These should work for the switch. Canned cat food can work well in getting your ferrets to transition. It IS cat food, so it doesnt have the ideal protein/fat levels (and it takes longer to digest then food formulated for a ferret) BUT it will serve its purpose during the switch. You can use this canned food and eventually get them onto raw chicken thats been run through a blender, or you can even mix in some ground chicken with the cat food.
Either way, I think that if you use the right method, the switch wont take as long as you anticipate. I am sure they are stubborn now, but once we fight the right method, they'll crack.
Stay patient, stay strong, and above all, keep us posted!
I have tried watering down Mr B and Sam's food, I have tried chicken broth and the newest was wet food. None of it is working. The wet food sat for over 12 hours and neither one of them would touch it. As soon as I gave them their kibble back (5 minutes ago), they are eating like they have never been fed before. I really don't think they will let me switch over. The next thing I am going to try is a couple of small chicken pieces as a treat and hopefully that will work. I have a better chance of Mr B going for that but not Sam. She does not eat treats.
Fill me in on how old your ferrets are and what brand(s) of dry kibble they've been eating, please.
What you may end up doing is to graduate them from their current kibble to a better kibble then again to a better kibble.
When I adopted my new crew it was done 2 at a time with almost a month in between. They were on a cat food and ferret kibble mix ( I think it was Purina one and eight in 1 crunchy.
I graduated them off the cat food and onto a mix of 8 in 1 crunchy, 8 in1 soft unltimate, then to totally ferret baby and totally ferret turkey vension lamb, and a bag of SHepherd & greenes premium.
THis graduation of kibble changes I feel opened up their minds to new flavors, smells and textures. As I neared the end of around three months I started adding dried chicken and duck breast strip pieces and some dried fish pieces to their bowls.
This let them smell "meat" but offered that familiar dry crunch.
I did offer them mice too through these changes and a couple of the ferrets took right to the mice, but were still funky about raw cornish hen!
Part of switching ferrets is getting them receptive to the new smells, flavors, textures and temperatures. In the wild mom woulod teach the polecat baby what is safe to eat. Since farm bred kits don't get that teaching from mom - and are weaned onto this kibble- they get a mindset that anything else could be poison!
Adding the dried meat pieces makes them move the pieces around even if they don't eat them, they still will smell them. Eventually explore a taste and maybe out of boredom chew one up!
Something to remember is that most kibble is also well saturated with glucose, fruit juices, and other sweetners - and I don't know about you, but a cookie is often times more fun to eat than a piece of steak! Ferrets DO have a sweet tooth and it can be VERY hard to get them off of the sugary stuff!
To this da mine refuse to eat baby food or canned cat food, can't say as I blame them, that stuff tastes awful! The only time I got any ferret to eat baby food was when Fozzy was dieing from insulinoma and I was hand feeding hi every few hours.
Try raw salmon, that is a very mild, mellow meat that does impart a sweet flavor to the tongue.
Don't give up - these guys can be quite stubborn. But us "moms" need to do what's best and show them what's best for them! When you are doing this switching, don't feel sorry for them and offer them packaged treats. If you want to offer them a treat, break off a piece of dried chicken! Also try not to hover over them when offering them the new foods - let them dine in seclusion.
Post by mustelidmusk on Jul 2, 2008 19:53:22 GMT -5
How wet was the kibble? If you put quite a bit of water in it, then the change may have been too dramatic. Here is what I recommend:
1. start out addinga SMALL amount of water to slightly moisten the kibble. Every couple of days, serve the kibble with slightly more kibble than before.
2. provide your ferrets with a Small bowl if water that has several pieces of kibble in it. Flavored water. If your ferrets will drink the flavored water, add a tiny amount of chicken or turkey baby food to the water. DO this very slowly.
3. If you feed dry kibble, add a SMALL amount of of freeze-dried raw crumbled food to the kibble such as Wysong archetypal I. If the kids pick the kibble out and leave the dreeze-dried raw, crush the kibble slightly so make it harder for your ferrets to eat around the raw crumbled food.
Make every change very subtle. Your kids aren't used to having their food change. I also encourage you to read the thread for Toby's Mindy. So far, Toby has been our little champion when it comes to being picky! But he's now eating freeze-dried raw!!!
Sometimes you have to be sneaky to get them to switch. There's no rush here, so relax and enjoy your ferrets.
Let us know how it's going so we can help. I will be gone tomorrow through next Tuesday, but I'll be interested to see how you're doing whe I get back.
Have a fun, safe, and fuzzy holiday weekend! -jennifer
Don't give up!!! For me getting Weezer onto raw was hard but Weezer took to raw soup quickly. I had a mix of Stella and Chewys, Ziwi peak and The Honest Kitchen cat foods. There IS a way to get your ferrets onto raw, you've just got to find a way that works for them. Even if that means it will take weeks or months.
In loving memory of Jillian the ferret, unknown to 4-2-2008 And Weezer 2005 to 6-10-2009
Be strong keep at it. You've got some fantastic advice. I will offer you another suggestion, it's how I got my little 9 yr old kibble addict to switch. Make up a raw soup, your raw meat diet ground. I don't even worry about teeth cleaning and all that stuff when I do this. I want to get my furbaby eating raw. I take one egg, and enough ground raw (chicken, or rabbit, both are mild flavoured and mild smelling) to make a soup. My mix has ground bone, offal and meat. It's everything your furbaby needs to survive and can be eaten safely indefinitely. The first batch should be very liquid, take one furbaby, wrap and snuggle. Stick your finger in the liquid, the place finger on furbaby's nose. They will lick it off, repeat several times and then release ferret. Do the same thing with the next furry. Wait awhile, an hour or two. Repeat. You will at first get spitting, sputtering, gagging. Not to worry. Your furbaby will not hate you for this You will soon notice a difference in how your furbaby receives this meal. When they stop fighting and licking willingly add a spoon to the feature. They soon will lick willingly off the spoon. Then try the whole bowl. By the way you're still holding and snuggling said ferret. During this time the only food they get is at night (kibble), during the day, said fuzzy has to rely entirely on you to feed them. When they eat willingly from the bowl then start adding more to make a paste, then totally raw ground. When you've got that down, you can then start enticing them with chunked meats, or mice. You can at any time skip any of these steps if you think your fert is ready. Everyone has a different method to make things work. This is how I get mine to switch if they're particularly difficult. All these suggestions are good. Now you just need to find a good working method for you and your furbabies Good luck, we're behind you. Ciao
Post by aleronferrets on Jul 2, 2008 23:40:17 GMT -5
The following is a switching plan I have followed with many ferrets. I have never failed to switch a ferret of any age or attitude using this plan, even ones who were hard-core kibble addicts. The issues you are having with your adult ferret switching to raw are normal and to be expected when offering raw meat to a kibble fed adult. My switching plan requires no fasting and simply "tricks" the ferret into accepting raw food very slowly. Feel free to crosspost but include my email: AgileGSD@aol.com
Getting ferrets to switch to raw food is probably the biggest issue ferret owners face with the diet and is a major reason more ferrets aren't fed raw. Often owners try to switch their ferret but their ferret refuses to even try any form of raw meat. It is true that adult ferrets are quite difficult to introduce a new diet to. However, through trial and error I have created a step-by-step method to switch even the most stubborn, kibble lovin' fuzzy (or cats which are just as bad) to a raw diet.
All you need to start the transition is your ferret's regular food and some ground meat. The ground meat can be either pre-made commercial raw food or ground chicken/turkey from the grocery store.
1. Begin adding some moisture to the kibble by dripping some water over it before feeding. I like to use warm water - not too hot or cold. If your fuzzy already will eat canned food you may be able to skip to step 5 by taking away all kibble and just feeding canned.
2. Add more water to the day's kibble each day as long as your ferret is willing to eat the food. Most will eat wet kibble fairly easily and I think this is because their imprinting is more about smell than texture.
3. Once the ferret is eating the kibble with enough water to make it soggy began mashing the kibble up a little bit with a fork before feeding.
4. Slowly mash the kibble up more each feeding until the ferret is eating all of the food well mashed. The mashed kibble should look almost like canned food now.
5. Only when the ferret is eating the canned-food-looking-mashed kibble without a problem is it time for this step. Now you will take just a tiny bit of the raw ground meat - maybe a pinch or two and add it to the kibble before mashing. Mash the kibble as usual and be sure the bit of raw food is well mixed with the rest.
6. As long as your ferret will eats the food with the raw meat mixed in you can double the amount of raw food added about every other day. Be sure you are mashing it up well with the rest of the food. If your ferret at any point refuses the mashed kibble/raw meat mixture, go back a step. If your ferret starts refuses when you are adding eight pinches, go back to 5 or 6 pinches. Stay at the amount your ferret was comfortable eating for several days and then up it by a pinch every few days. Never be afraid to go back to where you were having success, this is not a quick switch method.
7. At some point there will get to be a lot of raw food in the bowl and it will no longer be hidden in with the mashed kibble. That's great as long as your ferret is consistently eating the food. Once this happens and as long as your ferret is still eating the food begin cutting back on the amount of kibble in the bowl. The kibble should be cut just as slowly as the raw is added in.
8. Cut back on the kibble until there is no kibble left in the bowl. Congrats now your fuzzies will eat raw! It should be mentioned that if at any point during this switch your ferret refuses the food go back a step or two. If your ferret decides mashed kibble is yucky go back to just adding a bit of water. I think the main issue with switching ferrets to raw is to be determined that you want to do it and that the ferrets will be switched. Don't let set backs make you give up - keep trying and they will eat raw
Now if you were using ground meat from the store to switch you will need to start thinking about what foods you are going to feed. Feeding all ground food is ok for switching but bone and organs are needed for a balanced diet. Pre made raw food (with bones, organs and meat all ground) is available but it tends to be the most expensive way to feed raw. Other options are chicken necks/wing tips, livers and hearts from any number of animals, frozen fish such as smelt, mice (live or frozen), frozen chicks or rabbit parts.
I would start with something easy and try to find chicken necks or wing tips. To switch your fuzzie to eating raw meaty bones: 1. Chop the RMB (raw meaty bone such as a chicken neck) into small parts and mix it into the ground meat your fuzzy is now eating.
2. As long as your fuzzy eats the meal as usual add the chopped RMB every day. Every other day chop the RMB into slightly larger pieces.
3. Soon you won't have to chop it up at all! Once the chopped parts are quite large try just offering the whole RMB.
In my experience once a ferret will eat raw meaty bones such as chicken necks and wing tips introducing new ones isn't hard. Other RMBs you can use would be chicken wings (all parts), chicken breasts and chicken backs. These all have some bones which ferrets can eat and some which are too large and they will leave. These shouldn't make up the bulk of the diet but can be used for variety - just remember to pick up the leftover bones before company comes An important part of raw feeding is variety so try to feed different things every couple days. My raw fed guys are fed twice a day.
Switching to mice is a bit different because they don't look like regular RMBs. With my ferrets who hesitated on mice (the older ones) I held the mouse near them and when they grabbed it to try to take it I held on. This caused the ferret to "open up" the mouse and see that it was full of meat. I wouldn't try switching right from kibble to mice unless you have a ferret who is willing to try new foods.
This method of switching works so well even on older ferrets because you are introducing the raw food in phases. To start you introduce moisture where the ferret is used to dry, second you add a different texture, after that just a hint of a different smell, then a different but now somewhat familiar smell, followed by a different but now somewhat familiar texture. Doing this tricks the ferret into accepting raw food as the norm instead of something totally weird and new.
First, I want to thank all of you in advance for all the help and support you are giving me. It really does mean alot.
Sam is 5 months old and Mr B just turned a year old.
They are currently eating Science Diet kitten food. I ordered a bag a Wellness Core and am still waiting for it to come so I can mix the two. One of the treats that I give to both of them is Salmon Whisker Lickins. They both love them. It is a soft treat. When I tried the wet cat food I used the salmon flavored one thinking they would associate the two.
Should I work on the mixing of kibble first before I start any of this or do it all at the same time? I am not worried about leaving the kibble since I have friends that have cats.
What exactly is the soup that you were talking about. How would I make it? One of you said an egg and some ground meat but I am not sure I understand that. Do I use just a little ground meat? Like a couple of tablespoons, or more? How long does it last? How often do I give it to them? Do I totally take away their kibble during the day? I like the cuddling idea of giving it to them.
I really do want to switch them because of all the benefits of raw. I finally got my husband to agree with me. He did not know about the sugar content of all the foods and about their health in general. So now that I have him standing behind me he may even come up with an idea or something. If not, at least I have his support.
Post by amyandfuzzies6 on Jul 3, 2008 10:46:37 GMT -5
5 months and 1 YO are still pretty young - ferrets usually imprint on what is and what is not food during the 1st few months of their lives.
I've switched older [and finicky] ferrets using their own crushed kibble and egg.
I use the egg as a treat to introduce the ferrets to raw food. I've yet to find a ferret yet who does not like egg. To start with, just use the yolk as the "stringy/sliminess" of the white may not instantly appeal to the ferret. Take an egg, carefully separate out the yolk from the white. Discard the white and put the yolk in a small bowl. Start with Sam because he is younger and should be a little more open to new foods than Mr. B. Pick up Sam and you're little bowl of egg and tell him what a special treat you have for him. To start, dip you finger in the egg yolk and hold it up to his mouth to see if you can get him to willingly take a lick on his own. If not, dab a little of the yolk on his lips. He will instinctively lip his lips to remove the sticky stuff and clean his mouth at which point he should realize what yummy stuff the egg is. Don't be discourage if he at first gives you a "gack" like you're trying to poison him. Dab your finger in the egg again and hold it up to him to see if he will lick it off your finger. Do this a few times and he might surprise you by sticking his head in the bowl and lapping up the egg on his own. Repeat the same process with Mr. B. I know it SOUNDS silly, but make sure to exude excitement about this special treat you have for Sam & Mr. B.
Once this has been accomplished, you have successfully showed Mr. B & Sam that there are yummy raw treats. I also used egg a little later on as part of the transition process. Other things that you could use as treats to try to introduce them to raw could be chicken/turkey hearts/gizzards cut into small pieces given in the same manner as the egg above. Ferts seems to love gizzards - and will often fight and hiss over them - even thought they get a whole plate at a time Never seen a ferret do that over a piece of kibble.
Back to their regular food. Take a few handfuls of their kibble and crush it into fine crumbs in a small baggie. I was fortunate to find chicken fat at my local grocery store which is about 1/2 fat but 1/2 meat as well - no bones, though. I cut this up further into pinky-nail sized pieces. Take the tiny chicken/fat pieces and toss them in the bag with the crushed kibble. Close the bag and shake until all pieces are COMPLETELY coated - just like Shake-N-Bake:) Offer the tiny kibble coat pieces of chicken/fat to your boys. What you've done is provided them with the raw chicken/fat coated with a scent (their kibble) they are familiar with and accept. Gradually increase the size of the pieces until one day - the AHA moment - you notice them eating the pieces with an occasional predator shake - indicating they are starting to realize that the soft mushy stuff under the kibble is pretty darn good. Try offering tiny pieces (that can be swallowed in one gulp) of chicken fat as treats. If they resist, gently put it in their mouth. Try this a couple of times and see if you can get them to take the fat from you finger.
This is where the egg comes back into play. Just so you know, egg can be very successfully used as an aid in the transition but once you have them fully onto raw, I would cut back to giving it to them once every week or 2 or even once a month. Keep in mind that you are trying to closely as possible mimic the diet of the animal ferrets are descended from - the European Polecat. In the wild, birds do not lay eggs all year long but mainly in the spring. Therefore, eggs would probably only be available as a springtime delicacy. Eggs are full of protein and one of nature's perfect foods. However, a diet solely of eggs would cause severe health problems down the road.
Take a couple eggs (egg and yolk) and beat them together very well. You can add a few drops of flaxseed, fish oil, or salmon oil. Believe it or not, my business highly recommends the salmon oil. I would also recommend adding maybe a tablespoon of heavy whipping cream or Kefir (loaded with probiotics and I got grains and culture my own at home with pasteurized whole milk or, if you have access to it, raw cow's or goat's milk is even better). Mix all of this together very well. On a side note, you can rinse the shells, dry them, then grind them into a very fine powder which can be added back into the egg mixture for extra calcium. I wouldn't start off with this right away as some (my furbrats) will not eat the crushed egg shell.
Now mix your small pieces of chicken and fat (without kibble coating) into the egg (assuming you've gotten them to eat egg at this point). So now, you've added the raw fat/chicken to a yummy egg treat. If they eat only the egg and leave the chicken, go back to coating the chicken with kibble and continue a little longer. However, they should start eating the chicken and you can continue to move forward.
Once they accept the plain chicken/fat in the egg, get a cornish game hen. Cut the hen (with bone-in) using kitchen shears into mice-sized portions. You want to avoid cutting the bone as much as possible. What I do is cut the breast and wings away from the thighs and legs in one large piece. Next, cut the wings offs and cut into 3 pieces at the joints. Cut up the breast into mice-sized pieces. Next cut the ribs from the remaining whole pieces and cut into 2 pieces. Cut apart the 2 thighs/legs. Cut off the legs from the thighs and halve each. Ideally, down the road once they accepted the smaller pieces, you want to gradually increase the size to large chunks - like a whole wing - mine are spoiled and will not touch it unless it's cut just like above however, they still have a lot of bone crunching and chewing and tearing to do.
I feed one hen per meal 2x daily - but also have 7 ferrets. Depending on the size of the hen, one hen could be portioned out into 2 or even 3 meals.
Take one beaten egg and coat the hen pieces. You may need to hold the pieces at first to help get them accustomed to eating bones, The wings (especially the tips) are a favorite with my crew and contain bones that are small enough for a ferret to eat. Once they are eagerly eating the hen pieces, stop adding egg and coat the pieces with flaxseed oil (my preference) or olive oil or even linatone (although I would wean them off the linatone and onto a more natural/appropriate oil like fish, flaxseed, or olive oil).
My crew our stubborn and will only eat cornish game hen, chicken feet, turkey/chicken gizzards/hearts however the more variety the better. There are other mentors that can assist you if you are interested in supplementing with whole prey (which is the ideal diet). Second best is Raw Meaty Bones (RMBs). With RMBs you want to keep in mind that the parts should be from animals that a ferret could reasonably dispatch. Although my Kimba make think she's king of the jungle, she couldn't take down a cow. Plus a cow would not have enough edible bone. However, an occasional beef heart is appreciated and enjoyed.
The sooner you start the switch the better. The longer they are on a kibble diet, the greater the risk and chance that damage will be done to the pancreas which often leads to the very debilitating and life-shortening insulinoma. Once the damage is done, a ferret will benefit from a raw diet, but the pancreas does not "heal itself". My 6.5 YO was switched to raw 2 years ago but fed kibble for the 1st 4 years of her life. She is now starting to display signs of insulinoma.
The process can be time consuming and frustrating but it is BEST for your ferrets - even though they may not realize it now. Be patient and don't lose your resolve. You are the ferrent and you know what's best.
I'm not a big proponent of "when they get hungry enough, they'll eat it". In many cases this may be true but there are some ferts that are so stubborn they might starve themselves to death. So take it slow and go back a step if you have to and don't move on until the next until they are ready.
Best of luck and please keep us posted on our progress. If you need someone to talk to (or vent) we're hear to help. I'm not online over the long holiday weekend (& Monday) but can be reached at home (248.475.8994).
Don't give up! It's been 2 years since mine have been on raw and I still stop and watch in awe (chest puffed out a little) as 1 of my little predators gnaws on a chicken leg or such.
Sam gets an 'A' in egg. She took to it after the first time of me putting it on her lips. She even tried to hide the bowl. She is too funny. I am just really glad Sam took to it.
Mr B on the other hand is a totally different story. I tried holding him every way I know how to and I look like I went to battle. He is a hard one to hold since he does not like to be held for more than 2 seconds. He is not a cuddler. I did not scruff him because I am not sure I would be sending a positive message. After the first time of bringing it to his lips he refused to let my finger near his face. I don't think this (the egg) will work for him since I don't know how to get him to look at this in a positive way.
I do have to give him a bath though because he literally has egg on his face. lol
Any other suggestions for him?
I am trying the moisture to the kibble again. And am hoping it works this time. I put in a very small amount of water.
I also just got the bag of wellness core that came in the mail today. I am going to mix a little in with the other kibble and see how that goes. It was only a very small amount because it definitely has a stronger odor.
I have no intentions on giving up. I know this is the best for them. Just get a little frustrated.