“Honey, how ya feeling?” I asked my husband last night. “Good . . . . are we done for now?” He replies. He tells me that if I want to understand more I’ll need to ask him pointed questions. It’s late, I can't think of any interesting questions right now, so I let the conversation fade.
I want to write about my cats. More specifically, what I feed my cats. Actually, I have a confession . . . my cats are not vegan. The two cats I still have are vicious hunters. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about my contribution, the food that I provide.
Several years ago I began feeding three of my cats raw food in an effort to buoy the health of one of my guys, ‘Grey Guy’. ‘Grey Guy’ dropped from a robust 11 pounds down to 6 pounds in less than a month. He remained spunky and had the appetite of a moose but he couldn’t get enough food to satisfy his hunger. I started buying ready-made raw food from ‘Feed This!’. For over a decade I’d fed all fourteen of my rescued feral cats dry food from Costco. Putting all of the cats on a raw food diet was beyond my budget constraints so it was ‘Grey Guy’, his buddy, ‘Grimmie’, and my son’s cat, ‘Sunny’ that got an entirely raw diet. Through the research of my friend and neighbor, we chose ‘Feed This!’ to prepare and deliver the raw, frozen food every other week. It was simple but the transition for the cats wasn’t flawless. I continued with ‘Feed This!’ for several months and then began making my own raw cat food.
My original recipe was about 50% vegetables and 50% ground turkey and chicken livers. Food preparation took me nearly three hours twice a month. It was always a struggle to get the cats to eat consistently but ‘Grey Guy’ thrived on this new raw diet. His eyes brightened, his dull coat became thick and lustrous and he started putting on weight. Fast forward a couple of years and a majorly stressful move from our very rural, quiet home of twenty two years. Two months after we moved ‘Grey Guy’ disappeared. We never saw him again.
Now I understand that ‘Grey Guy’ was most likely afflicted with hyperthyroid. Hyperthyroidism is fairly easy to diagnose with a simple blood test. My son’s cat, ‘Sunny’ was recently diagnosed with hyperthyroid and she gets half of a crushed pill in her food twice a day. During my research of this disease I learned more about what to feed cats on a raw food diet. Cats are not able to digest carbohydrates like human animals. They also don’t do well with any of the night shade family of vegetables like garlic, potatoes-including sweet potatoes, or onions. To a large degree I was adding all of these veggies except onions.
Cats, unlike humans, are true carnivores. They do best on dense protein - meat. Amongst vegans there is great controversy on this subject but I’ve not made my decision lightly. Through extensive research and the urging of my vet, my cats are now eating a meat heavy diet consisting of raw ground turkey, raw chicken livers, and eggs. None of which I eat or want in my kitchen. The mixture is supplemented with Taurine and vitamins but no veggies or rice. I grind the chicken livers, crack and separate the eggs, and dawn the surgical gloves to hand mix and package up eleven pounds of food twice a month. Contributing to the suffering of animals for whatever reason is unthinkable to me yet twice a month I participate. Twice a day I open a container of pain and suffering and I apologize.
The world is not a perfect place. Human beings are fallible. I am committed to being a better person; to be more supportive, to be more compassionate and loving, and most of all, to be more empathetic and non-judgmental. Some days I do better than others.