It started with my cats.
My journey to understanding just how important nutrition is to health should have started earlier, given the health issues that I had that were resolved by supplements, but I just never made the connection. It wasn’t until I brought home 2 tuxedo kittens that I finally “got it.”
I free-fed kibble and gave them some canned food in the morning and when I got home from work. I’d had them less than a year before one would leave me some regurgitated or vomited food now and then. Over the next 5 years, it got worse, to the point where one or the other was bringing up their food several times a day and night, every day and night. I went to multiple vets, tried medications, “prescription” foods (that did nothing but make them gain weight, increase the amount of stool in the litter box, and made one of them lethargic), and one of them, my Sweetie Girl, even had an endoscopy. Not once, not once, did a vet ever ask me what I was feeding them.
I asked about testing for food allergies and was told the tests were expensive and unreliable. So I started a food journal, writing down what was fed, how much, when someone threw up (if I was home) and where, to try to determine a pattern or, if possible, a cause, e.g. something in the environment. I thought maybe they were eating too fast, so I put small, store-bought river rocks in their dry food to slow them down. Nothing worked, though I did find they seemed to have a problem with fish, so I made sure neither their wet or dry food contained fish.
I searched the internet and went to multiple vets over 5 years. Then a co-worker, who started home-cooking for her dog after it was diagnosed with cancer, asked if I’d tried home-cooked diets. At first I was hesitant. I hardly cooked for myself, and I was supposed to cook for my cats? But I was desperate. So I got online again, did some searching, and found catnutrition.org. That led me to catinfo.org, and while reading that, I had so many epiphanies I’m surprised my head didn’t explode. Now it all made sense! Now I understood why they were having so many problems!
At the time, they were getting a “prescription” food. If you’re wondering why I put that in quotes, it’s because there is no medication in the food. And yes, it is legal for manufacturers to put that label on them, but I repeat, there is no medication in the food. Sweetie Girl was lethargic, and there were times she’d look so groggy and out-of-it that I was truly terrified. But despite what I’d read on catinfo, I was still hesitant to remove the dry. It wasn’t until I read Dr. Hodgkins’ book, “Your Cat: Secrets to a Stronger, Longer Life” that I realized I HAD to remove the dry.
And you know what? They survived.
In full disclosure, Sweetie Girl is no longer with me. She’d improved for a while, but then other issues appeared, and after a year it just became too much for me to care for her on top of a full-time job and caring for her brother, Mr. Fluffy. I surrendered her to a holistic vet, and my last communication with that vet is that Sweetie Girl is doing very well and not on any medications. I still miss her, but I take comfort in knowing she’s getting the care that she needs. Five years later, Mr. Fluffy was diagnosed with subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma. I had to let him go in April 2015.
Removing their kibble was just the beginning of my journey. I continued to learn about alternative methods of healing and nutrition. And as I learned more about just how species-inappropriate grains are to cats, I began to wonder, what are the grains doing to me? That led me to learning more about human nutrition and as I continued to learn, I began to apply that knowledge to Mr. Fluffy.
Even after removing the dry, Mr. Fluffy still had the occasional issue. If I overslept, or got home late, sometimes he’d be so anxious for his food that he’d bring it back up. He also had hairballs, more often than is normal. And several months before his cancer appeared, he had several teeth removed, and several resorptive lesions. Now, some may say that all these things are “normal.” I disagree. I think they were symptoms of something else.
If your cat has digestive issues, the first thing I recommend is, if you’re feeding dry food, STOP. There are far better websites out there than mine that can explain why, and how to transition your carnivorous companion to wet food, so I won’t go into all of that here. I highly recommend you visit catinfo.org and catnutrition.org, read them thoroughly, and when you’ve successfully gotten your pet off of the dry, come back here if needed. If your pet is diabetic, then I strongly encourage you to visit yourdiabeticcat.com. It is run by Dr. Hodgkins, who patented the protocol to treat feline diabetes. (I would imagine the protocol to treat canine diabetes, if one exists, is similar).
Think of it this way: would you feed popcorn to a shark? No? Then why would you feed kibble to a cat or dog? All three are carnivores, not herbivores. They must have meat to be healthy.
This site is mainly to address the issues of pets that have been fed kibble for years, and who are still having problems (usually vomiting/regurgitating, etc.) even after switching to a wet, grain-free diet. Note I said “wet.” So-called grain-free dry foods are still inappropriate to feed a carnivore, because some carbohydrate is required in the manufacturing process to make the kibble. So if the food doesn’t have grains, it probably has potato, tapioca, rice, sweet potato or some other starchy carbohydrate, which means the body will still convert it into sugar. Carnivores get their energy from meat protein, not carbohydrates. Cats especially should not get dry food, because it doesn’t contain enough moisture and they don’t drink enough to make up the deficit.
It is my hope that the information on this site helps you take the best care of your cat as possible. I’m not a vet, and I’m not making any promises. You have to go with what makes sense to you and what rings true. I am using the information I’ve learned about human health and applying it to cats and dogs. If they are biologically close enough to humans to be used as test subjects for human medications, the morality of which I will not get into, then certainly what applies to us can at least generally be applied to them. The information here may also apply to dogs, who are also carnivores, but I lived with a cat and whenever I learned something new, my first thought was usually, “how can what I’ve learned help him?”
Mr. Fluffy and Sweetie Girl