From Surviving to Thriving – A Tale of Raw Food
By Erica DeWaard
August 12, 2011
Panther is my cat who was most changed by feeding a raw diet. When she was eating commercial food, for the first year of her life, her black fur was dull, coarse, and full of dandruff. Nothing I fed her made a difference – what she was allergic to I still don’t know. But when she was a year old I switched her, as well as the rest of the farm cats, to a raw diet. I noticed the difference in Panther immediately. The biggest difference was that within just a few days her coat wasn’t full of dandruff anymore. A few months later and her once dull fur looked like it was velvet. I am assuming it feels like velvet as well but she is a former feral and I only very rarely get the chance to touch her. Raw feeding saved her life. I know that if I hadn’t started raw feeding when I did I would have lost Panther and she never would have seen her 2nd birthday. The difference that raw feeding has made in her alone is enough to make me a raw feeder for life.
Clover had been fed all dry food – mainly Purina – her entire life. I rescued her when she was about four years old. She was underweight, you could feel her backbone and ribs no matter how much quality food I tried to feed her. Getting her to eat wet food was a challenge in itself. She hated wet food, detested it. She’d eat dry food just fine but would not touch wet food. She is a very stubborn cat but even more so when it came to getting her to eat something that would be better for her. It got to the point that I was syringe feeding her a three ounce can of wet food a day and I let her eat a tiny portion of dry on her own. After a few weeks of my syringe feeding her wet food she decided that the stuff wasn’t so bad after all! In fact it tasted pretty good. Once she was happily eating wet food (and on her own!) I took away her dry. But she still wasn’t gaining weight even with getting twice the amount of wet food as all the other cats. By that time I had everyone eating a raw diet and wanted her to switch over as well. The problem was that she would not touch, look at, or sniff the raw food. I tried all different kinds of raw meat – chicken, beef, pork, turkey, beef heart, liver, kidney, lamb, even rabbit. But Miss Picky Pants Clover wouldn’t eat any of it; she just wanted her wet food. I don’t know how much later it was – maybe a month – but I put a ¼ of a lamb heart on her dish as well as some wet food. She devoured the lamb heart! After that day she was very happy to eat any type of raw meat I gave her! And you know what? She started to gain weight. Today she is a very muscular cat and at the perfect weight.
Amiga was a very tiny adult cat – weighing in at about 4 lbs. She also had a constant cold which was due to her feline herpes. She looked fine but was just small. High quality/grain free dry food didn’t help her gain weight and neither did grain free (but lower quality) wet food. She wasn’t underweight for her size however so I figured she was already done growing. Not so! As soon as began feeding them all a raw diet she started to grow. Who has ever heard of a DSH cat growing when they were a bit over a year old? Well, I hadn’t. A year later and she is still a small looking cat but in reality she has doubled her weight and size. Raw feeding also helped boost her immune system and she no longer shows any signs of having a herpes affection.
Jack and Jill are brother and sister. They both have feline herpes that was badly affecting their eyes a year ago. For Jack it affected just one of his eyes but for Jill it was both of them. When they were fixed at a year old, the vet said that it may be best to remove their eyes as there was no hope for them. I knew that their eyes looked horrible – puffy, red and sometimes swollen to the point they couldn’t close them. I tried giving them lysine and that didn’t help much. At that point they were eating grain free dry and wet food. But as soon as I fed them a raw diet their eyes began to look normal, or at least as normal as they would ever get. Both of them can now see out of their eyes which were once so affected by herpes that they couldn’t see anything. If only the vet that fixed them could see them now! I don’t know who the vet was that fixed Jack and Jill as they were done at a place that will do feral/barn cats for free. But the difference that raw feeding has made in both of these cats lives is simply amazing.
Rajah is a fifteen year old Bengal Mix. I adopted him from a shelter in March 2010 after he was left there by his former owner. Basically, I was Rajah’s last chance. Due to his age and condition (very underweight) he would otherwise have been put down. I’m not sure exactly what he weighed when I adopted him but it was around 7.5 lbs. For a while I fed him all wet food then worked up to having him eat frankenprey (balanced chunks of meat/bones/organs). He would have been willing to eat all raw right off the bat but he had no jaw strength. Fifteen years of eating dry and wet food, neither of which are helpful for a cats teeth, had taken its toll. His teeth were also in horrible shape; covered in plaque and just plain horrible looking.
It took a few months of Rajah building up his jaw strength for him to be able to eat 100% raw. I’ve had him now for six months and he barely resembles the cat who I adopted in March. Before he was eating a raw diet he had fleas, and thus flea dirt, all over him. His coat was in poor condition and his teeth even worse. In March he looked and acted his age with having very little energy. What does he look like today? Rajah is now 15 ½ but doesn’t look or act like it! He is flea free (without any medication). When he walks you can see his muscles and his fur and coat shines. Rajah is now able to go out on mile long walks with me everyday with him outrunning me most of the time! His teeth – once horribly covered in plaque – are now nearly white. He has almost doubled his weight as well; he really doesn’t look like the same cat as he was six months ago. The only thing I did to get him this way? Switching him to a raw diet!
Mikey is a 7 year old DSH cat. His entire life he has had problems with hairballs as well as keeping his food down. Up until the age of 5 he had been eating all dry food – mostly Science Diet, the Sensitive Stomach formula. Once I learned that Science Diet is not a good food, especially for the price of it, I switched him to foods like EVO and Wellness CORE. The problem was that it was still dry food. Luckily for him I learned a few months later that dry food, no matter what brand, is not the best for cats. But getting him to eat wet food was a real challenge as he would only eat Fancy Feast Gourmet Chicken and nothing else.
It took about a year to convince him that all wet food is edible and actually good! In September 2010 I was able to switch him over to a raw diet. While Mikey was not overweight, after a week of eating all wet food he started to lose weight, which was fat. Now he’s beginning to gain weight back as muscle. Already his plaque covered teeth are starting to look white and his fur is softer than it was before. But the best thing of all? He doesn’t have hairballs anymore. It took less than a week of eating a raw diet to get rid of them after him being plagued with hairball problems his entire life! So not only does raw feeding help with allergies, controls the herpes virus, helps cats gain weight, helps them grow, and makes them act 10+ years younger than they really are – it also can help eliminate hairball problems! It’s truly a miracle diet!
Missy had a swollen bottom lip which was due to who-knows-what. My guess is that it was a rodent sore but as soon as I switched her to a raw diet it disappeared. You can’t even tell that it was there anymore. She had the rodent sore nearly her entire life (she is about 3 years old) but it took roughly two weeks of her eating all raw for it to disappear. Nothing else was changed, just her food. So once again raw feeding has changed a cat’s life!
I am now feeding 25 cats a prey model raw diet. Most of their stories are the same but the ones above stood out to me as raw feeding completely changed the cats life. For all of them though the below things are true:
Before Raw Feeding:
1) Smelly breath. Some of them had breath so bad it could almost knock you right over!
2) Fur soft but not as great as it could be
3) All of them were lazy
4) Every last one of them had stools that could clear a room
5) They all had fleas/worms
6) Behavior problems
7) Too much fat/not enough muscle
8) Poor immune system, several getting sick each winter
9) On their way to having poor health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, urinary blockages, etc.
After Raw Feeding:
1) Their teeth are white and their breath doesn’t smell
2) Fur gleams even in the dark. It feels like silk.
3) They now sound like a herd of elephants running around most of them time.
4) Odor free stools. You can literally not smell their litter boxes if you are a few inches from it.
5) Flea and worm free. Why? Raw feeding makes the cats’ bodies inhospitable to parasites.
6) Most of those who had behavior problems don’t anymore. They aren’t nearly as easily ticked off.
7) They don’t seem to have an ounce of fat on them. They all look like pure muscle.
8) No current health problems (the cats range in age from 3 months to 15.5 years)
9) Very strong immune systems. Instead of 10 (or so) cats getting sick in the winter, last year there was just one
cat with a mild cold.
I was sure that mine were doing just fine on dry food. They looked and acted like normal cats were supposed to look – or so I thought. Every cat was fine until they developed diabetes, IBD, cystitis, blockages, etc which could have been so easily prevented by feeding a species appropriate diet. Preventative nutrition is the best way to avoid these now considered common health problems. Why would you lock the door after the horse is already out of the barn? Likewise, why only treat diseases after they have wrecked havoc on a cats body? Helping to possibly prevent these problems is as simple as feeding a species appropriate food.
If my cats were really fine when they were eating dry food, what would I consider them now? Fabulous, extraordinary, marvelous, remarkable, stupendous, and outstanding can not even adequately describe the difference that feeding a species appropriate diet has made in their health.