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Feeding Cats Naturally

| December 22, 2011
Feeding Cats Naturally

The statement “You are what you eat" has become more recognised as people are becoming more enlightened about their own health and that of their pets.

General body condition and energy levels are obvious indicators of internal health but coat quality is often a more sensitive barometer. Through healthy feeding you can improve coat quality and general health and increase energy levels.

The statement “You are what you eat” has become more recognised as people are becoming more enlightened about their own health and that of their pets.

The highly processed food on offer today for both humans and our pets can be potentially harmful. They are often highly saturated with chemical preservatives and food colouring. They may contain significant amounts of harmful pesticides, lead, salt, sugar, rancid fat, over-cooked (often carcinogenic) oils, meat scraps and meat which has been condemned for human consumption *. Learn to read labels accurately and intelligently. Unfortunately many of the harmful substances do not have to be disclosed on the labels.

Even the “fresh” food available in supermarkets is not what it used to be. Intensively farmed meat, especially poultry, may contain significant amounts of antibiotics, growth hormone and other drugs. The food that feedlot animals are fed is mostly harvested from chemically treated pastures and crops, often containing pesticides and poisons. These are then absorbed and concentrated into the flesh of these animals and thus become part of the food chain. As if that is not enough, the pastures and crops themselves are grown on mineral deficient soil, as over the years forced growth has depleted them. Deep ploughing methods have destroyed mineral fixing microrrhiza which work synergistically with plant roots helping them to take up and absorb many different micronutrients which are essential for optimum health. Fertilisers generally only replace Nitrogen and Phosphorus and not other trace minerals and elements. Type B (occult or hidden) Malnutrition is therefore becoming a huge epidemic for humans and their pets. For these reasons it is important to supplement with a quality, well-absorbed multivitamin and mineral supplement in many cases. Use Fresh Organic Meats and Vegetables as far as possible.

Vegetables need to be broken down to be absorbed into the system. Cooking breaks down the cellular walls and releases the cell contents thus making the nutrients available for absorption. Unfortunately, much of the goodness is lost, as the volatile substances evaporate and others are destroyed by heat, including many Vitamins, Minerals and Enzymes. To make the food available without cooking it, liquidising is recommended.

Feed good quality, freshly picked or frozen foods, which are still brimming with their natural enzymes. These enzymes are important for the maintenance of a healthy immune system, and allow food to be broken down and processed by the body in a more appropriate and efficient way, thereby producing less harmful by-products and absorbing more actively useable nutrients for use in the body for growth and repair. Home cooking partially breaks down these enzymes, and rendering or processing (usually at very high temperatures and pressure) totally destroys them. For this reason it is best to feed RAW.

Heated and processed food destroys the DNA and RNA structural intelligence; creating food that is appropriate only for survival, not optimal health. With this in mind, it is best to begin your pets on a Natural Raw Diet gradually, as commercial food severely weakens the entire body, especially the vital digestive fires, and they may find it hard to adjust.

Cats are obligate carnivores unlike dogs that are more omnivorous than cats. For this reason cats require much higher levels of protein than do dogs. It is best to source a diet that has been approved by an animal nutritionist or holistic Vet.

In a nutshell:
1) 88% -98% Raw Meat (chunks, chicken wings, mince or meat and bone).
2) 2-12% Vegetable Mixture – raw liquidised vegetables.
3) Add a quality multivitamin & mineral supplement.
4) Feed once or twice daily.
5) Remove food after 45 minutes.
6) Approximately 100-150g meat per average cat per day.
Older cats (>10yrs) and cats with organ disease may require different protein levels or sources. Discuss this with your Veterinarian.

Protein: – If a commercial diet is described as a “complete food”, all it is saying is that the minimum daily requirement of nutrients considered necessary by government law is present. It also does not mean that the ingredients present can be properly absorbed and utilised by the body. It is important to consider the quality and assimilability (digestion and absorption). Low quality protein causes more alkaline urine to be formed, thus predisposing to FUS. Cats require much larger amounts of protein than dogs do. Egg yolk, cottage cheese or Tofu can be used as part of the protein source once weekly. Muscle meat and most organ meat is considered high quality protein owing to the balanced combination of amino acids present within them. The best combination of protein is to mimic what would normally be provided in a natural meal, i.e. mostly muscle meat, approximately 1/6th organ meat and some intestines filled with partially digested vegetable matter. The cat’s digestive tract is designed to chew, digest and absorb raw meat.

Give a Cat a Mouse: – To try to mimic the natural nutrition that a live mouse, rabbit or bird would give your cat is very difficult as the vital energy from a fresh kill cannot be replicated in a diet made from substances that were not alive a few minutes before. We can however make a massive improvement on commercially available diets. To supply the nutrients that would be present in the hair, feathers and gut content of a fresh kill we can, raw liquidised vegetable matter, kelp, spirulena, yeast and or a high quality well assimilated multi-mineral supplement. Above ground green leafy vegetables are best, but carrots, turnips and parsnips can also be used. After changing to an improved diet, it takes between 1 and 3 months for changes to be noticed, e.g. improved coat condition and general health and increased energy levels.

Raw Food Diet: – Many people stare aghast when I advise them to feed their pets raw meat, bones and vegetables. Their fears have been fuelled by the notion that bones are bad for animals, and that uncooked meat is full of germs and parasites. Animals in the wild eat all parts of a fresh kill, bones and hair included, and they do not prepare a fire to cook their meal first. The cat’s alimentary canal has developed to digest and absorb raw meat over millennia, why should we try to change that over a few decades. The strong gastric juices disinfect the meat as it is swallowed. Bones will cause problems when they are cooked as they either splinter or become hard in the bowel and impact the colon. Germs and parasites may be a problem though so it is best to adhere to a few basic rules when feeding raw diets:

1) Be 100% sure of your food source
2) Do not feed food that has defrosted for longer than 12 hours
3) If possible allow food to defrost in a cool not too cold place
4) Keep raw food sealed in fridge during warm weather, never in the sun
5) When defrosting in a hurry, do not use the microwave, rather let it defrost at room temperature or better still defrost it by immersing frozen container in a bowl of hot water, just before it is required.
6) Leave the food down for 30 to 45 minutes. Any left over food is then discarded.
7) De-worm your cats regularly (every 3-6 months)

You may need to introduce a raw food diet gradually, especially in older cats that are not used to this type of diet. Initially liquidise the food together so that fussy cats cannot pick out the bits they like. As described before it may take some time, but it is worth persevering. Young kittens can be started on the Raw Food Diet as soon as they begin to eat solid food. The best thing to do is to liquidise the food and supply small frequent meals.

Remove food between meals: – Cats in the wild eat once a day if they are lucky. Nature provides fasting periods owing to scarcity of prey, inclement weather etc… ranging from 1 to 7 days at a time. Fasting for short periods of time is very healthy, as the body is able to use the blood and energy usually required for digestion for detoxifying the system and for healing and repair. The intestines, urinary tract, lungs and pores of the skin are all systems of waste disposal. Also it is the smell of food, not the taste, which triggers the brain to prepare the body for digestion. This causes the blood flow to be concentrated around the stomach and intestines, slowing down the metabolism in the rest of the body. Even a dirty food bowl can trigger this process, so it is important to completely remove the source. Slowed metabolism may result in symptoms such as dandruff, obesity, excessive skinniness, thyroid disease, and a multitude of other organ malfunctions. A third reason to remove the food between meals is related to the tendency to develop Feline Urinological Syndrome (FUS), characterised by intermittent cystitis. Studies have shown that every time a cat smells food, it causes the urine to become more alkaline, thus predisposing to the enhanced growth of bugs and crystals that cause FUS. Leaving food down all day is also the primary cause of the finicky eater syndrome.

If a cat has a poor appetite, the answer is not to leave more food available for it but to remove the food ½ an hour after it has been put down, to allow the trigger response to rest. You may feed your cat once or twice daily, but remove the food afterwards and ensure there is always fresh water down for them to drink. No healthy cat has ever starved to death while something edible has been available twice a day. Some cats may hold out for 5 days before taking a nibble. If your cat is very fat, it is not safe to starve for longer than 2 days. They are prone to develop fatty liver syndrome. Get Veterinary advice if your fat cat won’t eat within a few days. Cats may cry and complain, and even try to scratch the floor as if they are trying to cover excrement. Remember that you are changing their feeding habits to ensure their good health, and that there is often resistance to change. The benefits to you and your cat will far outreach the transient frustration and guilt you have to put up with during the transition.

Treats: – By all means give them treats. These are very useful for hiding medication. Remember that if it is meant only as a treat, not to give it everyday, otherwise it becomes part of the routine dietary intake and is no longer a treat. If you are feeding a natural raw food diet, you can use high quality dry food biscuits that do not contain harmful colours or preservatives, as treats, or 100% natural freeze dried treats, or raw meat strips.

Things to avoid in treats: – Colourings, emulsifiers and preservatives, present in most commercially available pet foods and treats. Any food full of sugar or salt is also not recommended. Strong flavoured foods such as Tuna, canned Pilchards, and soft sachet type foods can become a problem if cats get “hooked” on it. To avoid this: give these foods as a treat and not daily or as a meal. Overuse of highly oily foods such as Tuna in oil can lead to Vitamin E deficiency. Most things that are not directly toxic or accumulative in the body can be given. The key is moderation and diversity.

Plastic: – Do not use plastic dishes, especially brightly coloured plastic dishes to feed pets or to store leftover food or food supplements in. Many animals develop allergies or sensitivities to the plastic or colorants that leach into the food. Many plastic containers also leach toxic polyphenols into the food. Rather use ceramic, stainless steel or glass dishes for feeding and storage containers.

Aluminium cans or pots or dishes: – Avoid using aluminium pots to cook or heat any food (grains etc…), as the metal oxidises during the cooking process and is ingested with the food and accumulates in the body over time. Similarly if using tinned cat food, never store it in the tin, as the aluminium will leach into the food.

Diarrhoea or Severe flatulence: – If this occurs it is usually a cleansing reaction or clearing out of toxins. Water fast your cat for 24-48 hrs, then start the diet in small more frequent meal portions for few days.

Copyright & Credit:

Dr. Anuska Viljoen BVSC(Hons) VetMFHom
Mandala Health Veterinary Hospital

An integrative medicine practice with hospital, surgical, emergency and diagnostic facilities using alternative
medicines especially homeopathy and acupuncture, wherever possible for a drug-free option and to speed up recovery.

Website: | Fax: +27 44 343 2714
email: | Tel:+27 44 343 1730

Photo copyright and courtesy: Red~Star

Category: Feline Articles, Feline Health and Care, Feline Resources

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