Why I Care For & Feed Cats Holistically

My Rosie Posie

Several years before I graduated from massage school (1995), I began learning how the 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 began to mother myself (meaning nourish in every way) 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 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.

Best Food Choices for Hyperthyroid Cats

I have done recent research (1/17/15) into the foods listed below, to be sure they are KELP-free, and they are.  See them listed in bold below.

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.

UPDATE 3/13/16: ANNAMAET NOW HAS KELP – IT IS NOT KELP FREE

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 (Grain-free canned)
  • Blue Wilderness (Wild Cats, Healthy Gourmet, Wild Delights)
  • 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

Why Whole Food

Our first cat was a beautiful white cat with several large black pools, splotched on her side and face.  We named her Snowball.  My Dad hated cats.  He was raised around dogs, but his brother married a woman who loved cats, and one winter their two cats came to stay with us.  Snowball unfortunately died shortly after she was spayed.  I think she decided it was time to depart, because my father had no tolerance for her diarrhea “accidents” in the bathtub.

It didn’t occur to my father that she wasn’t digesting the food well that we fed her, or that she didn’t feel well.  Or maybe it did cross his mind, but he wasn’t having any of it and he let her know in a non-feline friendly directive style.  This upset me immensely.

I loved cats–all animals in fact.  Before Snowball, we had a dog.  Her name was Mitsy.  Half Shepard, half Collie.  We adopted her as a puppy–she was adorable.  Not sure where we got her.  No matter to me, I loved having a dog.  Not my Dad.  Six months after we got her, Mitsy found cooked chicken bones in the trash and swallowed them whole–she needed surgery.  Not long after, she chewed through the new living room carpet.  Three kids, full-time job, night school and a wife who was in poor health, my father said we had to part with our pup.

Oh my, what a sad time that was.

Fast forward a few years and Jerry came into our lives.  My sister Christine found him up at the school.  She could always find a stray cat, and after that we had continuous cats.  Usually one at a time.  My father was out-numbered.  My mother and two sisters and I loved cats.

We fed our cats the typical food from the grocery store.  That’s all there was in the early 70’s, before canned and dry food were available, pets were generally fed scraps from the table.

When the multi-billion dollar pet food industry was born, so to were many digestive problems and health challenges for pets.  There are numerous resources to learn about the fillers that go into low-price, low-quality pet food that would shock us out of ever buying it again.  Awful stories, not going to post here today.

Cats
Cats are hunters, not gatherers.  When we leave bowls of food out all day long, cats gain too much weight.  I’ve just witnessed it recently with Sam and Isis.  My Rosie girl just passed in January 2016.  She was very ill, so was I and I just didn’t have the energy or money to take superb care of Sam and Isis, nutritionally that is.  I began buying Beyond dry from Purina and their canned food.  Sam and Isis both loved it. For about six weeks.

Cats in particular can be misunderstood.  They have very specific needs, especially if they had early trauma, abandonment, etc., which means they weren’t socialized the same, held enough, nourished enough and tend to be more introverted, and then feel the need to hide, etc.

especially if they live

cats get addicted to fillers in foods, and we are so used to our cats grazing rather than hunting as they are meant to, that we become lazy, or accustomed to ease of pouring dry food in a bowl and volia, no problem.

Unfortunately there are two problems with this sceanario…

cats use more litter and there stools stink to high heaven…

Feeding raw is much more sustainable…

Cat In-to-me-cy

take this quiz to determine the relationship style you have with your cat

distant
conscious
holistic

questions:

how often do you pick your cat up
are you afraid your cat will scratch you, if you pick her up, put her in the carrier
do your cats go outside, do they live outside, how often do you nurture them
do your cats eat dry food
Are you the top cat
do your cats listen to you
do you clip your cats nails?
are you hands on
do you use an animal communicator

if you have more than one cat,
How willing are you to ….
Has your cat ever had acupuncture
Have your used flower essences, successfully with your cat
Has your cat ever been treated with homeopathy
Do you feed your cats food from the grocery store
How aware are you of your cat’s behavior once outdoors
Do you check on your cat, when they are outdoors
Do they kill birds regularly
Do you follow all the rules, such as regular shots, collar…
Do you let them outdoors consciously?
You groom them regularly
Snuggle sessions are a must