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

Gem’s Heart

This summer Gem was scheduled for dental cleaning and extractions, but due to the discovery of a heart murmur, we needed to see a cardiologist first, so we went to see Dr. Jacobs.  Gem’s sonogram revealed an enlarged heart and the need for medication. Honestly, I was relieved to find out just what was going on with him, because I was aware of how discontented he was. I had thought it was his tooth, but it turned out his abrupt and anxious behavior was due to his newly discovered condition.

Gem has always been a cuddler, the best in fact. He really likes to curl up close to the nape of my neck and sleep for a bit, many times laying right on my heart.  His purring, breathing and heart beat always felt smooth and put me to rest, but not in the recent months.  His behavior, in fact, in the last few months, was obnoxious! He was attacking Clea more than ever and just not himself. Now I understood why.

I was willing to do whatever the doctor suggested, even though we mainly followed a holistic protocol.  We went straight to Knowles Apothecary to get Gem’s prescription filled!  In addition to the ________ Dr. Jacob prescribed, she also prescribed a quarter tablet of baby aspirin 2x a week.  After giving Gem one dose of his medication he became calmer and back to his old self.  We were all relieved, including Gem.

In hindsight I recall Gem having a cough over the years that seemed unusual. Now I know it was a heart condition and asthma slowly progressing which didn’t show up until recently.

Earthy Girl

Clea, my Egyptian Mau and pink and blue Tortie, is the most incredible cat.  First of all, she is strikingly beautiful.  She has huge gooseberry eyes with the characteristic ‘M’ on her forehead, mascara lines from her cheeks to her eyes, a long slender body with very long legs in the back and shorter ones in the front, huge ears, a skin fold under the belly (like a cheetah), and pink tortie colorings–pink ears, a pink nose, pink pads on all her feet with a blue/pink sheen to her coat.  Her nickname, among many others is “pinky girl”.

Cleopatra, Clea for short, not Cleo.  Originally I named her Ariel, for Archangel Ariel when I first adopted her.  Clea loves food and loves to hang out in the kitchen when I was cooking.  She is always interested in eating, as most animals are, but Clea has an affinity for earthy things.  Relative to behavior, personality, and affinities, among the five elements in Chinese Traditional Medicine (earth, wood, fire, metal, water) she would be described, and has been by her holistic veterinarians, as an earth constitution.

Predominately expressing in the earth domain, Clea has digestive issues, which began as a kitten after a horrible bout with an upper respiratory infection.  She was hospitalized for ten days and was on iv-antibiotics and fluids the entire time.  When she returned home, she had blood in her stool and was constipated.  Around the age of two she began gaining lots of weight.  She didn’t eat anymore than the rest of the cats, but gained weight, a characteristic also inclusive of the earth constitution.

Like many female cats, Clea was more interested in eating and playing, than cuddling.  My male cats are much more interested in that, then the females, at least in a our multi-cat household that’s how is plays out.  Clea was definitely affectionate, but had much more to do with me holding her on my shoulder, or talking a walk, than curling up.  Though she did like to sleep at the end of my feet.  In the last couple years of her life, she became much much more affectionate and slept right close to my head.

Today, tonight really, I took her to the vet to get fluids and carried her there without her carriage (not my usual practice). She stayed on my shoulder as we walked to and from the car. While in the car she lounged on the seat like a Goddess, which she is.

She is just so comfortable in almost any environment. When I used to jog, she would follow along just like a dog. People were amazed with how well I had trained her! I didn’t, that’s just how she is! Beautiful, sensitive and earthy~a perfect mirror for me.

Thank you Clea. I love you.

Middle Aged Cats on Meds

Can you believe I have four cats and each one of them now needs specific supplements and medication, every day! It’s really a full time job, and yet, I’m happy to be of service to them. They are my family.

Gem and Clea just turned thirteen this spring, and Bear and Rosie will be twelve in the fall. Over the last year Gem and Bear have developed conditions that needed addressing, while Clea’s ongoing Hyperthyriodism challenges us all, at times to the extreme (she has me almost every night).  Last but not least, Rosie’s congenital heart murmur hasn’t gotten worse since she was a kitten, though the cardiologist this year said it is slowly progressing, yet still no need for western meds. The herbal formula, Rx for Pets: CV Formula, taken daily with CoQ10 is working just fine.

The good news is we are managing and doing quite well, thanks to my ingenuity and constant desire to try new supplements, and thoroughly trust my intuition and the multi-dimensional layers that go into holism (energy first, body second). And many thanks to Bruce for being their beneficiary for the last year and the veterinarians and tech professionals who have been caring for my babes too.

Since I have been giving Clea lots of extra care over the last year, Gem has become even more jealous or insecure than he was before (now clarified as an enlarged heart!). As my first cat and a Russian Blue, he really doesn’t like sharing me with the other cats. Astrologically, Gem has a natal Saturn-Mars opposition conjunct the nodes in early cardinal degrees, that means, he is being impacted by the Grand Cardinal Cross now, enhancing his need to be authoritative and dominant–Mars NN! Last year he developed a rash on his belly that turned quite bad, for six months. I also found out he has asthma and more recently found out he has a heart murmur too. The rash has flared up a little this spring, but as long as I don’t give him any warming foods, like chicken or lamb, and take care of his Asthma with a 1/4 tablet of Thymus extract to boost his immune system he is okay. Thymus extract increases respiration and specifically helps Asthma.

Over the winter Bear got quite ill, vomiting and a high fever for several days. I gave him homemade chicken broth with vitamin C and homeopathy and he was better quickly. Then before he was to have dental extractions, his blood work showed a deficiency in potassium. His kidneys needed support. We put him on Standard Process Feline Renal Care, which he loves eating, but he still wasn’t improving. So he is also taking Rx for Pets: Amino B & K and his dandruff is gone, he sleeps less, and his entire body looks and feels better. Before he was bloated and started getting lumps. Now he is happy and looks quite sleek.

Clea of course is getting her Chinese herbal formula, Four Gentlemen and Methamazole, both twice a day. You can read more about how we have treated Clea’s hyperthyroidism and chronic pancreatitis on my earlier post.

Bye for now!

How I Found My Lost Cats

About ten years ago, maybe eight, I was living in a two bedroom condo with my four cats. At the time I was totally committed to daily meditation and had a full-time massage practice.  I usually spent two hours a day, at a minimum, in meditation, so I was very attuned to my energy body and most definitely to my cats.

Sometime during that time period I decided to have a party and invited a few friends over. It was a nice spring day and I had the door open. Rosie and Bear, sister and brother cats, were shut off in one of the bedrooms and Gem and Clea were free to roam as they usually did. They are very social cats and I assumed they loved the company. At some point during the party I noticed Clea wasn’t around so I searched for her to no avail. One of my intuitive friends mentioned Clea didn’t want all the people in the house and left and that she would return. Well, she was gone for close to two weeks and I was beside myself.

Nicky, my first feral cat, had slipped through the screened window of my bedroom the year before on the first night we moved into the condo. He never returned. He had told me he didn’t want to move from our house to the condo, and I didn’t address his deepest issues around the move. I saw him several times after that but he was too fearful and feral and ended up living in the woods just beyond our new home. It took me a year to get over it. So you can imagine my distress at Clea’s disappearance.

Around the eleventh or twelfth day I received a phone call, a woman, one neighborhood over had her. She said Clea had been on her porch and called the phone number on the tag. Thank God she had her collar and name tag on. Clea lost lots of weight which probably triggered the chronic pancreatitis condition she has, although she has always had digestive issues.

Then maybe a year later, Bear ventured outside and was missing for three days. My intuition was highly developed, but I hadn’t fully trusted it with my animals. I had heard of this animal communicator so I called her. She worked in tandem with another communicator and the three of us talked. Beth told me the best thing I could do was to settle my mind, move out of the fear and connect with Bear from my intuition, because that is where he could hear me and feel me from. He had been missing for two days before I spoke with the communicators. I had made flyers walked all over my neighborhood with them, calling for him, one of my clients even helped me. I put food out down near the woods and by my front door. But nothing was working. What brought Bear back was our psychic connection.

Bear was a late bloomer. A rescued feral kitten, I socialized and nurtured from three months of age, hadn’t come fully into himself. Gem the other male and top cat, didn’t let Bear take up too much space and I had a keen sense that he was stepping out to venture into a right of passage to embrace his more empowered self. Sure enough after I spoke with the communicators that afternoon, and I sat on the couch meditating (as painful as it was to let go of the fear that he may not return) attuning my heart and mind to Bear’s, at least three times before the night was over, the next morning at 5 a.m. he was at the front door waiting to be let in.

I also realized this was a right of passage for me as well. I was learning to trust my intuition to bring me full-fledged into the world of animal communication professionally. Since that morning my ability to communicate with my cats increased ten-fold. Today I can connect with them anywhere they are, in the house, the yard, or from hundreds of miles away when I am out of town.

Pancreatitis & Hyperthyroidism-Not a Great Combo

Well the Phosphorus worked for a good three weeks, until Clea ate my tuna and mayo off the counter, which triggered her Pancreatitis.  She was sick for close to four days.  She received fluids at the vets and we discussed her complex condition.

Bloodwork revealed considerably low levels of hyper-thyroidism, 5.0, we are down .3 points from the last bloodwork results, which is low on the spectrum of how high and out of control this condition can get, but her Pancreas levels were at 6.8!

Phosphorus does address digestive issues, but I was at my wit’s end and wanted something more concrete to help us. We talked about herbs for Pancreatitis and thyroid.  After a lot of trial and error, we agreed upon a Chinese herbal formula, Sargassum Jade Pot, which clears phlegm and heat (nodule on the thyroid) for the thyroid, Apawathecary’s Phytomucil, an excellent soother for the stomach that helps to stop vomiting, and Kan’s Prosperous Farmer to nourish her spleen, as well as specific diet changes.

Clea needs two capsules every 8 hours. She still has a very healthy appetite, but she is not as demanding and insistent as before and the other cats are not so stressed out because she is calmer.

Gem’s sneezing and blister on his nose cleared up with daily doses of Tasha’s Herbs for Cats–Immune System Formula, which I gave for seven days.   Gem regained his health quickly and the sneezing subsided as well.

Another Update!

Clea continues to be imbalanced.  So she is now taking .02 ml of Methamazole 1-2x per day for the hyper-thyroidism and 2-3 capsules of Four Gentlemen for the pancreatitis. She was taking Prosperous Farmer, a traditional Chinese herbal formula which really settled her down (stomach and tension). But I ran out and the doctor didn’t have it in stock. So we discussed another formula, Four Gentlemen, made up of the same herbs in Prosperous Farmer minus two ingredients,

She is much less stressed, more content, and less hungry. Yeah!!! It’s been a long two years of finding the best balance for her and now we have achieved it. I still need to feed her 2-3 x’s per day, but hey that beats six! Can you imagine being that hungry!

Also she doesn’t need the Sargassum Jade Pot formula she was taking for the thyroid in addition to her Western medication, now that she is taking the Four Gentlemen which nourishes deficiency of the spleen and stomach and she is doing great.