Monday, August 27, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I was told emphatically and insistently by my veterinarian that this was “the very best food that you could feed your cat.” Further, I should never feed my cat anything else other than one of these veterinary prescribed diets.
Unfortunately I believed my veterinarian. Why wouldn’t I? Don’t they get trained by impartial nutritionists in their program of study at one of the most illustrious institutions in Canada, the University of Guelph? I have since learned that the answer to that question is a simple “no”.
Veterinarian and veterinary students receive very little in the way of non-pet-food-company-sponsored impartial scientific training in nutrition, although many are embarrassed to admit this. What little information they receive in their formal training comes from the pet food industry themselves, who aggressively do everything they can to win the hearts and minds of veterinary students.
Free pet food to veterinarian students is standard practice. Business marketing plans are targeted towards lucrative incentives for veterinarians to encourage a lifetime of feeding commercial dry cat food. Most veterinarians are, in essence, “on the take” from the pet food industry -- they have effectively become pet food company sales representatives. The sale of dry cat food often comes to as much as 35% of a veterinarian clinic’s income.
After 10 years of continuous, day in day out feeding of these dry cat food formulations, my first female Siamese, Baby X, developed kidney problems and my second Siamese, Baby X, developed feline diabetes and eventually died of suspected kidney failure. It was only during the illness of Baby X that I researched cat nutrition and discovered that dry cat food is essentially nothing more than meat-flavoured cereal -- corn, rice, wheat laced with questionable additives and preservatives. I also learned that cats should not be eating ANY carbohydrates at all and that ALL dry food is too high in carbohydrates. Many of these veterinary prescribed prescription diets are as much as 40% carbohydrates! So it is quite clear -- there is NO FORM of dry food that is acceptable for a cat to eat.
Further, I discovered many shocking things about how this dry cat food is made -- these cereals are cooked in large vats and created through a process of extrusion that molds it into cereal-shaped kibbles. The food is so unpalatable to cats -- who have reputations as discerning gourmets -- that the manufacturing process necessitates spraying “digests” -- fermented meat by products--- onto the outside of the kibble. This is the so-called "healthy and balanced" "food" that the industry claims on every label on every bag of dry cat food? False and misleading advertising, indeed!
Cats are obligate carnivores -- no veterinarian would dispute that scientific fact. So how is it that so many veterinarians exclusively prescribe, promote and sell only these prescription diets?
How has the pet food industry influenced both the training of veterinary students in the universities, as well as the veterinarian profession at large, into the false belief that it is acceptable for cats to eat meat-flavour-coated, preservative-laden commercial cereals -- and only this food, nothing else -- for an entire lifetime? It's like a general practitioner telling a human client, "you must eat ONLY these diet bars I sell to you for an entire lifetime -- no fresh food ever."
There is currently an epidemic of illnesses in cats -- feline diabetes, chronic renal failure, inflammatory bowel syndrome caused by these species-inappropriate formulations that constitute dry cat food. Grains are indigestible for cats and dry food products are heavily constituted in grain. Even those that are "grain free" are still made by this dubious process of extreme heat processing and extrusion to make them into breakfast cereals.
Pet owners find themselves in a situation where the very food that their veterinarian prescribed and sold to them creates illnesses that endangers the health of their beloved cats. This pet food company created marketing ensures a steady business for the vets in the way of repeated vet visits, tests and expensive (and usually ineffective) treatment plans.
Veterinarians do not seriously consider vet kibble as a source of many of the illnesses they are seeing in cats in their clinics. There's a serious disconnect happening here! By overlooking this problem, veterinarians become part of the problem. They are, in essence pet food company representatives, not impartial scientists who keep up on the latest research. Veterinarians selling commercial multinational pet food constitutes a conflict of interest.
The claims of “health” on these products cannot be verified over the long term health of a cat since any studies done are short term for acute toxicity only. Our cats have effectively become “experimental animals” (Hodgkins) and the only real long term tests are those done by cat owners who feed these dry commercial pet food formulations for the lifetime of their pet -- as their veterinarians insist!
Pet food is a highly profitable business -- more than $40 billion dollars a year in North America alone. It’s certainly cheaper for the industry to make cat food from cereal rather than meat. Higher profits and easy to ship and store, but more ill health for our pets.
As cat guardians become more educated that dry food is causing many of the illnesses in their cats, the people they will blame are NOT the faceless corporate pet food company executives and shareholders, but the veterinarians who recommended, prescribed and sold them these species-inappropriate, meat-flavour coated cereals with preservatives and chemicals.
There are progressive veterinarians that are keenly aware of this problem and who are not only speaking out about it, but encouraging their clients to feed natural diets. Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, Dr. Lisa Pierson, Dr. Marion Smart, Dr. Ian Billinghurst, Dr. Tom Lonsdale, Dr. Paul McCutcheson and other holistic vets strongly encourage pet owners to feed raw meat -- a cat’s natural diet. Remember mice and birds? Well, they need to eat a diet that is as close to that as possible.
Unfortunately, despite its esteemed reputation, the University of Guelph is failing miserably in this respect. Pet food companies teach veterinary students that nutrition is all "in the bag" for all cats.
Most veterinarians, although unqualified to advise on nutrition, routinely aggressively discourage the feeding of raw meat -- a cat’s natural diet -- while parroting the pet food industry propaganda to owners that they will kill their cat with salmonella poisoning if they do so.
Safe and effective handling of raw meat is of course paramount, and pet owners are not uneducated simpletons who cannot understand how to put together a nutritionally balanced formulation when provided with the correct information. The problem is that the multinational pet food industry has effectively indoctrinated veterinarians into believing their pseudo-science and provided lucrative incentives for them as part of this process. Many veterinarians are, in essence, ”embedded” within the pet food industry through their practices and clinics across North America.
In the meantime, legislative changes are needed to strip the claims of “health” from dry cat food; remove offending products from the market and effectively educate owners how to ensure the health of their cats by feeding natural diets. Vets should not be allowed to sell dry food -- or any multinational corporation's commercial food -- to cats.
Are they a "food" or a drug? If they are a "food" then how is it the need to be "prescribed"? If they are being "prescribed" how is it that they are not being tested and regulated the way drugs are?
Tainted pet food is but the tip of the iceberg: the real scandal is how dry cat food formulations, most of them veterinarian prescribed and sold, are causing so many illnesses in our cats.
NO CAT SHOULD EAT ANY FORM OF DRY FOOD EVER!
NOTE: An edited version of this blog post was published as a Letter to the Editor in the Volume 48 (11) November, 2007 edition of Canadian Veterinary Journal - read both and note what they edited out -- any criticisms of the university's role in perpetuating this problem.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I've put together a collection of links, posts and photos that I thought other cat lovers would find helpful. I have two beautiful Siamese cats and want to ensure they live long and healthy lives. To that end, over the past year, I've done a lot of research about feline nutrition. This site will give me the opportunity to share that information with you.
http://www.catnutrition.org-- Learn how to properly feed a cat. Anne's site is thoughtful, provocative and educational. After finding this site I stopped feeding my cats commercial food.
If you don't have the time to make your own cat food, or while you are getting together the supplements and supplies to do so, you can order some Feline's Pride, which is the same formulation. This is absolutely, positively, the very best raw food on the market for your cat -- I give it 5 stars.
http://www.catinfo.org/- Dr. Lisa Pierson's site, another progressive vet who argues that cats need to eat a natural diet, with great pictures to show you how to do it
http://www.yourdiabeticcat.com/ -- I hope you never have to suffer through the stress of having a diabetic cat, but if you do, this is the very best place on the web to find help and support. Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins is a Feline Diabetes expert and her protocol is light years ahead of the thinking of conventional veterinarian practice. Most vets will tell you they will try to help you "manage" your cat: Dr. Hodgkins' protocol is based on getting your cat into remission. The most important factors? NO DRY FOOD, hometesting, correct insulin (PZI) and giving insulin based on a sliding scale.
You will also want to get a copy of Dr. Hodgkins' book: Your Cat: Simple New Secrets for a Longer Stronger Life, available from Amazon. If you want to know why no cat should ever eat ANY dry food get this book. Dr. Hodgkins recommends feeding all cats a natural all meat diet -- which is what she feeds her own cats as a breeder of beautiful Ocicats.
You will also want to read Dr. Hodgkins testimony at the April 12, 2007 Congressional Investigation. She was the only non-pet food company vet to provide testimony at this hearing.
Deconstructing the Regulatory Facade: Why Confused Consumers Feed their Pets Ring Dings and Krispy Kremes - If you still need convincing on why pet food is so bad for your pet's health, read this article. Warning: don't read this article after eating. http://leda.law.harvard.edu/leda/data/784/Patrick06.html
Here's one from a Canadian vet, Dr. Marion Smart: Pet Food and Nutrition: A Necessary Review for Veterinarians, M.E. Smart, C. Haggart, J.A. Mills
What's Eating Kitty? NOW magazine article:
And yet more evidence of why dry food is so bad for cats from a breeder and author of
Raising Cats Naturally -- Michelle Bernard - http://www.raisingcatsnaturally.com/
Mary Aspinwall Homeopath in Ireland
Homeopathy -- anyone can take the free course on this site and learn how to do first aid and preventative health care for your cat. I highly recommend homeopathy. It's safe, effective and inexpensive and will save you many costly and unnecessary vet bills.
Everyone should know how to take care of themselves (yes you can use these remedies for yourself too) and homeopathy is especially safe and helpful for our feline friends. You can use the free remedy finder below for diagnosis and identifying the correct remedy.
Want to do something about changing what our cats eat?
Check out: http://www.petfoodcampaign.blogspot.com/
Lots of fabulous links and articles. Get a binder and start printing these out for yourself and your friends. Feel free to share this information with all your friends and with any cat lover you meet.
It's important that we become educated on how to properly feed our beloved feline friends. For all the unconditional love and companionship they offer us, they deserve the very best food we can feed them for optimum health and nutrition. That food is raw diet -- chicken, duck, turkey, cornish hens -- or the special favourite -- rabbit.
I can only highly recommend raw diet -- my cats love Feline's Pride but I also make my own. Just find a local butcher who can grind up a whole chicken, turkey or rabbit for you -- tell them to put it through the grinder twice. Mix up and add the supplements, portion into glass mason jars, into the freezer and that's it! It takes me less than an hour every 6 weeks or so to make my own cats' food.
Not only are they getting the very best diet but I know exactly what is in it. It's pretty easy to make your own food at home. The investment in time and effort you make on this front will pay off in big dividends. Your cats will love you for it and you will ultimately save on needless health problems and trips to the vet.