Tag Archives: healthy

New Cat Litter and the Return of an Old Problem


Recently I heard about the possible health risks of clumping cat litter. After doing some research, I learned that the controversy started in 1995 after Marina Michaels wrote an article for Tiger Tribe Magazine titled Clumping Clay Kitty Litters: A Deadly Convenience? In it she described several litters of kittens dying of an unknown cause until she determined it was the clumping clay litter that was causing the problem.

Upon further research, I found that all other articles about the subject pointed back to Michael’s’ original article and it seems that no research has been done to prove, or disprove, her claim. It also seems that if there is a problem, kittens are affected considerably more than adult cats.

Proof or not, I thought it would not hurt to take away a potential danger and replace it with a healthier alternative. I also thought it would be lighter and better for the environment. My only concern was that Chris’s pooping problem might come back if I stopped doing what worked.

In case you haven’t read my older posts, we struggled with Chris pooping on the floor for over three years. Sometimes he would use the box and sometimes he wouldn’t. We reduced the problem when we started using Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Clumping Cat Litter along with Precious Cat Litter Attractant and the problem stopped two years ago when we moved to our last home and put the litter boxes in the same room. I think having a second box nearby if the first one wasn’t perfect was helpful. Once the problem got better, I stopped buying the Cat attract but continued to buy the Precious Cat litter.

I thought the proximity of the boxes was the most important factor and I was hoping Chris’s new habit of always pooping in the box might be permanent so, before me moved, I bought a litter called Tidy Cats Pure Nature. It is made from cedar, corn, and pine, natural, renewable resources, and it is much lighter than conventional litter and easy to transport. 

Tidy cats pure nature cat litter

On moving day I emptied and cleaned one of the boxes but left other box. When I moved the cats to the new house I brought the litter pan with the old litter and put it in the new house next to the box with the new litter.

cat litter

I then monitored both for almost three weeks. The new litter was used only about ten times and every time, except once, it was for pee. That is about once every two days for three cats, not very good.

I know the test was a little unfair because they still had their old litter as an option but it was a good way to prove what they prefer, especially since their old litter was…, well… old. I wanted to get rid of the new litter after the first week but waited to see if they would get use to it and use it more. They didn’t, and I didn’t want to force a litter on them that might reignite Chris’s pooping problem.

By week three I started seeing an occasional, small piece of poop on the floor. I assumed someone was having a problem with poop sticking to their butt, since it was so small, but as a precaution I bought more of their old litter and changed both boxes two days ago.

This morning I rolled out on exercise mat because I wanted to start doing stretches to relieve the back pain that I have been feeling for the last week or two. Chris found the mat interesting and lied on it while I looked for a good video to follow on YouTube. When I found one, I heard Chris clawing at the mat and turned to see him trying to bury a big poop that he left there.

I waited too long and now I now I have to buy more Cat Attract and start over. As far as a healthy alternative to the clumping cat litter…? I don’t have a good option with Chris living here.

If anyone is interested, some say that a good, cheap and healthy alternative to the alternative cat litters is  Chick Starter. It is food for young chicks and is said to be very similar to World’s Best Cat Litter at a fraction of the cost. Just make sure you get the non-medicated crumbles. I used an Amazon link so you could see what it is but you should look for it at a local feed store where you can get it much cheaper. I would love to save money and get a healthy cat litter but Chris won’t let me.

Does you use an alternative to standard litter? Please share your experience.

Related links:

Tub Pooper C

The Continuing Saga of Poop

Another Story About Poop

More Problems With Poop

Falling Off the Poop Wagon

Puck Takes a Dust Bath

Litter Boxes are for Cats

Review of Cat’s Pride Cat Litter

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.