Tag Archives: Cat food

Tigger’s Near-Fatal Binge Eating


Tigger is no longer with us but his memory will always be here. I was thinking about Tigger today and how we almost lost him due to a new food that was so good but so bad. Let us get into the way-back machine and travel back to Thursday, March 22, 2007. Wait…No! Let’s go back about a week or so before that.

Cats Tigger and Alex

This is Tigger with his buddy Alex taken shortly before the indecent, Feb 24, 2007

cats on bed

Princess, Tigger, Abbey and Flash, Jan 28, 2007

I got a coupon for a free bag of a new cat food called The Good Life Recipe. This was back when I thought Iams was a relatively healthy cat food and that is what our cats were eating. This new food was like giving popcorn to a seagull. They loved it and ate like there was no tomorrow.

Even though I wasn’t as knowledgeable about cat food then as I am now, I knew it was too good to be good for them. I figured I would let them finish the bag. Later I would buy the small bags of it and give them out like kitty treats. It worked and it was way cheaper than real kitty treats.

Now, getting back to the story. Rose and I had met our mortgage broker after work and then had a late dinner at a Mexican restaurant on the way home. We both had our own cars so when we left I followed Rose home. I was delayed in traffic and when I got home I saw Rose’s car in the driveway with the lights on, the engine running and the driver’s door open but there was nobody in sight.

I don’t know what was going through my head at the time but I would imagine it was nothing good. Inside, Rose was frantic. Tigger was having trouble breathing and we needed to get him to a vet right away. Our kids, Chris and Nick, were just about to bring him to the vet but they didn’t know where to go so they called Rose shortly before she got home.

We didn’t know where to go either. This was before we could open our phones and ask Google. Rose drove and I held Tigger on my lap. He was really struggling to get air and I worried we would lose him.  Rose was even more worried than I because she kept repeating that he was going to die.

She called her sister, Felice, who knew of an after hours vet in Port Richey but that was too far. We headed that way anyway and I tried calling information to see if I could find one closer. At that time, information had transitioned from a real person to a worthless robot that was no help at all so we made the trip to Port Richey.

They did several tests and found that Tigger had a large blockage in his esophagus so they put a long instrument down his throat and pushed it into his stomach. We will never know for sure what that blockage was, but since he was found at the food bowl, I’m sure he ate that new food so fast that it got caught in his airway. At $500, that was the most expensive free bag of cat food in history.

Nowadays I feed them a much higher quality dry cat food that they like but not enough to binge eat it. I would get rid of it completely if not for Chris’s stubbornness about eating wet food.

So that’s Tigger’s story. I like reminiscing. I think soon I will write about how we came to adopt him and his brother, Flash.

Wysong Epigen 90 Pet Food


I have changed our cats food again. I keep discovering undesirable things about their dry kibble food and then switch to something that I think is better, only to discover that is not so good either.

I have known for at least five years that kibble is bad for them. I tried to switch them to a raw food diet and started buying frozen raw cat food but they didn’t like it. Chris was the only one who would eat it and even he was not impressed. I started mixing it with canned food and that worked until I tried to go beyond a 50/50 ratio and then they didn’t eat it. I experimented with different canned foods but it seemed that the worst quality canned foods had the best results which just seemed to work against what I was doing so I eventually gave up.

I did start feeding them more wet cat food though, eventually settling on Earthborn Holistic Chicken Catcciatori and other flavors. I give our three cats one 5.5 ounce can in the morning and another in the evening. On weekends or when Rose works from home they get a third can.

I have wanted to get rid of the dry food for a few years now and just give them wet food but Chris won’t eat the wet food. He has become addicted to the dry. I made this video two years ago,  It shows how Chris will eat very little of his food before abandoning it or allowing another cat to take it. He hasn’t changed since then. He may even be worse.

I still put dry food out for the cats, mostly so Chris won’t starve but I have been only putting small amounts in the bowls and I allow them to remain empty for a fair amount of time before I feed them wet food. My hope is that Chris will be hungry and eat more wet food but that never seems to make a difference. Lately I have been putting even less dry food in their bowls but still Chris won’t eat the wet food.

I recently started working for a company that makes herbal health products. I commented to one of the owners that one of their products might help my cat (Puck) with his skin condition. He said I should look up a Dr. Will Falconer, which I did. Dr. Falconer has several good articles on his website, most of them confirming what I already knew and some expanding beyond my knowledge.

For example, he says cats should never have dry food. This I mostly knew but he makes you realize how important it is. He talks about how a dogs tongue can curve like a spoon and lap up lots of water but cats can’t do that. They are designed to get most of their moisture from their prey, which is 80 – 90 percent water, but now eat kibble that is 10 percent water.

Another problem with dry pet food is that they all contain starch. Even a food that is grain free contains loads of starch. It is the glue they use to hold the pieces together and it is not good for your pet. Dr. Falconer recommends Wysong for dogs because it is starch-free, among other reasons. I read that it was the only starch-free, dry pet food on the market but I don’t remember where I read it.

Even though he doesn’t recommend it for cats, I picked up a bag anyway. I figured I would try to give them the healthiest food available until I can transition them off the dry food. I purchased a five pound bag of Wysong Epigen 90 for dogs and cats. Yes, this food is for both dogs and cats. That is the first time I ever saw that so it must be different.

All of our cats seemed to like the taste of the new food, so that is a start.

This is certainly not an advertisement for Wysong, nor did I get any free products but do have an affiliate account with Amazon so if you purchase anything through my link I will get a small commission (very small).  I will say that I noticed some bad reviews on the product from 2014 that were related to a change in the formula but since then all reviews have been good so I assumed any problems have been addressed. The problems at that time seemed to be intestinal related, like diarrhea, hopefully that won’t be an issue now.

My ultimate goal is to start making my own raw cat food. I need to get a good meat grinder but before I do that I need a good source of quality meats and organs that I can’t find near me. I don’t want to give them raw meat from a sick, industrial animal. There are some places that sell organic meats but I also need things like heart and liver which they don’t sell. If anyone has any ideas or comments, please enrich me.

Adjusting to a Limited Ingredient Diet


A couple weeks ago Puck visited a new vet for his over-grooming problem. The vet said it was probably partly due to stress but he was also having an allergic reaction to something. The vet recommended a Feliway Diffuser for the stress and he recommended switching Puck’s food for three months to see if the problem went away. The vet had food that I could buy but they didn’t push it on me. The dry food was $64 for an eight pound bag. I decided to try my luck at a local natural pet food store where I buy the cat’s current wet food, Earthborn Holistic Chicken Catcciatori.

The Feliway was expensive, over $50 at the pet food store, but I did find it on Amazon for Under $30 so I ordered it. The food was also expensive but getting it at the pet food store was cheaper than getting it at the vet.Limited IngredientLimited Ingredient

I needed to buy a food with a single protein that was unlikely to be in our cat’s current food. The vet suggested rabbit or bison but he did not limit it to those two. He said duck was okay but sometimes an allergy to chicken can cross over to duck since they are both fowl. The woman at the pet food store helped me and we found a dry food with rabbit as the main protein from Nature’s Valley called Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Rabbit Meal Formula. I shared an Amazon link to the food so you can see what it is but in this case it was cheaper to get it at the pet food store.

While the dry food was more money than normal (I don’t remember what I paid), it was not unreasonable. The Instinct wet rabbit food, however, was too much to justify buying, especially considering that I have to buy it for three cats since I don’t want the trouble of trying to separate them for meals. I don’t know the exact price but it was around $3.50 per can.

The pet food woman found another brand of rabbit food called Wild Calling: Rabbit Burrow, for $1.89 a can. That was just a little more than I was already spending on wet food so we added a few days worth of that food (about 6 or eight cans) to my order. I didn’t want to buy too much in case they didn’t like it.

Finally I picked out a cat treat that was also rabbit. This was yet another brand called Vita Essentials Freeze Dried Rabbit. The one I bought was labeled “for dogs.” It was a larger package then the one for cats but had the same ingredients. The entire order was just under $64.

20151219_084306

They loved the dry food and the treats, but unfortunately, they were not crazy about the wet food. When I would open a can they would all get so excited and then Frankie would give me this “What are you trying to push on us?” look.

20151219_084515After a couple of days of that I went back to the pet food store and we decided that I didn’t need to feed them just rabbit. The goal was to avoid the proteins that Puck was eating such as chicken, beef and salmon. With that in mind I bought food from a company called Mauri. They use a single protein, New Zealand sourced meat that is unlikely to be in American pet food. Their website even says it is great for pets with allergies. I bought New Zealand Unagi, Wild Brushtail, New Zealand Venison, New Zealand Hoki, and Australian Wild Kangaroo.

These are mostly pâté type foods that our cats are not crazy about but they seem to be okay with this food. Chris does not generally care about wet food, he is more of a dry food junkie (hence the girth) but yesterday he would not give up his Venison to Frankie. Usually Puck or Frankie scarf their food down and then take what is left of Chris’s food. Chris usually takes a couple of bites and is done by then anyway or he walks away when he sees another cat coming his way, but this time Frankie had to force his head into the bowl because Chris would not walk away.

20151227_Cats_516The Feliway showed up about a week later and I plugged it into the bedroom where Puck was spending much of his day. He was in a self-imposed exile until Rose’s son left the day after Christmas. I then moved it out into the living room near the door to the patio.

It’s been a couple of weeks now and Rose seems to think Puck’s fur is looking a little better. I am not sure I can see a difference yet. The vet did say it could take eight to twelve weeks because certain allergens can remain in their system for that long. If it doesn’t work, I don’t know what else we can do.

Related posts:

New Vet, New Hope

Puck’s bald spot returns

Puck’s Vet Adventure

 

A Healthy Alternative to Cat Treats


If your cats are like mine, they love their cat treats. For years I was buying very small packages of treats for three to four dollars each to help bring a little happiness to my furry friends. I’ve also known that they were not exactly a healthy food for my cats but I figured the small amount once or twice a day wouldn’t hurt them.

I have since changed my thinking. For several years I have been learning about natural health for humans and have tried to apply some of that knowledge to our cats. It has been a slow process. I spent a few years buying frozen, raw food and then struggling to get them to eat it. My plan is to buy a meat grinder and make it myself but I’m not sure that will be any more successful. In the meantime, I feed them a quality, grain-free canned food (Earthborn Holistic) and a quality, grain-free dry food (Blue Buffalo Wilderness) but I could never find a healthy treat that they all enjoyed until I stopped looking for treats.

Stella and Chewey's cat foodMy alternative was to buy freeze-dried raw cat food and give it to them without adding water. I started using Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw and then switched to Stella and Chewey’s because I could get it in a larger package which brought my cost down to about what I was paying for the unhealthy treats, perhaps even lower. The best thing is, the cats love it.

A word of caution if you plan on trying this with your cats. It is meant to be mixed with water so don’t give them more than a few dry pieces so they won’t get dehydrated. Our cats seem to drink plenty of water so I don’t worry too much about that, but some cats don’t drink enough water. If that is the case, they shouldn’t be eating dry kibble either.

Our cats like both the Instinct Raw and the Stella and Chewy’s but they prefer the latter a little more. The down side to the Stella and Chewey’s is that it breaks into pieces easier than the Instinct Raw and you end up with a bunch of crumbs when you get near the bottom of the bag.

Stella and Chewey's cat food inside bag

When I have nothing left but crumbs, I add water to it and give it to them as cat food. The reason I don’t feed it to them as their regular cat food is because it is a bit expensive to feed them that much (although it may be worth it) and, for some reason, the cats seem to prefer it dry.

Let me know what you think. Do you have a healthy alternative to treats in your home?

Meal Time


Meal time for our cats has become very predictable in our house. They all become very excited when I walk in the kitchen. Puck jumps on the counter along with Chris or Frankie until I take the can out and then whoever is on the counter with Puck jumps down but Puck remains and starts eating as soon as I put the food in the nearest bowl.

Chris takes a few bites from his bowl and then walks away. I then have to move his bowl to where he is, sometimes more than once. After a couple of minutes Puck leaves his bowl, before he finishes, and heads out to look for Chris and his bowl, just in case his food is better. When Puck approaches, Chris just walks away and lets him have it.

This is unusual for Chris, who is so dominant, but I think he is just addicted to dry food and does not care much about wet food. That is why I have been searching for a canned food that all the cats like, especially Chris. It is difficult because I want to feed them healthy but it seems they tend to shun the healthy food for the more moderate quality choices.

I was mixing raw food with their wet food but I have temporarily given up on that because too much was going to waste. I would like to get a good meat grinder and try to make the raw food myself. For now I am giving them Stella and Chewey’s Raw Freeze-dried Dinner as a treat instead of the unhealthy cat treats they were eating.

Recently I found a good quality food that is grain-free and everyone seems to like it. It is  Earthborn Chicken Catcciatori Dinner. I have not tried all the flavors but the two others that I did try (which I foolishly did not take note of) were liked by two out of three cats. I would like to find one more flavor that they all enjoy so I can mix it up a little.

Let me know what you think. Has anybody else tried Earthborn or another high quality food that your cats really like.

The Complicated Issue of Choosing the Right Cat Food


Our cats eatingI was asked the other day what I feed our cats and I felt like I couldn’t reply without an explanation. I am currently not feeding our cats an ideal diet and I want to change that (and hopefully I will soon), but it is not as easy as it seems. I want to explain how I got to this point, what I learned, and what I may try next to improve our cats’ diet.

Rose and I have had cats since we moved in together a few months before we married in 1999. She had one cat, Sneakers, and fed him Iams dry food. Over the next several years we gained more cats and switched back and forth between several brands of dry food such as Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul, Science Diet, Max Cat, Pro Plan and then back to Iams again. All of these foods are what I would consider mid-level cat foods, meaning they are better than cheap supermarket cat foods but not high quality nutrition.

Of course, cost was one factor in our choice but we also had to find food that all our cats would eat. The reason we switched so often was because the cats would get bored with the taste after a while and become finicky. Who could blame them? We gave them wet food as an occasional treat or sometimes they would get some tuna.

Flash - RIP

Flash – RIP

This went on until a few months after we got Chris at the end of 2009. I think the turning point was when we lost Flash in April of 2010. He became very sick at less than five years old. I didn’t want another cat to die so young so I started researching a healthy cat diet.

My first question was whether I should feed wet or dry cat food and it was difficult to decide because everything I read was skewed very far in one direction or the other. On the one hand, dry food was better because it supposedly cleaned their teeth and prevented bacteria growth. On the other hand, wet food was better because cats evolved to get most of their water from their food and they become dehydrated from dry food because they don’t drink enough water.

In the end I decided the wet food argument made more sense. I also read that dry food contains grains and sugars that actually promote bacterial growth. I then learned of a third option after reading about Pottenger’s Cats…

Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr. (1901–1967) was using cats in a study of adrenal extract hormones but the number of donated cats soon exceeded his supply of cooked food so he ordered raw food scraps and fed some of the cats raw meat instead. The raw meat group appeared healthier then the cooked meat group resulting in a massive study of the benefits of raw meat involving about 900 cats. The study went on for three generations and by the end of the third generation the cats in the cooked food group developed degenerative diseases and most were not able to produce a fourth generation. The raw food group remained healthy throughout the experiment.

This led me to try to learn as much as I could about feeding the cats raw food. It turned out to be somewhat complicated because if you don’t include all the nutrients a cat needs, they could become very sick. It was also important to include  the organs and bones along with the meat, including chicken bones, which I had always been told to keep away from cats and dogs because they could choke. It turns out that cooked bones become very brittle but raw bones are okay for your pet and necessary for calcium.

I decided to test the waters and started with Bravo Raw Frozen Pet Food. This included everything except for a few things that I needed to add myself like fish oil and a couple of different vitamins that I can’t recall. Later I found a formula called Bravo Balance that had everything. My plan was to get them off the dry food and feed them just the raw food, but as often happens, things don’t always go as planned.

When I started feeding it to them, Chris liked it right away but our other cats turned their noses up at it. Bravo recommended mixing a small amount with canned food and then to gradually increase the raw food percentage until it was 100% raw. That was fine in theory but I could never get it much above 50% before they would reject it. Even Chris started giving me trouble about eating it.

I started experimenting with canned foods to mix with the raw. Some foods allowed me to mix a higher percentage of raw than other foods. The problem was that the higher the quality of canned food, the less they liked it. That left me with a dilemma. Should I give them more raw food with poor quality canned food or less raw food with higher quality canned food? For a while, I was mixing the raw food with Fancy Feast but eventually settled on Pro Plan. It is another mid-level food but all the cats love it. I only buy certain Pro Plan varieties. I avoid anything that says pasta or rice on the label to try to keep the grains to a minimum.  I also avoid the pâté or classic. Our cats like the cans with gravy or the ones that are sliced or braised. Pro Plan is not grain-free, which is what I want, but I have tried countless varieties of high quality food that they won’t eat so, for now, it is a necessary evil.

I settled on giving them a raw-canned mixture for breakfast and dinner, which is what I have done for most of the time since starting the diet.  After moving back to Florida I changed over to Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw, which comes in one once medallions. That was much easier because I could add one medallion to one small can of cat food. I believe Bravo and other brands come that way too now but I haven’t looked into it.

As soon as they were eating the raw food, I focused on eliminating the dry food, but I got resistance from an unlikely source, my wife. She thought it was cruel to not give them access to food 24 hours a day like us overweight, unhealthy humans have. So to make her happy I kept the food bowls but I only put a small amount in the bowls. I wanted the bowls to be empty at least two hours before it was time for the wet food. Rose didn’t care for that either. She would tell me I was starving the cats and even today, four years later, she yells at me when the bowls are empty. I know if I just fed them raw food and nothing else, eventually they would get over their “junk food” addiction and come to like it but that would never fly with Rose.

Since the raw food diet didn’t pan out like I thought and I was locked in to having dry food, I decided to try to give them the best food possible within a reasonable budget and one that they would all eat. I checked the ingredients of many different brands and brought samples home to try. Some they loved at first but after buying a large bag they wouldn’t eat it. Some they just wouldn’t eat at all. I finally came up with one that was reasonably healthy, grain free, and the cats liked the entire bag.

It’s called Blue Buffalo Wilderness. There are several flavors available like chicken, duck and salmon, and I buy a different flavor each time to keep things interesting. So far they still like it after some time.

A few months ago the cats suddenly became more finicky and would not eat the raw food mixture, or would eat some of it but leave most of the food behind. I tried changing to duck and then rabbit but those were even harder to get them to eat. I was soon forced to cut back to a half-medallion and then about two months ago I stopped the raw food altogether because there was just too much food left.

As an alternative I started giving them Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Treats. They were getting the Friskies Party Mix, which they love, but they also loved the Instinct treats which are much more expensive but also much healthier. I actually found these treats a year or so ago but gave them out sparingly because of the price. I now buy them in a larger six-ounce bag which cost less per ounce. The bag says “for dogs” but the ingredient list appears to be exactly the same as for cats. I’m not sure why but dog food is always cheaper than cat food.

The next thing I would like to do is buy a meat grinder and start making my own food. Perhaps using my own fresh ingredients might make a difference. Rose already thinks I’m weird because I recently started juicing and fermenting vegetables along with making my own toothpaste, if I start grinding meat she may just drop me off in Amish country.

I am also thinking about replacing their dry food with freeze-dried raw. I was looking into the taste and cost effectiveness of various brands a couple of months ago when I won a photo contest on BlogPaws. My prize was anything below $25 from Pet360 so I believe I chose Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dinner for Cats. I put everything on hold and waited for my food but after a week or two I got an e-mail saying it was unavailable, then another that said it was available and would be shipped next week. Well, next week was two months ago so I think its time to just buy it myself.

If anyone reading this is feeding raw to their cats I would love to hear about it.