raw feeding

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Bites make raw feeding easier than ever

 Natures__Variety_Instinct_Raw_Bites

I rarely accept foods for review, unless it’s something I’ve already thoroughly researched and/or tried. I won’t use Allegra and Ruby as product testers for diets whose claims I can’t verify.

Nature’s Variety is a brand I’ve been feeding for several years, in both the raw and canned varieties. They made my – very small – list of recommended brands (the list is small because I’m extremely picky about what I feed my cats). When they asked me whether I’d like to try their new Raw Bites product, I readily agreed, much to Allegra and Ruby’s delight. They wish my food review policy wasn’t quite so stringent…

Nature’s Variety frozen Raw Bites, are, as the name implies, bite size frozen raw pieces that thaw quickly. They’re formulated just like their other frozen diets, available in nugget and patty form, with 95% meat, organs, and raw ground bone. The remaining 5% Continue Reading

Allegra, Ruby and the taste test

Pawgevity_raw_rabbit_cat_food

In my reccent post An inside look at how one small company makes safe pet food, I introduced you to Pawgevity, a small manufacturer and distributor of raw petfood based in The Plains, VA. Pawgevity is involved in every aspect of the food they make, from farm to bowl. Their meat and produce is sourced from local farmers who follow humane practices. Pawgevity owners Carole and Norman King personally visit each farm they work with.

I recently  had an opportunity to visit Pawgevity’s offices. Located in a refurbished former railroad depot, the offices features giant high ceilings, whitewashed brick walls, dark wood floors, a cozy seating area for visitors, and, of course, a freezer full of their products. I got to visit their spotless kitchen, where they prepare the organic produce that goes into the food. After a tour of the premises, and chatting with Carole and Norm for a while over ice cold lemonade, I was delighted to find out that they are adding a new line of rabbit food to their product offering.Continue Reading

An inside look at how one small company makes safe pet food

raw_food_for_cats

The recent Diamond Pet Food recall has left many pet parents wondering whether it’s safe to continue to feed commercial pet food. This particular recall was surprising topet owners who did not realize that Diamond manufacturers a large variety of different brands.  As of this writing, 11 brands are involved in the recall, due to possible salmonella contamination.

Sadly, recalls have become a fact of life, and they happen in all kinds of industries, not just for pet food. While recalls may not be completely unavoidable, this one is unsettling because it covers so many brands – and because it’s not always transparent who actually makes the brand you’re feeding your cats. In most cases, pet guardians also have no way of knowing where the ingredients in a particular brand come from. Multiple brands share the same supplier, as we saw in the horrific 2007 pet food recall, which caused the death of thousands of pets who had eaten food contaminated by melamine, which was traced back to a Chinese supplier.

As a result, pet parents are looking for alternatives. Continue Reading

When Hairballs Are More Than Just Hairballs

big_cats_hairballs

Hairballs are often the topic of jokes and cartoons, but there is nothing funny about a cat who gets frequent hairballs. While the occasional, isolated hairball may be nothing to worry about, there really is no such thing as “just a hairball.”

What is a hairball?

Traditionally it has been thought that hairballs develop because of how cats groom themselves. As cats lick their fur, the tongue’s tiny barbs pull off excess hair. Inevitably, some hair gets swallowed in the process. Ideally, it passes through the body and ends up in stools, but hairballs form when hair wads up in the stomach instead.

However, more recent findings show that hairballs also form because the affected cat’s intestinal motility (the movement of food content from the stomach to the intestines) is impaired, something that most commonly occurs secondary to inflammatory bowel disease, which in turn is caused in almost epidemic proportions by grain-based diets and their adverse effect on the gut flora.Continue Reading

A tribute to Bob Dole

Bob Dole longhaired orange cat

On Saturday night, Bob Dole, my dear friend Robin Olson’s beloved cat, died peacefully after a long battle with cancer. He was surrounded by those he loved.

Bob was Robin’s mother’s cat. When she died unexpectedly five years ago, Robin took Bob in, initially intending to find a good home for him, because she already had multiple cats of her own. Bob had not received regular veterinary care while he lived with her mother (a regular topic of dissension between Robin and her mother). When Robin took Bob to her vet, he was diagnosed as FIV positive and diabetic. Continue Reading

Product review: New Wellness grain-free canned food

Allegra and Ruby Wellness canned cat food

I don’t usually accept food and treats for review here on The Conscious Cat. I like what I feed Allegra and Ruby, and I won’t use them as product testers for diets whose claims I can’t verify. However, I have been feeding Wellness® grain-free canned food for many years, and it meets my criteria for what constitutes a species-appropriate diet for cats (a feline diet must be completely grain-free, and it must be canned or raw. I don’t recommend ANY dry food for cats).

When a representative for Wellness® contacted me to see whether Allegra and Ruby would like to taste test their new Succulent Cuts with Savory Sauces for Cats line of grain-free canned diets, I accepted their offer (and there was much celebrating on Allegra and Ruby’s part). 

The new Wellness® Cubed, Sliced and Minced canned diets are 100% grain-free and contain no added artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. For each recipe, Wellness® has paired succulent cuts of wholesome, all natural protein sources like chicken, turkey, salmon and tuna with savory sauces that are designed to please the palate of even the most finicky feline. The new diets come in 12 different sliced, cubed and minced varieties

Finicky is not a word I’d associate with either of my two. Ruby would probably eat just about anything I put in front of her. Allegra is a little more discerning and sometimes needs a little encouragement whenever I present a new brand or flavor.

We tested the Minced Chicken Dinner and the Sliced Turkey Entree. Allegra got the chicken, Ruby the turkey. But why don’t I let the girls tell you what they thought.

Allegra: Finally! I told you about those cans that had been sitting on our kitchen counter last week, and even though Ruby and I tried our best, we just couldn’t figure out how to open them ourselves, and we had to wait for Mom to do it. When she popped the lids (She makes it look so easy – why can’t we figure it out?), the smell coming at me was incredible! I couldn’t wait to taste what smelled so good!

Ruby: I smell food! Woohoo! It’s dinner time!

Allegra: When Mom put the dish in front of me, I wasn’t quite sure at first. It looked really different from our usual raw food, and it looked different from any of the canned food Mom occasionally gives us, too. But boy, did it smell good! So I took a lick – and that was all I needed. I proceeded to eat the entire can in one sitting. Yummy!

Ruby: Food, food, food! Put it down already, Mom! I’m totally starving! I haven’t eaten in hours!!! – Oh. Hmm. This is different from what I had for breakfast. But it’s food! It smells great! I’m going to eat it all as fast as I can!

Well – I told you not to expect much of a review from Ruby.

Allegra eating canned Wellness grain-free food

Allegra takes her product testing duties very seriously!

We were also sent cans of the Minced Tuna Dinner and Sliced Salmon Entree varieties. I only very rarely give the girls fish protein based food, so we’re saving them as a special treat. 

If I were feeding canned food on a regular basis, I would definitely consider adding these new foods to my rotation. I think it’s important to feed a variety of flavors and textures to avoid having your cat stuck on only one diet. The different texture may be an issue for some finicky eaters who are used to the standard canned food texture, for those cats, Wellness®’s regular grain-free canned varieties may be a better choice.

If your cat has tried these new products, let us know how she liked them in a comment!

For more information about Wellness and their wide range of products, please visit their website.

You may also enjoy reading:

The truth about dry cat food

Cats are not small dogs, especially when it comes to nutrition

Feline nutrition: who bears the responsibility?

Giveaway: Voucher for Nature’s Logic cat food

Nature's LogicNature's Logic feline products

When the folks at Nature’s Logic approached me about doing a giveaway for you, I was intrigued, but since I wasn’t familiar with this company or their diets, I wanted to do some research first.

Let me first say that I have no personal experience with these diets. I like what I feed Allegra and Ruby, and I won’t use them as product testers for testing diets or treats whose claims I can’t verify. However, I can take a close look at diets I haven’t tried and evaluate them based on my criteria for what constitutes a species-appropriate diet for cats. 

My first criteria is always that a feline diet must be completely grain-free, and it must be canned or raw. I don’t recommend ANY dry food for cats. Nature’s Logic’s canned and raw products meet that requirement. The raw formulas are a little lower in protein than I like to see, I prefer to see a 95% protein/5% vegetables and other ingredients ratio, but at 90-92% protein content, I still consider them acceptable. 

Nature’s Logic believes that the safest and most natural source of nutrients for cats is food. According to the company, they have created the first and only, full-line of commercial pet food in the world with no chemically-synthesized vitamins, minerals, or other ingredients. Nature’s Logic states that all the nutrients in their formulas come from whole foods or 100% natural ingredients.

Nature’s Logic foods are said to be rich in high-quality protein, derived from beef, chicken, duck, lamb, fish, venison, and rabbit.

Nature’s Logic also makes Ponderosa Pine Cat Litter, which, according to the company, is 100% natural and made entirely from ponderosa pine. It does not contain silica particles found in typical clay litters. This litter is said to be virtually dust-free and safe for cats, kittens, and other small mammals. I have no personal experience with this litter, either – just like food, I won’t use my cats as product testers for litter. We like what we use, and we’re not taking any chances by switching.

Nature’s Logic is offering a voucher valued at $25 good for the following to one lucky reader:

  • one 3-lb bag Raw Frozen Diet or nine 5.5-oz cans Feline Diet
  • plus, one 12-lb bag Ponderosa Pine Cat Litter

How to Enter

Leave a comment below letting me know:

  1. Why you’d like to win this giveaway.
  2. Your choice of which of the two food types (raw or canned) you’d like to win.
  3. Your choice of flavors – visit the Nature’s Logic website to see available flavors.
  4. Tweet about this giveaway or share it on Facebook and post the link in a separate comment for an extra chance to enter.

This giveaway will end Tuesday, May 31.

For more information about Nature’s Logic and their products, please visit their website.

You may also enjoy reading:

The truth about dry cat food

Feeding raw: a veterinarian’s view

The many voices of feline nutrition

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.

Cats Are Not Small Dogs – Especially When It Comes to Nutrition

We’ve all heard some of these:  Dogs come when they’re called called; cats take a message and get back to you.  Dogs believe they are human; cats believe they are God.  If a dog jumps up into your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer.  Cats act and respond differently than dogs.  You’ll never see a cat wag his tail.   Dogs’ reflexes are quick, cats’ reflexes are incredibly fast.  Dogs prefer action, cats prefer watching first.  Maybe the cat is America’s favorite pet because cats are, well – different! 

The differences between cats and dogs become particularly evident when it comes to their nutritional requirements.  Even though both species are considered carnivores, cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they need meat in order to thrive.  In fact, cats cannot survive without at least some meat in their diets.  Dogs are considered omnivores – they can survive on plant material alone; however, they, too, do best on a diet made up primarily of meat.  

Why do cats need meat to thrive and survive?  Dietary protein supplies amino acids and is needed for the manufacture of antibodies, enzymes, hormones, and tissues. It provides energy and is essential for growth and development.  Protein derived from meat and poultry contains ample amounts of these essential amino acids, whereas protein in vegetables and grains does not provide these.   More importantly, unlike dogs, cats lack the enzyme required to process vegetable-based proteins metabolically. 

Another significant difference in nutritional requirements is cats’ need for taurine, which is  important for proper functioning of the heart.  Meat is a natural source of taurine; it is not available in plant tissues.  Dogs can make their own taurine, but cats cannot.  Commercial cat foods did not contain this important amino acid until 1987, when veterinarian Paul Pion identified the link between a lack of taurine in cats’ diets and feline dilated cardiomyopathy, a fatal heart disease that has been largely eliminated in the pet cat population since then. 

So what should you feed your carnivore?  The ideal diet that most closely mimics what cats would eat in the wild is a properly supplemented raw diet.  There are several reputable resources available online to learn more about raw feeding, two of the best are Dr. Lisa Pierson’s Feeding Your Cat:  Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition and the Feline Nutrition Education Society.  Raw feeding does not have to be complicated or a lot of work; fully supplemented commercial frozen raw diets are readily available and all a cat owner has to do is thaw and feed.  

However, not every cat owner will want to feed raw, and there are other, healthy alternatives available.  A home-cooked diet can be a good option for cat owners who like the idea of controlling the ingredients in their cat’s food and don’t mind the extra work these diets require.  Proper supplementation is key; a great resource for preparing nutritionally complete homemade diets is PetDiets.com.  The next best thing to feeding raw or homemade is feeding a quality grain-free, canned diet.  Look for foods that list meat as the first ingredient.  Be aware that with the recent popularity of grain-free foods, some manufacturers are now taking grains out of their foods, but are adding other carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and peas, and as a result, some of these diets are still too high in carbohydrates.  

Cats should not eat dry food.  Cats need moisture in their diet, and feeding only dry food is considered to be one of the most common causes of bladder and kidney problems.  Even though cats who eat a predominantly dry diet will drink more water, they still only get half the amount of water a cat eating canned food will get, even after adding all sources of moisture together.  If you must feed dry food, at the very least, consider feeding one of the grain-free varieties, and supplement with canned or raw food. 

Regardless of what type of diet you choose to feed, never feed cats free-choice.  Free-choice feeding, which means leaving food available for the cat all day long, is the primary reason why feline obesity has become an epidemic.  Cats by their very nature are hunters:  they kill, and then eat their prey.  They do not graze throughout the day.  Feeding two meals a day, appropriate in size for your cat, will go a long way toward keeping kitty fit and trim.  What is a normal sized meal?  Consider that in the wild, a mouse would constitute a typical meal for a cat.  Manufacturer recommendations may not be your best guide when it comes to portion size – they’re usually much higher than what your cat really needs.  When in doubt, consult with your cat’s veterinarian. 

I’ve been feeding my cats grain-free canned food for a number of years with wonderful results.  I recently transitioned Allegra, who just turned one, to raw food, and I now alternate raw and grain-free canned food, with raw food taking up the bulk of her diet (about 75%).  I’m also a firm believer in variety and rotate brands and flavors.  Cats can be finicky, and by exposing them to a variety of choices, they will not only be healthier (no one food can be complete and balanced, no matter what the manufacturers tell you), they also won’t get stuck on eating only one thing and refusing everything else you offer. 

So – what are you feeding your carnivore?