Black Foot Raw

Nature’s Bench

Dissecting Ancient Preys

 

Predators select food based on the macronutrient balance that best assures their survival. The elk or the moose has the right balance of fat, protein, carbo for the wolf so, since ancient times, they have been the wolf’s natural prey.  For the cat, it is the rodent.

 

Analyses indicate that cats have a ceiling for carbohydrate intake, which limits ingestion and constrains them to deficits in protein and fat intake (7-12 percent). We begin first by studying our very formula derived from the diets of feral cats*:

 

62.7% protein 22.8% fat 11.8% ash 2.8% carbo (Plantinga, Bosch & Hendriks; 2011)

 

*Feral cats should not be confused for wild cats. The former are offspring of domesticated cats that have abandoned domestication to live in the wild. The latter refers to cats of species that are found in the natural ecosystem. They live in wild natural habitats, without any form of human contact.

 

This profile should be considered the nutrient intake to which the cat’s metabolic system has adapted. The nutrient profile originates from a cat population in which nutrition is a precondition for optimum survival, to be robust enough to continue catching preys, as well as virile enough for procreation and thrive as a species. This is the diet the cat would eat if it had a choice, without health consequences arising from deficiencies or excess.

 

Shorn of its natural habitat, the cat is also deprived of choice, and would eat what its human parent chooses to feed it and, in many cases, the nutrient imbalances have led to sterility and a host of other health problems.

 

What follows for us naturally is to procure the nutritional composition of a mouse and see if it confirms for us the same data.

 

 

The Mouse

I came up with the first idea. Go to the back alley of some food street, set up some mouse traps there, then feed Shasha the captives for a couple of months and record her health markers to show she’s getting healthier.

 

Kris, our dog whisperer, listened patiently before providing some scientific input. ‘Don’t be an idiot’ were his exact words. His proposal was thus. Catch some mice, not just those in urban settings, feeding on human garbage, but from farms as well, feeding on a more natural diet. Then we take their carcasses and freeze them after which we, brace yourself, blend them in a machine and put the contents in a ziplock bag, seal it up in an ice bag and send it to be made into meatballs for hotpot.

 

Just kidding. Of course we would send it to the lab for testing.

 

Not a bad idea, except that I had no idea where to catch a farm mouse. Kris suggested the farm areas in Lim Chu Kang and off we went with our mouse traps.

 

 

The Nutrient Composition of the Mouse

 

Whole prey / %             Crude Protein       Crude Fat          Ash       Carbo

 

Domestic Mouse                  54.8                             24.6            10.8         9.8

 

Farm Mouse                          60.7                             21.9            12.9         6.5

 

 

Both results were very close to the formula provided by the study.

 

62.7% protein 22.8% fat 11.8% ash 2.8% carbo

 

No doubt, as expected, the domestic mouse, foraging on city scraps had a higher fat content and carbs ratio compared to the mouse in the farm. Also, the mineral content is higher in the farm mouse, making it a more nutritious meal.

 

Indeed, we can use the mouse, especially the farm one, as the blueprint to construct the nutrient requirements of the cat.

 

 

Protein

 

Out of the 21 available amino acids in food, there are multiple amino acids classified as essential for dogs and cats. Essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by the body in sufficient amounts and must be provided in the diet. They are vital for providing energy, regulating metabolism and growth, and body mass maintenance.

 

Arginine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine, Taurine

 

A diet composed of at least 80% animal protein, a minimum of 50% being red meat sources, typically exceeds minimum amino acid requirements for cats. However, the mouse is also unusually high in the following amino acids:

 

Histidine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Taurine (the highest known concentration of all animals)

 

 

Fat 

 

Fatty acids requirements can be met when feeding a variety of animal meats, especially for omega 6 acids. However, it is important to balance omega 3 in the diet for healthy skin and fur, as well as for reduced inflammation and greater intelligence. On the last point, studies have shown pets fed a diet with adequate omega-3 fared much better in intelligence, as well as behavior, tests.

 

For the purpose of a healthy omega 6 to 3 ratio, a diet comprising of grass fed meats will make a big difference (up to 6 times). Lamb should also be included for having the best omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of all land animals. Kangaroo also falls in the same category and, being wild game, is also the leanest mammal meat available.

 

 

Beef

Vitamin b12

Histidine

Lysine

Phenylalanine + tyrosine

 

Lamb

Vitamin b12

Best Omega 6 to 3 ratio of all land animals

Threonine

Tryptophan

 

We also note that Vitamin A and E are really important since they exist in copious amounts in the farm mouse. Vitamin A is important for growth, muscle and neurological development. Cats have been known to lose their vision due to vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin E prevents cells from oxidative damage and inflammation, the root cause for a lot of problems.

 

 

Whole prey                  Vitamin A  IU                 Vitamin E  IU

 

Domestic Mouse                 24094                                  21

 

Farm Mouse                         29083                                 120

 

 

It is worth nothing that the farm mouse possesses significantly more vitamin E compared to its domestic counterpart due to its more natural diet of shoots and grains.

 

 

 

Vitamin A    Livers

 

Vitamin E    Grass-fed meats and bones

 

 

So far so good. But there is a small nutritional gap if we refer to the AAFCO handbook. The Vitamin B family. While most nutrients mentioned are more than adequately served using the various meats, including the vitamin Bs, such as riboflavin, niacin, pyredoxine, cobalamin, pantothenic acid, mainly for proper growth, development and energy production. Deficiencies can lead to loss of appetite and neurological problems like seizures. Thiamine, folate, and choline, however, fall slightly on the short side.

 

Which is really strange, because the mouse doesn’t have a particular high profile in those vitamins as well…

 

But more on that later…

 

The question is, did our Blackfooted Cat take vitamin B supplements when researchers were not looking, since rodents provided only ‘passable’* traces in thiamine, folate and choline?

 

This kept me up for two nights until lightning struck, as it always did in inspiring great men, such as Newton getting clobbered by a falling apple, or Fleming examining mould, or Apollodorus, Macedonian winner of the Olympics marathon, who on his way home, really got struck to death by lightning. Where was I? Oh yes, I was walking Shasha on my terrace, when a pigeon fluttered down and waddled about, totally disrespectful to the ancient predator.

 

And of course Shasha was onto the poor bird in a zap, smashing it so hard a cloud of feathers rained down as the bird took flight. And it could very well be my brain Shasha had smacked, for the scene sent a jolt to my memory and recalled images of cats snacking on feathery preys. Here, I referred to my own writings.

 

In a study conducted in the 90s over a 26 day period, the black footed cat had been observed by wildlife biologists to kill up to 14 small animals a night, making it nature’s most successful hunter. Mostly, it consumed small rodents such as mice and gerbils, sometimes catching a small bird or two and some lizards, with worms and insects forming a very small part of the diet.”

 

Your cute pet’s Usana vitamin B complex supplement. 1 serving.

 

The occasional small bird, usually a lark, could be the cat’s natural source of supplements. Again, we refer to scientific data.

 

Vitamin B profile of sparrow meat

 

Using the sparrow instead of the lark, cause we seriously have no idea where to find a lark. Even if we knew, we wouldn’t want to risk shooting the wrong bird, so we used a sparrow to substitute.

 

True enough, the sparrow exceeds the meter in almost all the important vitamin Bs. So a bird was what the cat would seek to supplement itself naturally, the way some of us feel compelled at a certain time of the day to pull out Usana bottles and extract little pills and pop them into our mouth with a swig of water.

 

Therefore, we need to ensure a place for poultry in our meat satchels. In this respect, I have used duck and chicken.

 

Thiamin per 100g

duck                                 0.22mg

 

And while we are at it, let’s add one more mammal with high thiamine content for good measure. We can’t really worry about over-dosage, since thiamine is water soluble so the excess will just be passed out by urine.

 

Thiamin per 100g

Kangaroo                         0.22mg

 

Everything is falling in place. Protein and fat profiles, vitamins A, B(s), E are pretty much covered. But vitamin D is also essential for the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones.

 

Mice and birds are low in vitamin D3, the useful form. Where were cats finding their natural D supplements, since they can’t really synthesise vitamin D through the sunlight?

 

*Note: mice do have the ability to carry out this trick like humans but because they are mostly nocturnal, the amount they synthesise from sunlight is minimal.

 

A bit of research, and it is obvious where cats got their D.

 

 

The occasional lizard.

 

See for yourself.

 

 

Lizard owners actually use UVB lamp to help them with production of vitamin D. These critters need so much vitamin D that they may as well be crawling vitamin D hotdog buns for our cats.

 

It would be unrealistic to include lizards in my meat satchels… I think a lot of cat parents are going to find it hard to deal with having lizards in their cat’s ration packs. Again, this is where my brilliance shone as I conceived a perfect plan. Why not use another reptile to replace the lizard? Something more socially acceptable, and easier to access. How about crocodile meat?

 

Joking. Chill. Chill.

 

To begin, they are not really the same thing and even if I could include crocodile meat, the cost will blow my budgets into bits. Of course the real solution is to include fish.

 

Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic salmon, mussels…

 

These will take care of all our cat’s vitamin D needs and, for added bonus, the iodine requirements as well.

 

The nutritional jigsaw is looking complete, just for one slight issue. We could do better if our food satchels are packed with more minerals. We know that the farm mouse provides minerals in higher concentrations.

 

 

Whole prey                            Ca%     P%     Mg%     Na%     K%        Mn  mg/kg

 

Domestic Mouse             2.89    1.27      0.16        NA        NA              7.7

 

Farm Mouse                     1.6      1.86     0.06         0.43       1.2           10.6

 

 

With seafood added into our diet, the mineral profile looks pretty strong, especially manganese and magnesium, often two areas of deficiencies in raw diets. But of course I’m sure we can supercharge this area even more. A deficiency in magnesium could result in abnormal eye movements, convulsions and fatigue.

 

A google search on ‘foods high in magnesium’ yielded this article:

 

10 Magnesium-Rich Foods That Are Super Healthy

 

Scrolling the list, this is what I got:

 

  1. Dark Chocolate
  2. Avocados
  3. Nuts
  4. Legumes
  5. Tofu
  6. Seeds
  7. Grains
  8. Fatty Fish
  9. Bananas
  10. Leafy Greens

 

Other than item 8. the rest of the list is pretty useless to us. When in doubt, always think about which whole foods the cat would consume in the wild to obtain the nutrient. At this stage, I refer to my manual again…

 

 

In a study conducted in the 90s over a 26 day period, the black footed cat had been observed by wildlife biologists to kill up to 14 small animals a night, making it nature’s most successful hunter. Mostly, it consumed small rodents such as mice and gerbils, sometimes catching a small bird or two and small lizards, with worms and insects forming a very small part of the diet.”

 

Opening a can of worms – Magnesium treats

 

Of course. That’s where rodents get their minerals and sometimes cats get rid of the middlemen and eat insects directly. Obviously, that’s worth exploring. Whether the general pet owner populace can accept this is quite another thing though…

 

References:

Plantinga EA, Bosch G, Hendriks WH. Estimation of the dietary nutrient profile of free-roaming feral cats: possible implications for nutrition of domestic cats. BR J Nutr 2011; 106(1): S35-48.

 

 




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