Month: March 2012

The Conscious Cat voted Best Website About Cats


Allegra, Ruby and I are excited to announce that The Conscious Cat was voted Best Website About Cats in the 2012 Reader’s Choice awards!

There were five nominees for this category. The original criteria stated: “The ideal website should be informational, covering topics such as cat care, health, behavior, and other topics, but written in an understandable manner for the lay person. A touch of humor here and there doesn’t hurt.”

According to Franny Syufy,’s Cat Guide, “The Conscious Cat offers all that and more.”

From a reader’s nomination: “Informative without being preachy, easy to follow (very important), entertaining, engaging (inviting readers to participate and provide feedback), down-to-earth and from the heart.”

Says Syufy, “although the voting remained close throughout the entire voting period, The Conscious Cat took an early lead and coasted through easily to the end, with 44% of the vote. Well done!” Continue Reading

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Review and giveaway: Grey Expectations by Clea Simon

Grey Expectations Clea Simon cover

I’m a huge fan of Clea Simon, and was eagerly awaiting this fourth book in the Dulcie Schwartz mystery series, featuring the Harvard graduate student, along with her new kitten Esme, and the spirit of her departed cat, Mr. Grey. When my review copy of Grey Expectations arrived, I cleared time in my schedule, because I was pretty sure that once I started, I wouldn’t be able to put it down. I was right.

In this book, we find Dulcie in a happy place. She’s settled in with her boyfriend Chris, a computer programmer, and her relationship with her new kitten, Esme, is deepening. Mr. Grey’s spirit is still around, providing his wise, if sometimes cryptic, counsel not just to Dulcie, but also to Esme, and, much to Dulcie’s delight, to Chris. Dulcie is making progress on her thesis about an incomplete gothic novel written by an unknown author in the 18th centruy, The Ravages of Umbria. Dulcie is trying to uncover the identity of this author, and, in the process of her research, at times almost finds herself identifying with the,  for her times, free-thinking and courageous woman, to the point where the mysterious author invades Dulcie’s dream.Continue Reading

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Squirt Bottles, Punishment and Cat Behavior

squirt bottles and punishment for cats

Guest post by Jackson Galaxy

The scenario plays out with cat guardians everywhere: the cat is always getting into something, like jumping onto counters, climbing up screen doors or drapes…and the list goes on. It seems like everyone these days is armed with a handy squirt bottle or squirt gun; sometimes, as I’ve seen in clients’ homes, in every room of the house. Somewhere along the line, this punishing tool has become as prevalent and acceptable as just saying a loud “NO!” In response, we’ve had many queries, both on line and in consultations, about the efficacy of this method.

I believe that the squirt bottle is NOT an effective way of changing a cat’s behavior. When I say this, often I’m met with quizzical or defensive looks. The guardian might say, “But, I’ve seen it work. I squirt, and Tigger jumps off the counter. Nowadays, he just has to see the bottle in my hands, and he runs away.” Yes, exactly my point. Tigger is responding, but is it for the right reasons? No.

What is the cat actually learning in this scenario? Is he learning that the counter is a bad place to be be? No.Continue Reading

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Lucky tortoiseshell kitten gets chance at a happy life

rescued tortoiseshell cat NomNom

Every rescue story is special, because every rescue saves a life. Some rescue stories, usually the ones involving disasters or tragedies, are reported by the big media outlets. But for every sensational rescue, there are hundreds of quiet rescues that happen every day. One such story came to me last week from Sue, who heard about me and my love for tortoiseshell cats from Caren Gittleman, who writes Cat Chat With Caren and Cody.

One cold Sunday in February, Sue and her 11-year-old son were headed to church. They took a side road with lots of fields and brush along the way. Sue just happened to glance to her left, and thought she saw a kitten hobbling by the roadside. She knew she had to turn around and check. That split decision changed Sue’s and her son’s lives.

The little tortoiseshell kitten Sue had seen out of the corner of her eye was still in the same spot. Continue Reading

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Feline Hepatic Lipidosis: Fatty Liver Disease in Cats

yellow cat

Hepatic lipidosis, more commonly known as fatty liver disesae, is the most fequently seen form of severe liver disease in cats. The liver has many complex functions, including the production of chemicals necessary for digestion and the detoxification of the body. It also plays an important role in metabolism. Because of its vital importance, the body has no way of compensating when the liver fails.


While hepatic lipidosis is considered idiopathic, which means that the cause is not known, it is almost always preceded by anorexia, a cat’s nearly total avoidance of food. When a body is undernourished or starved, it starts to metabolize its own fat reserves for energy. Cat’s bodies are not able to convert large stores of fat. When a cat is in starvation mode, the fat that is released to the liver is not processed efficiently and is simply stored there, leading to a fatty and low functioning liver.Continue Reading

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Book review: Death Drops by Chrystle Fiedler

Death Drops by Chrystle Fiedler

I was immediately intrigued when I first heard about Death Drops: A Natural Remedies Mystery by Chrystle Fiedler. If the two cats on the cover hadn’t caught my eye, the subtitle surely would have. A mystery featuring a naturopathic doctor, flower essences, and a dog and two cats, penned by a writer specializing in alternative health topics? I knew this one had to be right up my alley.

Death Drops’ protagonist Dr. Willow McQuade gives up her practice in Los Angeles to run her beloved Aunt Claire’s Nature’s Way Market and Cafe on Long Island after her aunt is found murdered. Next to her aunt’s body lies a bottle of flower essences intended to provide stress relief. Did they contain the poison that killed her aunt? The police’s investigation focuses on Willow, who had motive since she inherited her aunt’s business and the rights to an anti-aging cream formula that her aunt had been working on. Continue Reading

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13 Best Cat Foods in 2023: Recommendations & Guide

siamese cat eating food from bowl at home

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that we’re passionate about species-appropriate nutrition for cats. Cats are obligate carnivores, and they need meat – not only to survive but to thrive. The optimal diet for a cat is a properly formulated raw, home-cooked, or a grain-free canned diet.

Unfortunately, there are many diets on the market that sound good based on what the pretty packaging says, but when you take a closer look at the label, you realize that there’s not much substance behind the marketing claims. The brands listed below are foods that we have actually fed to our cats. We have broken the foods into three sections to help you further decide which type is best for you and your precious kitty.

We’ve broken down our reviews into three sections: fresh raw cat foods, wet and canned cat foods, and freeze-dried and dehydrated cat foods. Click on the links below to jump directly to the section, or just take your time and peruse our whole review.:

A Glance At Our Top Picks of 2023

Image Product Details
Best Raw Cat Food Smalls Fresh Human-Grade Cat Food Smalls Fresh Human-Grade Cat Food
  • Fresh raw or fresh freeze-dried options
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Human-grade ingredients
  • Best Canned Cat Food Dr. Elsey's Clean Protein Canned Cat Food Dr. Elsey's Clean Protein Canned Cat Food
  • Chicken is first ingredient
  • High levels of protein
  • 100% grain free
  • Best Dehydrated Cat Food The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Raw Cat Food The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Raw Cat Food
  • Free-range chicken
  • Human-grade ingredients
  • No artificial preservatives, fillers, or GMO ingredients
  • The 2 Best Fresh Raw Cat Foods:

    1. Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food


    Click to Save 40% on Smalls & Use Code ConsciousCat2023

    We love Smalls raw cat food for our cats for many reasons, but mostly because of their fresh, human-grade ingredients. Cats of all shapes and sizes flock to these pre-packaged meals, and since they are a subscription service, you never have to think about running out of food – it arrives at your door just when you need it. It’s not cheap, but it’s still affordable and the best bang for your buck we think you will find for your precious kitty.

    2. Darwin’s Natural Fresh Cat Food

    darwin's natural cat food

    Click to Get 10 Pounds of Darwin’s For Just $14.95!

    Darwin’s uses high-quality, ethically-sourced ingredients in all of their raw food recipes, which are species-appropriate formulations, and our cats absolutely love all of them! They also have a veterinary recipe that is formulated specifically for cats with kidney disease.

    The 7 Best Wet Cat Foods:

    1. Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein

    dr elsey clean protein chicken

    Check Latest Price

    Dr. Elsey’s cat food includes high protein content with quality ingredients and will help keep your cat’s muscles lean and strong. It is quite expensive per unit, but because of the high-quality ingredients, your cat will stay fuller for longer, meaning you don’t need as much!

    2. Weruva Canned Cat Food

    Weruva canned cat food variety pack

    Check Latest Price

    If you have a gravy-loving kitty, Weruva will be the best choice. With real pieces of meat and little carbohydrates, Weruva recipes are as healthy as they are tasty, and your cat will be snuggling you more, thanking you for this tasty canned meal.

    3. Hound and Gatos Canned Cat Food

    hound and gatos canned chicken cat food

    Check Latest Price

    This canned cat food brand is good for cats of all shapes, sizes, and even ones with health problems like IBS. They have multiple high-quality options, have never been recalled, and by feeding your cat Hound & Gatos, you will keep them healthy and strong.

    4. Tiki Cat Canned Cat Food

    Tiki cat shredded meat grain free

    Check Latest Price

    Tiki Cat canned cat food comes in many different flavors, but every recipe is full of real meaty goodness. Their recipes aid in digestion, have the appropriate moisture contents to keep your kitty regular, and are very high in protein – exactly what a feline needs!

    6. Ziwi Peak Canned Cat Food


    Check Latest Price

    Ziwi Peak provides multiple recipes, all fortified with New Zealand green-lipped mussels for a natural source of chondroitin and glucosamine. Though it is expensive, cats love the taste, and the health benefits are huge too. High-quality ingredients help to keep the vet away and your feline feeling fine.

    7. Nature’s Logic Canned Cat Food

    nature's logic canned cat food

    Check Latest Price

    Nature’s Logic provides canned cat food in a variety of flavors, but they are all made with whole foods, with real meat as the first ingredient. The recipes contain over 90% animal protein and seeks to provide nutrition for cats that closely resembles a cat’s ancestral diet.

    The 4 Best Dehydrated & Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Foods

    1. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Cat Food Chicken Recipe

    the honest kitchen dehydrated cat food chicken recipe

    Check Latest Price

    Honest Kitchen uses free-range, human-grade meat ingredients in its completely balanced recipes. Your kitty will not be disappointed if you bring home this incredible meal. You have the option of subscribing, or you may just want to buy the packs one at a time, but the subscription means never having to worry about running out of cat food again!

    2. Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    Vital cat freeze dried raw cat food

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    Vital Cat provides a freeze-dried raw patty food for cats in many different flavors, and are a great affordable option if fresh-raw is too expensive. If you find your cat just staring at it or sniffing it, we recommend cutting it in half or in quarters, because they will love the limited-ingredient recipes.

    3. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    stella & chewy's freeze dried rabbit cat food

    Check Latest Price

    Stella & Chewy’s is another favorite for our cats – their recipes come with different proteins, packed full of high-quality ingredients, and are made up of 98% raw meat and bones—based off of your cat’s ancestral diet.

    4. Primal Pet Foods Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food Nuggets

    Primal freeze dried raw cat food nuggets

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    There are many recipe options with Primal, all with high-quality, high-protein ingredients, so your cat will stay interested in their meals. Most cats love the taste, but it is important to note that the nuggets do need rehydrating, and the consistency may not be loved by all cats.

    Buying Guide: Choosing the Best Cat Food

    Never feed dry food to your cat

    Cats shouldn’t eat dry food; even the grain-free dry varieties are too high in carbohydrates.

    Dry food is the equivalent of junk food for cats.  It’s really not all that different from feeding sugared cereals to kids. Cats are obligate carnivores: this means they need meat not just to survive, but to thrive. 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 or no carbohydrates in their diet. Feeding foods high in carbohydrates can lead to any number of degenerative diseases, including diabetes, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. Dry food is the leading cause of most urinary tract problems, and it is responsible for the obesity problem among cats. Dry food has also been implicated as one of the contributing factors to diabetes, which is reaching epidemic proportions. 1 in 50 cats may be affected, with overweight cats being at increased risk.

    And contrary to the myth that just won’t die, dry food does not clean your cat’s teeth. Most cats don’t chew their kibble long enough 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 chewing, but in my years at veterinary practices, I’ve seen 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.

    Articles about feline nutrition

    You can find many of the articles I’ve written about this topic in the Feline Nutrition section right here on this site.

    What we look for in a food

    • Protein is listed as the first ingredient on the label, and the meat/poultry used is fit for human consumption. If the meat is organic, that’s even better.
    • The food is grain-free (no rice, barley, or any other grains. Even though these are considered healthy in human nutrition, cats’ digestive tracts are not designed to digest the unnecessary carbs).
    • The food does not contain by-products, corn, soy, or any other fillers.
    • Ideally, I’d like to see no carrageenan in the food. Some of the brands on the list below have carrageenan in some of their flavors, so check labels carefully.
    • Ideally, I’d like a food to be GMO-free. Some of the brands on the list below may contain GMO’s.

    Avoid fish-based foods when possible

    A word about fish: most cats love fish-based foods. I recommend using them sparingly or avoiding them altogether. The primary fish used in cat food are salmon, tilefish (usually identifed as ocean whitefish on the label) and tuna. Each of them presents health issues, because fish can contain toxic doses of common water pollutants, heavy metals, and other contaminants.

    Sadly, much of the fish that goes into pet food is contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins. (On a side note, that is also true for fish sold for human consumption). Mercury is considered one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern by the World Health Organization.

    Fish used in pet food manufacturing often contains whole fish, guts and bones, which can increase phosphorus levels of the food. This can be a problem for cats with kidney disease.

    Some cats are sensitive to fish-based diets and develop urinary tract problems that resolve when fish is removed from their diet. Additionally, fish-based foods may contain menadione, a synthetic form of vitamin K, which has been banned by the FDA for use in human supplements.

    Additional Reading

    How much should I feed my cat?

    How to wean your cat off dry food

    How to get finicky cats to eat

    How to read a pet food label

    Homemade food for your cat: healthy, simple and economical

    The right diet for cats with kidney disease

    Feeding your cat: know the basics of feline nutrition by Dr. Lisa Pierson

    Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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    Cats are good for your health

     cat at window

    In recent weeks, there have been numerous reports of cats who could detect serious illness in their humans, and who even saved their humans’ lives. There’s a cat in England who “diagnosed” her human’s breast cancer before doctors found it, and a cat in Virginia who saved her human from dying from a brain aneurism.

    Several studies have shown dogs’ ability to distinguish people with both early and late cancers from healthy controls. It is believed that dogs can identify VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are present in a person’s breath who has cancer. Seizure dogs alert their owners to an impending epileptic seizure; how dogs do this is a mystery, but some trainers and researchers think they detect subtle changes in human behavior or scent before an episode occurs. I have not found any research done with cats, but I don’t think it’s too much of a leap to assume that cats would be as sensitive to changes in a human’s body chemistry as dogs – if not more so.

    Cats and their humans often mirror each other’s physical and emotional states.Continue Reading

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    Cats in commercials

    L'Odysee de Cartier commercial

    It seems that there are more and more commercials featuring cats lately. On the whole, I think this is a wonderful trend. While I’m not a huge fan of cats being made to do things they wouldn’t naturally want to do, I do believe that some cats love the challenge of being trained to do “tricks.” As long as this training is done responsibly, I have no problem with it. And if done right, training your cat can be an extension of play, and enhance the bond between cat and human

    I don’t care for commercials that show cats in clothes, or portray them in other ways that most self-respecting cats would consider less than dignified. With all the advances in computer animation technology, it’s possible to make funny commercials without putting cats through something that just isn’t very cat-like. And even then, there’s a fine line between something being funny, and making fun of someone at their expense.

    A recent brilliant exampleContinue Reading

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    Feline Body Language

    Abyssynian cat

    Learning how to read feline body language is one of the best ways to understand your cat. Even though cats express themselves vocally, they primarily use their face, tail and body to communicate with each other and with the humans in their lives.

    Watching a cat’s eyes, ears and tail can speak volumes about what the cat is trying to tell humans or other cats.


    A cat’s eyes can give you many clues about her emotional and mental state. Wide open eyes are an indication of trust. Eyes that stare without blinking can be an attempt at dominance. A slit-eyed look can be a sign of aggression or fear. This is different from the sleepy-eyed look, when a cat appears to blink at you, which is generally thought to be a sign of affection.Continue Reading

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    Review and giveaway: The French Cat by Rachael Hale

    The French Cat Rachel Hale

    “Cats make their own decisions, follow their own instincts. French cats are probably the most independent and enigmatic of them all.” This perfect quote from The French Cat sets the scene for a collection of beautiful cat photographs in a beautiful setting. Award winning photographer Rachael Hale says this assignment was like a love affair for her. Having previously photographed animals in a studio setting, this project allowed her to work with them in their own environment, using natural light.

    Born in New Zealand, she moved to France with her new husband in 2009. France intensified Hale’s creativity. “Every corner I turn…makes my mind and eyes explode with inspiration.” And then there were the cats. “The…wonderful thing about French cats is that they occupy one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Artists through the ages have relished France for its old-world villages, rustic charm, and most of all, for the luminous quality of its light.”Continue Reading

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