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Breeder praises the results of her unusual homeopathic approach

I'm a new breeder. My first litter was born October, 1997. I've had a total of three litters. I am not new to showing. I've been showing in CFA since 1994 and have granded four cats in premiership (a Bombay, a black smoke ASH, an ebony OSH, and a brown classic ASH). My cattery name is BLAKKATZ because I love black cats. I got my start with ASH from Barbara Musick (Settler), Margot Mellies (Miribu), John Philpot (Jo-Ni) and Jim Kincaid (Jimnet).

I'm very different in my approach to cattery management in that I run a holistic cattery. My cats are "naturally raised" which means they are fed a 100% raw homemade diet (I've been doing this since 1993); I use homeopathy, herbs or nutritional means to keep my cats healthy and to treat any illnesses; and I vaccinate to a bare minimum. My adults do not receive annual vaccinations (except rabies). My kittens receive only one intranasal panleukopenia vaccine at 14+ weeks. There are very few catteries that practice holistic care to this extent. There are a lot of kennels, but few catteries.

I get amazing results from the diet, both in condition and temperament. I am known in the cat fancy as the person who always "shows her cats in beautiful condition" and who "shows cats with wonderful temperaments." Since I've been feeding this diet as long as I've been showing and have shown quite a few different cats (both breeds, sex and lines), the diet seems to be the common denominator. I certainly see the difference between the condition of my cats and other cats. Granted it's easier to show cats in premiership as they stay in condition easier, I've continued to have good luck showing whole cats (both male and female).

My diet consists of 70% protein (meat, raw, beef, chicken, turkey or fish, all human grade meat purchased in a grocery store); the 30% remaining is a mixture of cooked or raw veggies; cooked grains; a homemade supplement and oils.

The diet reduces shedding (I see this when my cats are on the judging table. When the other cats are being judged, I see air flying, with mine, hardly any.). There's very little litter box odor as the cats are able to use more of their food, there's actually a reduction in the amount of stool produced on this diet. Very rarely will I have a cat with diarrhea or constipation.

My adults are fed once a day (in the evening), kittens, nursing or pregnant females are fed more often. They eat when they are fed once a day!! I know almost immediately if someone is off their food. Even the queens when in heat don't really go off their food. They know when the meal is put down at night, they had better eat, otherwise they'll go hungry until the next day. I don't believe in free feeding. Cats are not cows, they shouldn't graze like cows. They are designed to eat large meals, digest them slowly, then kill and eat again. Cats don't chew their food, they cut it into manageable pieces, then the stomach does the "chewing" during the digestion process.

Cats on a raw diet drink very little water. This is more natural. Cats evolved from the desert. They were designed to get their water from their food. There's not much moisture in dry food!! There is no FUS in the wild. My cats' teeth are excellent! I have yet to have a cat who needed dental attention.

I attribute the better temperaments to the B vitamins in the meat. If there is a personality problem, I treat the cat with homeopathy.

My holistic approach to medical care is pretty simple. I don't treat a cat unless it's sick. I give my cats the best possible care and keep them in good health, but I don't worry about illnesses unless or until they get sick. If a particular cat gets sick, I deal with that cat and that cat only. I don't like the mass approach of conventional medical care.

For example, I had a new cat tested for ringworm and he tested positive. He had no active lesions, but the fungal culture came back positive. The attending veterinarian recommended that I treat this cat and all the cats in my household with Griseofulvin (this vet now doesn't recommend this drug due to side effects). I refused and started to treat this cat for possible ringworm. I bathed him in tea tree oil shampoo (an antifungal) and treated him with homeopathy. A few months later I brought him back to be tested again. He tested negative. The remaining cats in the household remained clean.

I haven't always been so lucky with contagious diseases. I've had my share of cattery-illnesses, but again, I treat individually. I don't worry much about ringworm - that's really not such a bad thing (ringworm), it's only a surface skin disease. I worry much more about why the cat got ringworm it means that the cat's immune system is somehow compromised. That I worry about. Ringworm I can deal with. I also worry very much about the conventional toxic approaches to treating ringworm.

Why am I doing this? I think some of it stems from my beginnings in holistic cat care. I started in 1993 after reading the book written by Anitra Frazer, The New Natural Cat. After I read her chapter on diet, I realized I was killing my cats (then two DSH) by free feeding dry food and having annual vaccinations done. It went from there. One of the cats refused to eat the natural diet. I took her to a homeopathic veterinarian and three weeks into treatment, she was a different cat!

I've seem wonderful results with homeopathy (both in my cats and myself). I study homeopathy constantly. When I started breeding it was only natural that I continue with the holistic approach.

Is it worth it? Only time will tell. The owners of the kittens from the three litters rave about their temperaments. I had some tough times with the kittens when they were little with URI and corneal ulcers, but they all recovered even one kitten who had his cornea ruptured by his new owners (he was returned to me after the accident).

The veterinarian at the emergency room where the kitten was taken recommended removal of the eye. The kitten was treated homeopathically (Note, I am using a veterinarian trained in homeopathy, not doing the treatment myself) and he still has both eyes. The injured eye has a small white spot on it, but that's certainly better than not having the eye!

Twenty or thirty years ago we had panleukopenia, a disease fatal to cats. A vaccine was developed. Consequently, Panleukopenia is pretty rare these days. Now, however, we have feline leukemia, FIV, FIP, PKD, IBD, kidney disease, heart disease, cancer, etc.

What am I getting at here? Take panleukopenia, for example: Panleukopenia virus induces an intense, rapidly progressing malfunction in the digestive tract, leading to vomiting and/or diarrhea. IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) is a chronic state of diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. IBD is an autoimmune disease of the intestines that has been occurring at near epidemic levels over the past several years. No reasonable explanation has been proposed for the proliferation of cases of this disease.

Have we traded an acute disease (panleukopenia) for a whole bunch of chronic diseases? Is this an acceptable trade-off? I don't think so.

Natural rearing is a lot more work. It's a lot of headache and heartache. Breeding cats is a lot of headache and heartache, no matter how you do it. It is also a lot of joy!! I hope I'm breeding cats that have immune systems, who can withstand challenges from viruses, bacteria, etc. I'm hoping they'll live longer and healthier lives. Again only time will tell.

I maintain a web site devoted to holistic cat care. It is located at http://www.blakkatz.com. I welcome any questions on natural rearing, diet, or homeopathy.


The American Connection
Newsletter of the National American Shorthair Club
October 1, 1998

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