Before launching yourself (or your cats) into do-it-yourself raw feeding there are a few things you need to prepare.
The materials you will need
You will need a freezer in order to prepare and freeze in advance the daily ration of your cat. By preparing several rations in one shot (and in advance) you will save a lot of time. I will write an entire article on how to prepare raw rations in advance.
I recommend dedicating at least one drawer of a standard freezer for one cat.
It is not strictly necessary, but if you don't have a freezer you will have to buy fresh meat at least once per week, which is generally more expensive and not very convenient.
Having sharp knives can really make all the difference when you have several kilos of meat to cut.
Poultry scissors are really handy when you need to cut bones: they will make the process quicker, more practical, and you don’t risk to ruin the blade of your sharp knives. I strongly recommend getting a pair of poultry shears if you need to cut quails, chicken necks, and rabbit ribs.
They come in all sorts of shapes, colors, and materials. My only recommendation is to choose a cutting board which is easy to clean.
It is needed to weight every part of your cat ration, such as the organs, meat, and bones. As cats eat relatively small quantities of food, I recommend having a scale with a 1 g (~0.1 oz) precision.
Think about how you will store the daily rations of your cat. For example, you may use plastic containers (e.g. Tupperwares), plastic bags etc.
Like when you cook meat for yourself, you need to clean thoroughly anything that comes into contact with raw meat, and thoroughly wash your hands after you handle it. For example, I clean the area where Néline eats using white vinegar with a high concentration of acetic acid (10%) after each of her meal.
Basic hygiene measures are essential to make raw feeding safe for you and your family.
Before starting to raw feed you will need to be sure that you are going to be able to find enough meat to provide a diverse diet to your cat. Though I would not recommend starting to make a huge stock of meat, as your cat may be allergic to some meat, and/or refuse to eat some other.
You need to have at least 3 different types of meat, two of which needs to be in the category of red meat. You can read more on meat types in the article on meat
You need to feed at least two types of bones, which are adapted to you cat. You can find a list of adapted bones in the raw meaty bone article
You need to feed at least two types of liver and two types of organs which are not liver. You can find more information on organs in the offals article
You need to have two types of fish, preferably at least one without thiaminase. You can find a list of fish without thiaminase in the fish article
These recommendations are really a minimum, and if you can have more variety it will be better. If you cannot provide variety I recommend you to look for supplements to ensure that the diet will be balanced. I will write an article on supplements.
Material I use for food preparation
Where to find the meat
You can find meat at your local supermarket. To get the best prices, look for short expiration dates, discounts or savings when buying in bulk quantities.
Depending on where you live you may also find organs and bones adapted to cats, such as quail and rabbits. Ethnic markets often have a broader choice of organs and bones.
Fish can also be found at your local supermarket.
If you have a favorite butcher you can ask them to give you meat scraps. For example chicken feet, meat which is one day after the expiration date...
Online raw food specialized shops
Online raw food specialized stores are generally the best in term of diversity and prices: you can be pretty sure to find everything you need. Some will deliver fresh meat, some will deliver it frozen. In the latter case, you will need to thaw the meat in order to prepare your rations. Be careful not to buy mechanically-separated meat (MSM), nor premade raw mixes which are not always well balanced.
Meat from my supermarket
Research and determination
Before starting to raw feed, be sure you made enough research to provide a balanced diet to your cat.
And finally, even if you’re going to provide the best diet for your cat, be aware that for some of them switching their diet may be quite challenging. You will need to be more determined than your cat.
The next step will be to transition your cat to raw! In a future article, I will explain two methods to switch your cat from industrial pet food to raw feeding.