Interesting reading on
desexing of kittens:
While it may seem that
interest in early spay/neuter is a recent phenomenon, it has not only been
talked about, but it has
been practiced for over 25 years in North America.
Early age altering refers to spays and neuters done between the age of
6 and 14
weeks. Altering pets between 5 and 7 months of age was established by tradition
rather than for any specific
medical reason. Years ago, when safe
pediatric anesthetic techniques were not available, waiting until a patient was older
increased the safety of surgery. But we no longer need to delay altering for
People working to decrease the problem of surplus dogs and cats in the United
States pioneered the idea of early altering.
While surgical sterilization
remains the most effective means of population control, delaying the surgery
long enough for
sexual maturity to occur defeats the purpose. Animal shelters
advocate mandatory altering, but many adopted animals
either are never altered
or have at least one litter first.
Over the years, the safety of early altering has been questioned, mainly by
veterinarians who may be unfamiliar with the
required for pediatric patients. As well, concerns that early altering could
incidence of feline lower urinary tract disease, could affect
skeletal development, and affect behaviour have been voiced.
These concerns have
largely been laid to rest by many studies, and early altering is becoming more
available. A study recently published by researchers at the
University of Florida found no significant differences in the
behavioral characteristics of cats altered at 7 weeks of age compared to those
altered at 7 months of age.
Very important work has been done by Drs. Michael Aronsohn and Alicia Faggella
at the Massachusetts SPCA on the
anesthetic and surgical techniques for early
altering of dogs and cats. In 1993, two papers were published outlining their
work on the early altering of hundreds of kittens between the age of 6 and 14
weeks. They evaluated several anesthetic
protocols and made recommendations for
safe handling and anesthesia in patients of this age. Some small changes to
surgical technique are necessary for patients in this age group. As well, these
young patients must be handled a bit
differently both before, during, and after
surgery. The changes in surgical protocol are simple and easy to carry out, and
the experience of these veterinarians with early altering is overwhelmingly
As cat breeders, we must do our part to curtail the serious issue of surplus
animals. Many of us work in breed rescue
programs and give our time and
expertise to shelters. We can ensure that our own kittens not destined for
programs will never reproduce by practicing early altering. Early
altering is a safe and effective means of ensuring we do
not unwittingly add to
the burden of unwanted pets.
Further information - refer to the website for The Winn Feline Foundation
"A Winn Feline Foundation Report on Early Spay/Neuter in the Cat"
progress report on a study funded by The Winn Feline Foundation - Developmental
and Behavioral Effects of Prepubertal
Gonadectomy. Mark S. Bloomberg, DVM, MS;
W.P. Stubbs, DVM; D.F. Senior, BVSc; Thomas J. Lane, BS, DVM; University
Florida at Gainesville. Funded by the Winn Feline Foundation, February 1991.
Continuation funded - Summary prepared
by Diana Cruden, Ph.D.
Are fears of negative side effects of early neutering warranted?
Background and medical issues including a summary of an ongoing Winn Foundation
funded project to evaluate the long
term effects of early altering.
The concept of early spaying and neutering (e.g. before the animal is sexually
mature) is not a new one. In the early
1900's, early neutering was the norm and
it was not until much later that questions were raised about the negative side
effects of such a procedure. Today most of the experts acknowledge that there
has not been enough scientific information
available about the most appropriate
age to neuter a pet. Until recently, there was no research data that either
or disproved the idea that neutering dogs and cats at ages younger
than five to eight months was deleterious.
There is, in fact, little scientific basis for selecting this age group as the
most appropriate time for neutering. Indeed, one
investigator points out that
many veterinarians have been practicing early neutering for years, since there
is an incredible
range of ages when puppies and kittens reach sexual maturity.
Large animal practitioners have long practiced early
neutering on their
livestock and consider it not only acceptable, but desirable in many cases.
Even before concerns for the burgeoning population of unwanted pets raised our
collective consciousness, there were many
scientifically documented reasons to
spay and castrate.
Spayed females are protected against mammary cancer and uterine infections. In
males, castration reduces the risk of
testicular cancer and enlargement of the
prostate and related infections. From the pet owners point of view, the spayed
castrated pet is a much better companion. They are less aggressive and more
affectionate than their unaltered
counterparts. Since they are not driven by the
urge to reproduce, they are less likely to roam and fight.
Controlled studies into the short- and long-term
Controlled studies into the short- and long-term effects of early neutering have
been sadly lacking until recently. While there
had been numerous anecdotal
reports of early spaying and neutering, these cases were generally uncontrolled
scientific viewpoint. Most reported cases were random bred, unrelated
animals from a variety of backgrounds and no
attempt was made to control for
these variations. There have been few university based studies in this area.
of Texas A&M reported in 1972 that neutering before sexual maturity
had relatively little effect on the diameter of the
urethra in male cats.
Studies have more recently been conducted at Angell Memorial Hospital in Boston,
the College of Veterinary Medicine at the
University of Minnesota, and the
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Florida.
The Florida research project
Florida project, begun in 1991 and completed in 1992, was funded by the Winn
Feline Foundation in conjunction with the
American Veterinary Medical
Association (AVMA). A serious attempt was made in this study to limit background
and genetic variation.
The kittens were bred especially for the project and litter mates were divided
among the three groups. The queens were
bred and housed in quarantined
facilities since both pre- and post-natal nutrition and other factors can
contribute to the
ultimate size, weight, and overall health of the kittens. Dr.
Mark Bloomberg indicates that although long-term follow-up
incomplete, the initial results are extremely positive. Prior to undertaking the
Winn Foundation study, Dr
. Bloomberg had completed a similar study in dogs.
Animals involved in that study have now been followed for over five
no negative side effects reported. In the Winn Foundation study, there were a
total of 31 domestic shorthair
kittens from 7 litters born on the Gainesville
The kittens were divided into three groups:
1 (11 kittens) were
neutered or spayed at 7 weeks of age.
2 (11 kittens) were
neutered or spayed at 7 months.
3 (the control group of
9 kittens) were not neutered until maturity and after the completion of the
first phase of the
study at 12 months.
investigators reported that the surgical procedures in the Group 1 kittens were
straightforward and uncomplicated, and
that the kittens recovered even more
rapidly than the Group 2 kittens and Group 3 cats. Dr. Bloomberg notes that
there is very little material on
pediatric anesthesia in animals, the
pediatric patient in human medicine is generally
considered to be a very good
surgical candidate and there is no reason why this should not also be true for
dogs and cats.
The major concerns in pediatric surgery are:
preventing hypothermia (maintaining body heat);
utilizing proper doses of
(since the respiratory centres are not as well developed in the pediatric
maintaining proper blood
investigators did not fast the pediatric patients as long as adult patients and
administered small amounts of Karo syrup
prior to induction of
anesthesia as a
precaution. It should be noted that due to the rapid recovery of the pediatric
the common practice of reducing
anesthesia during final stages of the
surgery was modified.
Critics have claimed several possible detrimental side effects from early
neutering. It is commonly believed that neutered
animals are less active and
more prone to obesity than unaltered animals. It was also suggested that
neutering at an early
age would stunt normal growth. In male cats in particular,
it was feared that early castration would affect the development
of the urinary
tract and lead to an increased incidence of cystitis or urinary obstruction.
Concerns have also been raised as
to the effect of early neutering on behaviour,
food consumption and dietary requirements, etc. The investigators attempted
answer most of these questions by evaluating several parameters in the three
groups of kittens. In particular, they
looked at weight and body composition
(i.e., percent of body fat); bone length and the age of physeal closure (the age
when long bone growth stops); behaviour; food consumption; development of the
urinary tract; and the development of
secondary sexual characteristics and
degree of sexual maturity.
The results of the comparisons of weight showed some differences between the
three groups. Males weighed consistently
more than females, but this was uniform
in all groups. The studies of body composition and body fat indicated that Group
(neutered at 7 weeks) and Group 2 (neutered at 7 months) were identical and
were generally fatter than Group 3
(neutered at 12 months, after they were
sexually mature). Investigators point out that by 12 months, the male cats in
Group 3 were already exhibiting the normal adult male characteristics of
decreased weight and the development of jowls,
which accounts for some of the
differences. It has also been noted that in the course of follow-up, the
the weight in cats from Group 1 and 2 and Group 3 are
becoming less apparent. All these cats have been placed in selected
supervised pet homes and are more active than they were in the University
facilities. A three-year follow-up exam was
to be conducted in May of 1994.
There was generally no difference in food consumption between the three groups
other than the differences between males
and females, which were consistent in
all groups. There was no difference observed in the growth rates in all three
although the males grew faster in all groups. Increased long bone length
was observed in both males and females in
Groups 1 and 2. This appeared to be
due to the fact that physeal closing (closure of the bone growth plate) was
Groups 1 & 2. This explains why cats neutered and spayed as kittens
are frequently larger (longer and taller) than
unaltered cats or cats altered
later in life. This seems to be particularly true for males.
terms of behaviour, after 7 months, the cats in Group 3 were noticeably less
affectionate and more aggressive prior to
altering than the cats in Groups 1 and
2. Contrary to popular opinion, neutered animals were as active as their
Urinary tract development, sexual characteristics
Observations of urinary tract development showed no differences between the
three groups other than the differences
related to sex and these were consistent
across all groups.
The investigators measured the diameter of the urethra in the male kittens only
and found no differences between the
groups. Concerns have been raised that
early neutering would result in smaller diameters in the urinary tract,
an increased incidence of cystitis and related problems. This does
not appear to be the case. The main differences observed
between the groups
occurred in the comparison of secondary sex characteristics. Males were examined
for differences in
the development of the penis and prepuce (skin covering the
penis), as well as for the development of penile spines. The
penile spines were
absent in Group 1, smaller than normal in Group 2, and normally developed in
Group 3. In the
examination of the female kittens, investigators found that the
vulvas were more infantile in Groups 1 and 2 and normal in
Group 3. None of
these differences had any impact on the ability to catheterize the kittens.
Concerns that development of
the urinary tract might be arrested or impaired by
early spaying and neutering proved unsupported.
FEEDING YOUR CAT:
THE BASICS OF FELINE
Lisa A. Pierson, DVM
Diet is the brick and mortar of health. This web
page lays out some often-ignored principles of feline nutrition and explains why
cats have a better chance at optimal health if they are fed canned food (or
a balanced homemade diet) instead
of dry kibble that is based on grain.
Putting a little thought into what you feed your
cat(s) can pay big dividends over their lifetime and very possibly help them
avoid serious, painful, and costly illnesses. An increasing number of
nutrition-savvy veterinarians, including board-certified veterinary internists,
are now strongly recommending the feeding of canned food together with a
balanced raw meat diet instead of grain based dry kibble.
The three key negative issues
associated with Grain based dry foods are:
1) water content is too low
2) carbohydrate load is too
3) type of protein - too high
in plant-based versus animal-based proteins
In addition, dry food is very
heavily processed which
includes being subjected to high temperatures for a long time resulting in
alteration and destruction of nutrients.
Dry food is also often contaminated with
bacteria, fungal mycotoxins, storage mites/cockroaches and their feces, etc.
Most people who are concerned about their own
nutrition have heard nutritionists say "shop the perimeter of the grocery
store." This statement refers to the push to get humans to focus on fresh
food - not overly processed food
found in boxes and cans.
Where do you think kibble would reside in this
scenario? Definitely not in the "perimeter"! There is nothing fresh about
this source of food and it certainly does not come close to resembling a bird or
keep in mind that dry foods are not refrigerated and they sit in warm
warehouses, on pet store shelves, and in your cupboards for weeks or months
before your pets consume them. Fats can easily become rancid in this type of
There is no doubt that dry food is responsible
for far more intestinal problems, and other diseases, than most veterinarians
and cat owners realize.
Common medical problems
associated with Grain based dry food
My Cat is Doing Just "Fine" on Normal Dry Food!
Every living creature is “fine” until outward
signs of a disease process are exhibited. That may sound like a very obvious
basic statement but if you think about it……
Every cat with a blocked
urinary tract was “fine” until
they started to strain to urinate and either died from a ruptured
bladder or had
to be rushed to the hospital for emergency catheterization.
Every cat on the Feline Diabetes Message Board
was “fine” until their owners started to recognize the signs of diabetes.
Every cat with an inflamed bladder (cystitis)
was “fine” until they ended up in pain, passing blood in their urine, and
missing their litter box.
Every cat was "fine" until the feeding of
species-inappropriate, hyperallergenic ingredients caught up with him and he
started to show signs of food intolerance/IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).
Every cat was "fine" until that kidney or bladder
stone got big enough to cause clinical signs.
Every cancer patient was “fine” until their tumor
grew large enough or spread far enough so that clinical signs were
The point is that diseases 'brew' long before
being noticed by the living being.
This is why the statement “but my cat is
healthy/fine on dry food” means very little to me because I believe
nutrition - not locking the barn
door after the horse is gone. I don’t want to end up saying “oops……I
is not so fine now!!" when a patient presents to me with a medical problem that
could have been avoided if he
would have been feed a species-appropriate diet to
Of course, in order to be
on board with the preventative
nutrition argument, a person has
to understand the following
1) All urinary
tract systems are much healthier with an appropriate amount of water flowing
Dietary water and urinary tract health
2) Carbohydrates can wreak
havoc on cats' blood sugar/insulin balance.
3) Cats inherently have a
low thirst drive and need to consume water *with* their food. (A cat's normal
prey is ~70 -
75% water - not the very low 5-10% found in dry food.)
4) Cats are strict
carnivores which means they are designed to get their protein from meat/organs –
Cats Need Animal-Based
Cats are obligate (strict) carnivores and are
very different from dogs in their nutritional needs. What does it mean to be
‘obligate carnivore’? It means that your cat was built by Mother Nature to get
her nutritional needs met by the
consumption of a large amount of animal-based
proteins (meat/organs) and
derives much less nutritional support
It means that cats lack specific metabolic (enzymatic) pathways and
utilize plant proteins as efficiently as animal proteins.
It is very
important to remember that not all proteins are created equal.
Proteins derived from animal tissues
have a complete amino acid profile. (Amino acids are the building blocks of
proteins. Think of them as pieces of a puzzle.) Plant-based proteins do not
contain the full complement (puzzle pieces)
of the critical amino acids required
by an obligate carnivore. The quality and composition of a protein (are all of
puzzle pieces present?) is also referred to as its biological value.
Humans and dogs can take the pieces
of the puzzle in the plant protein and, from those, make the missing pieces.
cannot do this. This is why humans and dogs can live on a vegetarian diet
but cats cannot. (Note that I
do not recommend
vegetarian diets for dogs.)
one of the most important nutrients present in meat but it is missing from
plants. Taurine deficiency will
cause blindness and heart problems in cats.
The protein in dry food, which is often heavily
plant-based, is not equal in quality to
the protein in canned food, which is meat-based.
The protein in dry food, therefore, earns a lower biological value score.
Because plant proteins are cheaper
than meat proteins, pet food companies will have a higher profit margin when
using corn, wheat, soy, rice, etc.
Veterinary nutritionists and pet
food company representatives will argue that they are smart enough to know
what is missing from a plant in terms of nutrient forms and amounts
- nutrients that
would otherwise be in a meat-
based diet. They will then claim that these
missing elements are added to their diets to make it complete and balanced
sustain life in an obligate carnivore.
Does anyone really think that humans are that
This is the kind of arrogance that
has led to fatal errors in the past. Not all that long ago (1980s) cats were
and dying from heart problems due to this arrogance. It was
discovered in the late 1980s that cats are exquisitely
sensitive to taurine
deficiency and our cats were paying dearly for Man straying so far from nature
in order to increase
the profit margin of the pet food manufacturers.
There are several situations that
can lead to a diet being deficient in taurine but one of them is using a diet
heavily on plants (grains, etc.) as its source of protein. Instead
of lowering their profit margin and going back to nature
by adding more meat to
the diets, the pet food companies simple started supplementing their diets with
This may be all well and good for
this particular problem, but how do we know that Man is not blindly going along
unaware of other critical nutrients that are missing from a plant-based diet?
Why are nutritionists so arrogant
to think that we can safely stray so far from what a cat is designed by nature
Also note that synthetic taurine is manufactured
from a chemical reaction and all taurine (at least that I know of) comes
China. Given that country's horrible track record with regard to food safety, I
certainly would not want to depend
on taurine from China's chemical synthesis to
meet my cats' taurine needs.
With regard to the overall protein amounts contained
in dry versus canned food, do not be confused by the listing of the
percentages on the packaging. At first glance, it might appear that the dry
food has a higher amount of protein
than the canned food—but this is not true
on a dry
matter basis which considers the food minus the water. Most canned
foods, when figured on a dry matter basis, have more protein than dry food. And
remember, even if this was not the
case, the percentage numbers do not tell the
whole story. It is the protein’s
biological value that is critical.
Let's ask ourselves the following
question: How many cats become ill or die from these species-inappropriate
the patient's diet is never even questioned as a possible cause of the
illness or death? We cannot answer that question
definitively but I have no
doubt that the answer would be "many".
Do cats survive on these heavily
(synthetically) supplemented plant-based diets? Yes, many of them do.
Do cats thrive on these diets? No,
they do not.
Please pay special attention to the
words *survive* versus *thrive* as
there is a very big difference between the two
states of health.
There are two basic ways to meet our nutrient
food with a short ingredient
list - or at least one that does not resemble a science experiment full of
names that are hard to pronounce.
processed foods that have had
much of their nutrient content destroyed or altered, with food chemists
'fixing' the deficit with synthetic supplements. This type of unhealthy
diet is consumed under the assumption that
humans know exactly what was
destroyed or altered during processing and what needs to be added back and
what form and amount.
Again, Man is simply not that smart.
While canned food is not 'fresh', per se, dry
food undergoes a harsher processing. It
has been cooked at very high
temperatures for a long period of time. The
extensive cooking required to remove most of the water from the food
moisture reduced to 5-10% moisture) significantly alters the biological value of
the protein sources and damages
other vital nutrients.
then have to guess which nutrients – in what form and amounts – were destroyed
by this cooking process and
then try to add them back into the diet.
Occasionally 'real food' is used instead of synthetic supplements but those long
and hard-to-pronounce names on the ingredient list describe chemically
Given that Man will never be as
smart as nature – we will never know every detail of a cat’s normal prey - it is
that there is a risk when
greed cause humans to stray so far from a cat’s natural diet.
Note: I have stopped using the term "grain-free"
since it has become somewhat meaningless. Many companies (e.g.,
tout that their products are "grain free" but then they just load up the food
with high carbohydrate
ingredients like potatoes and peas which are not grains
but still contribute a significant carb load (and plant-based
protein) to the
food. The "grain-free" descriptive has become very misleading.
In their natural setting, cats—whose
unique biology makes them true carnivores--would not consume the high level of
carbohydrates (grains, potatoes, peas, etc.) that are in the dry foods (and some
canned foods) that we routinely feed
them. You would never see a wild cat
chasing down a herd of biscuits running across the plains of Africa or
her mouse and topping it off with corn meal.
In the wild, your cat would be
eating a high protein, high-moisture, meat/organ-based diet, with a moderate
level of fat
and with only
approximately 1-2 percent of her diet consisting of carbohydrates. The
average dry food
contains 35-50 percent carbohydrate calories. Some of the
cheaper dry foods contain even higher levels.
This is NOT the diet that Mother
Nature intended for your cat to eat.
Many canned foods, on the other
hand, contain approximately less than 10 percent carbohydrates.
Please note that not all canned
foods are suitably low in carbohydrates. For instance, most of the Hill's
(over-the-counter) and the Hill's 'prescription' diets are very
high in carbohydrates and are not foods that I would ever
choose to feed.
Cats have a physiological decrease
in the ability to utilize carbohydrates due to the lack of specific enzymatic
that are present in other mammals, and they lack a salivary enzyme
Cats have no dietary need
for carbohydrates and, more worrisome is the fact that a diet that is high in
carbohydrates can be detrimental to their health as is explained below.
With this in mind, it is as
illogical to feed a carnivore a steady diet of meat-flavored cereals as it would
be to feed meat
to a vegetarian like a horse or a cow, right? So why are we
continuing to feed our carnivores like herbivores? Why are
we feeding such a
species-inappropriate diet? The answers are simple. Grains/potatoes
Dry food is convenient. Affordability and convenience sells.
However, is a carbohydrate-laden,
plant-based, water-depleted dry food the best diet for our cats? Absolutely
Obligate carnivores are designed to
eat meat/organs – not grains/vegetables
- and they need to consume
water with their
food as explained below.
Plenty of Water With Their
Opie's pictorial at Feline
Urinary Tract Health is a 'must
see' for any cat caregiver who insists on feeding dry food.
The first paragraph of that page is as follows:
If I could have the reader of
this webpage take away just one word from this discussion, it would be "water." If
your cat is on a properly hydrated diet of 100% canned (or homemade) food - and
no dry food - you stand a very good chance of never needing to read this
Water is an extremely important nutrient
that contributes to overall health in every living creature.
Couple this with the
fact that cats do
not have a very strong thirst drive when
compared to other species, and
you will understand
why it is critical for them to ingest a water-rich diet. The
cat's lack of a strong thirst drive can lead to low-level,
chronic dehydration when dry food makes up the bulk of their diet especially
if they have any level of kidney
A cat's normal
prey contains approximately 70 - 75 percent water. Dry food only contains 5-10
percent water whereas
canned foods contain approximately 78 percent water.
Canned foods therefore more closely approximate the natural
diet of the cat and
are better suited to meet the cat’s water needs.
I hear the reader saying: "But my cat drinks a
lot of water so dry food is just fine for him!"
consuming a predominantly dry food diet does drink more water than a cat
consuming a canned food diet, but in
the end, when water from all sources is
added together (what’s in their diet plus what they drink), the
cat on dry food
consumes approximately half the amount of water compared with a
cat eating canned food.
Water intake of cats on dry vs. canned food
Put another way, a cat on a canned food diet
consumes approximately double the
amount of water consumed by a cat
eating dry food when all sources (food and
water bowl) are considered.
This is a crucial
point when one considers how common kidney and bladder problems are in the cat.
canned food as 'flushing out' your cat's bladder several times each day.
Please keep in mind that when
your cat starts eating a more appropriately hydrated diet of canned food, his
will increase which is a very good thing for bladder health.
Because of this increase in urine production,
litter boxes need to be scooped more frequently or more boxes need to be added
to the home.
is typical of the cat's independent nature that although it has been a companion
of man for many centuries, it has
generally refused to change its dietary
habits. The cat has continued to hunt and provide for itself at every
its natural state, the cat is a healthy and resourceful animal
and as a hunter is second to none.
Recent nutritional studies have proved the cat to be a pure carnivore. It is
unable to exist in its natural environment without
a diet of tissues and organs
of other animals. A wild cat eats all of its prey - hair, skin, flesh, bones and
Since the wild cat is a healthy animal with excellent teeth and bone structure,
it has given us some clues in the search for a
good diet for our domesticated
companions. Cat owners often unknowingly cause nutritional diseases in their
animals in a
quest to provide a balanced diet.
Research studies indicate the cat's dietary requirements are unique.
cat has an extraordinarily high requirements for protein. An adult cat needs 20%
of its total daily calorie intake to be
protein. This is about five times that
required by a dog. Kittens need 30% protein for normal growth and development.
The majority of the protein has to be of animal origin. If a cat is fed
exclusively on tinned dog food, it loses weight gradually
and eventually becomes
cat is unable to synthesize Vitamin A from the plant pigment carotene and has to
eat the vitamin in its true form. Cats
have a high Vitamin A requirement, but
excessive doses are more disastrous then deficiencies.
Raw liver is an excellent source of Vitamin A but cats often become addicted to
eating liver, which causes excess bone tissue
to be laid down in joints. The
Vitamin A poisoning eventually causes permanent stiffness of the legs and neck.
Low grade Vitamin A deficiencies occur quite commonly, especially in breeding
catteries, where stress caused through viral
respiratory infection or pregnancy
results in a rapid depletion of Vitamin A stored in the liver. This not only
prolonged recovery from illness but is a common cause of sterility,
reduced litter size and birth defects such as flattened
chests and cleft
Vitamin D is required for normal bone growth and development. Cats with Vitamin
D deficiency develop a disease known as
rickets. Rickets in cats is virtually
unknown in Australia. This is because cats need only minute quantities and are
synthesize Vitamin D in their skin under the influence of sunlight.
Over-zealous Vitamin D supplements in the diet, through cod liver oil and
Vitamin D/calcium mixtures - can cause
mineralization of body organs.
Mineralization in the heart, arteries and kidneys can lead to death.
most common man induced nutritional disease in young cats is bone disease due to
a diet of too little calcium and
excessive amounts of phosphorus.
Growing kittens rapidly acquire a taste for raw beef and stubbornly refuse to
eat anything else. Although beef is an excellent
source of protein and B
vitamins, it contains very little calcium and large quantities of phosphorus -
just the right
ingredients for serve bone
weakness which can cause permanent spinal & pelvis deformaties
are not capable of utilising vegetable oils for all their requirements and need
to have part of their daily diet as animal
fat. Too much vegetable or fish oil
can cause pancreatitis, known as 'yellow fat disease', where the fat pads and
deposits become severely inflamed and painful.
of the most startling nutritional diseases in cats is due to thiamine or Vitamin
B1 deficiency. Thiamine is essential for a
healthy nervous system and raw meat
and offal normally provide ample quantities of b vitamins. Yeast powder or
are also an excellent source of Vitamin B.
Thiamine deficiency can occur in two ways. The first is by feeding cooked meat
and offal where the cooling process destroys
all the B vitamins. The second is
to feed a large proportion of the diet as raw fish, especially deep sea fish
enzymes that destroy thiamine.
Both these feeding methods will eventually lead to a disease called Chastek's
paralysis which has neurological symptoms
such as convulsions and paralysis -
and finally permanent brain damage.
These unusual nutritional requirements of the domestic cat ensure it is
extremely sensitive to man interfering with its
natural diet. Ideally we should
feed a diet of mice, rats, birds and other small prey - but this is impractical.
Cat breeders and owners are fortunate the pet food industry has studies their
animals' needs to provide them with a wide
range of good quality tinned and
dried foods. These prepared foods are divided into two types - one provides a
diet and the other must be supplemented with other foods.
It is important to distinguish between the two types. Vitamins and minerals are
added to these prepared foods to prevent
So What Should you Feed your Cat?
feed raw liver once or twice weekly
Do feed Raw bones, such as large chicken bones and lamb chops bones regularly.
Bones are an excellent source of
calcium which ensures healthy teeth and
gums. Cats rarely get bones stuck in their throats.
Do feed milk and other dairy products such as cheese - if your cat likes it. A
few cats are allergic to milk which will cause
Do feed a varied diet to young kittens to prevent them becoming finicky eaters
feed one foodstuff only continuously - vary with foods such as tinned food,
milk, cheese, fresh beef, fresh chicken or
Don't feed dry food as a complete diet particular, to male cats. This could
play a part in the formation of bladder crystals
and subsequent bladder
"Fat is Important to That Diet"
by Dr. Truda M. Straede
The correct diet for your cat?
correct diet for a cat is a matter of contention - and every economic
competition! Every brand of pet food trumpets its
value with many claiming to be
complete or balanced. This may be true - but I have yet to meet a cat that
unutterably bored by the same flavoured can every day, and most
are not interested in the second half of a tin opened the
If biscuits are the dietary mainstay, more sustained enthusiasm is likely - some
seem to be addicted to them completely,
and then will not eat any raw food at
all. This addiction to dry food is often caused by the basting of the dry
flavour enhances to encourage the cat to eat them.
The protein to fat ratio:
content of these prepared foods is generally given as crude protein, crude fat,
crude fibre and natural sodium chloride.
The protein to fat ratio is between 2:1
and 3:1, values well worth committing to memory when planning a non processed,
more natural, and cheaper diet for your breeding colony or companion.
The most common mistake made by fussy cat owners and breeders is not providing
sufficient fat in the diet.
Proteins consist of amino acids made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen,
phosphorus and sulphur which can be used
as building blocks to make cat
proteins, or the excess can be used as an energy source. In this case the
delaminated - nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur are stripped away,
leaving the carbon, hydrogen and oxygen portions to
utilized in respiration.
This is wasteful as it takes a lot of energy to make proteins and is an extra
strain on the kidneys, which have to excrete the
secret is to provide only the growth and repair requirements as proteins, and
the energy source as some less complex
form of carbon hydrogen and oxygen.
Carbohydrates immediately spring to mind, but cats are carnivores so their guts
not able to
utilize complex carbohydrates such as cereal and bread with any
efficiency - they are designed to use the carbon
hydrogen oxygen complex which
naturally accompanies protein - fat.
How best to provide this fat?
to provide this fat may cause a bit of head scratching - but don't despair,
there are some simple and very palatable
Don't buy best mince because it has a low fat content. Cheaper human consumption
mince or pet lines are a better and
Chicken mince is sometimes fatty, but it is hard to tell by looking. Ask about
the source, or boil a small amount until well
cooked, then allow to cool
overnight in the fridge - the fat content will quickly be revealed.
Kangaroo mince is extremely low in fat, and is unsuitable as a foundation diet
unless adequately fat enhanced. Fat from the
dripping from your roast, from
cheap fatty lamb breasts - which can then be sliced into rib sections and served
with bone to
entranced cats - or butchers' lard can be used.
I cut a portion of set fat off the block, then chop it up finely then mix it
through a mince mixture. Don't forget that the fat
should be stored in the
fridge, and roast dripping should be used with its jelly within a few days.
Other fat sources are on pieces of meat themselves, particularly hearts, which
can be chopped up so that most sections
have some fat on them. Anything trimmed
off your own meat should not be wasted. A fatty but cheap cut of lamb is more
economic if you give the fat trimmings to the cats.
If you have a food processor you can buy fresh suet. Shred and store it in small
quantities in the freezer for up to three months.
Cheese is excellent, but a bit of a treat and is perhaps more suited to the
weanling kitten than adults. Plain or Vanilla
yoghurt can be
added to a mince mixture but no more than a level teaspoon per cat. Yoghurt
makes the mixture a bit odd
third night and cats won't eat it - so don't add it if you are making up a mince
mixture for a few days ahead. It
should be added
fresh at each meal and also with cheese..
Jalna yoghurt is our favorite here as it is naturally prepared with no
thickeners or additives added.
Older cats and those with dicey kidneys, need a lower protein diet. White meat -
fish, chicken, pork - with bulk, such as
cooked rice or oats can be mixed when
cold, with fat prepared as suggested. Offer a saucer of cream, or a cheese
, and those fatty sliced roasted lamb breasts are all very acceptable.
These make the cat feel full, lively and maintain its
condition, but do not
overtax its kidneys.
Cats in poor condition:
cat in poor condition, perhaps recovering from a long illness, or simply having
reared a large litter kittens, will benefit
from having as much as it likes to
eat with about half of this being some form of fat. Unless the cat has lost
muscle mass, it
really needs to lay down fat reserves it used up in its recent endeavours. To supply this as primarily protein is not only
and expensive, but also works kidneys very hard. As the causes of the poor
condition probably also put
extra strain on the kidneys, this recovery time is
an opportunity to allow them to recuperate.
Cats with a skin condition:
cat which suffers from skin conditions, such as dry and scaly patches in the
fur, or cracked skin on noses and paw pads
may have some kind bacterial or
fungal infection which will respond to suitable medication. The underlying cause
of such a
problem, however, may lie in the skin itself, so that medication only
clears up the secondary infections.
To maintain the restored health of the skin and to improve the coat's lustre,
examine the diet for its fat content, and amend
I find that a fatty diet, in combination with the addition of heavy metals,
particularly zinc (in the form Keylomin Organic)
reduces allergy type skin
problems. You will also find that some Devon Rex kittens/Cats react to dry
biscuits causing what
we call "Devon Bumps", like mosquito bites usually on top
of the head and sometimes appear on the neck, remove all dry
food, increase the
fat content of their food and it is resolved within 2 to 3 days.
remember, fat for cats for energy will save your pocket, is good for their skin
and conserves their kidneys.
Renal failure in cats is still one of the main causes of death, so no dry food
and little Carbohydrates. Back to a natural diet
as close as we can provide.