October 29th marks National Cat day. Cotopaxi inspired me to share a personal story of how my cats have positively influenced my life. Cotopaxi makes innovative outdoor products that encourage people to live an adventurous life and spread positive vibes. When they make a sale a part of the earnings is donated to world poverty initiatives.
To celebrate National Cat Day, Cotopoxi is giving back to animal adoption centers across the US. I have many reasons to be grateful of my cats. Beyond the daily joy they bring to my life they have taught me something much greater than I ever could have imagined.
When I decided I wanted to get a cat I began researching like crazy as I tend to do when I have new ideas. I researched everything, cat breeds, vaccinations, cat accessories, litter box issues, etc. Two topics I was most interested in learning more about was cat nutrition and eco-friendly litter boxes.
As I started researching cat nutrition I briefly read some articles about people feeding cats a vegetarian diet. The idea sounded great, but I quickly realized that cats are obligate carnivores and that feeding them a vegetarian diet goes against their biological requirements and not only was it a bad idea, it’s deadly dangerous. If I wanted a herbivore pet I needed to get a rabbit, not a cat.
I then began to learn about an all raw meat diet.
This made perfect sense. The idea was simple. Feed cats as closely as possible to what nature intended. By preparing raw food at home I had complete control of the ingredients and could avoid any unnecessary or harmful fillers.
So I was deep in learning about raw feeding. I found a whole community of people that were passionate about making homemade food for their pets in desire to allow their pets to live the most healthy life possible. I often saw people say and post things such as:
“My cats (or dogs) eat better than I do!”
I know this is meant to be cute and boasting about how much people value their pets. But I felt really uncomfortable with this saying. Yes I adore my cats and I’m proud and happy to provide them with a healthy diet. But I deserve to eat healthy and clean as well. If I cared so much about what exactly my cats were eating and how I could help give them optimal health I knew I needed to do the same for myself. I’m learning that self-care is equally or more important than caring for others.
At this point, I was already eating a diet focused on whole foods and tried to avoided processed foods.
I had been around 90% vegetarian for about 5 years. I never cooked meat at home, but would occasionally have meat when I was a guest or in social situations. But being from Wisconsin and now living in Switzerland, I ate a lot of dairy products, mostly cheese, often.
Something starts to happen when you develop a relationship with your pet. You become deeply aware of your pet’s beauty, complexity, emotions and ability to feel happiness, fear, anxiety and pain.
Social and cultural reasons allow us to justify why it’s okay to eat cows but not cats or it’s okay to eat pigs but not dogs. But the more I connected to my cats the more I could transfer that love and connection to all other animals.
I started educating myself on the realities of how animals live and die for us to eat. It is, of course, easier to avoid and ignore and accept that humans eat animals and that’s the way it is. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Definition of Veganism:
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
For me, veganism is a direction to strive for. It is not black and white, not an absolutely, not a label, not a club to be a member of. It is a way for me to strive to live my life and cause as less harm to animals as possible.
Some will read that and say that’s impossible or that’s too difficult. I understand that. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You do what you can from where you are. For some, it will be small baby steps.
Some say I’m a hypocrite for not eating meat, avoiding dairy and yet I buy chicken for my cats and I carry a leather handbag. I understand that. But I am just trying to do my best.
I eat a plant-based diet. I’ve fallen in love with almond, coconut and soy milk. I try my very best to avoid all dairy products. Will I never eat cheese again? I try not to think about that. I just take it day by day and do my best. More days than not I’m making the right choices and I feel peace that animals do not have to suffer for my diet.
It’s not easy or comfortable for me to buy meat from the grocery store and grind it up in my kitchen. But I do it because I know it’s what my cats need for optimal health. And I know avoiding eating animal products is what I need for my own optimal health.
This year to celebrate National Cat Day I want to thank my cats. For teaching me how to better connect to myself, my cats, other animals and the earth we all share.