Today, for the first time, Rupert let me pet him while he was eating.
Now that may not seem like much, but in the animal world, it’s a huge, gargantuan, monumental thing. Especially for a feral cat who has issues with his food being taken from him by other animals. Eating is a dangerous business, so Rupert has always been the “only eat when it’s quiet and no one is around” type of cat. It surprised me the first time he ate with Moon in the room, but then again, the food I feed does reduce food aggression and nervousness in cats. I didn’t think a food could keep a promise like that, so I was skeptical in the beginning but now I’m not. I am getting ahead of myself, though, so let’s step back to Moon 5 years ago.
Moon’s rehabilitation was very stressful. Once the house was his, he feared every animal that darkened the doorstep and began having bouts of cystitis regularly until he had a complete urinary tract blockage and had to spend 3 days in the emergency hospital. I was told that I would have to rectify whatever was going on or he would have to have surgery, which basically cuts off part of their penis. Can you say: NO NO NO NO NO?
Now Moon had been eating the best of the best cat food since the beginning. Having been a ferret owner for 20 years, I know how to feed what they like to call an “obligate” carnivore. High Meat Protein, Low Carb, No grain. Now you think that would be easier than ferrets, since cats have been pets longer and there is a ton of food to choose from, but you’d be wrong. Low Carb was difficult to find even in the pricey, best foods. Most food has way too much vegetable matter. Cats don’t need fucking blueberries. And most cat food has too heavy a mineral load because it’s made for all life stages, and mature cats don’t need that because they are done developing bone I was told, and so a high mineral load coupled with high carbohydrates causes stones and crystals. Add to that the mucusy, bloody cystitis and you have a blockage waiting to happen. I found out the hard way. $4,000 hard.
The vet put Moon on Science Diet, Purina, and Royal Canin prescription UTI foods, dry and canned. I hadn’t done much research yet into the condition, so I figured he at least wouldn’t block again until I could figure this thing out.
What I discovered is that these prescription diets are made with shit for ingredients and carb levels through the roof. It took a lot of digging just to get the nutrient analysis because these companies don’t want you to know how crap their food is at a premium price. Moon started gaining weight even though the portions were restricted. He was manic, agitated, hungry all the time, and kept me up all night. He was constipated and vomited regularly. These foods had every allergen possible: brewers rice, corn gluten meal, corn, wheat gluten, carrageenan etc. And Royal Canin and Science Diet are chronic offenders when it comes to recalls for contamination. Makes you wonder how much they care about anything but money. I had to break with my vet because I eventually refused to keep Moon on a bad diet despite her pushy insistence. If your vet doesn’t listen to you or acknowledge your carefully researched position, then get out quick.
Before this, Moon ate Evo and Hound and Gatos and Natures Instinct, but those were just too high in minerals to continue on that way. Then, EVO (California Naturals) was sold to Proctor & Gamble and then Mars. Now they are also chronic recall offenders. I was at a loss until a breeder on a message board recommended Young Again. They have a low carb and a no carb high protein, all meat diet. No grains, No plant protein. And it came in a mature formula with the exact same mineral profile as the prescriptions foods, targeting a lower urinary PH, and with potassium citrate to dissolve struvite crystals just like the prescriptions diets. I called them and they talked to me at length about their research and then sent me tons of backup data. They also promised weight loss even with free feeding. I did not believe it. But it happened. It took about 3 months for Moon to get used to the food. His constipation disappeared immediately, and he started eating less even with a full bowl of food, which resulted in me sleeping through the night. He dropped from 17 pounds to 14 within 6 months. He’s been on this food for 4 years and has not blocked again even with his recurring cystitis.
After months of reading research papers on the subject from every top-notch vet college out there, it seems that mineral load and carbohydrates are the cause of UTI troubles in most cats. Cystitis is almost always stress or bacterial related, but you put the Cystitis and crap food together in one cat and you have blockage potential. None of this has anything to do with dry food being dry. It has everything to do with dry food having too much carbohydrate, which incidentally also causes other problems like diabetes. My cats drink and pee the same amount dry or canned.
Now I do give the kids canned food too because I like to rotate proteins sources, but I stay way from anything that isn’t just meat, which is why I was saved from the melamine contamination in 2007 that killed a lot of pets. No rice. No Wheat. No Gluten. No Potatoes. No Caraggenan. No Plant Protein. Just meat. I stick with the Pate varieties. And I don’t worry about by-products either. My cats don’t like the no by-product foods because they are too pasty. When a cat eats whole prey, they eat everything, including what would be considered by-products: skin, feet, intestines, hair and all. I’ve seen Moon eat everything: birds, frogs, snakes, mice, shrews, crickets. He caught it; he chewed on it; he swallowed it. All of whatever it was. So no, I don’t care about by-products.
I currently feed Sheba and Feline Cuisine, which is Pet Valu’s store brand. They are inexpensive and don’t contain questionable ingredients IMO. Friskies would be ok if they’d stop putting rice and carageenan in their pate varieties. As for portions, they get a 1/4 can in the morning and a 1/4 can in the evening, so that’s one 5 oz. can per day split between the two of them, and the dry food is free feed, but they only eat 1/4 cup per day if that. I know this because I started out with portions. I don’t have to worry about it now though. Meat satisfies them, so they don’t gorge and they don’t get food obsessed or aggressive. Abundant resources is an important state of being for cats apparently. A full food bowl works wonders. As a side benefit, neither one of them pukes. Not food. Not hairballs. Not Ever, since we de-wormed them. Puking isn’t normal. Rupert is longer haired than Moon, so we do give him a petroleum-free hairball paste a couple if times a week just in case. We are a puke free household. If they do, I know something is seriously wrong.
Anyway, sorry for being so long-winded, but if I can help someone else so they don’t have to go through what Moon went through, then all the words are worth it.