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Natural Diet


At one time, I free-fed dry food (IAMS or Science Diet) and religiously took my cats for their annual vaccinations. I even once had my cats vaccinated against Feline Leukemia (even though they were 100% indoor cats). If they were sick, I wanted them on an antibiotic or steroid and expected them to be better in a few days.

Things are Very Different Now

It all began in the Summer of 1993 when I purchased a book written by Anitra Frazier entitled, The New Natural Cat to fulfill my membership with The Book of the Month Club. Upon receiving it, I read her chapter on diet and realized I was killing my cats!

I gave away my supply of dry food and headed to the nearby natural food store, purchased Pet Guard canned food, the vita mineral supplements recommended in the book and set out to improve the health of my cats.

At that time, I had two cats, both black domestic shorthairs, Rooney and Pumpkin. I mixed up the food, adding the supplements, oils, grated carrots, etc. and presented it to my inquisitive felines. Both turned up their noses in disgust and walked away. Rooney made a big point of "burying" the nasty stuff.

As instructed in the book, I left the food available for about 30 minutes then removed the food, washed the bowls and went my merry way. Forty-eight hours later Rooney decided he was hungry enough to try this new food.  Pumpkin said "no way." I continued to try to get her to eat for a few more days before giving in and letting her have dry food. The New Natural Cat has lots of suggestions for "bribe" foods such as baby food lamb, creamed corn, mixing the canned food with dry, sardines, etc. Nothing worked for Pumpkin. She wouldn't even eat on a schedule, if she wasn't going to be allowed to graze on dry food as she was accustomed, she just wasn't going to eat.

The Stand Off

Prior to her adoption, Pumpkin lived the life of a feral cat in a parking lot in Somerville, Massachusetts. The cats were fed by local residents, dry food, most likely the cheapest available.  Pumpkin was trapped by an animal shelter when she was approximately four months old and adopted by me at six months old as a companion for Rooney. I had no idea what I was getting into when adopting a semi-feral cat. You couldn't just walk up to Pumpkin and pick her up. Pumpkin needed you to make an appointment in order to pet her. I remember putting cans of fish-flavored Fancy Feast brand cat food on the kitchen floor in order to entice Pumpkin to come close to me so I could pet her. Rooney was not too happy with his new playmate as she spent most of her time hiding in the cat condo.

Pumpkin had a very limited idea of food: dry food (sometimes canned fish-flavored Fancy Feast) and cooked shrimp. She'd eat nothing else. Rooney would go for cooked chicken, pizza, pasta, and other human-type foods, but he was also hooked on dry food at the time. They were the classic finicky felines.

Bring in the Experts

After trying to get Pumpkin to change her diet for about two months, I placed a telephone call to Anitra Frazier. After our consultation, she suggested I subscribe to a new natural cat magazine, Tiger Tribe, and to contact the editor, Luke Granville, if I was still having difficulty with Pumpkin. I tried Anitra's suggestions (with no results), then called Luke. We discussed a raw diet at length (I was afraid of feeding raw meat), various means to tempt Pumpkin and the possible use of homeopathy (some new fangled natural medicine which I knew nothing about). Luke put me in touch with Laurie Huff who lived on Martha's Vineyard and had some experience in getting difficult cats to eat a natural diet.

Tiger Tribe

I received my subscription to Tiger Tribe along with all the back issues. Unfortunately, Tiger Tribe is no longer in publication. It was a wealth of information on natural diet, homeopathy and other methods of natural rearing. I read the issues from cover to cover. Following the diets specified in the magazine and in The New Natural Cat, I made a further plunge into this insanity and switched Rooney to a raw diet. He went for it with gusto. After about two months on his new diet, I was starting to see changes in Rooney. Although he wasn't fat, I felt a new firmness to his body and his coat took on a shine it never had before. There were fewer hairballs and I noticed less stool production. I contacted Laurie Huff who gave me the mechanics for the diet she used, designed by Jeffrey Levy, D.V.M., and put me in touch with Dr. Levy in order to make an appointment for Pumpkin. Pumpkin had dug her feet into the ground and wasn't going to give in.



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