My cats’ health and happiness is more important to me than just about anything else in my life. I spend a lot of time researching cat health topics, not just for Allegra and Ruby, but also to be able to bring you the latest information on how to keep your feline family members happy and healthy.
As a result of my strong interest in cat health, I also do a lot of research into human health and nutrition. The two go hand in hand for me. I’ve always eaten a reasonably healthy diet. I believe in moderation. While I eat mostly vegetarian, I do eat some fish and seafood, and I’ll even ocassionally indulge myself with some red meat.
My biggest challenge is my wicked sweet tooth. I grew up in Germany, a country with the lovely tradition of the daily afternoon “Kaffee and Kuchen” (coffee and cake) break. It’s a time when Germans take a mid-afternoon break to indulge in a little sweet treat and some conversation with friends or co-workers. When I worked at IBM Germany in the early 80’s, Kaffee and Kuchen break in the company cafeteria was a tradition that was never messed with, no matter how tight a project’s deadlines might have been.
enjoying Kaffee und Kuchen with my Dad
But I digress. The point of this post is that as I transitioned my cats to a grain-free canned and then raw diet, I found it increasingly easy to make better choices when it came to my own meals. It seemed ridiculous to pull a Lean Cuisine dinner out of the freezer when I had just spend the last hour writing about how bad processed foods and artificial additives are for cats. And of course I know that they’re equally as bad for humans.
I used to be a good cook, but haven’t really cooked for myself in years. I didn’t enjoy it, so I just stopped. I eat out a lot, and I buy a lot of prepared foods. Granted, I buy most of my prepared foods at Whole Foods, so at least I know they’re not loaded with preservatives and chemicals, but I know that they’re still not as healthy (not to mention less expensive) than if I were to make my own meals.
My cats don’t have a say in what they eat – I make that choice for them. So why wasn’t I making better choices for myself?
I began making more conscious choices about what I eat. I started printing out easy recipes that take less than 30 minutes from start to finish. I have green smoothies for breakfast. The green part took some getting used to, but in the right combination, they’re actually quite tasty. My favorite: 1/2 cup of milk, a banana, a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter, a handful of kale or spinach, and a little Stevia for some sweetness and to cut the bitter taste of the greens. By the way, Allegra approves: she taste- tests my smoothies every morning. The only times she wrinkles her little nose is when I go a little too heavy on the greens.
I started cooking again. It’s a work in progress. Last weekend’s chili was a big success. The salmon and tomato omelette? Not so much.
I bought a juicer. Not the super expensive $500 kind, just a little $30 Black and Decker model. It works great. If I decide that juicing is going to be part of my lifestyle, I’ll invest in something a little more powerful. The jury is still out. I like the idea of juicing. I understand the concept of why it’s so good for you. I’ve made some tasty concoctions, but you throw out so much of the vegetables and fruit after the juice has been extracted that it seems pretty wasteful.
I believe in moderation, so in case you’re wondering whether I’ve completely given up sweets – I haven’t. But I have cut back considerably. Most days, my mid-afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen break has turned into more of a cheese and crackers or handful of trail mix break. I indulge on weekends, in moderation. A nutritionist at a lecture I attended a couple of months ago recommends that you eat healthy 80% of the time and allow yourself a break the remaining 20% of the time. That approach makes sense to me, because it’s something anybody can live with without feeling deprived.
These changes were fairly easy for me for two reasons. Once I got a better understanding of how harmful so many of the additives and chemicals in our foods are (the average American eats 5 pounds of pesticides a year!), it was kind of a no-brainer to make more conscious choices. But the biggest reason for these changes are Allegra and Ruby.
Once I switched Allegra and Ruby to a raw diet, the transformation was dramatic. They are the two healthiest cats I’ve ever had. Their coats are glossy and soft. They’re both lean and energetic. The transformation was particularly dramatic with Ruby. She was fed a grocery-store brand dry kitten food in her foster home, and her foster parents told me she wouldn’t touch canned food. I didn’t even transition her to raw food, I just put it in front of her for her first meal in our home. She balked. I held firm. An hour later, she ate it, and she hasn’t looked back since. When she came to me, her coat was dull and scruffy looking. Within a week, it was glossy and smooth.
Did my coat turn glossy and smooth? Well, not quite. (Actually, my hair has gotten much softer and healthier since I stopped using hair products containing lauryl or laureate sulfates, but that’s a blog post for another day.) But I do feel better overall. I have more energy. My blood sugar doesn’t slump in the afternoon the way it used to. I sleep better. Thanks to my cats, I’m healthier.
Have your cats inspired changes in your life? Please share in a comment!