Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What's really in cat food -- wet or dry?

Commercial cat food products are filled with the garbage and remnants that the leading multinational pet food companies need to dispose of. The pet food industry is an industry that "regulates" itself. How effective has that been?

Since there is no effective or comprehensive regulation or inspections concerning what goes into pet food, companies get away with using pet food as a dumping ground for contaminated and cheap ingredients.

If you haven't read Justine Patrick's article, read it here. Take an hour or so and make your way through it -- it's a thoughful, provocative piece that points out precisely where the regulatory problems are.

Justine Patrick is now a lawyer with a Pittsburgh law firm. This was part of her graduating thesis from Harvard.

Cat guardians have learned -- often the hard way -- the dangers of feeding grain and carbohydrates to obligate carnivores such as cats -- over the long term, they develop FD, CRD, IBD and cancer since there are no long term tests done on any of these commercial products, which are laden with questionable preservatives and chemicals to make them "shelf stable." Feeding tinned foods for a lifetime can cause hyperthyroidism, which is documented in this article in the Science Daily.


The globalized, multinational companies that constitute the the Pet Food Industry want to convince members of the public that they should never, ever consider just feeding basic ingredients: ie a raw natural diet. They have spent extensive money lobbying against natural diets. In fact, at the time of the tainted pet food recall in March, 2007, the PFI, along with the FDA, was targeting the small and burgeoning raw food industry.

Tins themselves carry Bisphenol A which causes cancer. Aluminum poisoning is also an issue with eating anything from a tin over the long term. Cats are extremely sensitive to chemicals in our environment -- anything we can do to prevent their exposure to toxins, additives and chemicals is critical for maintaining a healthy and happy cat.

What's even worse are the ingredients in wet cat food and many jerky products: 3D and 4D meat. What is that, you might ask?

3D = dead, diseased, dying animals -- this can include (yes) roadkill, cats and dogs or any other animal
4D = decaying

Now any cat, in their natural habitant in the wild, would refuse to eat dead, diseased, dying or decaying (rotten) meat. But after the PFI gets through cooking it and adding chemicals in the lab to trick a cat into eating it they do.

Other poor quality ingredients, routinely dumped into wet food and cooked:
--stale bread (with the plastic and styrofoam wrapping still on it)
--wood chips

In tests done on pet food products during the recalls the following ingredients were identified:

--e. coli
--cyanuric acid
--lethal amounts of glycoalkaloids
--BSE (mad cow disease)
--BHA and BHT -- preservatives used in packaging, rubber, petroleum products
--ethoxyquin - a rubber stabilizer

Note that the FDA asked the pet food industry, in 1997, to reduce the use of ethoxquin, which studies have linked to sterility, deformed offspring, cataracts and lesions of the liver, bladder and kidney in animals. Of course, reducing this toxin was only VOLUNTARY on behalf of the manufacturers. It has never been tested for safety in cats.

Commercial cat food is full of adulterated chemicals, additives, toxins and contaminants.

The price may be cheap -- 50 cents a tin -- but how cheap is it to feed your cat something that in the long term, causes health problems such as cancer? The vet bills alone are staggering, as the thousands of people affected by the class action suits can attest to.

Mainstream vets do not think of commercial food as a leading cause of illnesses in cats -- but they are happy to keep running the bill for test after test, or string you along with ineffective and costly "treatment" plans. Remember, vets are trained by pet food companies and the only nutritional information they receive as vet students are that from these corporate multinationals. Obviously veterinarian curriculum needs to be revamped -- PFI companies should not be tallowed any access to or way to influence veterinarian students. Since veterinarian colleges are publicly-funded institutions -- this is where the public has a role in writing letters and raising concerns to your local vet college or university.

A lawyer for one of the class action suits here in Canada was astounded by the veterinarian bills that resulted from the pet food recall. Note that these recalls are still ongoing. This is a firm that charges $750 an hour. Now, can you imagine? A lawyer being astounded by high bills?

I know people who have run up vet bills in the range of $5,000, $8,000, $10,000, $40,000. All trying to save their cat from the effects of poisoned cat food -- wet and dry.

My own bills for trying to save my beautiful 10 year old Siamese came to more than $5,000. Nothing the vets told me to do worked. None of them identified poisoned pet food as the cause of her illness and subsequent death.

Here's some info from Stats Canada on the Pet food industry:

"Canadian pet food imports substantially exceed exports and supply roughly one-half of the total Canadian pet food market.  Total imports of dog and cat food (HS230910) in 2004 amounted to US$290 million.  Imports from the United States alone totaled US$286 million, which accounted for 98% of the import market in 2004.
Total exports in 2004 of dog and cat food were US$137 million.  The United States is Canada’s largest export market for dog and cat food, with exports to the U.S. totaling US$102 million in 2004.  Japan was the next closest country for exports at US$9 million, followed by the Czech Republic at US$7 million and Germany at US$2 million."

Due to NAFTA, anything can get across the border into Canada. Virtually anything. Most of the pet food we have on the shelves here in Canada comes from the US.

Do you really want your cat eating 3D or 4D meat that is in most tinned foods? If you knew that, would you even buy it?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Raw Food Recipe with Real Bones for Cats - Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Cornish Hen, Rabbit

I've been told by many people visiting this site: great blog -- would love to see the recipe.

The recipe I am using comes from Anne at http://www.catnutrition.org

Anne's website completely changed my thinking about what I was feeding my cats. After reading her site, I stopped feeding all commercial cat food products. That was more than 1 year prior to the pet food recall scandal of March 2007. Obviously many cats have been getting sick from commercial pet food for a lot longer than when the companies finally, reluctantly, started recalling tainted pet food from their shelves.

If you can find a local butcher who will grind up a whole chicken, turkey, duck, hen or rabbit for you -- great. If not, you'll need to invest in a grinder to be able to make your own food at home. Getting a grinder is also relatively inexpensive. I have the Tasin 108 from www.onestopjerky.com. It's a strong enough grinder to handle grinding the bones.

The time and money you invest in feeding fresh real food to your cats will pay off in the long term. There is a bit of organization and a new routine to ensure your cat is always eating fresh -- or fresh unfrozen food -- but you will be amazed at the results. Your cats will be strong and healthy and will not suffer from any of the difficult to diagnose illnesses caused by commercial pet food. You will not have big vet bills and a sick cat to deal with, nor any of the attendant stress that goes along with that.

Remember there are no long term studies guaranteeing the safety of commercial cat food. There is no regulation of pet food ingredients in either Canada or the US.

By feeding a raw diet, all you need to do is look to nature: 40 million years of cats eating and thriving as obligate carnivores clearly makes the point. Cats do not need -- and cannot tolerate -- rice, soy, corn, wheat, fruits or veggies. Any cat food that has these items in it -- or anything called gluten -- is not something that they would search out and consider to be food. To counter this, the PFI companies spray chemicals and meat-flavoured digests on kibble to get cats to eat it.

Print out a copy of this recipe and put it on the counter every time you get ready to make food. Get all your supplements ready and at hand before grinding the meat -- that way you are organized and ready. I can make this recipe in less than 1 hour and that includes travel time to and from the butcher.

Remember if you are using this recipe to make rabbit, adding extra taurine is essential. Don't leave it out -- it's an essential amino acid for cats and rabbit is low in taurine.

Here's the recipe.

Raw Food Diet Recipe Made WITH Real Bones for Cats
2 kg [4.4 pounds] raw muscle meat with bones (chicken thighs and drumsticks or, better, a whole carcass of rabbit or chicken amounting to 2 kg; if you don't use a whole carcass, opt for dark meat like thighs and drumsticks from chicken or turkey)
400 grams [14 oz] raw heart, ideally from the same family of animal (in other words, don't use beef heart with a chicken recipe, use chicken heart with chicken; if no heart is available, substitute with 4000 mg Taurine)

200 grams [7 oz] raw liver, ideally from the same family of animal (in other words, don't use beef liver with a batch you're making of chicken; use chicken liver with a chicken batch; if you can't find appropriate liver, you can substitute 40,000 IU of Vitamin A and 1600 IU of Vitamin D--but try to use real liver rather than substitutes)

NOTE: If you cannot find the heart or liver and decide to substitute with the Taurine/Vitamin A and D, then remember to REPLACE the missing amount of organ meat with the equivalent amount of muscle meat. In other words, if you cannot find heart, you add another 400 grams of the meat/bones. If you can't find the liver, add another 200 grams of meat/bone.

16 oz [2 cups] water

4 raw egg yolks (use eggs from free-range, antibiotic-free chickens if you can)

4 capsules raw glandular supplement, such as, for example, multigland supplement by Immoplex

4000 mg salmon oil (see note at bottom of recipe*)

800 IU Vitamin E ("dry E" works well)

200 mg Vitamin B complex

(optional: 1/4 tsp. kelp and 1/4 tsp of dulse -- 1/2 tsp total; skip these two ingredients altogether if you're using free-range, 'organically raised' meats, as the nutrients they are meant to supply are amply available in the bone of truly healthy, non-conventionally-raised, so-called 'organic' meats)

(optional: 4 tsp. psyllium husk powder (8 tsp. if using whole psyllium husks; see note at bottom of recipe**)

NOTE: If you will not be using the food immediately and freezing for more than a week or two, toss in 4000 mg of additional Taurine to make up for what may get lost during storage. It is also not a bad idea to sprinkle extra Taurine from a capsule on the food as you're serving it two or three times a week, just to be certain your cat is getting plenty of this critical amino acid.

1. Remove the skin from the muscle meat. Chunk up (i.e., cut) as much of the muscle meat (minus most of the skin if using chicken or turkey, but leave skin on if using rabbit) as you can stand into bite-sized (nickel-sized, approximately) pieces. Save the chunked meat for later. Do not grind it.

2. Grind up the raw liver, any skin, raw meaty bones, and raw heart. Once ground, stir this meat/bone mixture well and return to refrigerator.

3. Fill a bowl with 2 cups of water and whisk everything (non-meat) except the psyllium. If you had to replace liver with Vitamin A/D or replace heart with Taurine, add the substitutes now. Add psyllium at the end--if you're using it-- and mix well. Finally, put the three mixtures together--the "supplement slurry" that you have just mixed, the ground up meat/bone/organs, and the chunks of meat that you cut up by hand. Portion into containers and freeze.

Don't overfill the containers. The food expands when frozen and you don't want lids popping off. Thaw as you go. The food shouldn't be left thawed in the refrigerator more than 48 hours before serving. To serve, portion into a 'zipper baggie' and warm under hot water in the sink. NEVER microwave the food. Cats like their food at something approximating "mouse body temperature."

*Every two or three days, I suggest sprinkling a few drops of fresh salmon oil from a newly-opened capsule on to the cats' food. The Essential Fatty Acids in salmon oil are extremely fragile, and since we do not know exactly how much gets lost during freezing, I think it's wise to use a bit of fresh salmon oil directly on the food a few times a week. Most cats love the flavor.
**Not all cats require additional fiber (psyllium) in their diet. If your cat has been eating low-quality commercial food for several years, especially dry food, she may have lost bowel elasticity and may benefit from the extra fiber. As a general rule, I recommend using psyllium when an adult cat first gets raw food. I rarely add much psyllium to my adult cats' diet. Bear in mind that some cats seem to get constipated without additional fiber, whereas other cats seem to get constipated if they get too much fiber. Each cat is unique, and you'll have to judge what works best for your cat.