To make homemade raw meat cat food, there are a few non-food items you may need. Some are ‘must-haves, especially if you make more than a batch or two every few weeks. Others are things we found that make the process of making homemade cat food a little easier.
Making raw meat cat food requires grinding up meat and bones so you will need a good meat grinder. We use the Tasin TS-108 Electric grinder.
While it is not actually rated for grinding bones, we’ve found that it does a fine job with chicken bones. With turkey bones, we recommend smashing them up with a hammer before feeding them through the grinder. Turkey bones are harder than chicken bones and can be tough on the grinder.
We make several batches of raw meat cat food every week and have really put this grinder to the test. It has performed beautifully and we have never had a problem with it. Some people have used one for years without a problem.
Most grinders for home use are not rated for grinding bones but, as we said, the Tasin does a great job with the chicken bones. Grinders that are rated for grinding bones are usually for professional use and are quite expensive. They can run in the $1,000’s and are not necessary for making raw meat cat food. A grinder for home use works just fine.
The Tasin TS-108 grinder also comes with an extra cutting blade, and course, medium, and fine grinding plates. We also purchased a 3/4 inch grinding plate for ‘chunking’. Cutting the meat into chunks by hand is very time-consuming. This plate makes it easy to chunk up lots of meat for the raw meat cat food very quickly.
When you purchase your grinder, be sure to get the cleaning brushes and food-grade silicone spray. The spray helps keep the grinder parts working smoothly and will inhibit rust formation after washing. You’ll need the brushes, especially for scrubbing clean the holes of the grinder plates. You don’t want tiny meat particles rotting in your grinder and spoiling your raw meat cat food!
You will also need a scale for weighing the meat. Be sure to get one that measures in pounds and ounces. We purchased an inexpensive one at a discount store for $11.00 that can weigh up to 8 pounds. You can find them at most Wal-Marts, K-Marts, Targets, etc. There is no need to spend a lot of money on a scale. Just get something you like.
Another piece of equipment you may want to purchase is a separate freezer. Our household freezer is simply not big enough to hold all of the cat food we make as well as the frozen stuff we ourselves use. So we purchased a small chest freezer for $169.00 from our local home improvement store.
This way, since we buy in bulk, we can freeze the meat until we are ready to make the raw meat cat food and still have room to freeze the containers of already made food. And, as a side benefit, the cats enjoy lounging on top. It’s turned out to be a combination freezer and cat perch!
You will also need something to freeze the cat food in once you finish making it. We use gallon size zipper freezer bags. For us, these bags hold enough for one meal for all of our cats. We freeze the food in the bags, then, as we need them, we take out a bag, thaw it in the refrigerator, then warm it in water just prior to feeding it to our cats. We also like the bags because they take up less space in the freezer.
Some people use Ziploc freezer containers, others use freezer jars. It doesn’t really matter as long the container is safe to use in the freezer and is washable or disposable.
We used to use containers large enough to hold several meals of raw meat cat food then, portion out a meal’s worth into a bag to warm. Eventually, it became easier to just skip the container and freeze, thaw, and warm the food in the bags. You may want to try various freezer-safe containers to see what works best for you and your cats.
It is also important to remember that the raw meat food will expand as it freezes so be sure to leave some room in the container to allow for expansion.
Keep in mind that raw meat cat food, frozen, may take a day or so to thaw out in the refrigerator and, once thawed, will only last 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator. Also, it may take several weeks or even months to know how much your cats will eat at each meal so you may need to experiment with container size to minimize waste.
A very important tool you will want to have is a good, sharp knife or poultry shears. We all seemed to have trouble with the poultry shears but the knife we use cuts the meat off the bone like a hot knife through butter! A good knife will make the work go much faster and easier!
Another nice time-saver is an egg separator. This makes it very easy to separate the yolk from the egg white. You just put the egg in the center and let the white drip out over the sides. We set it on a tall glass, separate all the eggs, then pour the whites into a pan and cook them before adding to our batch of raw meat cat food. Easy!
At first, glance, buying a grinder and the other things you need to make raw meat cat food, may seem like too much money. But, within a short period of time, you will make up the cost by buying less commercial cat food, and quite probably spending less on vet care and medications! We felt the money we spent was a small price to pay for healthier cats!
Hopefully, you will too! But if you are still not sure, click on Feeding BARF for a few inexpensive things you can try before making your own raw meat cat food.