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.

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Is It Cat Scratch Fever?

IMG_0049Several months after Gem began taking medication for a recent heart dis-ease diagnosis from the cardiologist, he suddenly had no ability to lift his head or move and his breathing was seriously labored. I took him to our regular vet clinic, Veterinary Holistic Care.  Dr. Maniet, our seasoned homeopath and holistic vet was out of town (she’d been our vet for sixteen years at that point).

We met with Dr. Raichura.  When she 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 his high fever down.  As I observed Gem during those days, it was clear he was not getting 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 its side effects–she said 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 long history of FUS and now a heart murmur and asthma which appeared six months earlier, along with a mysterious rash that came and went on his belly for six months. Everything we tried for the rash didn’t clear it up. Finally we gave antibiotics and more diet changes and it cleared up (turned out that Gem was eating the neighbor’s cat’s cat food–Meow Mix).  The other issue was borderline hyperthyroid levels, but the doctors, including the cardiologist, were not convinced he was hyper-thyroid.  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.  The conventional method and Chinese Medicine, were not giving us the results we were hoping for in this case. Said there was nothing else she could think of doing and to see Dr. Maniet immediately.  Thank goodness she had returned from her trip.

I make the appointment with Dr. Maniet, who has worked with thousands of complex cases over a twenty-five year period. My cats have been her patients since they were kittens, and we (my cats and I) 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.

homeopathyWhen we saw Dr. Maniet she suggested that since Gem was used to natural medicine that we stick to it.  He was dying right before us.  In a split second of seeing Gem, Dr. Mainet suggested, “Naja, he needs Naja.”  Naja is 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. My cats have been patients at Veterinary Holistic Care since they were kittens. I even worked there for many years and earned great respect for vibrational homeopathic medicine. 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 healed in each and every occurrence.

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 dose 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.

(Gem lived for three more years after this.  He passed at seventeen in the care of Dr. Maniet, myself and Robin Byrd-healer and holistic nurse).

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!