recipe or know the correct dosing with it Balance IT? While the Balance IT formula is cost prohibitive for so many cats right now, I would be interested in using it in the future, if possible. Knowing how to create a raw food recipe planner and feel good about the supplement dosing would be helpful.
For another cat formulated multivitamin, I found this as a possibility Only Natural Pet Ultimate Daily Vitamins Plus Feline. All of the cats I are 10 and over – would the senior formula be the better choice (over the regular multi of the same brand)? In the Question and Answer section at the bottom of the page, in response to someone asking if this supplement was appropriate for homemade food, the Only Natural Pet team said "Our ultimate daily vitamin is not formulated to specifically supplement a home made diet. It is intended to support overall wellness and can be used in conjunction with complete & balanced meals." In looking at the multivitamin formula, do you think that's just their safe response or would it be a good choice to use in your recipe?
Would this feline multivitamin formula be a good option? It has Green Lipped Mussel Powder as their first ingredient. Do you think this would be an issue with the hyperthyroid diagnosis? I've contacted them to find out if they know the iodine levels, but haven't heard back.
If I were to use a human multivitamin, I'm unclear about the dosing. It sounds like 1/4 of the adult dose is recommended and then dosing based on meat+liver weight recommended right after that. Could you clarify this? Is it 1/4 of a human dose per day? If I were to base it on meat+liver weight, how would I calculate the weight to vitamin dose per day? Here is a human multivitamin I'm looking at possibly using: One Daily Multivitamin
Could you clarify the dosing if using a human multivitamin?

Many thanks!
 

Dr. Jean Hofve

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Well, since I designed the Only Natural formula, I can assure you it is NOT a "just add meat" supplement. My main concern when I was formulating it to make it safe to add to commercial foods -- most of them already have too much of certain vitamins and minerals. So it's low potency for the nutrients that are easy to overdose, like Vitamins A and D, and several minerals.

A supplement made for dogs is likely missing too many things that cats need; pre-formed vitamin A, taurine, arginine, bio-available lysine, and several B vitamins.

Feline Instincts is a good company; if they're making their supplement again, I would be thrilled! BalanceIt actually *is* pretty close to a "just add meat" formula, but being UC Davis, they are excessively picky about exact amounts of each little thing. I mean, *we* all managed to get to adulthood, despite every meal our parents fed us not being exactly complete and balanced! Variety of meats and veggies will stand you in good stead that way.

You could also use Pitcairn's "Healthy Powder" recipe. It's not my favorite, but it's adequate.

The thing to keep in mind is that calcium is bulky, and makes up the vast physical majority of any supplement. So if the dose is "1 capsule" or "1/4 tsp" that is not going to contain enough calcium, and therefore probably not enough of other nutrients either.

For human vitamins, the cat dose is about 1/6, but we made it 1/4 for simplicity. Human vitamins still will not contain enough calcium but that can be added.

Hope this helps!
 

BashaC

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Well, since I designed the Only Natural formula, I can assure you it is NOT a "just add meat" supplement. My main concern when I was formulating it to make it safe to add to commercial foods -- most of them already have too much of certain vitamins and minerals. So it's low potency for the nutrients that are easy to overdose, like Vitamins A and D, and several minerals.
Wow! So nice to know you designed the Only Natural formula! My understanding is that seafood contains high levels of iodine.
  1. Would it be appropriate to use with a hyperthyroid diagnosis?
  2. If so, would it be appropriate to use with your recipe?
  3. If there would need to be extra supplementation, what would need to be added to your recipe?

A supplement made for dogs is likely missing too many things that cats need; pre-formed vitamin A, taurine, arginine, bio-available lysine, and several B vitamins.
Good to know, thank you!

BalanceIt actually *is* pretty close to a "just add meat" formula, but being UC Davis, they are excessively picky about exact amounts of each little thing. I mean, *we* all managed to get to adulthood, despite every meal our parents fed us not being exactly complete and balanced! Variety of meats and veggies will stand you in good stead that way.

Good point about us all making it :)

For BalanceIT, since they don't have raw meat or even cooked meat with bones as an option for a protein in their recipe creator, I don't feel confident about the dosing of their supplement (not sure if they can have too much of a vitamin/mineral).
  1. With your recipe, what protein option(s) do I choose for a raw food recipe? For example, they have cooked chicken (no option for bone-in) in several forms - stewed, roasted, fried, etc.


The thing to keep in mind is that calcium is bulky, and makes up the vast physical majority of any supplement. So if the dose is "1 capsule" or "1/4 tsp" that is not going to contain enough calcium, and therefore probably not enough of other nutrients either.

For human vitamins, the cat dose is about 1/6, but we made it 1/4 for simplicity. Human vitamins still will not contain enough calcium but that can be added.

Thank you for the clarification! In your recipe, it says "A truly complete supplement will require at least a tablespoon per pound of meat in the recipe."
  1. If I use a multivitamin formulated for cats (say the Only Natural Pet one you designed) and am grinding whole chicken, including the bones, would I need to add extra calcium?
  2. If I do need to add more calcium, do you have an amount in mg (or some other measurement) per pound so I can subtract what's in the multivitamin to make up the difference?
Feline Instincts is a good company; if they're making their supplement again, I would be thrilled!

Maybe they'll bring it back!

Thank you so much, @Dr. Jean Hofve, for sharing your knowledge and helping me to further understand your recipe!!
 

BashaC

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Hi @Dr. Jean Hofve I'm following-up on my follow-up questions above. I'd love to get started on using your homemade cat recipe, but am still trying to figure out the multivitamin. I also have a question about the Balance IT recipe creator, since they don't have any options for raw food (or chicken with bone-in). Thanks!
 

Dr. Jean Hofve

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Sorry, didn't realize I hadn't answered you!

Honestly, please DO NOT use the Only Natural Pet supplement. I argued against making it at all. It doesn't have enough of anything, because it is designed to go with a complete commercial diet. Just because I formulated it doesn't mean I like it, lol! (I did make a few good ones, my favorite is Complete Gut Health, it has prebiotics, probiotics AND digestive enzymes all at once.)

Unfortunately Celeste is no longer with us, she was the PhD nutritionist. She also manufactured all the necessary supplements. I'm left trying to figure out a reasonable facsimile! The way I think about it is this: most health-food kinds of human multivitamins have 4 or 6 capsules PER SERVING. That makes it really easy to use for cats: just one capsule is a day's worth! But you still have to add almost as much calcium, as if there is no calcium at all in the food or supplement. As far as I have been able to figure out (and I have spent many sleepless nights fretting about it!), for healthy cats on a meaty diet, you really can't over-do calcium because of all the phosphorus in the meat.

When I made food for my cats, I used a couple jars of sweet potato baby food, Nordic Naturals fish oil (I didn't know about Moxxor till later), Standard Process Catalyn and Calcifood, a vitamin B complex (because I didn't feed liver), taurine, yucca powder, and whatever else seemed like a good idea from my box of supplements. It varied constantly. If you look at Catalyn, the milligram amounts of vitamins are tiny, but they are way more bioavailable. Because I have seen people do extremely stupid things, I made the recipe very picky. In reality, it's not that hard, as long as you feed a variety of ingredients. Cats are pretty flexible. Don't get hung up on exactitude.

For a little cheaper option for many cats, you could make Dr. Pitcairn's Healthy Powder in big batches.

If you want to feed one dose to one cat per day, it depends on how much food that cat will eat -- 4 oz, 6 oz, 3 tons (my cat Spencer would have preferred this option!).

My recipe isn't the end-all be-all. It's pretty good, but it's not perfect. For example, I haven't figured out how to boost choline with food and not mess something else up. I think we have other recipes on this site, too, don't we Dr. Jeff, Dr. Christina? Variety!! That's the ticket!
 

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