As founder of Feline Nutrition, I spend a lot of time thinking about cats. They are a huge part of my life and I confess we have quite a few, eleven actually. My focus is always on nutrition, but you can't spend time with cats without having them worm their way into every aspect of your life. Ask most people, and they will tell you that their cats are part of the family. Ours certainly are. In my opinion, a house without cats is just a house, it's not a home.
One of the reasons that nutrition is so important for cats is that, as pets go, they live a long time. Currently, our cats are all five or six years old. I fully expect to have the same eleven cats in fifteen years, maybe even in twenty years. Barring accidents, all cats should live into their twenties. This means that they are going to go through old age and, just like people, they are going to need to stay healthy to make the best of their senior years. Proper nutrition plays a huge role their health.
Here are some of my thoughts about cats, cat food and what we can learn from our furry family members.
How to Think Like a Cat
Like anyone involved professionally with cats, I spend a lot of time trying to figure them out. That means really trying to understand how they think. As much as we count them as part of the family, they are not little humans. While some of their behaviors seem similar to ours, understanding what motivates them can be difficult. There is always the danger of attributing to them more than is really there. Recently, a friend told me a story about her son and his wife. They travel a lot and the son reported that their cat has taken to going off and peeing on shoes when she sees the suitcases come out. Continued
Raw Meaty Bones: Adult Supervision Required!
I have always recommended the feeding of raw meaty bones to cats. Cats really need to do some serious gnawing and chewing – using those side teeth – to keep their teeth and gums in top shape. If you've read my previous blog posts, you'll know about Thodin and her amazing teeth. She is ten and has been a raw meaty bone eater her whole life. Her teeth are plaque-free and her gums are in great shape. She's never needed a dental and likely never will. This is how a cat's mouth should be. She's had over 2700 raw meaty bone meals over the last ten years. Then one day there was a problem. Continued
Let Me Tell You About Raw Food. Hey Don't Run Away...
If you are at all like me, as soon as you realized what a difference a raw meat diet made in your cats, you wanted to tell everyone about it. You wanted to convince everyone to do what you did. If you really did try that, you probably had mixed success, right? Why is that? You need to realize what this message really is. Basically, you're telling someone they are wrong. That the way they think about something is wrong, and, that you are right. You can see the problem. Nobody likes being told they are wrong. Ever. There are only two ways someone will be receptive to this kind of message. Continued
My, What Nice Teeth You Have...
One of the things that critics of raw meat diets for cats point out is that there isn't much scientific evidence to back it up. I agree, there isn't. Scientific studies cost money and almost all nutrition research is funded by the big pet food companies. You can probably see already where the problem is. Why would they fund research that will show their product to be inferior to a raw, species-appropriate diet? Well, they wouldn't. So, raw diets get very little scientific study. What do we look to then? We look to anecdotal evidence. Saying that likely brought up negative connotations in your mind. Continued
Sasquatch vs. My Cat
We have two calico cats. The kind with big patches of white, black or dark grey and orange tabby stripes. This coat color is always striking and is a favorite the world over. I always thought it was cool that our calicos are really orange tabbies, with a white coat mutation and a black coat mutation thrown in together. Makes for interesting combinations and random patterns. We have all seen the funny pictures on the Internet of cats with unusual markings. Like cats with Hitler mustaches, or eyebrows or heart shapes in the fur. Continued
I Worry About My Cat
The primary things that cats worry about are food and safety. I delved into those worries in my last post. Basically, for a cat, that means eat and don't get eaten by someone else. These concerns explain why cats can be so skittish and why they startle so easily. They know they are prey and quick reactions are life and death. It also explains why food can be such a bonding tool with your cat. Being the one who feeds the cat really does give you a leg-up on being at the top of your cat's favorite person list. But, what do you worry about when it comes to your cat? Continued
Your Cat Worries About This
Everyone who shares their life with cats at some point wonders how cats see the world. In the literal sense, they do see it differently than we do. Their distance vision is blurry, their close-up vision is pretty bad, too. They don't see the colors we do. But, vision is not really what I am thinking about. I'm thinking more about their outlook – what they care about. What do cats think is important in life? My answer would be two things: food and safety. They are not unusual; it's what all animals, care about – people, too! Continued
 Your Kitty May Need to Go to Chunk School
I frequently get asked "How do I get my cat to eat meat chunks and raw meaty bones?" I'm glad to hear this question because it means people understand how important it is for a cat's dental health to do some chewing. It's also important for their psychological health. Imagine if you only ever got to eat soft foods. Cats evolved powerful jaws that can slice through meat, skin, tendons and bones, yet we have mostly taken away any opportunity for them to actually use their teeth. This can't be healthy physically or mentally. Continued
Are Cats Clandestine Consumers?
I once met with a representative from a meat producer trade group. I thought they might be interested in the work Feline Nutrition was doing to educate people on feeding raw meat diets to pets. One of the questions I asked was whether they had any figures on the amounts or percentages of human-grade meat that was being purchased for pets by consumers. The rep looked genuinely surprised by the question, like it had never occurred to them to ask this particular question. It turned out that it was something they didn't track at all. Continued
 Dry Cat Food – The Big Easy
The hook that gets most people snagged into feeding cats dry food: it's easy. Okay, it's extremely easy. You can feed the cat in under five seconds. The cat seems to like it, too. It's hard to fight against that. We are all busy, some of us ridiculously so. Easy is a big deal.Once you do get it through to people that dry food is not what cats should be eating, one of the first worries that people have – whether they admit it or not – is that feeding the cat will become a lot of work. Almost everyone who is at this stage has already realized that their cat can't stay on dry food, no matter how convenient it is. Continued
 Eight Cat Curiosities
I have had cats my whole life. Except for a brief period in my younger days in a no-pets apartment, they have always been there. There are pictures of me as a baby snuggled up to a kitty bigger than I was. As a child, my father insisted that the cats go outside at night – sigh – it was a different era. But, I kept the window open in my room to let them back in. One of the most heartbreaking experiences I ever had as a child was leaving a house we stayed in for the summer without one of our cats. Continued
 Raw Food Essentials and Fun Stuff, Too!
The Feline Nutrition Foundation is dedicated to educating people about the benefits of feeding their cats the right kind of diet. We want science-backed information to be freely available to everyone. That's a core part of our mission. We emphasize the freely part. Membership is free, all the information we offer is free and we don't have ads cluttering up the site. Everyone associated with our education and advocacy work is a volunteer. We are passionate about helping cats. But, passion doesn't pay the bills. Continued
Cats and Cantaloupe: A Method to their Madness
One of the things that we hear about all of the time is the strange things that cats will eat. If you've had cats for any length of time you have undoubtedly experienced this. Not just the odd items in the meat category, such as grasshoppers and frogs, but also things like broccoli and string beans. However, the single food item that seems to come up again and again is cantaloupe. Having a cat that wants to eat something unusual now and then doesn't seem that implausible. They are individuals subject to the variations in behavior that entails. Continued
The Myth of the Finicky Cat
One of the questions I get asked most is what to do about a cat that doesn't want to eat the new raw meat diet you are offering. I hear words like "stubborn" and "finicky." While that may describe what's going on, it is from a decidedly human perspective. I think it's time to delve into a little cat psychology to help us understand what's happening in that little kitty brain. People like to say that cats are creatures of habit. I would agree, but habit isn't quite the right word. Cats stick with what works. Continued
Falling Off the Recipe Cliff
If you're making homemade raw food for your cats, you are following a recipe. At least, I sincerely hope you are. Not following one can be disastrous for your cat. Recipes matter. You really can't just feed whatever you want. We don't recommend trying to formulate one from scratch. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is rocket science. Part of our whole message is that you don't have to have an advanced degree in nutrition to feed your cat properly. That's the argument that big pet food tries to use to discredit homemade raw diets. Continued
Cat Daddy Talks Cat Diet
You have undoubtedly heard of Jackson Galaxy. Jackson has spent the past fifteen years helping people solve feline – and also human – behavior problems, so that people and their cats can live in harmony. All of that experience getting into kitty minds finally resulted in his Animal Planet show "My Cat from Hell." His show has helped people everywhere understand their cats and why they do what they do. We think what he does is terrific. Anything that helps cats stay in their homes and be happy is something we applaud. Continued
The Popularity of Poop
Feline Nutrition posted a new video at our YouTube Channel. So far, "The Poop Question" has gotten more than 2300 views in just two weeks, which is ten times what any of our other videos got in their first two weeks. It's now at 105,729. Poop is popular. We launched our Channel as a way to reach people who feed raw meat diets and, importantly, to reach those who are thinking about making the switch. Videos make information more accessible and we want to get our message to as many people as possible. Continued
The Most Important Member, You
When I started the Feline Nutrition Education Society in 2008, one of the first things we had to do was name the organization. People usually don't think about the naming of things, and how much a name can influence the character of a person or a group. Names matter. I thought long and hard about it. The Feline Nutrition part came naturally; that is the core of what we are all about. We chose feline over cat, as feline evokes the scientific and science is at the core of our world view. Education was what we intended to do and are doing now. Continued
You Said You Feed Your Cat, What?
Recently I read about a survey that questioned people on their cat nutrition knowledge.¹ That the survey was done by Purina gave me pause, but the answers they got didn't really surprise me all that much. Most people have never thought a lot about what they feed their cats. They buy what's in the grocery store. You know, the stuff with the healthy sounding names and the nice pictures. It couldn't be sold if it wasn't good for your cat, right? You might think I'm passing judgment, but I'm not. I used to be that person. Continued
Oh! Those Dirty Little Kittens!
You may have heard of the hygiene hypothesis. The theory is that exposure to dirt and germs early in life helps to prevent allergies later in life – your immune system needs to be "trained" at an early age to fight off allergens.¹ The idea came about partly from the observation that children who grew up on farms had a much lower incidence of allergies than children who grew up in cleaner environments, without as much exposure to naturally occurring germs. There are studies that conclude that infants exposed to multiple pets, cats or dogs, have fewer allergies as adults.² Continued
It's My Cat's House, I Just Live There
There is a trend in housing design lately to include more features to enhance accessibility. Architects and designers are responding to people's desire for houses with features to make life easier and safer as one gets older, or if you become disabled. Wider doors for wheelchairs, handholds in the shower and even spaces left for the addition of an elevator. This is a good trend, and shows that designers are thinking about how houses are really used, rather than just what looks good. But, I wish to register a complaint. Continued
Black Cats Are Not Unlucky at All
One of the things that happens after you move to raw feeding is that you begin to question. For many years I fed inappropriate food to my cats because I had never questioned the status quo. It was a shock to realize how much I had taken for granted. I had never asked myself the "why" of what I was doing. I now realize I should have been asking myself a lot more basic questions. Asking why. Now I look for other things I should be asking "why" about. Questioning some of the things we accept as given can lead us to interesting places. Continued
Lessons From the Stoic Cat
Cats are often described as stoic – that they don't show it when they are sick. I think that is partly true. In the wild, they don't want to be obvious about being sick or injured. Showing that kind of weakness is a good way to get yourself eaten. Better to hide until you feel well enough to pounce or run away. But when you share your life with a cat, you get to know them pretty well. Watching the subtle things, it usually is easy to tell when something is wrong – Usually. I'm always paying close attention to my cats; assessing their behavior for anything that seems "off." Continued
Is There a Cat in the House?
I have noticed – and not just recently – that as far as movies and television are concerned, cats barely exist. If there are any aliens out there that have been monitoring our TV transmissions, they are probably wondering why there are so many cat food ads when no one actually seems to have any cats. I'm always snapping to attention when I see a cat incidentally on television or in a movie: it's such an unusual event. As far as numbers are concerned, cats have been the most popular pet for quite a while now.¹ You'd never know it from the movies. Continued
Rice Isn't Nice
II've been noticing something when I walk down the pet aisle at the supermarket – just to get kitty litter mind you, since I don't believe there is any real cat food there – a lot of those cans and bags are touting the fact that they contain rice. It seems rice is the new "in" filler. Wheat has gotten a bit of a bad reputation lately, mostly because it turns out some people have trouble with it, and pet owners are getting the message that corn is bad for cats. I don't make a judgment; in the past I too fell for the pet food marketing strategies. Continued
Don't Let it Bug You!
It's been a while since my last blog. I have a good excuse! My computer was down for over a week after my cat Kai shorted out the power supply on my computer. He claims he was only marking his territory, but I really have to congratulate him on his excellent aim! Everyone knows cats like to eat bugs. In our house, it's part of their job. But is it just because bugs trigger the hunting instinct in cats by being wiggly and running away? Is it a good idea to let your cat eat bugs? The answer is yes! Continued
Chew on This!
I feed my cats a combination of raw foods, including homemade ground chicken, farm-raised commercial rabbit and turkey with ground meat/bone/organs, to which I add supplements, commercial whole carcass ground rabbit with fur, commercial "complete" rabbit patties, and whole chicken wings. I want to feed a variety, so that over time, I am sure they get all the nutrients they need. But nutrients aren't the only thing cats need from food. A mostly ground diet – while accomplishing my goals nutritionally – isn't enough. Continued
Cat Longevity and the Ultimate Test?
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. Continued
Bug Patrol and Cat Stampedes: Life with Lots of Cats
We have a lot of cats. More than is usual in a multi-cat household, but less than "crazy cat lady" numbers. We love having lots of cats, but it does change your life. We have made adjustments to accommodate them; most of these changes are really to make our life easier, since trying to change a cat's nature is pretty futile. We don't have any carpets in our house. We tried it once. Our cats thanked us profusely for the great new horizontal scratching pad, and assured us they'd have it shredded in a jiffy. Continued
What Scraps?
Since I became a raw feeder, I've done a lot of thinking about cat food. I realized the other day while grocery shopping that the only reason I now go down the pet food aisle is to pick up cat litter. There isn't a single pet food there I'd be willing to give my cats. Everything has grain in it. Everything. I shudder when I think it wasn't that long ago I was buying dry food there. I should really say that what I've been thinking about isn't cat food, but meat. I pretty much stick to fowl when it comes to my own diet. I don't eat beef, but I will have pork and fish on occasion. Continued