This post is part of our “Journey to Raw” series, published every Wednesday, and describes how CatCentric team member Carolina Liima did the unthinkable for love of a furry friend.
Bugsy is the love of my life….. He came to grace my life in January 2009, to “Make Company” for my baby Lucky, and within two minutes he had my heart and soul wrapped on his little paws. He also knows well how to keep me on my toes! Since the day I got him, it seemed to have been one problem after the next… I used to call him “my Lemon Kitty”!
Bugsy’s first diagnoses were LPS Stomatitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and he also seemed to be allergic to chicken. After doing a thorough elimination diet, we finally settled on Orijen fish dry food…. and for wet, more fish based foods as well. He did do well on that. Until… until that one day I woke up at 2am with him jumping in and out of the litter box. When I turned him around, all I saw was blood – all that fish and dry food had finally caught up to him in the shape of a urinary tract infection.
I rushed him to the ER vet, who promptly put him on Clavamox. And so my nightmare began – that was October 11th, 2010. From that first dose of Clavamox on, Bugsy was never again the same. He developed a violent diarrhea that would persist, no matter what, for the next 14 months.
I can’t list how many rounds of metronidazole we have done…. Sulfasalazine…. Prednisolone…. Tylan…. Amforol…. Herbs… You name it. Reglan and Cerenia for emergencies…. oh yes – tests, emergency visits, different diets, different probiotics…. Dry, wet, grain free, high fiber, high protein, hypoallergenic foods – from different RX companies – in both wet and dry…. You name it; we tried it, to no avail.
All that medication took its toll on Bugsy’s liver. His ALT and ALkP levels started shooting up and kept going up – we had to suspend all medications, including his stomatitis medications before his liver was seriously compromised.
This had, of course, a negative impact for his teeth. His stomatitis got so bad, he had a sudden periodontal disease “attack” along with it and ended developing deep abscesses and resorptive lesions in a number of his teeth, and he had to have multiple removals. After his recovery, we waited a couple of months to check his liver and finally received the “all clear” to put him back on stomatitis meds again.
His diarrhea, with time, got as good as we could get with a hypoallergenic diet, two probiotics – one of which was Align, which made a big difference for him – and an herbal supplement. He could no longer take any drugs. This was “the best” we could do. He never got all better, and while he did not have violent diarrhea anymore, he did not have formed stools either. His stool was always very soft, a lot in volume….. and just not normal. I am sure he did not feel ok. His only option, since he could not process drugs, was exploratory surgery.
I did have that scheduled twice. The first time I decided to cancel it from sheer fear, after a talk with my mom. And on the second, well, that is where raw comes into play.
For the longest time I had been fighting against raw, literally. I was always afraid of a raw diet, and for any advantage our very own Tracy Dion (or as I call her dearly, Aunty Crazy), would tell me about Raw, I would promptly throw back an equally strong reason to not feed the diet. I did this F-O-R-E-V-E-R. It makes me want to laugh today, really, looking back and thinking of all the hard times I gave her, LOL – oh how patient she was!
It went on like this until the day I ran out of options. On one side it was exploratory surgery – with not only all the risks, but also with the acknowledgment that very likely I would not be able to treat him anyway as he couldn’t take the drugs for whatever the diagnosis would be! So really, what was the point of all that suffering and risk? And on the other side….. This diet… against which I had fought SO much for so long! I was so fearful that raw would kill him that it was a very hard decision to make.
But there was a turning point. That turning point was a discussion about the AAFCO regulations (or lack thereof) of pet foods, what’s behind its marketing, production, ingredients, and I just couldn’t keep walking on top of that wall anymore. I had to make the jump to a better diet – I HAD to take the “Risk”.
Raw it was! Because of his weak immune system, we started him slowly, with one tsp at a time, on high pressure processed (HPP – a process that uses pressure, not heat to sterilize) meats (insert my neurosis here)…. and he did beautifully! Long story short (well, not so short, really), on day eight of his transition – ONE DAY after being on 100% raw – ONE DAY – he had 100% formed, divided, solid stools. And he never, ever again had a bout of diarrhea – not a single one. His energy levels have increased considerably, his mood has improved SO much! The kitty who was always alone, isn’t alone any longer – he is now playful and jumps everywhere around the house.
His vet is extremely pleased and said there was no way for Bugsy to get away from his ill health other than by being fed raw. His stomatitis inflammation also got WAY better – he has been closely monitored by his vet and was removed from his stomatitis drugs a few months after he started on raw. He is now graded as having gingivitis. He does need to have periodic dentals, but no longer suffers from that horrible disease!
Bugsy’s prior highly processed high carb diet also made him morbidly obese at 21lbs. Over his first year of eating only raw, he lost 8lbs, and is now a healthy 13lbs, greatly reducing his risks of hepatic lipidosis, diabetes, arthritis, to name a few problems, as he ages.
I have no doubt in my heart that raw saved Bugsy from a grim future…. A future of possible pancreatitis, and God Forbid, lymphoma. Untreated IBD, never stays at only IBD…. and today, it fills my heart to know that we are looking into a brighter, healthier future, all due to a very simple concept: feeding the diet nature intended – sounds logical, doesn’t it? Bugsy has been on raw now for almost four years. He has been absolutely healthy and drug-free ever since. From going to the vet almost weekly, he only goes now to his yearly check-up. Oh, and that allergy to chicken? It was to PROCESSED chicken! While Bugsy had violent reactions to canned and kibbles that contained chicken, he has never had a problem with raw chicken!
But my raw story doesn’t stop there. Of course if I transitioned one, I had to transition them all – I could no longer have kibbles in the house after all.
Lucky came to me at 8 months old, and always had problems throwing up and with hairballs. She got to a point where she threw up almost every day. Knowing no better, I thought “kitties throw up…” and “hairballs are normal.” Normal, really? More than once we went to the ER to “unblock” her – only to come back with a different kibble even higher on fiber. NOT NORMAL.
Lucky was a diehard kibble addict, she had NEVER eaten a bite of wet food – to her that was poison! I used to say thank goodness my wits have no end – because she tested my patience to the limit! I had to use every trick available to mankind to get her to try raw LOL – but we finally did it – she has been a “Sober Carnivore” ever since – and doing AMAZING as well!!!
Fast forward to July 2015. On the streets of Houston, at 107F, there is a tiny itty bitty kitten – skin, bones and fleas. I was there on a work trip in a Bed & Breakfast, when the Inn Keeper walks in with this tiny little mess of a kitten. We didn’t know if she was going to make it through the night – she was in such bad shape. Her eyes were ulcerated from herpes, she was so, so malnourished. Fleas flew from her all over us. I bathed her to clear off some of those fleas, and fed her some formula right away with a syringe. The sweet Inn Keeper agreed to keep her for the two days I was there until I was ready to come home.
After a trip to the vet and a few days on formula, I transitioned her to raw after finding out she was old enough to be weaned. Her name is Blanket. Blanket weighed 0.5lbs on July 29th, and on October 29th, when she turned four months and was supposed to be four pounds, she was already FIVE! Everyone in the vet’s office is just amazed at how she is thriving – from having no color, no signs of health, being extremely malnourished, to being a lively, beautiful, ahead-of-the-curve kitten that is the life of the house!
I have no words to describe what raw has done for my cats and not enough “thank you’s” for Tracy. I hope their story can give cats out there a little bit of hope….. There IS hope out there – it is called RAW.
If you feed a home-prepared raw menu to your kitties and would like to see your story featured here, please contact us via Facebook private message through our page or our group, or leave a comment below!