Cat Longevity and the Ultimate Test?
Published on Thursday, June 25, 2009 12:06 PM
Written by Margaret Gates
I have been thinking recently about cat longevity. We had cats when I was a kid, and none of them made it past about eleven. I just thought then that that was about how long cats lived; after all, it was a lot longer than most of the dogs I knew. As an adult, my husband and I had a bunch of cats, and these lived longer. One made it to 19, a couple to 18, but many died at 14 or 15. They all succumbed to one disease or another, cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, and one from a completely mysterious ailment. It was all very heartbreaking.
Cats should be living longer than this. At least into their twenties. I think the record is 37 years. It depends partly on genetics, but I think their overall health is the biggest part. I'm optimistic that our current batch of cats will do better because they will be healthier as a result of being raw fed. Two of our cats have been raw fed from the time they were adopted as kittens, and the rest only ate "regular" food for a short time. Our oldest cats now are just over three years, so it will be a while before I get to see the long term results! I would very much like to have all the same cats we have now in 2029!
I sometimes wonder if the consequences of all the bad commercial food — especially dry — out there would have been more apparent if people were keeping cats differently. The rise of commercial pet food coincided with the rise of spaying and neutering. Recalling Pottenger's study of cats fed raw versus cats fed a cooked diet, the problems with the cooked diet were most apparent as reproductive problems: miscarriages, deformities, small litters, underweight kittens and eventually being unable to reproduce at all. Since virtually all female pet cats are spayed, we eliminated reproductive issues as a way for us to see that something was terribly, terribly wrong. Maybe that's the real test of a diet; can the cats reproduce properly — over many generations — with that diet alone. I think for a proper raw diet the answer is undoubtedly yes.
Please don't test this at home. All pet cats should absolutely be spayed or neutered! There are way too many homeless kittens and cats already!
By the way, that was a hint to go out and adopt! And, of course, raw feed them right from the start.
Margaret Gates is the founder the Feline Nutrition Foundation.