I’m passionate about feline nutrition. I believe that learning about and understanding cats’ unique needs when it comes to nutrition is the single most important thing we can do for their health. There’s so much we can’t control – but we do have control over what we put in their food bowl.
Opinions about what constitutes optimum nutrition for cats vary widely, and it can be a challenge to find unbiased and well-researched information. This is why I was thrilled when I discovered the Feline Nutrition Education Society website.
The organization was started by founder and executive director Margaret Gates after transitioning her own cats to a raw diet. Her previous generation of cats had died, some from what she believed were diseases caused by or exacerbated by grain-based diets. After making the switch to a raw diet, she witnessed dramatic, positive changes in her cats’ health. She started the Feline Nutrition Foundation to promote awareness of the issues involved in feline nutrition and health, with an emphasis on species-appropriate raw feeding for cats.
Gates found that very few cat owners had ever even heard of a raw diet for cats. Most people she knew were feeding dry food. So Gates began to do research. The first thing she learned was how unhealthy dry food was for cats. Then one day, while making dinner, she found herself shooing her cats away when they begged for some chicken: “You can’t eat that, it’s raw. You’ll get sick.” And suddenly, she realized that her cats were trying to tell her how wrong that was. Cats eat raw meat in the wild – so maybe a diet emulating the natural diet of a cat would make sense for pet cats, too?
Once Gates started feeding a raw diet, she noticed changes in her cats almost immediately. One cat who had never had a firm bowel movement had a normally formed stool the next day. After a couple of weeks, she noticed more changes. Her cats had more energy, their coats had become softer and silkier. The chubby ones lost weight. They weren’t waking her up in the middle of the night anymore because they were hungry. And, says Gates, “the amount of stool they all produced dropped by about half. Best of all, it didn’t stink any more. Really. With eleven cats, this was a very big deal. I’ll confess I probably would have switched them to raw for this result alone.”
The site contains a wealth of information, and contributors include such animal health leaders as Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, the founder of catinfo.org, Elizabeth Hodgins, DVM, Esq, a successful veterinarian for more than twenty years, former technical director at Hill’s Pet Nutrition and founder of YourDiabeticCat.com, and Dr. Michael W. Fox, author of more than 40 books and the syndicated column Animal Doctor. Articles are thoroughly researched and carefully cited and footnoted to science journals and studies.
The site contains a (free) membership area. Gates hopes to spread the message of species-appropriate nutrition for cats and feline health in general by building a strong base of members who care about cats and their health.
Feline Nutrition has big plans for the future. The not-for-profit advocacy organization is currently setting up the non-profit Feline Nutrition Foundation in order to accomplish its longer term goals. The Foundation will establish a formal feline nutrition certification program, work toward creating a program of raw diet nutritional testing and evaluation, and initiate and be involved in institutional scientific feline nutrition studies.
If you want to learn more about feline nutrition, visit the Feline Nutrition Education Society website – your cats will thank you for it.