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Good 'n cheap - for stray/feral colonies?!?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've been reading up on all the TNR efforts and colony mgmt by our good members here, and also all the various polls/threads on what we feed our beloved pets, but I have yet to find anything that specifically addresses this issue.

What do you folks typically stock your feeding stations with? I don't like the idea of feeding them low-grade grocery store brands, but they way the strays and ferals gobble as if there's no tomorrow, I'm afraid feeding them premium brands could get costly, and possibly make them sick - too rich, too soon. The night that Romeo came to me, I put out enough Chicken Soup for a medium-sized cat for three days, and he had it down in less than five minutes and was demanding more in two hours time.

I have seen some mention of soliciting donations, and I'd never turn down free food, but I want to be sure I'm not doing more harm than good if that free food is of low quality. Am I being overly sensitive to the nutritional needs of my ferals?
post #2 of 11
I think the cheapest brand I would go with is Purina One. Although it's not a "premium" food, meat is a primary ingredient.
post #3 of 11
Hi Rica Lynn,

Since I do not do stray/feral rescue, I think I am going to sit on the sidelines and watch the responses. I did want to put in my 2 cents that it seems to me if possible, it would be best to choose one or two foods, stick to those and solict funds to purchase or donations of those two brands.

I've only used premium brands for so long, I would have to go do some solid research (and out of curiosity, I think I will when I have a bit of time) to see what is the best nutritional bang for the buck out there.
post #4 of 11
You could try asking your vet for expired food off of the shelves. Our clinic sifts through all of our inventory a few times a year and pulls out the close dated and expired food. We donate it to the Humane Society and SPCA and the companies give us credit for the expired stock. The food is generally good for 1 year after the date on the bag. You would get high quality food for free and as long as you mix new food with old and switch the cats over to new bags gradually you shouldn't upset their tummies.
post #5 of 11
That is a great idea. Here's something I just remembered. I used to work for a wonderul little shop that sold cat theme jewelry, clothes and collectibles. It of course, had a store cat and on the occasion of his birthday, folks who brought in a can of cat food (or bagged) would get a free little gift. The cause was the local senior citizens who lived in housing where they were allowed one cat, and where most were on limited incomes.

How about seeing if a local shop with a store cat would agree to have a collection box for it's patrons to drop off food (i.e. Fluffy has to go on a special diet now and I didn't want to throw this out, or Peepers just won't eat this anymore!).

Back soon with the research results I did on foods and their prices,
post #6 of 11
Rica...many of the feral caretakers that I know feed whatever they can get...many of them ask for donations. As much as you want to feed them high quality food...you are right...it could get very expensive if you must buy it all on your own. Plus..and this isn't necessarily geared at you but at the post...part of the point of TNR is to Neuter/Spay the ferals...if the choice is feed premium but not spay or feed inexpensive and spay...I'd go with inexpensive and spay.

post #7 of 11
Hi Rica,
I'm not sure this will be helpful, but here are the top 3 cat foods I found re quality at a lower than premium price (and the site I used does not have the lowest price always, so you may be able to find this cheaper...and I assume you would not buy off the internet anyway due to shipping fees being added).

The Purina One that Sandie mentioned is one of the ones on my list: it runs $20.49 for a 16 lb. bag which is approx. $1.28 per lb. It is the most expensive of the 3 I am listing.

The second most expensive is:
Excel Cat Food - first two ingredients are chicken meal and chicken.

and here is the Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude Protein (min) 32%
Crude Fat (min) 21%
Moisture (max) 10%
Ash (max) 6.5%
Crude Fiber (max) 3%
Magnesium (max) 0.1%

Price: $20.99 for 20 lbs. = $1.05/lb.

and the least expensive (does use by-product meal which is not, imo, the best quality protein source) is:
Diamond Maintenance Formula for Cats cost:40 lbs. for $20.49 = 51 cents per lb.

Chicken by-product meal, whole grain ground corn, wheat flour, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), brewers rice, corn gluten meal, beet pulp (sugar removed), fish meal, flaxseed, natural chicken flavor, vitamins, minerals, amino acids.

Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude Protein 30%
Crude Fat 15%
Moisture 10%
Ash 6%
Crude Fiber 3%
Omega-6 Fatty Acids 2.4%
Omega-3 Fatty Acids 0.4%
Taurine 0.1%
Magnesium 0.1%

Hope this is a bit helpful (or provides good food for thought...grin, duck and run)
post #8 of 11
I fed my cats Purina One Lamb and Rice for a while...my cats are now on Science Hill Sensitive Stomache.

post #9 of 11
Well,I got several big bags of Special Kitty cat food given to me so that is what I have been feeding my ferals right now.Before I got that I usually fed Friskies or something like that.
I know it is not the best food,but I simply cannot afford to spend lots of money on food that dogs,possums,birds,etc.. get into also.
I do what I can for my ferals,but I just can't pay high prices for cat food for them,but at least they have food to eat when they decide to come by,and they get spayed/neutered,shots,etc.. when I catch them.

So I say buy whatever your budget allows you to afford.

Good luck.
post #10 of 11
Our cat gets just about the most expensive cat food (mainly imports) on the market, but as far as ferals are concerned, I kind of adhere to "whatever is on sale". That could be an "ultrapremium" brand, or the cheapest stuff from the local supermarket. The main thing, to me, is that they get enough to eat, have shelter and medical care. I generally buy pet suppplies on the Internet, and have signed up for newsletters, so I know which company has which food on sale, and then buy in bulk. While I'd prefer that the cats get only premium food, I recognize that few people can afford to buy it for huge numbers of cats. Maybe Bill Gates?
post #11 of 11
Someone gave me a cheap bag of generic food once and my ferals wouldn't eat it! When I buy, it is usually Purina or Iams - they don't like Science Diet. I've received generous donations of Iams over the last few months of which I'm about to run out of. My Humane Society was just given 16 pallets (yes, I said 16 pallets) of Meow Mix. They have offered to give me a trunkload but I'm not sure if they will even eat it. If they like it they will get that for the next few months.

I prefer to give them premium brands but I feed so many that I just can't afford it all year round. I don't have to buy Advantage and Frontline in the winter so I'll invest in a better quality food for the ferals during that time.
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