Why I Care For & Feed Cats Holistically

My Rosie Posie

Several years before I graduated from massage school (1995), I began learning how certain foods I ate impacted my health, for better and worse. A nutritionist discovered I was allergic to wheat, corn, and most gluten’s, and had a high sensitivity to sugars, which expressed in the form of hypoglycemia, Candida and immune compromised conditions. These factors and others led me to learn about natural foods and supplements.

As I began to nourish myself, whole foods (and healing) became primary, as a means to recover. Adding whole grains, dark leafy greens and meats without antibiotics into my diet, literally changed my addictive living patterns, and shifted my entire life experience into a grounded sense of well-being and embodiment.  During this time I adopted two cats, Gemstone & Cleopatra. I hadn’t had any animals in my life since I was nineteen, and it was then, at age  thirty-two (1997) I was learning how to mother myself and my new adoptees at the same time.

I adopted Gem first and Clea several months later.  When I arrived to pick Clea up from the shelter, she was quite ill.  She had an upper respiratory infection, which I knew nothing about.  With antibiotics in hand, to address the congestion and literal snot running out of her nose, the attendant handed her to me and said she would be fine.

I brought Clea home, put her in a room away from Gem and called the vet.  I was directed to bring her in immediately.  Once examined, the vet hospitalized Clea because she was so ill.  The Humane Society ended up paying for the bill– I’m sure they regretted adopting her out after that.  Once released to come home, I noticed that her stool was bloody.  I had an immediate gut reaction and decided I had had enough of treating Clea with such extreme means.  I was going to take care of Clea and Gem the same way I cared for myself–holistically!  Ten days on antibiotics in isolation was too much for a five month old kitten, who had just lost her mother and her sister.

Clea’s immune system was overloaded.  I was concerned and found a local (well-respected) holistic vet to take her to.  During the appointment, Dr. Pitcairn’s book, Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, was a suggested read.  I picked it up right away and also found Anitra Fraizer’s book, The Natural Cat (the holistic CAT bible).  We began working to heal Clea’s gut and her immune system.  Clea had developed herpes in her eyes from the upper respiratory infection.  After changing her diet and adding supplementation, the herpes didn’t return.

We changed Clea’s diet to raw.   Gem switched over to a raw homemade diet too and Clea’s stool normalized immediately.  With each fresh meal, I watched their coat’s turn into thick beautiful fur.  Shedding became a past time.  Their dispositions were calmer.  They used the litter box less, and there was much less odor when they did!  It was so nice to see the evolution of wellness take place with the feline beauties in my care.

All of this was enough to convince me that holistic remedies were the way for me to nourish the beautiful babes in my care.

Later I learned raw bone (calcium) was not so good for Gem because of his predisposition to urinary crystals and stones.  So I only give him raw meat with no raw bones, and mostly canned food now.

Best Food Choices for Hyperthyroid Cats

As a cat lover, animal professional, and a woman who has cared for four cats the last sixteen years, I have learned a great deal in that time.  Namely, I have learned more about hyperthyroidism in cats than I ever wanted to know, because two of my cat companions became hyperthyroid–a common condition in cats as they age.

Aside from making a homemade diet, cooked or raw, it has been difficult to find a quality canned cat food that does not have the seaweed ‘kelp’ in it, which is a problem for hyperthyroid cats.

By quality, I am referring to foods that are grain free or well balanced, that support superb feline health, bring shine and luster to their coat, and keep fecal odor to a minimum!  This last factor is definitely important when living space is in close quarters (fyi–high quality grain free and raw foods lessen odor, and nothing compares to raw for close to odorless).

Kelp is generally good for us and our pets, as it is full of iodine, which stimulates thyroid activity.  This is good for cats that are overweight, but is not good for hyperthyroidism, in fact it makes the condition much worse.  Due to being overwhelmed with two of my cats passing this year and moving to a new home with my remaining two, finding brands ideal for Gem, the remaining kitty with hyperthyroidism and FUS-kidney failure, didn’t come easily.  Now there is a prescription diet available that has medication right in the food, which I have no experience with.

Frustrated that I could no longer give Gem frozen prepared raw food because of his complex condition, I began to search.  The fact that most prepared raw food contains kelp, and feeding raw bones was no longer an option (bone-calcium fuels crystals/stones to form in cats with FUS), I was desperate to find canned food that would nourish him without activating either condition, and a food that met all of my above mentioned criteria.

I spoke of my frustration to Pennye, an owner of The Big Bad Woof.  She directed me to Annamaet’s new cat food, Chicken & Fish-antibiotic, hormone and gluten free food, made specifically without kelp (and with cranberries and DL-Methonine for bladder health).  I don’t feed my cats dry food for many reasons, but I was happy to know about this food and decided to take some samples home and try it out anyway.

I have been feeding Gem and Rosie small amounts of Annamaet every day and they love it, and Gem is doing well with no urinary issues.  Generally though, I stay away from dry and lean toward feeding canned or raw, mainly because I notice their coats begin to thin and they throw-up much more.

For canned foods, I used to feed Nature’s Variety regularly, but Weruva is now at the top of my list.  Their food is ‘above and beyond human grade’ and my cats love it!!!

Since Hyperthyroidism is one of the top five reasons cats visit the vet, I thought cat food manufacturers would make food without kelp, but the majority of them don’t, especially the healthier ones.  Thanks so much to these conscious pet food companies who do, and many thanks to all those that operate with the animals best health in mind.

May your cats be thoroughly fulfilled and nourished, a major task for a cat guardian if the cat has thyroid challenges.

After writing this I decided to do some research to see exactly which cat foods in our store (BBW) are kelp free.  There are many foods that are kelp free (listed below), but not many that meet all of my standards listed above (i.e., healthy coat, minimal odor).

Here are the foods I found and also like:

Freeze Dried:  Honest Kitchen Prowl and most treats with just meat by Bravo, Halo, etc..

Raw:  Aunt Jeni’s Beef contains no bones, Smith Meadows Chicken Hearts (simple and tasty way to increase taurine intake)

Grain Free Canned:
Weruva, Addiction, By Nature, Blue Wilderness, Go, Evo, Verus, Wellness Healthy Indulgence, Nature’s Variety Homestyle

Grain Free Dry:
Evo, Go, Taste of the Wild, Legacy

Regular Canned:
California Natural, Blue Spa Select, Evolve, Innova,

Regular Dry:
Fromm, Health Wise, California Natural, Blue Spa Select, Sammy Snacks

Counseling Sam

Dear wonderful Sam.  Full of exhurbance and initiative, Sam needs to go to charm school.  To find a happy medium with which to socialize, hiberate, live with my eldest cat Rosie.

Rosie is the remaining puss from my original four, actually five, which I brought in from outside and socialized.  Rosie is a Libra extraordinaire!  For one she is gorgeous, two she is all about peace (although when she was younger, she did like to compete with Cleopatra a bit for my attention), and channeling the highest vibration I have ever felt from a cat.

Sam on the other hand, is a Gemini with Mars in Taurus..and he is a new soul, who didn’t learn the ropes of edakite from his lineage.  Basically that means Sam is unrefined… or

Why Flower Essences (in Combination with Animal Communication) Can Work Wonders

Flower Essence are ideal for healing the emotional body. They are one of the highest forms of energy (medicine) healing available, aside from homeopathic remedies.  Graceful and dynamic they are, in their ability to establish emotional equilibrium, ignite and fortify the spirit and soul that is not in full embodied expression, and in uncovering latent talents or denied life force, within humans, animals, plants, and land and water environments.

Like other forms of natural medicine, flower essences take effect by treating the individual, not the disease or the symptoms of disease.  They work specifically on the emotional-spiritual condition, and foster the wholeness that already existed within to shine forth (read about Dr. Bach and his discovery of flower essences here).

Generally speaking, our culture is so programed for disconnection from the subtle bodies, we may not even recognize how powerful and effective the gentler methods are.  The reason whole-being centered health and healing works, is just that.  The entire make-up, constitution, and behavioral patterns are brought into consideration when addressing physical emotional symptoms.

Actual essences are created by picking a blossom at its highest stage of life force (initial blooming) and then set out in a bowl of pure water at high noon, to receive the sun and infuse the flower into the water.  The energy of the flower is then imbued into the water.  Some form of alcohol or glycerin is used to preserve the remedy and this becomes the mother tincture.

Then, when an essence is applied externally (one of my favorite ways to use essences) or taken internally the vibration of the essence illuminates and offers its healing to the receiver.

How this works:

Our beings are made up of more than the physical body.  We are emotional, mental, spiritual and physical beings.  These bodies, other than the physical, make up the subtle bodies (emotional, mental, spiritual–see diagram) or energy body, which express a great deal of who we are, and how we respond to life and life circumstances, including how we digest food, whether our immune system grows strong or fight against itself and how we respond to social interactions.

When the energy body is worked with consciously, and actually communicated with animals can accept, change, and integrate the changes going on around them.

The reason essences work is they are:  #1 work directly with the energy body, #2 gentle, #3 effective, #4

The only reason essences won’t work is when they are not used consistently (to affect a change), or the correct remedy or combination of remedies are not being used.  Many people have told me over the years, “oh I’ve tried essences and they don’t work”.  I ask what essences they used.  The response is usually Rescue Remedy.  In our culture of quick fixes and little education about natural healing, not all situations, when it comes to essences, are relived by Rescue Remedy.  Rescue Remedy of course is an excellent formula, but it does not directly address fear of riding in the car, aggression, and abandonment issues.  I have found, throughout hundreds of cases in my work with animals, Animal Relief Formula from FES to work amazingly well.  Or homemade combination formulas, from the thousands of remedies out there, including the other 33 Bach flower essences to bring about the changes sought or desired.

I also am a strong believer in the caregiver taking the essence as well, especially if they have a great deal of stress going on in their life.  Many times animals express what is either un-expressed in us, or unconscious.

using nature, and the seasonal concept of constitution from Chinese Medicine…

Case in Point

Animal Relief Formula
Post-Trauma
Fear-Less

I created an Aggression Formula for Sam because of his incessant need to chase Rosie down and then flare up.  Not sure if he wants to dominate her or not, but he most definitely wants to experience himself in full-bodied action.

Sam has Mars in Taurus, a very earthy sensual sign….astrological data gives me further insight into who Sam is in his inherent personality, and I believe he has Pluto in the first house!

I was so worried about Sam being either mentally retarded, or just stupid (so I thought) because of his lack of ability to listen, to change, and to consider what his behavior was doing to those around him–including me!

COMMUNICATION REVEALS MORE (even to the animal communicator :)

Then in November when Gem had passed, we spoke with an animal communicator, who I have consulted numerous times over the years.  I have several local friends that are communicators, but I knew I needed an objective perspective to help me make the shift from Gem being here in body to being in Spirit.  The two things I needed the most help with were Gem’s transition and Sam’s behavior.  Gem was a very jealous cat, but he really didn’t mind Sam, occasionally putting Sam in his place or scolding him for being obnoxious at the wrong time.

What happened when Teresa talked with Sam was nothing short of a miracle.  Sam became very still, quite.  She shared with me that he wanted to know how he could help.  I wanted more snuggling (Gem was the best), which Sam didn’t like very much, and I also wanted him to stop chasing Rosie and being so self-centered.

My housemate even noticed the change in Sam.  He sat like a dog, waiting for direction from me.  He snuggled in my arms.  Even when I went to put him down, he offered more, insisted on more.  He was calmer, more serene and open-hearted.  This lasted as long as I stayed conscious and present in this level of communication.  As soon as my attention moved into fear…Sam seemed harder to reach.

Here’s where the flower essences come in and lots of play.  Sam didn’t have early natural exploration I’m sure….

Cat Behavior (Is It Based on their Humans?)

“Dog rehabilitation – This is what I do: help a dog with issues to return to a balanced state of calm submission. Sometimes it may appear that I can “fix” a dog instantly, but as I’ve said, “a dog is not an appliance that can be sent out for repairs.” Permanent dog rehabilitation can occur only with a calm, assertive, stable, and consistent owner.” -Cesar Millan

Best Cat Food for Urinary-Kidney (with no by-products)

Davescatphospork

A few weeks ago I stopped by The Big Bad Woof in Takoma, DC to pick up some cat food, and noticed this new cat formula on the shelf.

Dave’s Pet Food has come out with a low phosphorus formula, made without meat by-products and the like.

It literally turned my head!  I have worked with animals for many many years and the only canned food for cats with urinary issues is made by Hills/Science Diet.

It is so refreshing to see a smaller company come out with a formula to help cats who suffer, without having to compromise on quality.

I often wondered why the big pet companies didn’t come out with a formula like this, as well as one for hyper-thyroid issues.  Science Diet has finally done the later, and it’s SO refreshing to see a smaller company, like Dave’s come out with a Restricted Diet cat food.

Thanks Dave’s!  More cats in the US are happier to be eating your food.

Time for Hyperthyroidism Medication

Recently, we started Gem on methimazole for his hypethyroidism and he was so grateful.  He actually turned around, looked at me, and said, “It’s about time!”

I was fearful about giving it to him, because Clea didn’t do very well on it, but Gem is doing just fine.  He is now getting a very minor dose, via transdermal compound that gets wiped into his ear–no more shoving a pill down his throat!  He is gaining his weight back and is much calmer.  Gem is a big cat–15 lbs during his prime, and now weighs 10 lbs, so I’m very happy to see his weight increase.

Additionally, the vet told me to go ahead and feed him fish, even with his FLUTD condition.  Most fish, in the Chinese Wisdom Traditions and Chinese Medicine, is considered cooling (see food charts at bottom of blog).  Inflammatory processes are produced by heat, so feeding a cooling food can be quite helpful.

Gem was very happy–he loves fish.  I stopped feeding the lamb and chicken so much, but the vet did say its all about balance, so he gets some of that too, in moderation.

I hope this info helps your kitty and you to establish greater well-being and health.  Check out our additional post below, Best Food Choices for Hyperthyroid Cats, for other insights in foods for hyperthyroid cats.

All the Best.

More Food Choices for Hyperthyroid Cats

IMG_0021Recently, I have been happily and sincerely considering the curious results I am having with feeding my cat, Gem, raw organ meat (specifically raw kidney and raw heart from a local organic farm).  Since I have added this into his diet his hyperthyroid symptoms are minimally presenting!

About a month ago, I made an appointment to take him to the holistic vet (also a seasoned homeopath) because he has been so out of balance.  She saved his life two winters ago, since that time he has been on an herbal formula for the thyroid and a homeopathic for his heart (given as needed).

Because of what happened to Gem while taken western meds and the effect they had Cleopatra when she was alive, we are completely interested in routes that provide less stress and better results.  Pilling Gem everyday, two times a day is stressful for me and him.  I don’t have difficulty with it, but sometimes my schedule is so busy I forget, plus he hates it, though manages it well.  Additionally, as of late he seems to be increasingly desirous of more and more food.

Working at a holistic pet store that partners with many local organic and anti-biotic free farms, I am privy to lots and lots of choices all the time.  Lately, we have had frozen raw kidneys available.  I began feeding kidneys for the first time last year, mostly cut-up chicken hearts on top of Honest Kitchen–they gobble right up!

My vet has always said food is the best medicine.  Over the years, I have attempted to feed the best quality food possible.  With Rosie and Gem both having heart murmurs and my new kittens (a year old this month) who were under nourished when I took them in (Isis is now 7 pounds) and always hungry, I am constantly considering their diet and how I may enhance their health and well-being.

In feeding Gem kidney (lamb) and I noticed right away that he seemed different–more relaxed and more satisfied.  He has put on weight, is less hungry, his coat is smoother and he seems better overall.  So I canceled his appointment with the vet.  I am curious though, to see if his thyroid levels have come down, so we are going in late July.

Why would feeding kidney and heart help Gem?  In holistic and Chinese Medicine, you feed the body that which it is deficient it.  In this case, Gem has a heart murmur and he has had bladder/kidney imbalances since he was a kitten, in addition his  hyperthyroidism, which was under 5 (though his levels were going up!).

Since the thyroid and the kidney are part of the endocrine system, and thyroid imbalance stems either from the kidney or the pancreas, it makes sense that feeding Gem kidney meat would influence his overall wellness and his thyroid (endocrine).  Additionally, mucus is considered dampness in Chinese Medicine and cooked food (canned) may contribute to dampness (see food chart on home page to learn more about food and their temperatures).

I feed the other cats raw diets with crushed bone, but Gem can’t have the bone, so the organ meat has been a perfect way to nourish him.  He is becoming renewed, though I do have mixed feelings about furthering Gem’s life and well-being from the auspices of a slaughtered lamb (feeding fresh organ meat puts me more in touch with the animals that are killed so they may eat).

I hope this information is helpful.