We are proud to announce that human grade – no additives, no flow agents – powdered EGG YOLK is joining our product line-up!
Are you tired of Hairballs? Did you know that egg yolk is one of the best natural hairball Preventatives?
As discussed in our article - Hairballs - How Best to Manage Them, Egg yolks provide many nutritional benefits, but what concerns us as far as hairballs, are specifically the choline and lecithin.
Choline. A component of choline is acetylcholine. Acetylcholine acts as a major neurotransmitter for the autonomic nervous system (which includes the GI tract). The stomach and the intestines contain a muscular layer that allows for wave-like contraction of the organs, known as peristalsis. This process propels food through the digest tract. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse states that acetylcholine increases the contractions seen in the muscular layer, thus improving peristalsis and pushing food efficiently through the digestive tract. Choline (and its component acetylcholine) improves GI motility, which is what propels hair through so it comes out the proper end.
Lecithin. Fat is what binds the hair in the stomach, creating that sticky, often stinky, gooey mess that is a hairball. Lecithin is a fat emulsifier: it emulsifies the fat binding the hairball(s), enabling kitty to pass the ingested hair.
An species appropriate diet, brushing regularly, and adding egg yolk to your kitty's diet are great natural ways to prevent the oh-so-dreaded hairball problems.
But wait! There is much more! “What's so special about egg yolk?” you ask?
Eggs are a nearly perfect food, and the yolk contains the bulk of that nutrition. Discussed as “nature’s multivitamin” in many articles, eggs are truly a powerhouse of nutrition as one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. With almost every essential vitamin and mineral our pets’ bodies need, egg yolk is the perfect superfood complement to any diet – and essential in a homemade diet, most notably for choline which almost always come up short without the addition of egg yolk (or whole egg).
There is no source of choline richer than egg yolks, with 820mg of choline per 100 grams. Not even beef kidney (the food with the next-highest choline content) rivals that of yolk - egg yolk contains 60% more choline per 100 grams. (!!)
Egg yolks are also one of nature’s richest sources of biotin. Biotin supports healthy metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose. It is essential for healthy thyroid and adrenal function, a healthy cardiovascular system – it also protects brain function and fights cognitive decline. However, biotin is probably most renowned for its role in healthy, beautiful skin, hair and nails. In our pets, this means egg yolk will contribute to soft, silky, shiny fur; aiding in resolving dandruff; and helping to prevent cracked dry nails and fungal infections.
To learn more about the benefits of egg yolk, we discuss each ingredient in the EZComplete premixes, including egg yolk, here.
Of course, the EZComplete fur Cats and EZComplete fur Dogs premixes already contain the egg yolk needed to provide a balanced diet. But if your dog, cat or ferret has a health issue that would benefit from a multivitamin - consider egg yolk! Or if your dog has dandruff, or your cat or ferret is suffering hairballs, consider supplementing with egg yolk. And as fats moisten stool and increase transit time, if your pet is prone to constipation, reach for the egg yolk. It is a terrific tool for managing chronic constipation. Some pets may also need an osmotic laxative like lactulose, or a bit of fiber. But for our carnivores, this is the species-appropriate place to start.
For those that have pets that do not enjoy natural, raw yolk, or for those of you that need to cook too many eggs to be practical, we've done the work for you. EZ Egg Yolk is a very easy-to-measure and use alternative!
Last week PetFoodIndustry.com published a blog post, "Simple, clean pet food labels: altering the discussion." The very premise of the article is quite ironic: consumer perception is the problem, not the pet foods. It's not that consumers are becoming better educated as to what provides the best promise of long term health to their animal companions. No, on the contrary, the "problem" is the failure of the pet food industry to properly educate the consumer about the existing ingredients in pet foods. After all, pet food is all about the science of nutrition. And, you know, "science is hard."
The author asks "So, what is driving this clean label trend?" and answers: "Like many things, it is consumer demand, driven by perception. In this case, it is backed by nutritionists who agree that eating a diet made up of whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables is better for our health. So, consumers will be compelled to read the labels of processed foods, looking for something that is as close to the original state as possible, but with the convenience of a packaged food."
Consumer demand. Driven by perception. Backed by nutritionists who agree that eating a diet made up of whole, unprocessed foods is better for our health. Well, consider substituting "education" for "perception" and "Informed by" for "backed by" and see what happens. The concept then reads "Like many things, it is consumer demand, driven by education. In this case, it is informed by nutritionists who agree that eating a diet made of of whole, unprocessed foods ... is better for our health."
Is this a bad thing, pet parents wanting to provide their pets healthy, whole foods?
Well, if you are Mars, Nestlé, or Del Monte (with what has been renamed the Big Heart Pet Brands) - the largest pet food companies in the world - the knowledge that a solely processed food diet isn't healthy for us or our pets is a bad thing. As they are all also among the largest food and beverage companies in the world, of course they want to counter the notion that homemade and fresh foods are the best foods for us - and our pets.
But if it is science they want, there is a growing body of it. Just a few weeks ago, a team of Australians from the Charles Perkins Centre and School of Life and Environmental Sciences at The University of Sydney published a report, Nutrition Ecology and Human Health. The message of the report is straightforward: nutrition science is broken. In a nutshell, while focusing on micronutrients had its place in our understanding of the importance of diet in combating disease, that nutritional model that breaks down nutrition into its components is fundamentally incompatible with the "new suite of nutrition-related diseases."
"Food science" isn't failing just human health. There is - sadly - plenty of evidence the same holds true for our pets. As mentioned in our article, Cat Food vs. Cat Health, it is a relatively recent situation that approximately 60% of pet cats in the U.S. live indoor-only. This means that our little predators are not out hunting field mice, voles, rats, or rabbits. They have become completely dependent on us for their nutritional needs. What this also means is that health problems associated with the typical commercial diet are becoming ever more apparent, especially as access to veterinary care and safety from cars and predators contributes to their longer lives. Our cats are overweight, blocking from crystals in their urine, suffering dental disease, and GI disorders are rising at alarming rates, with the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease and pancreatitis now making the "Top Ten" lists of VPI Pet Insurance. Our cats are dying primarily of kidney disease and cancer.
Surely food alone does not account for all of these problems. But at Food Fur Life we ask, how healthy would we be if all we ate was dry cereal and/or canned stew – all made with ingredients that weren’t fit for our consumption? No, Pet Food Industry, the problem is not lack of consumer education as to the "safety" of the ingredients in the diets you provide. Your problem is consumers are learning their carnivorous pets need whole, fresh, quality, species-appropriate foods for their best health, too.
This is why we created Food Fur Life - to make healthy homemade food accessible to everyone. To make it easy for the busiest of pet parents to provide their pets a fresh, truly human-grade meat-based diet based on the prey model. Blending the best of mother nature and science, whether pet parents are time constrained, and feel they don't have the time to make their own pet food all from scratch, or whether there is concern about "doing it right," we have the solution. And it really is EZ, with EZcomplete.
Most of you must recognize the word "Kefir" from the milk/yogurt aisles in the supermarket.... But do you know what Kefir is?
The word Kefir derives from the Turkish word keyif, which means "Feeling Good" , and it's believed to be original from the Caucasus Mountains.
Its history is full of legends, and can be "traced" all the way to the Prophet Mohamed and mentioned by Marco Polo!
It is also believed Kefir was used as a way to preserve milk by means of fermentation, in the absence of refrigeration and pasteurization. Kefir grains were added to milk, generally in a goat skin leather bag, and hung by the door. Everyone who went by or through the door, shook the bag with its foot. After 24 hours, the fermented milk was poured, and fresh milk was added to the grains, keeping the fermentation process constant.
But just what are the Milk Kefir Grains?
Kefir grains are microbially derived protein and polysaccharide matrices that contain cultures of bacteria and yeast that are essential to Kefir fermentation.
The bacteria found in the grains depend of several factors, including the Milk used during fermentation, the fermentation process itself, and even the region where the grains originate from.
Mainly comprised of Lactobacillus, common bacteria strains include: Ref 1, Ref 2, Ref3
Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus
Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. delbrueckii, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus keﬁranofaciens subsp. keﬁranofaciens, Lactobacillus keﬁri, Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus sake, Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Lactococcus lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. dextranicum, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides
Pseudomonas, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas putida, Streptococcus thermophilus
Candida humilis, Candida Kefyr, Kazachstania unispora, Kazachstania exigua, Kluyveromyces siamensis, Kluyveromyces lactis, Kluyveromyces marxianus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces martiniae, Saccharomyces unisporus, Debaryomyces hansenii, Dekkera anomala, Torulaspora delbrueckii, Pichia fermentans, Saccharomyces turicensis, Issatchenkia orientalis and Debaryomyces occidentalis.
Depending on what milk you use and on the quality of the Kefir grains, Kefir can contain anywhere from 1 billion to 10 billion CFU of bacterial/yeast probiotic per ml (cc). That is 5-50 billion CFU per TSP!
It is important to note that Kefir grains, unlike the name suggests, are very much alive, and as such must be taken care of.... As any alive being, it must be fed - but what does it eat? That is the beauty of it: LACTOSE!
In kefir, lactic acid bacteria are primarily responsible for the conversion of the lactose present in milk into lactic acid, which results in a pH decrease and milk preservation. Other kefir microbial constituents include lactose-fermenting yeasts that produce ethanol and CO2. Non-lactose fermenting yeast and acetic acid bacteria also participate in the process. After each fermentation "batch", the grains biomass increase in about 5-7%, which is why the bacterial/yeast composition varies according to the milk and process used for fermentation.
Unlike the original days, the methods used to produce Kefir at home today differ in several ways. Of course no one is leaving a goat skin bag full of milk by the door to be pounded at, for one!
Today Kefir is mostly made in glass jars, kept out of the sunlight to preserve the most amount of vitamins as possible. With that, comes one issue - The grains only feed what they can touch.
While some will instruct to pour the milk over the grain in a jar, loosely cover it with a cheese cloth or a plastic lid, put the jar in the cabinet and forget about it for the next 24 hours, I beg it differ. By gently mixing the Kefir every so often you are making sure the grains are evenly distributed, therefore more lactose will be consumed, achieving a more thoroughly fermentation process. This is specially important for cats, which are mostly lactose intolerant.
Another way of decreasing the amount of lactose is by doing what is called a "double fermentation" - you simply strain the Kefir after 24 hours into a clean jar, this time closing the lid, and place it into a dark cabinet for another 12-18 hours. The whey will completely separate from the curd, but a smooth texture can be achieved by using a blender.
Not only Kefir is virtually lactose free, but studies show that Kefir can actually actually improve lactose digestion and tolerance overtime.
The benefits are countless - not only Kefir is a powerful, natural, live probiotic, but it also:
In multiple studies, consumption of kefir or kefiran in an animal model has been associated with an increase in microbes thought of as beneficial, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, while simultaneously decreasing harmful microbial species such as Clostridium perfringens (1, 2), Reduces the severity of Giardia , inhibits the adherence of Salmonella typhimurium and E. coli, 1, 2, 3.
Kefir has shown a multitude of antibacterial and anti-fungal activities and has been tested in disk diffusion experiments against a wide range of pathogenic bacterial and fungal species, found to have antimicrobial activity equal to ampicillin, azithromycin, ceftriaxone, amoxicillin, and ketoconazole (Cevikbas et al., 1994; Yüksekdağ et al., 2004; Rodrigues et al., 2005; Huseini et al., 2012).
Kefir also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties, and was effective in postoperative treatments and in patients with gastrointestinal disorders.
Several studies have shown Kefir to have anti-carcinogenic effects 1, 2, 3, and can also act as an anti-oxidant.
But one of the major ways probiotic products such as kefir are able to produce health benefits is through the modulation of the gastrointestinal immune system.
Kefir has shown in studies anti-allergenic and anti-asthma properties, is capable of decreasing the levels of blood glucose, improving the symptoms of constipation, among many other health benefits.
It's important to note that the quality of traditional kefir is mainly influenced by the microorganisms present in kefir grains and kefir processing conditions. Although scientists and food companies attempted to develop a commercial “kefir-type” beverage produced by different cultures and mesophilic and thermophilic lactic acid bacteria, or even pure cultures isolated from kefir grains, their success when compared to traditional kefir is limited. It is suggested that this limitation is due to the microbial diversity present in kefir grains and their interactions, which can determine the probiotic and therapeutic properties of final product, as well as peculiarities conferred by certain minority groups present in different grains.
How do you acquire Kefir Grains?
Kefir grains are passed on from friends or family, or can also be bought online in sites such as Amazon.
When consuming Kefir, you are drinking history! Think about it - you can't just create those grains out of nowhere.... They have been passed around from one person to another, until that they got to you! And the beauty of it? Every time someone used a different milk, a different processing method, temperature, etc - the microbioma in the grain has changed!
You will notice that once you start making kefir on a regular basis, your grains will start multiplying exponentially - that's why they are passed around. What else can you do with them? You can eat them - they are just about the most potent probiotic you can get your hands on!
Feeding Kefir to your Pets:
We cannot stress enough the need to start SLOWLY. And we mean VERY slowly. Kefir is a very potent probiotic, with many substances your pet has never consumed.
Give a teaspoon to a tablespoon of kefir to small cats or small dogs a day.
Medium size dogs – 1 – 2 tbsp.
Large dogs – 2 – 3 tbsp.
***Cats specially: Start with 1/8 tsp, and increase every FEW days by doubling the amounts. Give your cat only 1/2 of the dosage for at least one to two weeks before increasing to 3/4 and so on.
If your cat has any reactions to Kefir, you can try two things:
1- Do a double fermentation - still reacted?
2- Change the milk for goat milk - still reacted?
Stop giving it.
I personally had a cat react to kefir, to both Regular Cow's milk and Raw goat milk. I am giving him a break and will try a very slow introduction later on.
My other cat seemed to react when I increased the kefir to 1/2 tsp per meal, however the problem was solved with a slower introduction, and a double fermentation. She is also ok with Goat Milk Kefir.
I have substituted my cats', mine and my dog's store bought probiotic for Kefir, and everyone is doing terrific!
Kefir has been the perfect addition to the kitties' EZComplete diet - how would it not be with so many wonderful properties?
Let’s face it - very few humans would intentionally choose to eat only dry cereal or only canned stew, even if they were designed to meet all of our daily nutritional requirements. No matter what flavorings were added, most of us would, at some point, crave an apple, a fresh juicy peach or pear, or a cold, crisp salad. Many of us badger ourselves to eat better, and we strive to eat more fresh foods - or at least just not eat as many convenience foods. And if we don’t? Our doctors encourage us to eat more fresh food.
We know the more fresh food we include in our diet, the healthier we are, the more energy we have, and the better we feel. We also know that even if we had a power bar for breakfast and fast food for lunch, if we have an apple as a snack, it is better than not eating that apple at all.
The same holds true for our cats. Some fresh meat is better than none!
Kibble and canned food for cats is convenient. That's what it is for. Our convenience. Just like bagged or canned foods for humans are called "convenience foods." And convenience foods are not the healthiest food choices for us. Just as convenience foods are not the healthiest choices for our cats. But we lead busy lives, and convenience foods make feeding our pets quick and easy; even though it's not what is best for them. And we know this. But when considering a healthier diet for our cats, most of us got – or get – overwhelmed. It is…
And some of us get to the point of almost hyperventilating by the time we’re wondering things like
What meat do I buy?
Where do I buy it?
How do I store it?
Do I need more freezer space?
How do I make sure I get it right?
Am I going to harm my cat?????????
But you know what? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. At least at first. You don’t have to commit to feeding your cat only homemade food right off the bat. ANY amount of fresh meat you add to your cat's diet is better than none. No need to fret at all. You can start really small. Baby steps! (Even just a slice of apple is better for you than none at all!)
If you’re not a vegetarian, and you make meat-based dishes for your family, you’ve already got everything you need to start. Next time you make a meal with meat, just slice off a little bit before you season it. That’s all there is to it to get started! It really IS that simple. You’re holding a tasty, healthy treat for your kitty.
When is plain meat is no longer a treat? When the amount you’re giving your cat approaches 10% of the total diet. When it's more than 2 or 3 bits of meat treat a day. Yes, at that point you need to balance that meat to make it a nutritionally complete food. You might want to consider Food Fur Life as a solution for that. EZcomplete fur Cats makes that part quick, easy, and worry-free, allowing you to prepare balanced and complete homemade raw meals in a few simple steps.
But please know that even if you’ve moved to balancing the meat, you still don’t have to commit to feeding it full time right away. One meal a week? Two? Three? In fact, we expect that no matter how much you’re able to incorporate, you’ll want to find ways to include more. You’ll see the difference. No matter how little or how much, fresh food will benefit your cat. At that point, feeding more homemade food won't seem so overwhelming. And with the ability to use the supplement with chunks or ground, and to make the food with more water for gravy – or with just a bit of water to make it stick to the meat – your complete and balanced nutritionally complete food made with EZcomplete is actually ideal for snack-style or intermittent feeding.
If you’ve been considering ways to improve your kitty’s diet, there’s no reason not to just jump right in. No logistics needed.
As Dr. Lisa Pierson’s Andy says on catinfo.org …
Don't panic! Just as with people, healthy cats can suffer an “upset stomach” from time-to-time. We may not know the cause, and it doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to the vet is in order. After all, we don’t always run to the doctor immediately if we or one of our children has a bout of diarrhea. The key is to observe your cat’s behavior both in and out of the litter box. This is at the heart of the distinction between heading to the vet now and taking steps at home to help your kitty get over this quickly.
Where do I start?
When do I take care of this at home?
How do I know if I need to take my cat to see the vet?
Put the pumpkin away. Don’t reach for the rice. Head to a health food store, vitamin shop, Whole Foods, pharmacy or chemist and purchase a probiotic called Saccharomyces boulardii, “S boulardii.” It’s OK – even better – if it has L acidophilus, Bifidobacterium, or other bacterial strains of probiotic in it. It is usually sold without other probiotics as 5 billion CFU or 250mg capsules. This is perfect. We’ll tell you how to use it.
Pick up some chicken breast (if kitty has a chicken sensitivity or allergy, buy turkey breast or pork loin instead). Check the sodium level to make sure the meat isn’t “enhanced” (soaked in a salt solution). If the meat has less than 100mg of sodium per 4oz serving, it is safe to feed your cat. (This is typically a problem only in the U.S.). We’ll explain how to use this after we discuss when it is safe to care for kitty at home and when you need to get your cat to the vet.
First, let’s talk about poop.
Acute Diarrhea vs. Chronic Diarrhea vs. Soft Stools
Acute diarrhea is the abrupt onset of frequent loose or watery stools, more often than normal. Think stomach cramps and lots of trips to the bathroom. It is the body’s method of removing something it wants to be rid of. The most common causes are medicines, a sudden food change, eating something they shouldn’t have, eating too much, a virus, parasites, vaccinations, and stress and/or anxiety. It comes on and lasts for one to three days on average. Acute diarrhea is usually a large bowel problem, and kitty goes to the litter box frequently but may not pass much stool at each visit. There may be fresh blood or mucous in the stool.
Chronic diarrhea is usually either a symptom of a medical condition, or due to an irritant to which kitty is constantly or frequently exposed. Poor quality food, grains, poor quality fats, too much fat, food allergies/sensitivities, untreated parasites, gut dysbiosis, inflammatory bowel disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, hyperthyroid, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), liver or kidney disease, etc. are often at the root of chronic diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea does not come-and-go (though if your cat has frequent recurring bouts of soft stool or watery stool, that may be an indication of an underlying problem). Chronic diarrhea is usually associated with the small intestine, where poop volume is normal to more-than-usual, and frequency is normal to slightly increased. There is not usually mucous in the poop.
Soft stool is not diarrhea. We may never know what caused it, but it is not at all unusual for a cat, on occasion, to have a bowel movement that isn’t normal. The primary difference is kitty is not in the box frequently. It’s just a “not normal” stool texture/consistency being passed when your cat goes to the bathroom. It often only lasts for one or two bowel movements, unless a food change has caused it.
Extremely watery stool with straining can be an indication of impacted feces or some type of obstruction in the bowel that only liquid can get around. The straining may cause vomiting. If the problem is due to impacted feces, the issue is actually constipation and the condition is called obstipation. Whatever the cause of the obstruction, a vet visit is required. X-rays are needed to rule obstruction (whether an ingested foreign object, a stuck hairball, or a growth in the intestines) in-or-out, and if the problem is impacted feces, kitty most likely needs an enema.
What about Mucus and Blood?
Seeing blood in or on your cat’s stool is distressing for anyone. But fresh blood and/or mucous due to irritation is not unusual. Mucus has a jelly-like quality and its function is to coat and protect our gastrointestinal tract from mouth to … the other end. Mucus coats the lining, providing lubrication and protection to the underlying tissues. An immune response can cause inflammation, and the body produces excess mucus to help protect and heal. Lining disruption due to inflammation can also, at times, lead to little burst vessels that cause some fresh blood to be present in or on stool. Slippery elm bark powder should be used when there is blood/and or mucus in the stool. See below for instructions.
Do I Need to Run to the Vet?
That is based on the age, prior health status, and behavior of your pet. Diarrhea in the young, the old, and those whose health is already compromised are at high risk for experiencing complications from diarrhea. Diarrhea can quickly cause dehydration for these cats, putting them in serious danger. Do not attempt to care for them at home without vet guidance.
If you have an adult cat otherwise in good health (or with known chronic illness under management), you may just need to take a few steps to help the diarrhea resolve in a few days or less.
In ANY cat, head to the vet if:
Your kitty’s eating and behavior patterns are very important. If your cat has diarrhea or soft stool, even if there is a little blood or mucus present, but your cat is otherwise behaving basically normally (though maybe her appetite is a little off), this isn’t an emergency and you can take steps to manage the problem at home. Lethargy or weakness should be considered an emergency.
The Importance of Proper Hydration
Dehydration is the condition diarrhea can cause that makes it potentially life threatening. To check for dehydration, gently pull up on the skin at the back of the neck between the shoulder blades. When released after “tenting” that loose skin a bit, it should pop back into place quickly. If the skin droops back into place slowly, kitty is dehydrated and you should get to the vet quickly, as severe dehydration can be life-threatening.
To prevent dehydration:
Managing the Diarrhea
First, remove ALL regular food and feed a bland diet. Do NOT feed your kitty her normal food. With the diarrhea, the food is just rushing through her not providing much in the way of nutrition anyway. The bland diet removes any possible dietary sources of upset, and is very easy for your cat to digest. Use the (unenhanced) chicken or turkey breast or pork loin (trimmed of excess fat) to make a bland, simple, low-fat food. Poach the meat in enough water to cook the meat and make a bit of broth. When cooked, either shred the meat, cut or chop it finely, or put it in a food processor or blender with the water used to poach it.
Do not include rice. Many vets recommend a “bland diet” of chicken and rice. Rice can ferment in the GI tract, create gas, and make the diarrhea worse.
No Pumpkin? No. While fiber can slow down transit time which helps kitty obtain nutrition and hydration in the face of diarrhea, slippery elm bark powder is a better choice, discussed below.
Feed this plain bland food to your pet in small amounts, 4 to 8 times a day, depending on how much they’ll eat at a time. You can feed this unbalanced, plain food for the few days it should take the diarrhea to subside/resolve.
In addition to the bland diet of just poached meat and broth, the next, most important – in fact, critical – aspect of addressing your kitty’s diarrhea is giving your kitty one of the most studied probiotics in the world, Saccharomyces boulardii.
The Probiotic – S boulardii
S boulardii, a yeast (in fact, a close cousin to brewer’s yeast with vastly different properties) is a time-tested and proven probiotic strain with many supporting studies including clinical trials indicating its efficacy in the treatment of intestinal infections, the maintenance of inflammatory bowel disease, and the resolution of diarrhea from just about any cause. It is indicated for use with “Travelers Diarrhea,” where e coli, shigella and salmonella account for about 80% of acute diarrhea. (Zanello 2009). It is safe for use in children – and pets. Research published in the past decade has explored and discovered its direct anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulatory activities as well. Please see Saccharomyces Boulardii: Scientific Studies in GI Disease.
The many studies of S boulardii indicate it is a very effective anti-diarrheal, and its use “decreases significantly the duration and frequency of diarrhea.” (Zanello 2009). It has been used in the treatment of antibiotic-resistant clostridium difficile infections in cats at U.C. Davis. Clearly the benefits of S boulardii in humans applies equally to cats. This should come as no surprise, as one of the lead researchers in the cat microbiome, Dr. Jan Suchodolski of Texas A&M, indicates “pet specific” probiotics are unnecessary – in fact, the use of researched strains is important as probiotics confer benefit across mammalian species.
How does it work? Very simply, S boulardii is not digested or metabolized: it is not absorbed in the gut. It does not act systemically. S boulardii acts locally in the lumen of the intestines. During its passage through the intestines, it mimics the physiological effects of the digestive flora, stimulating healthy immune response, reducing inflammation, and promoting restoration and growth of healthy normal gut flora. “During the intestinal transit, S boulardii interacts with resident microflora and intestinal mucosa. Moreover, experimental studies displayed that S boulardii induces a protection against enteric pathogens, modulates the host immune response, decreases inflammation and hydroelectrolytic secretions, inhibits bacterial toxins, and enhances trophic factors such as brush border membrane enzymes and nutrient transporters.” (Zanello 2009).
Thus S boulardii, unlike bacterial probiotics, does not colonize the gut. With dosages discussed in published studies, S boulardii takes about three days to achieve “steady-state” concentrations. When administration is stopped, the yeast is cleared from the colon in about 36 hours. Thus the use discussed here for “emergency treatment” of diarrhea is designed to literally flush the system with S boulardii, enabling it to get to work faster than with twice-a-day dosing.
“Emergency Stop Diarrhea” S boulardii Administration for Cats with Severe Diarrhea
Probiotics are typically sold in measures of “CFU.” CFU = colony forming units. S boulardii is the exception, it is often sold in mg. Note that 250mg of S boulardii is the same dose as 5 billion CFU.
Traditional dosing for therapeutic treatment of diarrhea in adult cats as provided by U.C. Davis is one-half of a 250mg capsule (5 billion CFU) given twice daily. Treatment for kittens is half of the adult dose. It can be given with food; it does not have to be. This is usually sufficient for loose stools of normal frequency. For the “emergency stop diarrhea” approach, we find more frequent dosing of smaller amounts of the probiotic, providing a higher total CFU the first day or two, resolves diarrhea much more quickly.
For adult cats (defined here as 9 months of age and older):
Give one-quarter of the 250mg / 5 billion CFU capsule every two hours or so. Many cats accept it when mixed into finely ground poached chicken breast / turkey breast / pork loin or meat-only baby food. (Beech Nut, Goya, and Gerber list “meat” and broth or gravy as ingredients. These are fine, they are referring to the water used to cook the meat, and they contain no spices). If your cat does not like the taste of the probiotic, you can syringe after mixing with water. If you are not experienced syringing liquids into your cat, you can use empty #3 gel capsules. Simply fill 10 to 20 of these by transferring the S boulardii from the larger capsules into the smaller ones. These are a size easy to pill your cat. Pill your cat with one #3 capsule filled with S boulardii every two hours or so. For pilling instructions, see How to Pill (Your Cat).
This frequent dosing method usually stops diarrhea within 24 – 48 hours, other than when diarrhea is caused by another disease that requires treatment (low B12, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, hyperthyroidism, as examples). This “loading dose” can be continued for longer if necessary, up to three to four days – but if you do not see substantial improvement in the diarrhea on day 3, it is best to follow-up with your veterinarian. It is NOT necessary to use this approach, it can be given at “therapeutic” doses as discussed above twice a day (and doubled if you see improvement in stool but diarrhea or soft cow patty stools have not resolved).
When the diarrhea has substantially resolved with use of the emergency stop treatment protocol, begin use of S. boulardii at the therapeutic dose level (2.5 billion CFU twice daily) and continue for at least one week. If stools soften, resume use of S. boulardii at the therapeutic dose as needed. Given its role in improving performance of bacterial probiotics and its anti-inflammatory properties, the use of S boulardii at maintenance levels (anywhere from 500 million CFU to a total of 2.5 billion CFU daily) can be continued indefinitely along with a bacterial probiotic. It confers many health and GI protective benefits, and we use it along with bacterial strains in all of our cats, all the time.
For kittens under nine months old, follow the same instructions as for adults, just use half the amount.
Please Note: If diarrhea becomes worse with S boulardii administration, stop use immediately. There can be several reasons for this reaction, however. We have seen cats do poorly with a brand of S boulardii that contains lactose, and switching to a brand like Jarrow without it, the product works quite well. This is most common. We have also seen what is most likely bacterial die-off with the S boulardii. Again, stop administration for 24 hours, and reintroduce it (while continuing to feed the bland diet) slowly. Do not follow the "emergency stop diarrhea" instructions. Use it just twice a day, but at 1/4 of the recommended amount the first day, and 1/2 the recommended amount the second day if kitty did not react to the lower dose. If you do not begin to see improvement even with this slower method of introduction, stop the S boulardii, best to see the vet.
Brands of S boulardii:
In the U.S. Jarrow is one of the most widely available. It is combined with MOS (mannanoligosaccharides) which improve its efficacy. Florastor is available in many large chain stores, but it contains lactose, which may exacerbate diarrhea in some cats due to the common lactose intolerance.
Walmart has a store brand very similar to Florastor, called Equate but without the lactose. Renew Life, carried by most Whole Foods stores, has two S boulardii products, one with larch arabinogalactan. Buy the one WITHOUT this ingredient. There are many brands of S boulardii available online: anything with just plan S boulardii in capsules of 3 billion CFU to 5 billion CFU will do.
You can click on the pictures to purchase the probiotics from amazon U.S.
In the U.K. and some other countries in Europe, Bioglan is widely available. This contains S boulardii and several bacterial probiotics. The capsules contain 2.5 billion CFU of S boulardii. If you are using Bioglan, be aware that you need to provide twice the dose if following instructions for giving 5 billion CFU capsules.
In Australia, Candex is the name of the S boulardii product widely available. This contains lactose.
Even if you need to see your vet, and your cat is put on antibiotics, S boulardii is a wonderful probiotic to administer to your cat as it also helps prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. As yeast, not a bacteria, antibiotics do not kill it, and it remains effective.
Slippery Elm Bark Powder (“SEB”)
While the S boulardii alone will likely resolve the diarrhea in your cat, if kitty is in discomfort, if there is some blood and/or mucus in the stool, or if kitty is nauseous, slippery elm should be given to your kitty along with the plain diet and S boulardii. The can be given concurrently. SEB both manages nausea and is very soothing and healing to the entire GI tract. This also details why we prefer using slippery elm bark powder over pumpkin when managing diarrhea in our cats.
As discussed at Dr. Jean Hofve’s LittleBigCat and in a 2011 review piece, Appalachian Plant Monographs: Ulmus rubra, slippery elm bark powder contains many healing properties:
In fact, slippery elm doesn’t just help restore normal intestinal function, it reduces inflammation, controls nausea, heals ulcers and gastric lesions, acts as a prebiotic to help manage gut dysbiosis, and it triggers stimulation of nerve endings in the GI tract, which promotes increased mucus secretion to protect and heal the underlying tissues. It lubricates, soothes, and heals, making kitty feel better.
Slippery elm bark powder directions: mix one-quarter teaspoon of loose powder with one-half teaspoon water. Stir until all the powder is mixed with the water. Let it sit for a minute or so. You will see it becomes thick and gelatinous. You can add this to kitty’s plain meat and broth if she’s eating when you are using it to treat diarrhea. If she’s a bit nauseous or inappetent, give it to her about half an hour before a meal, just swipe a little bit at a time into her mouth with your finger (allow her to swallow before swiping in a bit more to get it all (or most of it) into her). You can also add a bit more water as necessary in order to use a food syringe to gently assist-feed your kitty the slippery elm bark/water mixture. During a bout of diarrhea, you can use this mixture three times a day.
Please note, the gelatinous mixture can slow the absorption of any drugs your kitty may be taking. Please separate administration of slippery elm bark powder and any medications by two hours.
Most cats will experience the infrequent bout of diarrhea, often with no identified cause. This is not unusual, and can usually be treated at home. Because the antibiotic most often prescribed for general “diarrhea” in cats (Flagyl, generic metronidazole) is toxic to their systems, using the bland diet, Saccharomyces boulardii (and if you feel a fiber is needed, or if there is some blood and/or mucus present in the diarrhea or kitty is nauseous, then also including slippery elm bark powder) is a gentle, safe, non-toxic, yet generally very effective approach. Given its roles in managing GI inflammation and immune modulation, we encourage you to give S boulardii to your cat along with an L acidophilus- based bacterial probiotic to help maintain a healthy GI tract on a daily basis. At Food Fur Life, we consider daily probiotic administration an important aspect of cat health. And if you are not feeding your cat fresh, minimally processed food, please read up on the benefits, and consider transitioning your kitty to homemade food. Of course, making your own with EZcomplete fur Cats is … easy!
I don’t know about you, but our very first cat adopted us. She let us think we chose to feed her, that skinny, matted stray raiding the garbage. And it was a triumph when after months Booger allowed us to groom her. Of course we let her in when she decided our home was hers! ...Of course, we also let her back out when the thunderstorm passed. She insisted. Loudly.
Given the first records of the domestication of cats dates back to when humans were first settling down to farm, it’s easy to imagine both human and cat enjoying the benefits of proximity, isn’t it? They’re magical, entertaining creatures, cats are. And they protected the farmers’ grain stores from rodents. It was a win-win! We’ve been companions ever since. Cats traveled the globe with us. Literally, as it turns out.
It came as quite the surprise when a research team led by geneticist Carlos Driscoll of the National Cancer Institute and scientists at the University of Oxford in England decided to trace the origin of domestic cats – and found that every single one of the 979 cats included in the project from around the world were “virtually indistinguishable” from the African Wildcat at the genetic level. That’s right, that purring, kneading bundle of soft, silky fur, born under different circumstances, could be just as at home stalking prey on the great plains of South Africa.
Many assume the influence of living among humans would have had an impact on what cats have the ability to eat and use for sources of energy and nutrition, as appears to the be case for dogs. Nope. Not so. Not at all. Despite their proximity to humans for at least 10,000 years, cats retain their unique anatomic, physiologic, metabolic, and behavioral adaptations consistent with eating a strictly carnivorous diet. That is to say that cats, to this very day, remain obligate carnivores. By their genetic makeup, cats must eat the tissue of other animals in order to thrive.
Our kitties delight us with their playful antics well into old age. And as we’ve brought our cats indoors full-time, we find that to keep them happy and fit, we have to engage them in interactive play. What we are witnessing is their prey drive. That seemingly kitten-like, playful behavior we enjoy from birth to death in our furry friends is unique to cats: their prey drive is not dependent on hunger. They are so hard-wired to hunt and engage prey, they don’t need to be hungry to “play.”
In fact, cats are such highly specialized hunters it is absolutely critical to their long term health that we understand cats are a metabolically inflexible carnivore. What does that mean? Well let’s find out.
Since moving indoors full-time and becoming completely dependent on us for food, what has happened?
We need convenient food with our busy lifestyles. And most of us do not intuitively understand what cats need – they seem like little aliens to us. They certainly did to me. We ask our vets. And many of our vets tell us that for dental health, cats need kibble, that to mimic their "natural" pattern of eating many small meals (being hunters of small mammals), we should leave the food out. We didn't know any better, and we trusted our vet to know what’s best for Booger. Or we free-feed kibble to our kitties, because that’s what and how our parents fed our cats when we were growing up. So 80% of us go to the store and buy a bag of kibble, come home, and pour it into a dish we keep full for Boots, and Socks, and Tigger.
…except cats evolved eating moisture-rich food in the desert. Kibble has virtually no moisture – and cats do not have a thirst-drive that keeps them properly hydrated. This is a clash of momentous impact: The number one reason for a vet visit by cats is bladder or urinary tract problems – usually crystals and life-taking or life-threatening urinary tract blockages –problems that need not exist if we feed a moisture-rich, fresh meat-based diet. Cats, not designed to use all those carbs, grains, or starches in their food, not designed to derive needed protein from non-meat-based sources, experience kidney disease at a rate of seven times more than dogs.
And our kibble fed cats, chronically dehydrated, die most frequently from kidney disease, the number one cause of death in cats over the age of five.
Yet in the face of this, many of our vets STILL tell us our cats need to eat some kibble for dental health. But 85% of cats over the age of three years have dental disease. What the…. ????? How can they not notice this dichotomy?
So we put down that bowl of kibble for kitty to “graze.” Except cats aren’t herbivores. Cats shouldn’t graze. Allowing cats to graze has resulted in a problem of “epidemic proportions." 58% of our cats are either overweight or obese – an increase of 90% over the past five years.
So now we have fat cats. And that means that 67% of our cats have arthritis.
And being fat increases the risk of diabetes by 300% - 500% - so it’s shouldn’t be surprising that the incidence of diabetes in our cats has DOUBLED in the past five years.
In fact, THREE of the top 10 reasons for vet visits by cats in the past several years are related to digestion. Our cats suffer chronic vomiting, diarrhea, and now full-blown Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Are you crying yet? At Food Fur Life, we are. What are we doing to our cats? How has this happened?
Pet food marketing and lack of industry regulation or real oversight. As outlined above, the problems seem as if they are related to only kibble. But no, the problems are not limited to just kibble. Moisture-depleted, ultra-processed crunchy food made from rendered ingredients is certainly more problematic than canned or pouched cat food. Species-inappropriate ingredients are most certainly a culprit: forcing our cats to eat what nature didn't build them to use as a source of nutrition or energy clearly has a hand in our cats' health problems. But the issues extend far beyond processing and non-meat-based ingredients in our cats' food. That said, issues with ingredient quality (despite the marketing that would have us believe otherwise even in expensive foods) and the use of additives and diseased animals (even in canned food) with most canned and kibble commercial cat foods are beyond the scope of this post. The problems are staggering and seem almost unbelievable when we first start learning about them. Ann Martin describes them in her book, Foods Pets Die For: Shocking Facts about Pet Food. Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, former Director of Technical Affairs at Hill’s Pet Nutrition, co-authored the book Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Pet Food. And Carolina and I got our first introduction to the problems in the pet food industry with a paper written by a Harvard Law student, “Deconstructing the Regulatory Façade: Why Confused Consumers Feed their Pets Ring Dings and Krispy Kremes.”
Bottom line? The health problems sooooo many of our pets are experiencing are DIRECTLY related to the diet we feed them. And we can change that.
Fresh Food for Our Cats: It’s Just Common Sense!
We have been told that feeding a fresh meat-based diet to our cats is dangerous. Of course, many veterinarians do support the idea of feeding our cats a species-appropriate, fresh meat-based diet – in theory. Seeing the impact of improperly made homemade diets, many vets are fearful of recommending it, and understandably so. But with the advent of commercially available balanced raw foods for cats, and with a supplement like EZcomplete fur Cats that makes it so easy to provide complete and balanced homemade food – what’s stopping us?
Think of a fresh food diet for our cats like this. As the title to this section says, it just takes a bit of common sense.
How old is your cat? Three years? Five? Seven? Nine? Eleven?
At three years old, your cat is the equivalent of 28 human years.
At five, your kitty is the equivalent of 36;
At seven, your cat is the equivalent of 44;
At nine, that is an equivalent of 52;
At 11, your kitty is the equivalent of 60 human years.
Even if you don’t eat the healthiest diet, can you imagine never – never, ever – having eaten an apple? An orange? A salad? for 28 years or 36 years or 44 years or 52 years - or for 60 years?
That's what we are doing to our cats by never, ever feeding them any fresh meat (which is not a balanced diet) EVER. And I'm not talking about the slice of deli ham that Bella stole, or the bit of barbequed steak that dad slipped to Muffin. I mean fresh, raw meat. A slice of chicken breast. A bite of chicken liver. Yeah - it takes more work than that to make a balanced diet. But don't you feed your kitty treats? We don't worry those are going to cause their diet to become unbalanced. There's no reason not to slice off a bite of chicken breast before you season it and bake it, the next time you're cooking chicken for dinner, and offer that to Smokey as a treat instead that stuff in a bag or bottle.
Got another one for you. Pretend you’re an astronaut, and have been on the space station for nine months. All you’ve eaten is food squished out of a packet. When you land, what are you craving? Dry cereal? Canned stew? Probably not.
Our doctors, our government tell us that we need to eat fresh food. We need 2-4 servings of fresh fruit per day. We are advised to eat 3-5 servings of fresh vegetables each day. And yet we expect our cats, designed to derive ALL of their needed nutrition from ONLY small animals, to thrive on the most highly processed food there is, full of carbohydrates. And even if “real meat” is advertised as the number one ingredient in that food, the moisture was sucked out of it before it gets to your cat. Even many canned foods highlight their inclusion of "healthy" peas and carrots, cranberries or blueberries, or that they include corn gluten meal to reduce their urine pH. Ummmm... did we forget? Cats aren’t out there eating the grain stores of farmers. They eat the mice that eat the grain. Cats aren’t out there raiding the vegetable garden. They eat the rabbits that raid our gardens. Cats aren't out there snacking on blueberries. They eat the birds that eat the berries.
Cats aren’t out there roasting their mice, either. In fact, a 2008 review of research on pancreatitis in cats by Texas A&M noted a study where post-mortem biopsy of 115 cats (both sick and healthy cats) discovered findings consistent with chronic pancreatitis in 67% of the cats – including 45% of “apparently healthy” cats. Please read that again. Is your mind blown? If not, read it one more time, please.
Dr. Jean Hofve, in her article on the importance of enzymes, published in IVC Journal, shares why that may be. Cooking food kills the naturally occurring enzymes that aid digestion. Many of our cats may literally be suffering from eating cooked, highly processed foods, as pancreatitis, in 2015, made the Top 10 list of health insurance claims.
What Happens When We Feed Our Cats A Balanced Raw Food Diet?
So what happens when we feed our cats a diet modeled on the food they are meant to eat? When we employ a little common sense, and realize that if we thrive on fresh, whole foods, our cats will also thrive on their equivalent – a fresh, properly balanced, animal tissue-based diet?
Raw feeders also report less shedding, behavior changes (aren’t you less grumpy when you eat fresh foods vs when you’ve been on a carb or sugar binge?), more energy (yes, you will have to play with your cats more!), a cessation of itching and overgrooming – and even improvements in asthma.
Mother Nature Knows What Cats Need
WHY do we think we need to “improve” upon the diet cats are born to eat? WHY do we need studies that show us cats *can* eat grains, starches, pulses, and legumes? That cats *can* eat plant-based proteins or derive some energy from carbs SHOULD be moot. If we put diesel oil into our gas-powered cars, should we expect them to run properly?
No, feeding a balanced raw diet doesn’t cure everything. But when we get over our fears and feed our cats a balanced diet featuring food their bodies NEED, we rapidly see the changes. Yes, rapidly. Often it seems like magic. Of course, the longer the problem has occurred, the more time it can take to resolve. Sometimes there is significant damage. Fortunately, for many cats like Carolina's Bugsy, all they need is raw food. Bugsy had 14 months of diarrhea (despite following veterinary advice and protocols), and it immediately cleared up after eating his first meal of 100% raw food. That journey is recorded here.
Problems we took for granted as being “that’s just my cat” go away. Yes, it is a lifestyle change. To continue to reap the benefits for the furry members of our family, we need to continue to feed them like the cats they are. And we SEE the difference between our cats just surviving – and our cats truly thriving.
Of course, at Food Fur Life, we help make feeding your cat a complete & balanced, healthy, fresh, raw meat-based diet quick, easy and convenient. Buy meat. Add supplement and water. Feed Cat. It really couldn't be easier than with EZcomplete fur Cats.
...and these are happy tears. No more pancreatitis!
Why are our cats in so much gastric distress?
According to VPI Insurance, digestive issues in cats (both vomiting and diarrhea) are consistently ranked as one of the top reasons for a vet visit. Inflammatory Bowel Disease joined them on the list of top 10 reasons for a vet visit each the past two years. This makes three of the top 10 reasons for vet visits related to GI problems in our cats.
According to Dr. Gary Norsworthy, who led a study of chronic vomiting in cats, it is so frequent (present in 73% of cats with small bowel disease), many veterinarians and cat owners simply write-it off to
What the heck is going on?
When we have a young child, we would never accept from a doctor that chronic vomiting is because our child is "just a puker." We would never accept that chronic diarrhea is "just how some kids are."
What is Feline IBD?
Let’s start with what Feline IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) is. Like that in humans, IBD is a group of diseases involving mild- to severe gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation, and it can lead to lymphoma. This inflammation has been definitively linked to gut dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance in the GI tract). Technically an autoimmune disease, IBD was thought to have a genetic component, but recent research has discovered that the process that triggers IBD is actually transmissible.
GI motility problems (vomiting, diarrhea, constipation) can both cause and be exacerbated by a bacterial imbalance. In IBD, that imbalance has caused inflammation that often impacts nutrient absorption (which is why seeming unexplained weight loss can occur, and why B12 and folate blood serum levels are part of the diagnostic process). In IBD, the symptoms that present are related to where in the GI tract the inflammation is located. Symptoms can come and go, often in cycles of frequent vomiting or a period of diarrhea – which is why the symptoms so often go improperly diagnosed.
Treatment and Management of IBD: Traditional IBD Management Does Not Address the Underlying Cause
The typical approach is for vets to have pet parents use “prescription” diets for sensitive stomachs / high fiber diets for hairballs / hydrolyzed “hypoallergenic” diets, or “limited ingredient” diets and to prescribe goop for hairballs, antacids for stomach upset, and/or anti-emetics (metoclopramide [Reglan], maropitant [Cerenia], ondansetron [Zofran]) to stop the vomiting and nausea; steroids to control inflammation; and Flagyl (metronadizole) to control diarrhea. As Dr. Norsworthy says, “often there is improvement in clinical signs, but rarely are they completely relieved. In addition, the improvement often diminishes over time.”
Unfortunately, this traditional treatment of Feline IBD does not address the underlying cause, it treats the symptoms. Not surprisingly, it has been shown that diet is directly related to the gut microbiome in humans: this holds true for cats, too. Healing of the GI tract can only begin by recognizing our cats as the obligate carnivores they are. Feeding them species-appropriate food that supports their proper intestinal pH and bacterial populations is imperative to long term healing.
Diet is the Foundation of Health: this is critical for IBD in cats
While it is incorrect to say that a raw diet “cures” Feline IBD, feeding cats the high quality, human grade, fresh meat-and-organ based diet their digestive systems are designed to metabolize enables those systems to return to physiological balance - and when combined with appropriate human grade probiotics to restore healthy intestinal bacteria that has been damaged by many factors apart from diet (including antibiotics, dewormers, vaccinations, stress, etc.) many cats experience healing of the inflammation caused or aggravated by commercial (including "prescription") diets and the alteration in their microbiome.
The evidence is only anecdotal at this point, but far too many cats transitioned to a raw diet see their symptoms of IBD (whether vomiting or diarrhea) clear up almost overnight. Notably, the All Feline Hospital says they “started trying commercial raw food diets with amazing results” (in cats with IBD). They further state
“We have had cats with confirmed by biopsy IBD that had severe IBD and significant symptoms that had to be on very high doses of steroids just to have some quality of life. Many of these cats had a complete reversal of signs and symptoms by going to an exclusively raw food diet, and were able to either come off of all medications, or at the very least, drastically reduce their medications.” (Bold, our emphasis)
Food processing, the use of thickeners, high temperatures, species-inappropriate foods containing even medium amounts of carbs and/or starches), dry vs wet foods vs raw, protein content – all of these things impact feline gut microflora and thus motility and inflammation in our cats. This means that to best help our kitties heal, we need to feed them the food they were meant to eat: a diet based on fresh, raw, high protein food. (Raw is preferable to cooked, but cook it if you are not comfortable feeding raw: fresh, unprocessed, truly human grade meat and organs – a food with no unnecessary additives – is still better than highly processed food, no matter the perception of quality).
Of course, with EZcomplete fur Cats, it is – well – really easy to feed fresh homemade food – and IBD cats are thriving on it.
For more information on the treatment and management of IBD in cats, please visit the website Raw Feeding for IBD Cats.
This blog post has been added to the growing collection of educational articles provided by Food Fur Life, LLC Raw Feeding and IBD in Cats
“Is the pet food you are serving up killing your four-legged friend?” Asks the headline of an article published in the UK’s Daily Mail in 2010. As co-founders of the Raw Feeding for IBD Cats group on Facebook, we (Carolina Lima and Laurie Goldstein) ask that question a lot. Commercial processed food is failing our furry family members. The incidence of food related illness in our pets is rising, yet many of our vets continue to recommend food with grains and legumes to our carnivores, and "prescribe" science-based foods, believing that whole, fresh foods are harmful to our pets. How can this be?
The fact of the matter is we fed our cats commercial kibble and canned foods. My husband and I (this is Laurie writing) were rescued by our first cat in 2001. We free-fed kibble on the advice of one of our vets. It was explained to us that cats hunt small prey, so their natural style of eating is many small meals a day, and kibble enabled that. It never occurred to us to ask if the type of food they’re fed should also mimic the small prey they naturally eat. This was a veterinarian, surely this person understood what cats need to thrive and promote optimum health.
It wasn’t until we rescued a cat, Chumley, or until Carolina’s Bugsy developed inflammatory bowel disease, that the nutritional knowledge of our veterinarians was called into question. Both cats had intractable diarrhea that led to this medicine and that medicine, and numerous “prescription” diets. Yes, I use quotes around the word prescription, because it is simply – for Hills – part of a trademarked name. Royal Canin and Purina call their “prescription” foods “Veterinary Diets.” None of these foods are actually prescription items that carry a Federal Legend on the bag that requires a veterinary prescription to fill. Make no mistake: "Prescription" foods and "Veterinary Diets" are a form of marketing, and an insidious one that consumers need to question.
Imagine walking into your pediatrician’s office, and the walls are lined with baby formula, cereal, and cans of food marketed to your children. You shop for food for your children at the doctor's office, not the supermarket. You do this because your doctor suggested you feed your child that brand of cereal, that brand of stew. And when your child gets sick, the doctor has a “prescription” food for that ailment. Now imagine this doctor’s nutrition training included just two or three courses in his eight years of university; those courses were taught by the same company whose food he sells in his office; the textbook used to teach those courses was written by that same food company. Imagine that doctor tells you that there is every reason to trust the science, because the food companies spend millions on research - and the nutrition children need is different than that of adults, it's too complicated to get it right if you do it yourself at home, and fresh food is dangerous as it can carry bacteria and infectious agents. Should you believe him? Do you think it is best to feed your child only processed food (made by the company that taught him what the best food to feed is) – forever?
In this scenario, would you believe that this for-profit food company is spending their research dollars with the sole goal of improving the health and well-being of your child? They have no interest in you feeding your child on your own – where’s the money in that? Why would they research what is best for your child? Isn’t it possible that actually conflicts with their goal of corporate profits? Isn’t it likely much of that research goes into how to improve their profit margins?
That scenario is the pet food reality.
Pet food companies team up with university veterinarian programs (“Hill’s Gives $5 Million to Ontario Vet College For Educational Center” April 2009). Pet food companies
In fact, the textbook used in nearly every pet nutrition course in every veterinary school, Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, is written by the Mark Morris Institute. What is the Mark Morris Institute? Mark Morris founded Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and his son endowed the Institute in his father’s honor, in keeping with the company’s marketing strategy of using the vets to market their food. The Mark Morris Institute also pays a dozen veterinarians, whom they send, free of charge, to veterinary schools to teach pet nutrition.
As discussed by Vince Field, Esq. in The Pet Food Recall and Food Safety (2008), "the commercial pet food industry’s connection to the veterinary profession has resulted in the creation of a system in which veterinarians are not only ill suited to counsel their clients on pet nutrition, but have a financial stake in their clients’ market decisions as well. One of the key questions to be examined here is the ethical implications of a system in which pet food companies are used to educate veterinarians about pet nutrition while at the same time providing veterinarians with exclusive rights to the sale of their pet food products (which may account for up to 40% of the profit of veterinary clinics)."
So as the article in the UK Daily Mail states, “While cat and dog food sales have soared by 85 per cent over the past decade, research by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association shows that one in three household pets is now overweight - and chronic conditions in our pets, such as diabetes, kidney and liver disease, heart disease and dental problems (all related to diet) are on the increase.” VPI Pet Insurance indicates that food-related allergies, ear (yeast) infections, and diarrhea or vomiting consistently top the list of reasons for a vet visit.
The pet food manufacturers might tout their science and their research. They may proclaim the "proven" benefits of their products. But it becomes increasingly difficult to deny the relationship between pet food company “nutritional training,” veterinary organization and conference funding, veterinarians profiting from the sale of that very same pet food, and deteriorating pet health with food-related chronic diseases.