Month: July 2011

Limited recall of Purina One Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food

Purina One Vibrant Maturity 7+ cat food recall

Nestle Purina PetCare Company (NPPC) issued a recall for a limited number of 3.5- and 7-pound bags of its Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food from a single production run and shipped to customers in 12 states in December 2010.  This is being done because some bags of the product have been found to be contaminated with Salmonella.  Only Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food with both the “Best By” date and the production code shown are included in this voluntary recall:

Product Name Bag “Best By” Date & Bag UPC
Size Production Code* Code
Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ 3.5 lb. MAY 2012  03341084 17800 01885
Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ 3.5 lb. MAY 2012  03351084 17800 01885
Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ 7 lb. MAY 2012  03341084 17800 01887
Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ 7 lb. MAY 2012  03351084 17800 01887
*”Best By” Date and Production Code are found on the back or bottom of the bag.

No additional Purina cat or dog products are involved in this voluntary recall.  No other Purina ONE brand products are involved.   Only Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ brand products which match the “Best By” dates and production code above are included in this recall.

Consumers who have purchased Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food products with these specific “Best By” Date and Production Codes should discontinue feeding the product and discard it.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the product, and there is a risk to humans from handling contaminated products.  People handling contaminated dry pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with surfaces exposed to this product.  Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for the following symptoms:  nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.  Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract symptoms.  Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may exhibit decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.  If left untreated, pets may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting.  Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.  If you pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The product was distributed to customers located in California, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin, who may have further distributed the product to other states.

Nestle Purina PetCare Company became aware of the contamination as a result of samples that had been collected in several retail stores.

For further information or to obtain a product refund, please call NPPC toll-free at 1-800-982-6559 or visit www.purina.com.

Related reading:

How to wean your cat off dry food

The truth about dry cat food

Feeding raw: separating myth from fact

About the author

Great Rescues: a 16-month calendar and gift book

Great Rescues calendar and gift book

I’m a big fan of animal artist and writer Bernadette Kazmarski. Her photographs and cat paintings capture the essence of cats in ways that only a small handful of artists are able to do. Bernadette is a multi-faceted creative spirit:  artist, writer, graphic designer, painter, animal advocate, environmentalist.  From commissioned pet portraits to animal inspired merchandise ranging from prints to textiles to greeting cards, looking around Bernadette’s websites are a feast for the senses. 

Great Rescues is a 16-month desk calendar and gift book featuring 16 portraits of rescued cats Bernadette has been commissioned to paint in the 20 years she has been an animal portrait artist. This sixteen-month calendar and gift book is a labor of love.

“While the portraits are lovely and I’m proud of my body of work, the stories of these cats, and the people who rescued them, were what compelled me to share them,” says Bernadette. “Each of the stories tells of cats from shelters and cats abandoned and saved, cats found inside car engines and cats reluctantly surrendered by people who could no longer care for them, but each one has a happy ending as a cherished companion in a loving home.”

Peaches by animal artist Bernadette Kazmarski

I’m particularly thrilled that “Peaches” made it into the calendar. I commissioned this painting as a Christmas gift for a friend last year. The original was absolutely stunning. It’s always difficult to tell when you have an artist paint someone else’s cat whether they truly captured the animal’s spirit. I think that’s something only the pet’s person can truly judge. My friend burst into tears when she opened her gift – that probably speaks volumes, especially since she’s not someone who cries easily. The painting not only captured Peaches’ spirit, it also brought a tremendous amount of peace to my friend. Peaches, at this writing, is 19 years old, and my friend is well aware that time is short. She says the painting will help her keep a part of Peaches with her forever, in a very tangible way.

This is one of the most beautiful cat calendars I’ve seen. The paintings are stunningly beautiful, and the stories are heart touching.  And it’s so much more than just a calendar. It also includes a comprehensive resource section covering feline wellness, health concerns, household toxins and poisons, fun cat facts, and more. The spiral bound book also contains a generous amount of blank pages (with a beautiful faint cat design in the background) for notes, or journaling.

Great Rescues calendar and gift book Bernadette Kazmarski 

The calendar runs from September 2011 through December 2012. You can order the calendar directly through Benadette’s website for the incredibly low price of $19.99 plus shipping. Even though it’s only July, it’s never to early to order Christmas presents – Great Rescues makes a purrfect gift for the cat lovers on your list.

I’m giving away one personalized, autographed copy to one lucky winner. To enter, leave a comment telling me why you would like to win the calendar. Tweet about this giveaway or share it on Facebook for an extra chance to win. This giveaway ends Friday, August 12.

You can learn more about Bernadette Kazmarski and enjoy samples of her gorgeous art and photographs on her website and on her blog.

You may also enjoy reading:

An interview with animal artist Bernadette Kazmarski

2011 Petties Best Cat Blog Best Overall Pet Blog

Thank you for nominating us for two Petties.
Voting ends at midnight tonight – please vote!

Click here to vote

 

About the author

Product review: ShedMonster de-shedding tool

 

ShedMonster Professional DeShedding Tool

Grooming your cat on a regular basis has many benefits:

  • A grooming session can be a relaxing bonding time for you and your cat.   If your cat is not immediately receptive to grooming, start slow, and gradually increase the time you spend grooming.  Eventually, the calming, repetitive motion of brushing will have a relaxing effect on your cat (and you!).
  • More grooming means less shedding, and less cat hair around the house.
  • Grooming increases circulation – it’s like a mini-massage with some of the same health benefits as a massage.
  • A grooming session is an ideal time for you to run your hands and eyes over every inch of your cat’s body.  This may help with early detection of diseases such as lumps and bumps, skin issues, or parasites.

But you’re not going to reap any of these benefits if you don’t use the right tool. There’s a wide variety of grooming tools on the market, ranging from grooming gloves to brushes to de-shedding tool. The newest tool on the market is the ShedMonster deshedding tool.

According to the manufacturer, the ShedMonster is good for all shedding breeds, and removes shedding fur while carving through mats and tangles. Its stainless steel teeth penetrate deep into the coat while its smooth edges provide massaging contact against the skin.

I like the design and ergonomics of the product. The short, thick handle is very comfortable and makes it easy to manipulate the tool. I’m always a bit leery of grooming tools with sharp edges or points, so I first used the product on my own skin, and it felt smooth and glided easily. Allegra and Ruby didn’t seem to mind the way the ShedMonster felt, but I didn’t get any  hair out of either of them. Now that’s not unusual – they barely shed, and even when I brush them with a slicker brush, which they both enjoy, I get almost no hair out of them.

I wanted to give this product a fair shot, so I passed it on to several of my cat clients. The reviews were mixed. Some cats really loved it, some didn’t like it at all. It removed hair well for cats that had a history of shedding a lot, but it didn’t remove much hair from the average shedders. None of the cats in my “test group” were long-haired, but  I’ve seen several reviews online that state that the tool works really well for long-haired cats, including one from fellow cat writer Dena Harris.

ShedMonster Deshedding Tool free grooming kit

If you’ve tried other grooming tools and aren’t getting the results you want, this is probably worth a try, especially if you have a long-haired cat.  At $19.99, it’s a good value, and it comes with a free five-piece deluxe grooming kit. For more information about the ShedMonster, and to order, click here.

If you’ve used the ShedMonster, I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

This product was sent to me for review by the manufacturer. I am not being compensated for this review.

You may also enjoy reading:

There’s no such thing as “just a hairball”

Some startling new thoughts on cats and hairballs

2011 Petties Best Cat Blog Best Overall Pet Blog

Thank you for nominating us for two Petties.
Only two more days to vote – please vote every day!

Click here to vote

About the author

The lady with 700 Cats

The lady with 700 cats National Geographic NatGeo Wild

All Lynea Lattanzio wanted as a little girl was a cat, but her mother wouldn’t allow it. “I bet she’s sorry now,” says Lattanzio, who now lives with more than 700 cats as the founder and owner of the largest no-kill, no-cage cat sanctuary in the world.

Cat House on the King is a 503 (c) non-profit organization whose mission it is to place rescued cats and kittens into loving, permanent homes; to provide a safe, happy and healthy home for unwanted cats and kittens in a unique, no-cage facility; to prevent pet overpopulation through spaying and neutering; and to educate the public about responsible pet ownership.

And on Saturday, July 30, at 10pm, the sanctuary will be featured on the new National Geographic Special “The Lady with 700 Cats.” The special will focus on Lattanzio’s and her staff’s passionate work to provide a safe haven for cats and find permanent homes for them.

Watch Lynea Lattanzio talk about how it all started:

 

For more information about Cat House on the Kings, please visit their website – and don’t forget to watch or set your DVR’s to record the special this coming Saturday!

You may also enjoy reading:

A visit to a very special cat sanctuary

Kitten Associates: the new breed of cat rescue

Help feed shelter cats with Jackson Galaxy and the Pet Postcard Project (Cat House on the Kings is one of the beneficiaries)

2011 Petties Best Cat Blog Best Overall Pet Blog

Thank you for nominating us for two Petties.
Only four more days to vote – please vote every day!

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About the author

How to Wean Your Cat Off Dry Food: 6 Effective Tips

Allegra eating canned Wellness grain-free food

One of the best things you can do for your cat’s health is to stop feeding dry food. Dry food is the equivalent of junk food for cats. Many of the degenerative diseases we’re seeing in cats, including diabetes, urinary tract disease, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, may be directly linked to these foods.

Cats need meat and moisture

Cats are obligate carnivores.  This means they need meat to survive.  They cannot get enough nutritional support from plant-based proteins such as grains and vegetables, because, unlike humans and dogs, they lack the specific enzyme that processes plant-based proteins metabolically.  They need few to no carbohydrates in their diet.

Cats also need moisture in their diets. They do not have a strong thirst drive when compared to other animals, and this can lead to chronic low-level dehydration when the cat’s main diet is a dry one. Even if your cat drinks water, it won’t be enough if she only eats dry food. A cat’s natural diet (prey) contains about 75% water. Dry food only contains 7-10%. Canned food contains somewhere around 75% (depending on the brand). Even though a cat on only dry food will drink more water than a cat who is eating canned food, when you add up the water they drink and the water that occurs in their diet, water intake still falls short for the cat on dry food. Considering how common urinary tract and kidney problems are in cats, this in itself should make a convincing argument against dry food.

Meal-feeding, not free-choice feeding

Many pet owners feed dry food because it can be left out during the day without spoiling while the cat is left at home alone.  This method of free choice feeding is one of the leading contributors to obesity in cats.  Cats, by nature, are hunters, and it doesn’t make sense that they should need access to food 24 hours a day.  Meal feeding twice a day mimics their natural hunting behavior much closer, and by feeding controlled portion sizes twice a day rather than leaving food out all day long, calorie intake, and weight, can be controlled much better.

Dry food does not clean teeth

The myth that dry food helps clean cats’ teeth is one of the most persistent beliefs when it comes to pet food, and it is simply not true. Most cats don’t chew their kibble long enough, if at all, for any of the scraping action that is the theory behind this myth to kick in.  What little they do chew shatters into small pieces.

Some pet food manufacturers offer a “dental diet” that is made up of larger than normal-sized kibble to encourage the chewing longer, but many cats swallow even those larger size pieces whole.  Additionally, dry food leaves a carbohydrate residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages growth of tartar and plaque. And seriously, if it was true that dry kibble cleans teeth, wouldn’t human dentists recommend that we eat dry cereal to keep our teeth clean?

grey British cat looks at blue water bowl on the floor
Image Credit: Yuka Y, Shutterstock

The 6 Ways to Transition Your Cat from Dry to Wet Food

Some cats will transition easily. The first time you feed them grain-free canned or raw food, they’ll start eating it right away, and I’m guessing what goes through their minds at that point is something along the lines of “finally, the humans have figured out what I’m supposed to be eating!”

Others can present more of a challenge. This is in no small part due to what pet food manufacturers do to make these dry food so enticing to cats. As part of the production process, the baked or extruded kibble is sprayed with animal digest (and yes, it’s pretty much as disgusting as it sounds: digest is material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue.) Cats love the taste of these digests; for some cats, it’s like kitty crack and actually causes them to be addicted. Some cats also love the texture of dry food and may resist the drastic change in texture from dry to grain-free canned or raw food.

1. Go slow, and be patient

The key to transitioning these hard-core dry food addicts is to go slow and be patient. And you may need a few tricks up your sleeve. For some cats, it may take several months. I’ve heard of one cat whose human would put down a small amount of canned food next to his dry food every day for several weeks. He refused to touch it, so she wound up throwing it out each time. Then one day, several weeks into the transition, he gobbled up the raw food and never touched his dry food again!


2. Stop free choice feeding

If your cat is eating only dry food, and you leave food out at all times, stop this practice immediately. This step is critical. Feed twice a day, at set meal times, and take up what the cat doesn’t eat within about half an hour. She gets no other food until the next meal time. Your cat will not try anything new if you keep his bowl filled with the old, familiar food 24/7.

Be prepared that your cat will make you feel like you’re letting him starve. This phase of the process can be much harder on the human than it is on the cat. Persistence is key. A little hunger at meal times can be a powerful motivator to get a cat to accept the new food.


3. Gradually increase the amount of canned or raw food

If your cat is already getting a small amount of canned food or raw food as a special treat, she will probably be much more receptive to being transitioned to all canned food or even raw food. All you have to do is gradually increase the amount of canned or raw food, and decrease the amount of dry food, until you’re only feeding canned or raw.


4. Add some incentives to tempt finicky eaters

Some hard-core dry food addicts can be convinced to try canned or raw food by sprinkling freeze-dried chicken or salmon on top of the food. A little bit of tuna or clam juice drizzled over the canned or raw food can also help. Other “bribes” can include cooked meat, cut in small pieces, a spoonful of meat-based baby food (make sure it doesn’t contain onion powder), or, as a last resort, a small amount of crushed kibble.


5. Never let your cat go without food for more than 24 hours

Be patient and persistent during the transition period, but never let your cat go without eating for more than 24 hours. Allowing a cat to go without food, especially one who is overweight, can result in a life-threatening condition called hepatic lipidosis.


6. Minimize intestinal upset

Most people recommend transitioning to a new food gradually, by reducing the amount of the old food and increasing the amount of the new food over a number of days to avoid upset stomach and soft stools. I’ve found that when transitioning to grain-free food, this is usually not an issue.

I do recommend adding a good probiotic every day. I actually recommend this not just during the transition period, but as a lifelong immune system booster. Probiotics come in unflavored powders and can be mixed in with the food. I use Dr. Goodpet’s Feline Digestive Enzymes, a mix of enzymes and probiotics.

Cat parents who have weaned their cats off of dry food are usually amazed at the difference. Overweight cats who have been unable to lose weight are starting to lose fat and build muscle. Haircoats look sleeker and shinier. Stools decrease in volume and smell. And most importantly, cats are healthier.

Related reading:

The truth about dry cat food

Feeding raw food: separating myth from fact

About the author

Book review and giveaway: I am Tama, Lucky Cat

I am Tama, Lucky Cat

I am Tama, Lucky Cat by Wendy Henrichs, with illustrations by Yoshiko Jaeggi, is based on one of the versions of the Japanese legend of Maneki Neko, which literally translated means Beckoning Cat. Maneki Neko is also known as Lucky Cat, Welcoming Cat, or Fortune Cat. 

From the publisher:

Under the shadows of the white-capped mountains of Japan, a white cat with unusual markings arrives at the door of a rundown temple. With little more than a few grains of rice to share, a kind and gentle monk take him in and names him Tama, after the river of the monk’s boyhood memories. As Tama gets accustomed to life in the temple, he promises he will bring good fortune to his new master and the worshippers who come to pray. One afternoon, a mighty spring storm gives Tama the chance to do just that, and he earns the nickname “Lucky Cat.”

Heinrich’s almost lyrical style of telling the story, combined with Jaeggi’s absolutely charming illustrations, create a special magic. I found myself pausing at each page, absorbing the words, and losing myself in the pictures. The drawings of the cat capture feline body language and emotion purrfectly and make you feel like you want to reach out and touch Tama.  

In addition to telling Tama’s story, the book also provides a glimpse into Japanese culture and the teachings of the Buddha. When Tama first arrives at the temple, he realizes that his monk “never considered his own hunger, but looked with compassion upon the hollow cheeks of his people…It was for me and the temple worshippers that he wanted more food…more warmth…more comfort.”

This beautiful book is aimed at children ages 4-8, but I think adults will enjoy it equally as much.

I’m giving away one copy of this book. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment and let me know why you’d like to win the book. For an additional chance to win, share this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook and share the link in a separate comment. This giveaway ends Friday, August 5.

July 26 update: Wendy Heinrichs generously offered a second copy for this giveaway, and she’ll even personalize and autograph it for the lucky winner!

This book was sent to me by the publisher.

2011 Petties Best Cat Blog Best Overall Pet Blog

Thank you for nominating us for two Petties.
We need your help to win – please vote every day!

Click here to vote

About the author

Feline Behavior Advice from Jackson Galaxy

Jackson-Galaxy

Updated April 2018
This post contains affiliate links*

Please note that Jackson Galaxy no longer works with private clients, and he will not answer questions left in comments on this post.

You can find a wealth of information about all aspects of caring for cats on his website and in his newest book, Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life With Your Cat.

Total-Cat-Mojo-Jackson-Galaxy

Read my review here.

Feline Behaviorist Recommendation

If you are looking to work with a feline behaviorist, I highly recommend Mikel Delgado http://www.felineminds.com/ and Daniel Quagliozzi https://gocatgosf.com/ Both offer remote consultations.

*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon and affiliated sites. The Conscious Cat is an affiliate partner of Jackson Galaxy. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.

About the author

Did you purchase Natura pet food? You may be eligible for a payment from a class action suit

Innova EVO canned cat and kitten food

If you purchased Natura pet food during the last six years (between March 20, 2005 and July 18, 2011), you may be eligible for a payment of up to $200 from a class action against Natura Pet Products. Natura is the maker of the brands Innova, EVO, California Natural, HealthWise, Mother Nature & Karma.

A federal judge has entered an order for a preliminary approval of the class action suit against Natura in a California court, alleging, among other things, that Natura violated California’s Business and Professions Code when advertising their dog and cat food products and allegedly made false and misleading statements about the human grade quality of its food in its advertisements, promotional materials and labeling.

A $2,150,000 settlement fund will be reportedly created by Natura under the class action settlement.  The settlement fund will be used to make payments to settlement Class Members, as well as cover attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses, a payment to the Class Representative and the costs associated with administering the settlement.  Natura will also reportedly stop promoting its pet food products as human grade, human quality, or as something that you would eat yourself.  To get a payment (of up to $200), settlement class members must submit a claim form by January 8, 2012.

For more details on the suit, and how to make a claim, click here.

The Innova EVO cat and kitten food line was one of the first in the grain-free offerings. Amber, Buckley and Allegra all ate this food, and they did really well on it. I stopped feeding, and recommending, this line when Natura was purchased by Procter & Gamble in May of 2010. Even though there have been no reports to date that the formula has changed, and despite Natura’s promise to maintain the integrity of their formula once it was being manufactured under the auspices of a multi-national conglomerate, I just wasn’t comfortable feeding and recommending their diets anymore.

It should be noted that this suit was initiated before Natura was purchased by P & G. Natura agreed to the $2,150,000 settlement and will reportedly also stop promoting its products as human grade. 

Sadly, the moral of this story is probably that if you’re feeding commercial pet food, there just aren’t any guarantees that what you think is in the can is really what is in the can. At least in this case, unlike during the pet food recall of 2007, no pets died – at least none that we know of.

Related Reading:

Feline Nutrition: Who bears the responsibility?

How to read a pet food label

The many voices of feline nutrition

About the author

Don’t Call Me a Crazy Cat Lady

crazy cat lady

I really dislike the term “crazy cat lady.”  It diminishes those of us who love cats for the unique and wonderful creatures that they are by assigning a label that usually has a somewhat derogatory connotation, even if it’s used with humorous self-deprecation. I don’t really care for the term “cat guy,” either, which has recently become popular. But notice how there’s never a “crazy” put in front of “cat guy?”

According to Wikipedia, a cat lady is defined as “a single woman who dotes upon her cat, or multiple cats. The term is considered pejorative.” Wikipedia adds “In the West, single women who own cats have long been associated with the concept of  spinsterhood. In more recent decades, the concept of a cat lady has been associated with “romance-challenged (often career-oriented) women who can’t find a man.” Is there anything in this definition that is not insulting to women? So why do we keep using this term, even in jest?

It’s a stereotype. Stereotypes are oversimplified definitions, and they’re based on assumptions, not facts. They’re rarely accurate. I know a lot of “cat ladies,” and none of them are crazy. They just simply love cats as much, and sometimes maybe even more, than I do.

Yes, I love cats. Allegra and Ruby are my family. I put their needs ahead of just about everything else in my life. Let me rephrase that: their needs come first. I don’t think that makes me a crazy cat lady.

My house is decorated with lots of cat things. I have a gorgeous original cat painting in my living room. I have an equally beautiful limited edition cat print in my bedroom. I have photos of my cats in just about every room of my house. I derive constant pleasure from looking at cats, whether it’s cat art, cat figurines, cat photos, or the real thing. I don’t think that makes me a crazy cat lady.

I delight in looking at cat themed merchandise in stores and online. Well, at most of it, anyway –  let’s face it, some cat-related merchandise is awful. I buy my fair share of cat themed products. I don’t think that makes me a crazy cat lady.

I write about cats. I’m passionate about educating others about cat health, cat nutrition, and everything else cat. I really don’t think that makes me a crazy cat lady.

I’d like to see the term “crazy cat lady” disappear from being used altogether. It doesn’t tell us anything about the woman it’s being applied to. The next time you’re getting ready to call someone a crazy cat lady, or us the term, even jokingly, to describe yourself, I’d encourage you to think twice.

I would especially like to encourage cat writers and cat bloggers to think twice before using the term. I think we have an opportunity, and maybe even an obligation, to stop perpetuating the stereotype by ceasing to use this disparaging term altogether.

So don’t call me a crazy cat lady. And don’t call anyone else a crazy cat lady, either. Let’s just all be who we really are: people who love cats.

About the author

Does Your Cat Love Fish?

cat dreaming of fish

Guest post by Celeste Yarnall

If your cat loves fish, he has lots of company! However, it’s really not a good idea to feed fish to your cat, and here’s why.

The primary fish used in cat food are salmon, tuna, and tilefish (ocean whitefish). Let’s look at each of these.

Salmon

The vast majority of salmon today comes from farm-raised fish. In this form of factory farming, millions of these unfortunate animals are kept in huge, overcrowded pens in polluted coastal waters. They’re fed antifungals and antibiotics to limit the spread of disease, and dyes to make their flesh salmon-colored (otherwise it would be gray). Common water pollutants, such as PCBs, pesticides, and other chemicals, are found in farmed salmon at ten times the amount found in wild fish. These contaminants will be present in any product made with farmed fish, including pet food.

It has recently been revealed that krill, tiny shrimp that are the natural diet of many whales and other marine animals, are being netted in vast hauls, and processed into food for these “franken-salmon,” for their protein as well as their red color. The issues with krill are explained below.

Tuna

It’s the fish that’s most “addictive” to cats. They love it so much that they may stage a hunger strike by refusing their regular food until they get it!

Tuna and other predatory fish are at the top of the food chain. This means that they may accumulate high levels of heavy metals (including mercury) as well as PCBs, pesticides, and other toxins, by eating smaller fish. The older the fish, the more contamination. The FDA recommends only one serving of albacore tuna per week due to its high mercury levels.

Tilefish (listed on pet food labels as “ocean whitefish”)

are among the worst contaminated fish, along with king mackerel, shark, and swordfish. These fish are so toxic that the FDA advises women of child-bearing age and children to avoid them entirely.

The fish used in canned pet foods is typically whole fish, or leftovers from processing whole fish, deemed unsuitable for human consumption; this includes guts, feces, and bones, which are high in phosphorus—a problem for cats with kidney disease. On the other end of the urinary tract, many sensitive cats develop cystitis (bladder inflammation) and even urinary blockages if they eat any kind of fish at all. Fish and fish meal are both problematic.

A small amount of fish, such as wild caught sardines, used as a flavoring in a properly balanced, fresh meat-based diet, is not a problem, but fish should not be the main course for the cat’s diet.

What about Omega-3 fatty acids?

Aren’t fish and fish oils the best sources of these essential fats for our pets? Indeed, daily Omega- 3 supplementation from a marine source is extremely important for our cats as well as for us. Among many other benefits, Omega 3s fight inflammation, which affects our cats as much as it does us.

Krill is a popular non-fish source for Omega-3 oil. Krill are the major food source for many marine animals, including fish, whales, seals, and birds. Yes, there are a lot of krill in the sea, but the problem is that they are being harvested near critical feeding grounds of the animals that eat them. When even Whole Foods stops selling krill oil, as they did in 2010 due to concerns about sustainability, you know there’s a problem!

Cats do benefit greatly from an Omega-3 marine lipid supplement every day, but as we have seen, fish and krill oils are not the most environmentally friendly choices. Nor are they necessarily healthful. Many fish oils are processed by boiling the oil to separate it from heavy metals and toxins (distillation). Fish oil processing may also include the use of, alcohol, salts, solvents, and deodorizers to disguise the foul smell of the oil—a problem because fish decompose very quickly, turning the oil rancid before it can even be processed.

Additionally, as energy medicine practitioners, quantum physicians, and homeopaths know, the original energetic essence or “memory” of those heavy metals and pollutants, remains “imprinted” in the greasy substance that remains. The Omega 3s that survive, EPA and DHA, may be artificially concentrated in the process. It may be fair to say that the higher milligram values listed on fish oil labels are not necessarily better, as this is not the way they occur in their raw, natural state.

Alternative sources of Omega-3 fatty acids

We need an alternative source of marine lipids for all these reasons, as well as the cautions mentioned for the eating of these fish.

Research suggests that the New Zealand greenlip mussel (perna canaliculus) is our best choice for Omega 3’s. These greenlip mussels (GLM) are raised 100% sustainably. They are very low on the food chain; and have no fins, feet, or faces. GLM are bi-valve mollusks known to be a rich source of 33 fatty acids; 18 of them Omega 3s. GLM contain a unique array of Omega 3s. One of the most fascinating is ETA (eicosatetraenoic acid). ETA, which is not found in any other foods to any measurable degree, has extremely powerful ant-inflammatory properties.

The best scenario is to source a greenlip mussel oil that is organic, cold-extracted, and certified to be free of mercury and other toxins and pollutants. Ideally, choose a GLM marine lipid product which also contains antioxidants with high ORAC values (a measure of antioxidant power), such as cold-pressed, organic grape seed husk extract and/or kiwifruit seed oil—these will naturally deactivate free radicals, as well as serve as natural preservatives for the GLM oil.

While it doesn’t affect quality, a common complaint about fish oil capsules is their size. They are enormous! GLM oil comes in tiny capsules that are perfect for cats, who will often eat them right from your hand; or they can be punctured and the contents mixed with wet food.

Sources for quality Omega 3 greenlip mussel oil supplements are available online, and are proving to be the most beneficial and ecologically sound alternative to fish and krill oil.

Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D was an author, lecturer and holistic practitioner and author of four books, including The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care, co-authored by Jean Hofve, DVM. 

This article was previously published on care.com and was republished with the author’s permission.

Photo: dreamstime

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Book review: Grace Interrupted by Julie Hyzy

Grace Interrupted Julie Hyzy

I first came to know Julie Hyzy through her White House Chef Mystery Series featuring the immensely likeable Olivia (Ollie) Paras. I thoroughly enjoyed all four books in the series, but there’s not a single cat in any of them. Neither was there a cat in Grace Under Pressure, the first in Hyzy’s Manor House Mystery Series, although that, too, was a delightful read. When I saw the cover of Grace Interrupted, the second in the series, I was thrilled to see the adorable little kitten on the cover.

If I hadn’t alrady liked Julie Hyzy, I would have become a fan for sure after reading the dedication for Grace Interrupted: “For anyone who has ever opened heart and home to a stray.” It turns out that Bootsie, as the kitten is named in the book, is modeled after Julie’s newest family member.

The book’s cover is actually one of the most descriptive covers I’ve seen in a while, as it covers all elements of the story: the kitten, the elegant manor setting, and Civil War re-enactments.

From the publisher:

Civil war re-enactors have set up camp on the grounds of Marshfield Manor. The group is very believable, especially when the unrest spills out of the barracks and inside the sumptuous mansion. Grace manages to settle a minor squabble, but loses the war when actor Zachary Kincade is found stabbed to death.

Jack Embers, the groundskeeper, falls under suspicion when he’s linked to the death of Zachary’s brother years ago. But there were others out for Zachary, actors who can be very convincing when the coveted role of “General” is on the line. Grace feels responsible for finding the murderer…and for the sweet tuxedo kitten found on her doorstep, Bootsie. Can she come to the rescue of her friends without putting herself in danger’s way?

This is an all-around wonderful cozy mystery, filled with likeable, well-developed characters. The setting is fascinating. I’m not a Civil War buff, but I enjoyed learning about what motivates re-enactors. And of course, there’s Bootsie, the tuxedo kitten that Grace takes in on a rainy night, fully intending to find it’s rightful owner, which added to my enjoyment of this book.

Treat yourself to this well-plotted, entertaining and thorougly engrossing mystery – you won’t be disappointed.

Julie Hyzy cat on wood floorJulie Hyzy is the national bestselling author of the White House Chef Mysteries and the Manor House Mysteries. She won the Barry and Anthony Awards for Best Paperback Original for State of the Onion in 2009, and several other awards for her novels and short stories. Her first Manor House Mystery, Grace Under Pressure, earned a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly. Julie loves to read, eat out, and watch old movies and TV shows with her husband and three daughters. They live near Chicago with two rambunctious cats, Kitka and Violet. For more information about Julie, please visit her website. Kitka, of course, was the inspiration for Bootsie. And isn’t she a cutie?  

I purchased this book.

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About the author