One of the reasons I love blogging is to learn from others. Today I am sharing a story that one of my readers shared with me. She was told her cat had allergies and had to be put on a perception diet to improve his skin condition. She was told not to feed raw meat but she persisted.
I first heard about a raw diet for cats from Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist and host of ” My Cat From Hell “, in which in one of his episodes he tells one of his clients that he would like to switch his (very) very obese cat, Buddha, to the “King Diet” which is a strict raw meat diet (with supplements). I immediately thought it was so a great idea but, I figured that it would be so expensive and time-consuming that I could only do it once I was out of school with a stable job.
But never the less I gave my cats some shrimps and a bit of raw beef from time to time, as treats since I figured that this was the best that I could do since I wasn’t planning on feeding them raw food for a couple of years, along with whatever the vet recommended, first vet kitten kibble food with occasional kitten canned vet food, and then they got older the vet Dental kibble food with occasional adult canned vet food.
First Sign of Allergies
One day, I noticed that Eliot’s arm fur had been nipped off, which I thought was weird since I never saw him aggressively cleaning it but it was obvious that his fur was gone as there used to be a little brown line that should have continued into his inner arm, on top of the slightly irritated pink skin.
Then I looked up why my cat would chew his own fur off. The main answers were that it could be due to excessive grooming, parasites, food or environmental allergies, emotional stress or a sickness.
I couldn’t imagine that it would be parasites, since he’s an indoor cat during a Canadian winter, and nothing dramatic changed at home to cause him any stress, on top of the fact that he always seemed so playful. I figured that it must have been alimentary, since chicken, beef and seafood were quite common food allergies found in cats, along with wheat and corn. And I fed them beef and shrimps under its raw form. But on one of the sites, I saw that cats could be allergic to the processed or cooked chicken found in commercial cat food but not to chicken in its raw form. Which got me curious about the raw cat diet, some people on the Internet even claiming that it has eliminated their cat’s allergies.
Learning about Raw Feeding
I then purchased this book: ”Your Cat: Simple New Secrets to a longer, Stronger Life” by Elizabeth M. Hodgkins, D.V.M., Esq., a veterinarian who worked for Hill’s, one of the biggest science diet pet food companies in North America. In this book she discusses multiples of subjects, from litter box problems, vaccinations, alimentation and everything in between. This book really convinced me of the certain evil of kibble cat food, she enumerated numerous health complications caused by this type of food and gave many examples, in her practice, where cats who came to her clinic recovered, almost instantaneously, just by being switched to a high protein canned food diet. I knew at this point that I needed to stop feeding my cats kibble food.
And the more I looked into the positive changes that were noticed by ordinary people from all around the world when feeding raw, the more I loved the idea and thought that this is something that I need to do now, not in 10 years when I’ll be done with school.
Visiting the Vet
Eliot’s vaccination was overdue and Bailey’s was coming up, so I took this opportunity to take them both to the vet. She examined them both before giving them their vaccination and gave them both a clean bill of health. I had to point out Eliot’s arms and she asked me if there had been any changes in litter, food etc. and looked around for parasites. I mentioned the shrimps and beef, she just nodded and said that she’d like to switch Eliot to a novelty trial diet, using a protein source that he has never had with a hypoallergenic diet using hydrolyzed chicken, in the hopes that his immune system won’t recognize that form of chicken (if he were allergic to chicken). Where he will exclusively eat this diet for 7-14 weeks (that being the time it would take his body to clear the allergenic substance from his system and giving him enough time for his fur to grow back). And if the trial period were successful, I would slowly reintroduce certain types of food into his diet one at a time, till we find the allergy. If this trial diet doesn’t work then we can work on finding out if it’s emotional (stress, anxious, boredom etc.), environmental and maybe go and see a feline dermatologist.
And then I asked about Bailey’s little belly, which slightly covers his feet when he sits, which I was somewhat convinced was a primordial pouch, which is just loose skin that some cats have, meant to protect their belly. Turns out it was just fat. It was the first signs of obesity and she wanted to put Bailey on a low calorie prescription diet.
So I had Eliot who had recently turned a year old and Bailey who was around 8-9 months old and they both needed to be on specialized diets… I told my vet that I was thinking about transitioning them to a raw food diet. And she told me that she doesn’t trust it, just since all the cases she saw were pets coming into her clinic as a result of raw food diet. She then gave me a couple of documents on raw food to read.
I decided not to put Eliot nor Bailey on their individual special diet, just since I was so sure that Eliot’s allergies were related to the shrimps and/or beef and that I could solve Bailey’s weight problem through moderation. I wanted to find out if Eliot was allergic to the beef and shrimp, so I continued to feed them their dental food exclusively, having started a bit before going to see the vet, and wanting to do a proper trial with exclusively the Dental food, giving Eliot a lot of attention just in case his allergies were due to boredom and then hopefully to switch them to raw food and starting on a clean plate.
1-2 months later, Eliot’s arm fur had not grown back, I figured that he was probably allergic to neither beef nor shrimp. So I hoped that it was either the cooked processed chicken found in his kibble food or some other filler ingredient used. And I started feeding Eliot and Bailey a raw diet using it as their novelty diet.
They both initially didn’t want to eat the raw chicken meal I had slaved hours for them. But a couple of hours later without food had changed their minds and they were both suddenly more open to try. The transition went really well, they both got accustomed to having meal times and eating their food in a limited time span.
Changes on a Raw Diet
First thing I noticed was in their litter box, they both urinated so much and drank so little, Eliot seems to have stopped drinking water completely and Bailey maybe drinks once every day or two, it was astounding. But there was no fecal waste! At first I was worried that they might have been constipated, but no, after 2 days they finally produced some. It was so small and had almost no smell it was amazing. Which reminded me of a conversation I had with my vet when I adopted Eliot. His stools were incredibly smelly (I did cat fostering before so I know what it’s supposed to smell like) and I complained to the vet about it, she nodded and said that the Pet store’s food that I was feeding him wasn’t the best quality making it poorly digestible, hence the smell, and that it would diminish if I fed him better quality vet food. I did and she was right, only now I’m observing the same phenomenon with the vet food and the raw diet, this time being the vet food (which turns out isn’t very digestible given the size of the stools and the smell) is of poor quality compared to the little odorless poop of raw food.
Second thing is the energy level and the softness of their fur. Eliot is a Bengal, Bengals are known for their velvety fur and high energy level, I don’t think it’s possible that he could get any softer or energetic without transforming him into the softest being is on steroids. But Bailey on the other hand, a Siamese who practically lives on people’s laps and has almost a hay like fur changed so much. He plays fetch now! And dashes through rooms every now, runs with Eliot, even plays on his own (which he never did before) his fur got softer, not as soft as Eliot’s, but still softer.
So I continued feeding raw, happily changing their lovely litter box and loving them. A month or two later and Eliot’s fur didn’t seem to have grown back. I was so sad, they seemed to do so well on it, and I was wondering how much it would cost me to feed them rabbit, being that if Eliot was allergic to Chicken he was likely allergic to other fowls like duck and turkey. Then my sister and boyfriend were telling me that it had grown back. I didn’t believe them, until Eliot was sleeping on my computer and I was able to closely look at and inspect his arms and they were right.
I was so concentrated on the fact that the brown line of fur didn’t grow back that I didn’t realize that his fur did grow back but just lighter.
It made me so happy that Eliot was feeling better, and once I was 100% sure that everything was going well with the raw chicken diet, I fed them some beef: nothing happened, I then fed them shrimp: still nothing. I now believe that Eliot was allergic to something that was in his DENTAL food, be it the “chicken”, the grains, the preservatives or something else.
I’m really glad that I make my own cat food, it’s not as time costuming as I thought or as expensive (kibble vet food costing 13,50$/kg, raw costing me less than 6$/kg), I have total control: knowing exactly what goes in, that it’s fresh, there are no cheap fillers and most importantly species appropriate. Even though Bailey loves his kibble food and is addicted to grains, continuously trying to get into the treat drawer to steal threats, pasta noodles, bread crumbs etc. One day he’ll understand that he’s a carnivore.
Both kitties are living happily on their raw chicken diet, eating regularly a raw beef mixture with the occasional shrimps. Eliot’s fur hasn’t been chewed off since and Bailey has lost 115g, which I consider is a lot because he has grown since I learned that he was “fat” plus the vet said that he still has a bit to lose but if he stayed this weight for the rest of his life he’d still be considered healthy.
Thank you Heidi for sharing your story with me. I’m so happy your cats are doing well and they are very lucky to have you!
Do you want to share your story of how raw has affected your cats’ health? Please email me or comment below, I’d love to hear from you!