Friday, 23 March 2012

Feeding your cat: A frugal and healthy way!

One of the issues with owning a cat is that they need to eat. Left to their own devices they will hunt and kill all manner of animals and bird that we would prefer they didn't. So the responsibility falls to us as their owners to provide approprite and healthy food for them.

Like most pet owners, we bought standard pet food in a can from the local supermarket. Fairly quickly, Isobel (the cat) let us know that she was a fish girl and no other canned anything would suffice. So we got her big cans of fish. I started to resent these cans of fish as they absolutely stink after a few days in the fridge (Oh the joys of living in the tropics!) so we bought smaller cans that didn't go off  as quickly but were more expensive and we had more packaging to dispose of.

One day while I was in the local fish market shop - I spotted some wee fishes that reminded me of the ones we used to catch at the wharf as a kid and take home and give to the family cat. So I ordered two sardines and two stripy yellow tails (the packing probably weighed and cost more than the four fish did) and took the home for Madam Isobel the cat to try.

It turns out she LOVES fresh fish and we have discovered a better way to feed the cat - unless you are a sardine that is...

Here's what I did...

First I stop by my local fish market when I'm sure I'm on my way home (you will only park the car with fresh fish in it in a car park and pop into the shops and get chatting with a friend, once, I can assure you!)

At home, I unwrap the package and repackage the sardines into two's if they are big 'un's or three's if they are little 'un's.

Currently, we re wrap them in a bit of cling wrap and wryly note that even though the humans in our house are finally cling wrap free - the cat isn't. And I have 60 metres left of the stuff!

Then we pop the packages in the freezer.

At night when we feed her, you replace the ones she gets with frozen ones that then sit in the fridge defrosting for 24 hours in the designated cat fish bowl.

This system works - as long as you drop by the fish markets regularly. I usually buy a kilo at a time and that lasts about 10 days depending on the size of the sardines and costs about $6. She doesn't mind the yellow tails but on the whole seems to prefer the sardines.

Its easy to dish them out - I simply start unrolling the cling wrap and then shake them onto the ground and she pounces on them and munches away. If you feed the cat on the grass, the ants (or the possums or the neighbours cat) will clean up whatever gets left behind. If you try this, wrap the fish loosely. Cold slimy cling wrapped fish is unpleasant to fiddle with for long periods of time.

Since she has been eating the whole unadulterated fish, I think she is healthier and not so demanding for food. She has access to water all the time and wants/gets only a handful of cat biscuits in the morning and at night. She is defiantly eating less biscuits since she started on the fresh fish and I know what she is actually eating. I imagine that whole fish contains a huge amount of the essential bits and pieces that she needs and that the bones and fins clean her teeth as she eats.

We have been discussing a free flow freezing method where we would freeze the fishes whole but on a tray separately and then once completely frozen, pop them into a bag or box and remove them individually as we needed them to cut down n the packaging. We are yet to try this method!

At any rate - if you have a cat and a fish market close by - this may be a cat feeding option worth pursuing.

Score card:
Green-ness: 3/5 Better to feed the family pet a sustainably fished fish than canned fish byproducts
Frugal-ness: ?/5 I'm not sure its hugely cheaper overall.
Time cost: 3 minutes to repackage and pop in the freezer.
Skill level: Pretty darn easy!
Fun -ness: Not much fun feeding one animal to another - Sardines are pretty little fish too!


Sarah @ Gladys in the said...

I've only just discovered your blog. I loved this post. I have two cats who eat like there is no tomorrow. I work near a fish market so I think I'll get a couple of sardines and see how my boys like it. I know one will growl trying to eat it. :)

Practical Frog said...

Hi Sarah!
Thanks for dropping by! Let me know how your boys go with a few sardines or what ever local fish turns out to be good value for you. Cheers! - Kara

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