Raw Feeding my Cats

I started raw feeding my cats in January 2011. There was no dramatic reason for the switch. It was just that the more I learned about raw feeding, the more it made sense.

I first read about raw feeding cats on a forum. Switching to feeding raw had very quickly cured a nasty case of cystitis in a cat, where vet-recommended food and medication had persistently failed. As someone who had never thought to question a vet’s judgement, this was fascinating and I wanted to find out more about it.

At that time I had two young kittens, Larry and Monty, and my elderly cat Barney. The kittens were on top quality kitten kibble (ha! that’s what I genuinely thought at the time).  Old Barney was on ‘senior’ kibble, and had been mostly kibble-fed all of his life. I had always fed my cats dry food, from the ‘better’ brands like James Wellbeloved and Iams. None of the cheap and nasty Go-Cat or supermarket’s own brand stuff. I believed the blurb on the packaging and I believed that was a good diet for them. In 20 years of cat ownership, no-one, including vets, had ever suggested to me that it might not be the best option for my cats’ health. After all, my cats were perfectly healthy. Or were they?

Looking into raw feeding, the same stories came up over and over again. Switching to raw had miraculously cured all manner of niggling health problems which conventional veterinary medicine could not alleviate. A good raw diet had even stabilised the health of cats with more serious conditions such as kidney failure, diabetes, and irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, bladder infections, allergies, and dental issues. On top of this, it was claimed, fur became softer, silkier, less matted; teeth cleaner; poop did not smell any more and there was less of it; cats had more energy and zest for life.

Well this just sounded amazing. But what really gave me the push to switch, the real eureka moment for me was this. The top two causes of death in the domestic cat are cancer and kidney failure. I knew this. Every cat owner knows that lots of cats die of kidney failure. Very common. And cancer. Look at my own past cats. Kibble-fed. Died relatively young of: cancer, and, uh, kidney failure. Hang on a minute! Had I been responsible for shortening their lives via their dry food diet? It was a devastating thought.

Of course, this was speculation. There is no way I can know for sure if long-term kibble feeding had caused their deaths. I had to conclude though, that it must have played a part. The idea that I might have given them a longer, better quality of life by simply feeding them a better diet was a terrible revelation to me.

So I set about making the transition to a raw diet. I found that there was a lot of useful information out there and friendly raw feeding groups for cats. An invaluable resource was (and still is) the Feline Nutrition and Education Society, founded by Margaret Gates. I wish I had found this site first. It is so comprehensive and well-written, and it answered all of my questions.

Larry’s turkey drumstick

Fortunately, Larry and Monty didn’t need much persuasion to switch to raw. In fact, Monty was wild about it. He thinks he is a wild animal, after all. It was hilarious seeing him with a chicken wing. Lots of melodramatic growling. He never growled over his kibble. As they are young, I didn’t see a dramatic difference in their health or appearance. But their poop was easier to cope with: less of it, dry, and almost odourless. There is very little waste matter with raw.

Monty’s turkey drumstick

Barney, however, was a different story. The change in him was unbelievable. As a kibble junkie with bad teeth, it took much longer to get him fully onto raw. But even before he was fully transitioned, he had more energy, softer, shinier fur, and cleaner teeth. He was up and about and in our faces just like when he was a young cat. He started to jump onto chairs and laps again. He looked and acted like a cat half his age. It was wonderful to see.

Barney

Sadly I discovered that raw feeding carries a lot of controversy and not everyone would accept what I was doing or my reasons for doing it. It is still a hot and sometimes heated topic on many forums. For me it always comes down to this. The domestic cat is a carnivore, 100%. Cats are not able to digest vegetable matter or carbohydrates. They rely on meat, meat, meat (i.e., meat, bone and organs, in the correct ratio) for their nutrition. Just like the big cats. So why is commercial cat food so often more than 50% vegetable matter, and the meat protein of such questionable quality? No wonder feline health problems abound. And typically, this poor quality, species-inappropriate food is promoted by vets who should know better. There are powerful commercial interests at stake here.

Till next time,

L x

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It’s a knitting revolution!

Ooh it’s my first blog post!  Been meaning to have a proper blog for ages and now I’ve finally got one.  I’m not the sharpest tool when it comes to the technical stuff and it’s taken me most of the day to work out how to get my page to look just so. Now I must post something so that it feels like I’m off the starting blocks. (mmm, topical metaphor there).

But I’m not here to go on about the Olympic Games, fabulous though they are (did you see the cauldron being lit? Wow!  And the Queen!).  No, this blog is all about creativity and design.  I design things in yarn.  Mostly cakes.

Flower Cupcake

The Flower Cupcake

A while ago I wanted to knit a cupcake.  I googled like mad for a pattern, but didn’t find any that were quite right.  There were some very good designs out there, but they either did not have the detail I was looking for, or the construction involved sewing together various little pieces.  Now, as a lifelong knitter, I know that knitting is the fun part.  The sewing and seaming is a pain, a necessary evil that all knitters have to take in their stride at some time.  Or the project might never be finished.  Unless it’s a scarf.  That’s why there are hundreds, no, probably thousands, of unfinished projects stashed away in drawers and attics the world over.

So I set about designing the ultimate knitted cupcake.  Starting from the bottom, I made an attempt with no seam at all, working in the round on 4 double pins.  But I came unstuck when I got to the top and had to think about inserting a cardboard disc and stuffing.  It didn’t work.  So then I decided to aim for one piece with one seam.  I still had to use a couple of double pins in the first few rows, to allow for the multiple increases, but I found I could switch back to 2 needles once I’d worked the sides.

Then I had a brainwave.  A picot edge would nicely suggest the crimped sides of the cupcake case.  So I did a ‘pick up and knit’ on the last row of white, and worked a 2-stitch picot all around.  All I had to do now was to cut a cardboard disc to snugly fit the bottom, stuff, and sew one little seam.  Then a flower and a bead to finish.

Using this basic construction, more designs followed.  Obviously I had to knit a butterfly cake:

Butterfly detail

The Butterfly Cupcake

Then, inspired by the pattern of 8 decreases per row on the cupcake top, the Spider Cupcake followed:

Spider Cupcake

The Spider Cupcake

I never thought I’d be knitting cute spiders to decorate toy cakes.  On a bit of a roll, I then produced the Rainbow Ladybird Cupcake, Goodness knows where this came from:

Ladybird Cupcake

Oops, forgot to do the picot edging on that one.  More of a bun, then.  I had a lot of fun making these bug-topped items.

I made a few more pink flowery-type cupcakes and the obligatory Christmas Cupcake, but the Flower Cupcake was the first design and turned out to be the bestseller.  So far I have only sold the patterns, not the finished items.  This is simply because I don’t have time to knit a lot of cupcakes and I would get bored making more or less the same thing over and over again.  Besides, I get the biggest kick from working out the details of a design within the limitations of some yarn and two needles.  So, on to the next design!

http://stores.ebay.co.uk/knittingrevolutionpatterns