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

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.

Is It Cat Scratch Fever?

Several months after Gem began taking medication for his diagnosis of heart disease, he suddenly had no ability to even lift his head.  Literally he was unable to move, and his breathing was seriously labored.  I took him to our regular vet.  When they drew blood, it came out like water!  I immediately felt it was due to the aspirin he was taking.  Cats metabolize aspirin differently then humans do, so it’s risky to give it to them.

All heart medications were stopped, including the aspirin. Dr. Raichura gave Gem a shot of penicillin and prescribed several more over the next three days to bring the fever down.  As I observed Gem, it was clear he was not getting any better.  I brought him back in.  Dr. Pema was on duty.  She thought Gem may have Cat Scratch Fever.  All his symptoms pointed in that direction, but Gem’s main symptoms occurred more in humans than in cats, though he did have a constant fever, weight loss, and anemia.  We spoke with the cardiologist about the heart medication and it’s side effects–she had never seen a cat react as Gem did in all her years of practice.  I told her, I thought I had given him aspirin two days in a row, rather than separated four days apart, but she didn’t think that would generate a fever.  Then we discussed Bartonellosis (Cat Scratch Fever).  She thought it was a good possibility Gem may have it, which was good news.  If it was Cat Scratch Fever, Gem had a good chance of surviving.  We did another blood test to check.  It was negative.

Gem’s case was complicated.  He had a heart murmur, asthma, which appeared six months earlier, FUS (which had been clear for over a year), a mysterious rash that came and went on his belly for six months, but had cleared up with antibiotics and a change in diet, and border-line hyperthyroid levels, but the doctors, including the cardiologist, were not convinced he was hyperthyroid.  But if his heart condition was caused by his thyroid, it was reversible.  I though, continued to feel that the baby aspirin had to be part of Gem’s anemia and collapse.

I told Dr. Raichura and she agreed, continuing with aspirin for Gem’s heart condition was risky, and the conventional method and Chinese Medicine, were not giving us the results we were hoping for in this case.  She suggested I make an appointment with Dr. Maniet, a seasoned veterinarian and homeopath, who has worked with thousands of cases over a twenty-five year period.  My cats have been her patients since they were kittens, and we (me and the cats) trust and know the holistic path much more than the conventional.  Many folks think homeopathy, and other alternative practices, are a hoax or are invalid, which is truly too bad for them.  I choose the most energetically alive approach (mindful and integrative), rather than going through a somewhat limited and narrow approach (allopathic) to what is possible regarding healthcare choices for me and the cats.  In this case, even though we still couldn’t link Gem’s fever with any known condition, we certainly had nothing to lose, especially since the conventional approach seemed to be harming more than helping.

Dr. Maniet suggested Gem was used to natural medicine and suggested Naja–a homeopathic remedy made from Cobra venom.  When victims are attacked by a Cobra, its bite leads to enlargement of the heart and respiratory failure–the two main symptoms Gem was suffering with.  Homeopathy works by taking minute diluted amounts of a plant substance to avoid disagreeable side effects (in this case venom), which is then mixed with alcohol and water.  This mixture creates a mother tincture, which is then diluted further and compounded with a milk base to form what are know as ‘pellets’.  When the remedy is taken, the body’s innate immune system is stimulated to bring the body into homeostasis, creating harmony with the waging symptoms within.

Dr. Maniet seemed sure about her conclusion, and we decided to trust the homeopathic approach that has worked for us so many times in the past.  My cats have been patients at Veterinary Holistic Care since they were kittens.  I even worked there for many years and earned a great respect for vibrational homeopathic medicine (also used Dr. Pitcairn’s book, Natural Health for Dogs and Cats–it became my bible in raising the cats, along with the New Natural Cat by Anitra Fraizer).  It had cured many ailments me and my cats suffered from over the years, with no negative side effects.  We experienced strengthened immune systems and healing each and every time.

She made up a dosage bottle for us.  We went home, I gave him the remedy and Gem’s symptoms abated overnight!  I gave him a does of 4-5 drops each time he had symptoms of labored breathing.  With each application, the symptoms disappeared.  Six months later, Gem continues to be better, his thyroid levels continue to be borderline and his heart murmur is not detectable at all!

Thanks to conscious medicine, Gem is alive today living a happy healthy life.  Thanks Dr. M.