This post will be long and have a little of the TMI-factor (i.e., too much information). So if you can’t handle talk of animal potty behavior…go ahead and skip this post.
Most of you who know anything about us know that we have some high maintenance cats. Super high maintenance. Annoyingly high maintenance.
There’s a TV commercial running right now that says something like “Just like my dad always said, there’s no such thing as a free puppy.”…that sentiment fits our pets exactly!
It started with Hobbes, our oldest cat. He may be pretty, but man did he cause us a lot of heartache! He was getting dirty pants quite frequently, and we ran all sorts of expensive tests to try and figure out what was wrong with him. Final diagnosis = irritable bowel syndrome (IBD) and feline urological syndrome (FLUTD/FUS). Basically, we felt like the vets that we were going to at the time couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong with Hobbes so they ruled serious diseases out and gave him a generic diagnosis. Kind of like having unexplained hair loss, you know?
So they put him on a prescription diet dry food and prescribed a daily steroid. For the rest of his life. We didn’t like the idea of our cat being on steroids for the rest of his life, so we weaned him off of them over the course of about a year and were successful in this despite our vet’s warnings.
Then came Cooper, and he started out being a super easy cat. He got dirty pants occasionally, but he was much easier to clean since his “pants” didn’t have such long fur. But then he started getting dirty pants every day. We switched him to a prescription diet and the dirty pants got worse. Not only was he having runny stool, but there was a fair amount of blood in it also. We could tell that he was in pain, but we were following all of the advice that our vets were giving us so we were feeling a bit lost.
Right around this time, our dog trainer started talking to us about reading the labels of your pet foods. We suddenly felt like our eyes were open for the first time! We’d always just listened to what our vet recommended instead of doing the research and making ourselves knowledgeable, and we were so shocked to see that some of the foods we’d been feeding our pets – prescription foods and non-prescription foods alike – foods that had been highly recommended to us from our very expensive vet, contained a ton of fillers and ingredients that added nothing healthful into their diets.
So we brought it up with the vet. We asked, could the food we are feeding Hobbes and Cooper be contributing to their health problems? Oh no, they said, food is RARELY the cause of feline health problems and we don’t want to cause further problems by changing their diets. Trust us, they said.
Only we didn’t trust them. It had been 3+ years of medical problems not getting fixed and we were done with the trusting. So we switched vets. Went to a more naturalistic vet in a more liberal/new age/hippy dippy part of town, you know. They found some abnormal levels in Cooper’s blood work, but even they couldn’t come up with an acceptable solution for us (they also concluded that Cooper had IBD and they wanted to put him on a daily steroid for the rest of his life).
And then the pet food recall started happening, so I checked the websites for all the foods that the three animals have ever eaten at least once a week. Sure enough, Cooper’s Natural Balance green pea & venison dry food was recalled. And then I found this site: http://catnutrition.org/home.html and did some reading up. I was mortified and pretty ticked off at the same time. I just couldn’t believe that I had blind faith that my vet would know enough about nutrition to keep my pets safe! I couldn’t believe that we asked over and over again if their diet was making them sick, and over and over again we were told that they were eating the best possible food given their medical problems. But as it turns out, they weren’t eating the best possible food. That for a cat, dry food is never the best possible food because it leads to chronic dehydration (in all fairness to our new vet, she did recommend switching to a wet food).
So we did something that we’d been thinking of doing for quite a while. Something that our dog trainer recommended. But more importantly, something that we thoroughly researched ourselves. We switched all three animals to a raw food diet. Yep, they eat raw food. Not just raw food, but locally raised certified organic beef, chicken and turkey that gets delivered to our doorstep every other week. From this company: http://darwinspet.com/.
And you know what? It was 100% the right decision for us. Cooper is back to good health and is using the litter box every time. He’s stopped yowling when he goes potty, and there isn’t any blood or dirty pants. He’s even become more affectionate with us! And Hobbes and Henry love the food, too. And the customer service at Darwin’s is phenomenal. Like blow me away good, and it takes a lot to blow me away! Sure, it’s more expensive than the dry food we were feeding them before, but when you factor in the thousands of dollars that we’ve spent over the years trying unsuccessfully to keep our cats in good health…it’s totally worth it. And sure, it’s still a bit more work since we have to make sure we have enough food thawed for the animals and we have to measure out the correct amounts of food to make sure they are eating 2-3% of their body weight every day. But for healthy and happy animals, that’s a small price to pay. Besides, we’ve got it down to a science now and it takes almost no time out of our normal schedule.
And you know what? We had Cooper and Hobbes tested this week to see if they still had the same symptoms that they had before (blood, crystals, etc). Each one got a clean bill of health! And neither of them are on prescription food or any medications! Not so annoyingly high maintenance anymore, after all.
We feel like we are in control now, and that’s my favorite place to be. :)