My first cat, Venus, obtained when I was young and naive, started out on a commercial pet food diet supplemented with lots of fresh meat and fish, eggs and cheese, and 15 years later, as an old dame, she was still very partial to her ‘crunchies’. So I sourced the best possible dry cat food on the market for her. A Canadian brand, promoted by leading Holistic Veterinarians worldwide, made from lots of high quality ingredients and preserved using only natural compounds like Vitamin C. Honestly, the ingredients’ list read like a gourmet degustation menu, including yummy things like real chicken and salmon, chicken livers and chicken fat, eggs, turkey, whitefish, alfalfa, kelp, pumpkin, and many other fresh whole fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Unfortunately Australian quarantine laws required that the food be irradiated on entry into the country. Some human foods like herbs and tropical fruits are irradiated on import, but many imported pet foods receive huge doses of radiation — around 5-10x the human dose! The irradiation process altered Venus’s pet food in such a way that it became extremely toxic to cats. A number of Australian cats eating the food developed irreversible neurological disease and had to be euthanased. A pet food recall ensued.
At the time about 40% of Venus’s diet consisted of the gourmet dry food. Consequently, she was one of the cats affected with irreversible neurological disease. She lost a lot of weight, developed wobbly hind legs, was having trouble swallowing her food, and couldn’t urinate or defaecate properly. She even started to have trouble breathing. She did not respond to treatment and I had to euthanase her.
I am now even more passionate about the benefits of preparing a balanced, natural, homemade diet for pets. I have since done even more research into commercial pet foods, and have discovered only a very small number that I recommend to my veterinary patients, but it stands proven that real, home-prepared food is undoubtedly the better option.
Many Vets recommend feeding ‘premium’ processed dry foods over home-prepared diets, and tout these as the best option for your pet, but I learnt first-hand that this is far from the truth. Many of the commercial pet foods readily available, even ‘premium’ labels, can be extremely detrimental to your pet’s health.
Although creatively marketed as the optimum food for your pet, this is far from the truth. In the time since commercial pet foods have become available, we have witnessed a dramatic decline in the health of our pets. There are many contributing factors that have led to the demise of health of our animal companions, including poor genetics, inappropriate lifestyle, and over-vaccination, but diet is, without doubt, one of the major ones. Skin disease and dermatitis, allergies, ear infections, teeth and gum disease, poor digestive function, pancreatitis, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, renal failure, anal gland blockages, epilepsy and cancer are now rampant amongst the pet population, and can all be linked to improper nutrition. It is no coincidence that diseases such as these have become more prevalent since processed pet foods became available.
If you want your pet to be as healthy as possible, a balanced, natural, real-food diet is crucial. My pets now eat a very easy-to-prepare diet, rich in yummy, health-promoting ingredients, like raw chicken necks or wings for the cat, or whole raw chicken carcasses for the dog, raw lamb bones, raw organ meats (beef, lamb or chicken liver, hearts and kidneys), raw fish, tinned sardines or mackerel, raw eggs, plain yoghurt, and a little cottage cheese or cream here and there. It’s also important to provide daily greens, so I mince up home-grown parsley or sprouts or wheatgrass, as well as whatever vegetables I have on hand, like broccoli, carrot, celery, beetroot, cauliflower, sweet potato or pumpkin and the occasional piece of fruit like apple, pear or pineapple. I supply important minerals with seaweeds like kelp powder or nori flakes. All of the foods provided are human-grade, and organic where possible.
Providing a natural diet for my pets, despite my busy lifestyle, has proven to be easy, quick, inexpensive and rewarding. I am now confident that my pets are receiving a natural, nourishing diet that promotes their health and vitality, rather than depleting it.