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Archive for the ‘Feline nutrition and health’ Category

Is your tabby too tubby? Is your cat extra-fluffy and not in a good way?

Omaha in 2002 - over 20 pounds

Omaha in 2002 - over 20 pounds

Well, if you haven’t already, start by eliminating ALL DRY FOOD. ALL OF IT. Attempting to get a cat to lose weight on dry food is a losing battle. I know, I tried it for over a year with my cat Omaha. We tried cutting portions again and again until he got only 1/8 cup dry food daily and lay by the bowl crying – and still not losing weight. “Lite” (lower calorie) dry foods DO NOT WORK, they are too high in carbohydrates. Low-carb grain-free high-protein dry foods DO NOT WORK, they are too high in calories. Your cat needs to eat only WET food – not only to achieve an ideal weight, but to avoid a lot of other serious health issues (like diabetes, urinary tract disease, etc.)

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A couple questions were posed recently regarding diets for dogs versus cats.

Dogs are opportunistic carnivores, or omnivores, like human beings. If you can prepare healthy well-balanced meals for your human family, you can do so for your dog. Dogs might not only enjoy a homemade casserole, in fact they’d probably enjoy a side salad of greens and cottage cheese!

Cats, on the other hand, are obligate (true or strict) carnivores. Cats have been domesticated for significantly less time than dogs and even after choosing to live in proximity to humans, they retained their independent nature, and survived on rodents they hunted rather than table scraps.

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Dental dilemmas

Another question I see posted frequently is whether the caregiver should get a dental for their cat that is older and/or has health concerns.  My answer is generally a resounding YES.

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So, your cat is diabetic and you’re wondering which insulin you should be using to get those nasty blood sugar levels down (hopefully permanently so your cat can be managed on diet alone!)

My personal preference is PZI (protamine zinc insulin).  It’s duration is a little over 12 hours, which works well for a twice-daily dosing schedule.  (We WANT some overlap between doses, so we’re not dealing with very high blood sugar levels caused by no insulin being in effect.)   Once my supply of PZI-Vet by Idexx is exhausted, I’ll use a compounded PZI by BCP or Veterinary Pharmacies of America (VPA).  I’ve used BCP-PZI before with success – I noticed no difference between it and the PZI-Vet (except the lower cost).  As I’ve noted in the past, PZI-Vet by Idexx has been discontinued but that does NOT mean PZI is not available!  Compounded PZI is still available for use.

Louie says PZI works for me!

Louie says "PZI works for me!"

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This post has actually been a work-in-progress for some time, but a phone call today pushed me to try and finish it. That phone call took place with the internal medicine specialist treating Studley. The specialist has diagnosed Studley with pancreatitis and IBD, based on an ultrasound performed Tuesday. Today he got back the results of Studley’s GI lab, and expressed some confusion that while he KNOWS Studley has IBD (based on the ultrasound results), his GI lab results (cobalamin and folate) were normal.

I do NOT generally openly disagree with most vets (to their face). I’ll express my opinions to my regular vet, who acts very open to my ideas and thoughts – but I’ve learned not to waste my time and breath on many vets who really don’t care what I think about anything. They just want me to do what I’m told. However, today for whatever reason I felt the need to tell this specialist my suspicions on why Studley’s results were normal. I told him I had worked with many cats with IBD, adopted and fostered, and I fed all my cats an “IBD friendly” diet. This diet had eliminated symptoms and normalized GI lab results for the other cats I’d worked with – and my thinking was, if Studley was fed this “IBD diet”, and it’s treated these other cats with IBD, it made sense to me that it’d also treated Studley, without my knowing he even had IBD.

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Another of the “frequently asked questions” I get is *which* canned food to feed. Well, in general the answer is simple – look for one with little-to-no grains, fruits, or vegetables. You want something as close to “mouse in a can” as possible. Poultry and/or rabbit is best – as these are closest to a cat’s natural prey. (Cats don’t naturally hunt, kill, and eat cows, sheep, fish, or swine – they do consume birds and rodents.)

Generally, there are compromises to be made.  Canned foods that contain higher-quality ingredients generally also contain higher amounts of vegetables and fruit, and are also generally higher in fat than the canned foods that use more byproducts and “meat” of undefined origin.  Personally, I don’t object too strongly to byproducts and lower-grade meat.  Cats would consume the entire carcass of their prey – they wouldn’t spit out the kidney, for example.  However, I do want SOME muscle meat in their food, and for some cats (particularly some with severe IBD), “meat” of undefined origin isn’t an option.  “Meat”, when the source isn’t identified, is most often beef or pork – and some cats don’t tolerate beef or pork.

Some people want a more specific list of brands and flavors. I’m always reluctant to do that, as brands and flavors change in ingredients and availability and I’d rather people learn to look at labels and exercise judgement. However, here’s a list of my current “favorites”. These are the canned foods I almost always have at my house, for my own adopted cats and fosters:

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Once again life has gotten in the way of my writing. Seems I’ve been doing a LOT of writing about Studley lately – and apparently Studley likes having the spotlight shown upon him as yet again he’s “inspired” a post.

It started on Saturday, pretty innocuously.  Studley didn’t eat breakfast.  At the time, I thought little of it.  I’d walked toward him to give him his pill, and he ran away.  When he didn’t come back and eat, I figured he was just nervous about pilling, and it wouldn’t hurt him to skip a meal.  (I did get him later, napping, for the medication.)

However, he seemed fairly lethargic throughout the day.  Around 4:00 p.m. he vomited.  By evening, he wasn’t interested in dinner and was drinking a lot of water (highly unusual, especially for a cat on an all-wet diet).  In fact, at one point, he just lay by the water dish with his head over it – and that was enough to convince me a visit to the emergency vet was warranted.
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