THE RAW-FED CAMPING KITTY, continued
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All pictures are the property of Carissa Kuehn.
A Typical Day Camping
an outline of Kona's typical day camping:
~ Wake up, meow softly so my owner will let me out into the tent
with her so I can burrow under the sleeping bag:
~ 'Mom' gets up and puts me in the big wire pen. I use the litter box
(and I've really got to go since 'mom' made me hold it all night!) and
groom myself while waiting for 'mom' to get back from
her walk with the dog.
~ First exercise session on the zipline while 'mom' cleans my litter
and sets up my kennel complex. Sometimes people will play with me using
carpet mouse attached to a fishing pole (a wonderful idea--cast the
mouse wherever you want and reel it in). Sometimes I also explore,
chase bugs, stalk the chipmunks and blackbirds, roll in the dirt, and
Exploring in the woods
Here I am playing with my little
mouse on a log.
Sunning myself on the log
Mom interrupting my dirtbath...
|~ Next I have a few bites of
breakfast before the yellow jackets attack. Sometimes
breakfast is bits of beef from the dog's beef ribs, but the best treat
fresh pieces (trimmings) of smallmouth bass that they bring me after a
morning fishing. I only get those once in a while, maybe once a week or
Breakfast morsels of beef with a
couple kitty treats for being such a good camping cat.
LATE MORNING and EARLY AFTERNOON:
~ 'Mom' returns me to the kennel before they go away for the afternoon,
so I take a nap and wait for 'mom' to get back
from the lake.
LATE AFTERNOON and EARLY EVENING:
~ Another exercise session on the zipline while everyone
relaxes. Now is the time to chase lizards and climb the trees:
Stalking the lizards
|~ Is it dinnertime yet? Nope,
those pesky yellow jackets are
EVENING and LATE EVENING:
~ Night is falling but now is the time to eat since
the yellow jackets are not around much.
~ It gets really dark and quiet, and then it is time for bed. 'Mom'
puts me in the tent and after cleaning
myself briefly I
crawl into my kennel and fall asleep until morning.
Dinner tonight is a chicken wing with a side of pork (which I ate
My Experiences with
Feeding Raw While Camping
Probably the biggest challenge while camping was the yellow jackets (to
read more about yellow jackets, click here.).
Kona was given food during their active times (anytime during the day),
she would instantly be
swarmed and forced to retreat while the yellow jackets ate her meat
(although she never got stung or bit, and neither did I when I would
reach in through a "swarm" of 10 or so yellow jackets to pick up her
The best way to avoid this is to feed either late in the evening near
or after dark when they are less active, or to purchase mosquito
netting to drape over the animal's eating area. What I would have given
for some mosquito netting! It may be pricey, but it is a valuable
investment and is probably the best and easiest way to protect your
animals from yellow jackets as they eat. Remember that citronella
candles, incense sticks, and various bug sprays can be very irritating
and downright harmful to pets (particularly cats!). Never spray bug
spray directly on your pet! If you do use a bug repellent on your pets,
look for a pet-safe one that you can make yourself from blends of
essential oils. Cats are much more sensitive to essential oils than
dogs, and the same spray you make for a dog may actually be toxic for a
cat! Be sure to do your research if you use any sort of spray for your
Feeding raw while camping was fairly easy. I stocked up on easy items
like chicken wings, game hens (cut up into meal-sized pieces), ground
turkey (some of which became homemade turkey sausage patties for the
humans), pieces of beef and pork, plus organ meats like
beef liver, chicken liver, beef heart, and some beef kidney. I also
brought two chicken halves, one of which became our dinner after I cut
out the breast bone and ribs to feed the cat with a side of organ meat,
and one of which was fed gradually to Kona. When we had 'beer can
chicken' for dinner one night, I made sure to set aside the chicken
neck, gizzard, heart, and liver for the cat. Additionally, the camp
store and the store in the nearby town (which was very small)
occasionally had whole chickens or cut-up chickens available in case I
ran out of food. I also had a couple cans of tuna on hand just in case
I ran out of food and could not get any right away. This, however, was
not necessary since I did not run out of food.
||It was my
dad's idea to put Kona's breakfast on fishing line (which, in turn, was
attached to a fishing pole). While messy, it did
give her the opportunity to chase and "kill" her food, and was rather
entertaining to watch. This sort of idea (food on a string) has been
suggested as a way of enriching the lives of indoor cats that do not
get to kill their own prey. "Franken-prey" on a string allows them to
chase and 'kill' their food before eating it.
I kept the food initially in an ice-chest with great insulation. All
the meat was frozen and packed on ice, but had started to thaw by the
end of the first day because most of the meat was packaged into
convenient dinner-sized portions. Cat food is much smaller than dog
food, generally, so it defrosted more quickly than I would have liked.
I transferred most of the meat to a bigger ice-chest my family had; the
meat was placed directly on the ice so as to stay partially frozen. The
organ meats and some of the other meat pieces were placed in the little
refrigerator/freezer in my parents' Lance camper. This was, of
course, a luxury that not everyone has! Additionally, I was able to
drive home every two to three weeks to stock up on more food from my
freezer; if this was not an option I would have probably resorted to a
cooler with dry ice in it, and then would have bought meat as needed at
the store. Propane refrigerators are available, but they are costly,
very heavy, very bulky, and can be a hassle to lug around. If you have
one or have friends that have one, however, it can be an awesome luxury
(same if your friends have a motor-home or a camper with a
There was only one instance where I chose not to feed meat because it
smelled a little ripe; the dog thoroughly enjoyed this little snack,
since I gave it to him instead. Other than this one instance, all of
her food remained fresh and 'unripened'. As the trip went
on I found that I actually had to start defrosting her meals because
they were partially or totally frozen still (these were the ones in the
refrigerator). I am quite sure that she also supplemented her diet with
moths, crickets, beetles, and other insects. To my knowledge she never
succeeded in catching a bird or a lizard.
The best part about feeding my cat her dinner was the questions I
received when friends came over and said: "What is *that?*" (pointing
to the cat's food). Often I would matter-of-factly say "Oh,
that's her dinner. Tonight she is having some beef heart and a chicken
back." This was usually followed by a short discussion of raw feeding,
and I did have a few friends that took home a brochure I had made
about the benefits of a raw diet.
It definitely was a learning experience for me, but I enjoyed it
immensely (as did my cat). When I arrived back home, I set up a zipline
in the backyard so I could turn my cat out for supervised outdoor time
each day. Even indoor cats should have the opportunity to go
outdoors--it is life-enriching and healthy for them. However, I
strongly advise against simply throwing the cat out the back door with
hopes that it will stick around and not wander (and get hit by a car or
get into cat fights or get chased by dogs, etc.). Always supervise your
indoor cat when it is outside, and never leave it outside when you are
not there to watch it!
I hope you enjoyed Kona's camping page! Happy trails to you and your
pets, and may there be many wonderful outdoor excursions in store for
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