There's more to feeding raw diets than practical information on nutrition and health. Here we feature some of the journeys people have taken in getting their cats onto a healthier diet. For some, it's been an adventure. For a few, it's been the difference between life and death. All of them would tell you the trip was worth it. Healthier cats and happier pet parents.
Too often, people turn to diet as a last resort to help their sick cats. Or it takes a tragedy to make us question what we think we know. These stories illustrate that taking control of what your cat eats can have life-changing results, both for your cat and for you. It can be an enormously empowering experience.
Sometimes, reading about someone else's experiences is the key to making the decision to switch to a better diet. Whether it is adopting a new kitten and wondering what is best to feed it or making that connection between what big cats eat and what little cats should be eating.
Cats Are Paying Attention to Your Feelings
Affectionately known as "man's best friend," domestic dogs are the apex of human companionship, selectively bred for tameness, obedience, and a human-centric disposition.¹
Research into the dog-human relationship yields a plethora of results highlighting the mutual understanding between humans and their pet dogs, which further cements the domestic dog as the affable sidekick in most popular media. Surprisingly, the cat-human relationship has not received the same attention from scientists, even though cats are the world's most popular pet.² ³
A search of comparative scientific research on cat behavior yields few results, with most research focusing on the biological traits of cats more than their behavior. We wanted to understand the human-cat relationship, and more specifically, investigate a topic that is currently generating debate in the canine...
Read more: Cats Are Paying Attention to Your Feelings
Cheetahs in Captivity Need a Better Diet
Which is more stressful: being free, but having to fight for your own food and survival, or being confined in captivity, with all your food and security needs provided for? In cheetahs it seems that unnatural food – rather than captivity itself – is the cause of their known health problems in captivity.
Captive cheetahs commonly suffer from chronic inflammation of the stomach lining, various forms of kidney failure, apparent low libido and immune system abnormalities, which are rarely seen in their wild counterparts. Also, members of the cat family are known to groom themselves meticulously, yet captive cheetahs are often covered in burrs and biting flies and hardly seem to notice these discomforts. Cheetahs in zoos and other facilities have shorter life...
Read more: Cheetahs in Captivity Need a Better Diet
It Started With a Caracas Cat Named Caterpillar
My name is Stefanie de Alfonzo and I live in Caracas, Venezuela. My passion for cats is very recent – 2012 - although I've always loved all animals and nature. I've always considered myself more of a "dog person." To tell you the truth, it never even crossed my mind to have cats as pets, until one day a stray cat had kittens at the warehouse I worked in.
I talked to my supervisor and asked him if we could keep two of the five kittens for rodent control at the warehouse. He approved, so I took the other three to a shelter for adoption. Little did I imagine how these two kittens, Shadow, a black cat, and Caterpillar (like the forklift brand), would change my life. Between gaining their trust and learning how cats really are - calling them indifferent...
Read more: It Started With a Caracas Cat Named Caterpillar
Considering a Hybrid Cat?
Considering a hybrid cat? Think again, if you love cats. Allowing the private possession of exotic cat hybrids is like strapping a nuclear warhead to the feral cat problem. I've had more than 30 years' experience with wild cats and am the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, the world's largest accredited sanctuary that is dedicated entirely to exotic cats. We rescue and provide a permanent home to non-domestic cats, and almost never even consider rescuing hybrid cats because that problem is too vast.
We are seeing an alarming escalation in the number of hybrid cats who are being abandoned by their owners. While we track the number of wildcat species who are abandoned each year, we have never accurately tracked the number of hybrids in peril because those...
Read more: Considering a Hybrid Cat?
Tales from the Trenches: Feeding Kittens a Raw Diet
I'm the President and Founder of a home-foster based cat rescue in Sandy Hook, Connecticut called Kitten Associates. The tagline for our group is "the NEW Breed of Cat Rescue." We call ourselves the new breed because we do things a little bit differently than other rescues for a variety of reasons, but one of the main differences is that we do not allow our adopters to feed dry kibble or brands that are sold in vet's offices as prescription and scientific focused. Many years ago we learned about the almost miraculous benefits of feeding a raw diet to our own eight cats and it just made sense to carry that regime on to our foster cats.
The difficulty, generally speaking, is that most of our foster cats come off the streets or off...
Read more: Tales from the Trenches: Feeding Kittens a Raw Diet
Saving Alistair: How Lyn Thomson Helped Stop IBD 11,000 Miles Away
Late in 2011 a handsome tabby and white cat, about nine years old, was taken to a vet's in the north of England as a stray. Unclaimed despite his huge, luminous eyes and charming manners, he was named Alistair and admitted to Freshfields Animal Rescue. He was in good condition except for a bit of diarrhoea, no doubt the result of scavenging for food.
The diarrhoea, though, did not clear up. If anything, it got steadily worse. Vets tried everything from faecal samples to antibiotics and steroids, all to no effect. Since there were no positive results from tests done, his problem was labelled idiopathic IBS and a series of veterinary diets were recommended. But, still there was no improvement. At the end of 2012 he was pronounced incurable. Even worse, he just sat in his pen all day and showed...
Read more: Saving Alistair: How Lyn Thomson Helped Stop IBD 11,000 Miles Away
There's No Kibble Served at the Big Cat Rescue
What began as an intervention into fur farm auctions in 1992 has grown into the Big Cat Rescue
, an accredited sanctuary home to more than 100 lions, tigers, leopards, bobcats, servals, caracals, lynx and many other species of wild cats and wild cat hybrids. Feeding time is the best part of their day and what we feed is a critical factor in maintaining their health and keeping our vet costs low. The sanctuary started in 1992, and everything we know now about caring for big cats was learned through trial and error.
In the beginning, we fed chicken leg quarters, chicken necks, chicken gizzards and chunks of red meat. We quickly learned the necessity of adding vitamins, minerals and calcium, as the diet was insufficient for maintaining healthy teeth and bones. With cats that ranged in size...
Read more: There's No Kibble Served at the Big Cat Rescue
The Who, Where and Whys of Animal Wise
Every week we say hello with two basic lines: "Hi, this is Mike Fry, and this is Beth Nelson." And, "You are listening to Animal Wise Radio
Neither of us is a radio professional, nor do we pretend we are experts in all things animal. Each of us, however, has long been interested in animals. Mike's connections are extensive, based in wildlife rehabilitation and companion animal welfare. My experience came primarily through nature activities and personal pets. Overall, we're just passionate about companion animal welfare, wildlife, our natural world and the many connections we all share.
Animal Wise Radio grew out of a very simple call in, pet-talk radio hour where Mike...
Read more: The Who, Where and Whys of Animal Wise
What Bob Dole Taught Me About Raw Food
In 2006, my mother died unexpectedly. She was survived by her cat, Bob Dole. Yes, he was named after the same Bob Dole who was the 1996 Republican candidate for president. Like his human namesake, this Bob Dole had an injury — his left front leg instead of arm — when he first appeared at my mother's house as a stray in 1998.
Already feeling overwhelmed by my own cats, I was reluctant to adopt Bob. Faced with no one else to take him, I decided to at least get him back on his feet and find him a good home. Bob had only been to a vet once in his life, something my mother and I fought about many times. The only time he was vetted was to finally get him neutered. He'd been intact for about eight or nine years and spent his days outdoors. I don't want to think about...
Read more: What Bob Dole Taught Me About Raw Food
Building a Relationship With Your Veterinarian
Since our cats cannot speak for themselves, the relationship you have with your veterinarian may be more important than the one with your regular physician. A little preparation can go a long way to ensure that your feline friend receives optimum care. And sometimes that may involve challenging the status quo, especially when it comes to nutrition.
First, do not wait until Fluffy has made five trips to the litter box within an hour to find a veterinarian. Ideally, your care should start when she is adopted, but if you're new to town or are looking to make a change, ask for recommendations from friends and family members whose pets' health seems to be outstanding. Or scope out the clinics in your neighborhood and make an appointment for a brief visit. Is the facility clean and free of strong odors? Is...
Read more: Building a Relationship With Your Veterinarian
An Answer For Alex: Raw Food and Tight Regulation
My story begins when we moved to Amsterdam from South Africa in 1995 and brought our three cats with us. Alex, short for Alexandria, and her brother Orlando had been rescued from the animal shelter in December 1994. Byron had been rescued as an abandoned feral kitten in December 1993. I got their expensive scientific diet from the vet and ensured that was all that they ever ate. By 2005, Byron looked decidedly underweight and Alex was looking like she was eating all his food. Orlando had fur that made him look like a dandelion in a stiff breeze. We had real concerns about Byron and Alex, but we were told that 13 was old for Byron and that the Senior Light Version of the food we had been feeding him was what we actually needed for Alex. We thought that our blindly accepted veterinary advice would resolve Alex's weight. We tried to accept that the inevitable was just around the...
Read more: An Answer For Alex: Raw Food and Tight Regulation
Mangiare Crudo in Italia (Raw Fed in Italy)
"Mangiare Crudo in Italia" means "Raw Fed in Italy." I'm British and living in Italy. I've been here for four years, having moved with my Italian husband to escape the English climate. I make precious metal jewelry in a gorgeous workshop under the eaves upstairs, and do the odd translation from Italian into English. That's my proper job. My obsession however, is feeding cats properly. When we moved here, I had two cats, the elderly English statesman, Tarka, and my little Portuguese princess, Misi. Although we moved to Italy from the UK, I had previously lived in Portugal. Tarka moved out there with me and we acquired Misi once we got there. After several years back in the UK, we all moved out to Italy. Tarka was already 16 years old when we moved, but in good health. He started going downhill after about a year and was diagnosed with the beginnings of renal insufficiency. He was put on a diet of...
Read more: Mangiare Crudo in Italia (Raw Fed in Italy)