HISTORY OF MY 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.
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
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