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

A Case for Alternatives

IMG_2133 IMG_2134 IMG_2131On a Monday afternoon, during my shift at The Big Bad Woof (holistic pet supply store) in Takoma DC, I learned two kittens had been left outside the front door earlier that same morning.  A local drive-by saw them in a carrier and delivered them to a local woman known for her rescue efforts.

Five days later Sterling and Silver were at the store again, only this time they were up for adoption.  Their small crate was accessible for viewing and easy handling.  The kittens were guesstimated to be around eight weeks old.  They were clearly sick with an upper respiratory infection (very common in kittens).

Sterling was not doing well though.  She was tiny, feverish, sleepy, to the point of almost falling over.  Sterling’s brother Silver was rowdy, three to four times her size and playing way too rough with her.  Sterling could barely stand up, let alone defend herself.  Silver was sick too, with a bit of pus in his eyes, but his constitution was stronger and his symptoms far less.

Sam was sweet, though he seemed frustrated and angry, or maybe he just had lots of male kitten testosterone to express.  Unaware of the impact he was having on Sterling, I am glad I intervened to help, ultimately adopting them both.  With conscious attention and boundary setting, Sam shifted quickly.  With observation it was easy to see he was jealous and insecure…more about his viscous behavior later–it is coming full circle with conscious everything (love, communication, food, medicine, and play).

I couldn’t bare to watch Sterling suffering so.  I bought a sling-pouch, put her in it, pulled her close to me and carried her around all day while I worked.  She was ever so grateful and sweet.  She most definitely needed an advocate, a mother, and a nurse. Familiar with the typical Rhino upper respiratory virus cats commonly get, I felt confident I could help restore Sterling to health with homeopathy, whole raw food, and love.  I took her home that night.  I convinced Karin I wanted to help the kitten, so she agreed and supplied me with everything necessary, including the antibiotic for her eyes.

I had a great deal of experience with with the Rhino virus, with my cat Cleopatra as a kitten, and my other cats over the years. Little did I know that we were dealing with the Calici Virus, which I had never heard of in seventeen years of cat care.

I ditched the antibiotic and learned she had been given a vaccination during her short duration at the rescue.  Several weeks of giving two different remedies Isis began doing much better (gave Thuja 30c and…), but she continued to have watery eyes, especially the left eye.  She possibly has an ulcer.  I’m not sure.  I read more and gave her a high dose of Cal Carb (based on poor teeth, gems swollen…), which worked for a short while, but the symptoms continued.

I felt the vaccine given to Sterling was making it harder for her to heal.  She was too small and ill to handle the effects of the vaccine and fight the virus off, and handle the underlying abandonment and apparent lack of immunity transferred from her mother.  Silver and Sterling had a great deal to heal from, not just the virus.

In the meantime, my two much older cats contracted the virus.  It was a nightmare!  I had let the kittens run around in the room my cats most frequented (they were living in a small bathroom), which was a mistake.  One we all paid for dearly.

Gem and Rosie, fourteen and fifteen at the time, had less and less interest in food, which I thought was strange because they loved food!  I was baffled, especially with Gem being hyper-thyoid–he was always hungry.  Then, they began to express symptoms–copious amounts of drool and I realized they had the virus.  Mouth ulcers were preventing them from eating.

The kittens didn’t have any of those symptoms, so I was seriously confused.

I feverishly sought the right remedy for the kittens and my older cats.  A friend lent me Dr. Don Hamilton’s book, Homeopathy for Small Animals.  His book is phenomenal for those interested in homeopathy.  In it, I found several remedies listed that matched the older cats symptoms, known to treat the Calci Virus.  I took my cats to the vet.  Under her supervision, Mercurius Solibus 30C was given via dropper bottle and succussed (succussion) and given as needed–which was often.  Gem lost five pound’s and had to be force fed twice a day, along with subcutaneous fluids, and two herbal formulas.  One for pain and the other to jump start his immune system.  Gem had a very serious and complicated health condition(s) already.

Three weeks and counting, Gem and Rosie finally began to get better.  The kittens though, were still shedding the virus (fluid coming from their eyes, especially Isis), but otherwise wild and crazy like any other kittens.  They lived in the bathroom.  Isis-Angel’s (Sterling) eye symptoms seemed to be connected to her lungs (she coughed and wheezed) and Sam (Silver) seemed to get better, and then get re-infected by Isis.

Fifteen years of consciously raising cats and working with them professionally, I had not heard of the Calici Feline Virus, and now I knew more than I had ever hoped to.  For homeopathy to work, you have to find the right remedy.  Thus, patience and discernment are needed when determining what is working and what isn’t.  In cases like these, patience can be hard to find, but homeopathy has come through too many times for me and my cats to deny its power and efficacy now.

Desperate, I decided to contact Dr. Hamilton to determine the best remedy for the kittens.  We focused on Mercurius as well.  During this time, I had to move and didn’t have a home for the kittens to come with me.  Because of my stress about the whole situation and moving, I took the kittens back to our regular vet, after I got them situated in a bigger more accepting environment.  We changed the dosage from 30C to 200C and the kittens began to make marked improvement.  I was feeding raw organ meat with Honest Kitchen Prowl Chicken, Answers Raw Goat milk (Isis laps it up like it is going out of style), By Nature canned food, Stella & Chewy freeze-dried and anything else of high quality. (FYI-its best to stick with one homeopath, rather than switch around).

In a new stress-free setting, aside from me not living with them, the kittens had an entire bedroom to roam around in, a bed to sleep on and two large windows to observe the world through.  I visited twice a day to feed, play and clean-up. The kittens were very happy, though it was clear Sam’s behavior was going to be an issue.  Sam needed lots of attention. When he didn’t get it, he took it out on Isis.  When we played, Isis was fast, spontaneous, courageous.  Sam was more reserved, and became sheepish when Isis injected herself.

In early stages of life the immune system is developing.  Kittens that have well-balanced environments (still with their mothers or with a nurturing substitute that encourages homeostasis), who are fed wholesome food, and have limited exposure to the outer stresses of modern life, of course have a better chance at building strong immune forces.  When they are exposed to the common air-borne upper respiratory virus, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, they usually are strong enough to fend it off.

If they do get the virus their immune systems work diligently to recover, which is not such a bad thing, because in essence the virus is helping to develop their immune system.  Kittens whose basic survival is threatened and are ill right off the bat have more difficultly gaining immunity, especially when they are given a vaccine while they are too young and ill.  Thus, if they get a virus and can’t ward it off medical intervention is clearly necessary.

The type of medicine is important though, and of course is based on one’s beliefs and understanding that, a–there are alternatives, and b–comprehensive approaches to health and healing, outside of the convention model.  I personally am committed to the holistic path, for many reasons.  This article or blog entry begins to explain why.

The standard protocol to treat upper respiratory infections (FVR) is antibiotics, but the holistic approach is much more gentle on little bodies and souls, and more effective in building immunity both the short and long term, in many cases.

Whatever is suppressed in the immune system in the beginning stages of life continually shows up in the animal or persons health, many times in a serious manner.  Here’s where homeopathy is ideal.

In the case of Isis and Samson they were given a distemper vaccine just after they were found abandoned, while they were sick.  This is not a smart or caring thing to do.  Vets and owners can learn a great deal from avoiding this tactic.  While the immune system is busy building antibodies to ward off an illness, it can’t handle an immune suppressant to boot!

My experience with my own cats (my cat Clea almost died from FVR as a kitten and was put in ICU for ten days on antibiotics and was given a vaccine at the shelter prior to my adopting her–she had health issues her whole life), educating myself about natural holistic medicine from reading the most up-to-date holistic books, from working with and for homeopathic veterinarians over the years and being a professional animal intuitive and empath gave me direct insight into what was going on with the kittens.

I am not suggesting antibiotics and vaccines are not appropriate, though I do have strong opinions about them, but what I am suggesting is making educated choices based in integrative and mindful approaches.  Our culture is generally so disconnected, disembodied from feeling and understand how important, valid, and loving it is to utilize healthcare approaches that are inclusive of the mind, body, spirit and soul, that we follow, many times blindly, the advice of “authorities” without ever tuning into the message of the moment, listening to what our little friends truly need.  Even if we feel we don’t have the ability to hear what our animals are saying, if we have the willingness to educate ourselves about alternatives, we are well on our way.

During my time working with Dr. Carol Lundquist and Dr. Monique Maniet, I saw over and over how a homeopathic approach cured cases that traditional medicine was unable to address.  In Dr. Pitcairn’s book, Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, there are several homeopathic remedies to use to treat the Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis.  With Isis and Samson, I followed Dr. Pitcairn’s homeopathic protocol, in his book…, and gave Isis Pulsatilla 30C, one pellet every four hours, three times.  She did improve, but still had pus.  I then gave Thuja 30C to clear the vaccine.  She improved again, but this still didn’t clear up her eyes all the way.  I used eyes drops.  Now the pus was mostly gone, but not fully and her eyes continued to weep constantly with clear fluid.

I began to add Colostrum and Astragulus into their food, but this did not clear up their eyes.  They needed a stronger and more specific remedy for their eyes.  I ordered Calcarea Carbonia 10M (per Dr. P).

CC is specific to eye problems.  I used it in the past, when Gem my fourteen year old cat, had gotten a scratch many years before in his eyes.  We tried the homeopathic approach and another alternative and it was not working, so we put him on a steroid, which still didn’t clear it up.  Then we went to an eye specialist.  He prescribed the same steroid to be given in a more frequent rate.  The next day, after our vet visit, I put the steroid cream in his eye and he turned to me and said if you do that again I will leave!

We went back to the holistic vet and chose another remedy, Silica, and his eye improved immediately.

UPDATES

I have been waiting to finish this article and waiting for positive results to occur with Isis and Sam’s health, and we finally have super good news.

The plaque on their teeth is FALLING OFF, yes falling off, the gums are back to normal, no reddness, and their other symptoms, conjunctivitis has almost completely dissappeared.  Isis has some residual residue and Sam no longer has any.

Today, February 26th, I checked their teeth, after playing and clipping nails, and to my delight all the plague on their teeth has disappeared!!!!!!!!  I credit this to the raw diet.  In late January I completely shifted their on and off again raw diet (feeding lots of canned food, with a few morsels of dry maybe every 3 months) comprised only of COOLING meats, and raw GOAT’S MILK.

I took Isis to see Dr. Maniet in January, to follow up from an appointment we had in December when we started her on Silicea (which matches her symptoms perfectly).  I wasn’t sure Silicea was the right remedy, as she was still having so many symptoms.

This shows how food combinations are just as important as the medicine.

After having Dr. M. confirm Silicea was the right remedy, I realized a few things.  The first was the Chicken and Lamb I was feeding was introducing too much heat into the kittens systems, thus inducing chronic inflammation in their gum.  Plus I was feeding lots of “processed cooked” food (canned), although I also fed the new Sprouted Dry Food numerous times throughout this time.  Right when I made this connection, I made a solid commitment to feed the kittens only Rabbit or Duck (very cooling meats) and Raw Goat’s Milk.  Dr. M and I had also discussed the possibility of worms.  The “kittens”, now two, were constantly asking for food and burning a hole in my wallet.  Four or five times a day they wanted to eat.  Dr. M said even if worms don’t present in a fecal, they can still be there.  A few weeks after I made the commitment to change only to raw rabbit and duck, I was talking with Mindy at the BBW in Hyattsville.  She was buying a bag of food grade Diatomacious Earth, to give to her feral cats (since they live outdoors making them more susceptiable to worms).  She encouraged me to buy a bag to address my cats “starvation”.

I found this website, which answered all my questions and educated me about feeding DM to my cats. The hunger patterns subsided immediately.  The combination of DM, raw food (usually raw Bravo rabbit or Stella Chewy freeze-dried duck) mixed with ANSWERS Raw Goat Milk, a raw egg (their new raw cat food formula is amazing (I feed this to Rosie), plus the homeopathic the kittens are moving out of auto-immunity into true immunity!  I couldn’t be more thrilled and happy to see them make this huge shift.  It’s much easier on them and me.  I have been worried about affording to care for them with a diagnosis of Stomatitis.  A very serious and difficult condition to treat.

Over a period of feeding this week for five weeks, all their gum inflammation is gone, except for two teeth on Isis (they look as if they never came in all the way).  She needs more time to heal, as her auto-immune dis-ease, and response was much more serious than Sam’s.  I have a bottle of Silicea made from one 200C pellet, spring water and Gemclear from Dr. M.  I have given her the remedy five times, succussed (this means it builds in strength each time the bottle is hit against the palm).

Typically, Stomatitis is treated by cats having their teeth taken out and live their lives on cheap dry food, rather than getting the nourishment they really require.  I am of the Do No Harm ilk, and follow-thru with the natural path, for as long as it takes, and it can take awhile.

INTEGRATIVE (MEDICINE) comprises not only the integration of eastern and western medicines in the treatment of a patient or illness, it is the combination of various methods and modalities, possibly all natural, to bring full wellness into being within the  patient.  For instance…

 

Update: 7/25/14
Checked Sam’s teeth today, since I’m thinking about putting this case study forward.  His teeth look amazing and his gums near perfect (gums around one tooth on left side red).  One would never know he had any problems.

Isis is another story.  Her gums are red, inflamed – worse on the left.  I haven’t been consistent with her treatment though.  We have just moved into temporary living and may be moving again next week into new permanent space.  She still needs coaxing to eat sometimes, but mostly she needs lots of coddling.  She’s also a crier.  I feel she needs Chamomila.  I need to pick some up and make a bottle.

HIGHLIGHT – Sam has made miraclous strides in allowing his nails to be clipped!  I made an aggression formula (FES) and he has responded fantastic.  I put the remedy on his paws/pads and around his ears and he melts like butter.  Also he is doing well during the day in one room with Calming treats, Animal Relief Formula in his water and whole food breakfast.

A-Z Posts to Come

  • Conscious Death
  • Holistic Alternatives vs. Prescription Drugs, hyperthyroidism
  • How to Support Healthy Coat for Cats that Only Eat Dry Food
  • Dry vs. Wet
  • Why Not Grocery Store Food-what’s the difference
  • Single Source Proteins
  • Vaccination Responses

How to be the Top Cat–Why It’s important to Be the Top Cat

How to get your animals to eat well..

  • Why our cats are always necessarily lonely, when we think they are.  Then we adopt another pet, which many times they resent/hate.

Whole Food & Energy Medicine & the Calici Virus

Fifteen years of consciously raising cats and working with them professionally, I was unaware of the aggressive Calici Virus, until I rescued two eight week old kittens.

In late July 2010, two kittens were left outside the holistic pet supply store where I worked at 7AM (managing the supplement section and helping educate and guide guardians on whole food and supplement choices).

A local commuter noticed the kittens and took them to a woman in town who shelters and fosters animals, mainly cats.  This lady frequently brings kittens to our store to help them get adopted, and she did the same in this case.  She named the kittens Sterling and Silver.

I met the kittens the day they were being “shown” at the store.  I noticed the smaller of the two was not feeling well.  She only weighed a pound and a-half and was clearly ill with what looked like a typical upper respiratory Rhino Virus, very common in cats.  Familiar with how to treat this virus with homeopathy (Clea had had it as a kitten and it almost took her life because of over vaccination while she was ill, coupled with poor immunity and abandonment issues), I was confident I could help Sterling.  After several weeks of giving two different remedies, the female kitten Sterling (now Isis-Angel) was doing much better, but she continued to have watery eyes, and possibly an ulcer in her eye.  I wasn’t sure.

Patience is needed and discernment to determine what is working and what isn’t, when it comes to homeopathy.

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