As British Blues, my cats have always been ‘solid’; however, when my boy hit 7.3kg, it was time to act. The advice from our local vet was to put them onto ‘specially-formulated low-fat diet food’ (that he sold). At first I did so, but it had no effect on their body weight, and I then realised that it sounded uncannily familiar – isn’t that just what humans have been advised by most dieticians to do in order to lose weight? Just eat low-fat and don’t worry about the carbs?
Not only did they fail to lose weight, they continued to gain weight. This was precisely the diet that had got them into trouble in the first place and it’s no coincidence that the incidence of diabetes in cats, in particular, has sky-rocketted in recent years.
When I cut the carbs and moved them onto a raw meat diet, they lost the excess weight easily, over a period of a couple of months. It was interesting that my boy cat, in particular, seemed to really miss those carbs. He was as addicted to the highly flavoured (vet-approved) wet and dry food I’d been feeding him as I had once been to chocolate. He resisted the change in diet for about two weeks. In that time, if he went without food close to 24 hours, I had to feed him his old ‘junk food’ as I’d been told that it is dangerous for cats to go beyond this period without food. He won on a couple of occasions, holding out all day until he got what he wanted. Then one day, two weeks after I first changed their diet, I was cutting up some fresh offal, and he began eating it .. as quickly as I was chopping it, he was sitting at the other end of the board eagerly devouring red meat – organ meat – for the first time in his life!
Both my cats are now back to their ideal body weight and look healthier than ever. My boy cat lost over one kg and my girl has lost about 600g. She used to suffer from dermititis which had been treated in the past with cortisol injections and three-weekly flea prevention medication, but with the change in diet her skin sensitivities have almost disappeared.
It seems that the key aspect of their new diet echos my own: lowering (or in their case, excluding) the carbs. And similar to the conservative nature of the medical profession for humans, the advice from traditional veterinarians has been to prescribe medication before food, ignoring the importance of a natural, species-appropriate diet.
Thankfully, I found a Melbourne-based vet from Vets at Home, who specialises in natural health for animals and advised me how to structure a well-balanced diet for my cats. She gave me the confidence to persevere and get beyond my boy’s initial resistance to giving up carbs, and continues to check on their diet, advising me on natural supplements to ensure they get everything they need for optimum well-being and long-term health. They now eat a wide variety of raw and cooked meat, poultry and fish (including lamb, veal, chicken, pork, rabbit, kangaroo, white fish, sardines etc) and organ meat (heart, liver). It’s important for them to eat bones such as chicken necks or wings (raw only; do not feed your pets cooked bones as they can easily splitter). However, my cats refuse to do so; so I supplement their meals with powdered, roasted egg shell (I wash and roast egg shells and then blend them to a fine powder and add 1/8 tsp per 125g meat). I also add an Omega Oil for Cats, a supplement to increase the healthy fats when feeding them lean meat.
If you’ve been looking for an alternative to commercial pet food but haven’t known where to turn, the free ebook called ‘What Vets Don’t Tell You’ is an excellent place to start.