This post is part of our “Journey to Raw” series, published every Wednesday, and comes to you from Marlene Konkoly, who lives in Michigan with her sweet kitties, Daphna and Elsie. She writes this story in memory of her beloved heart-kitty, Sabrina.
In April 2012, I was enjoying life with my two geriatric cats, Sabrina and Daphne. They were a bonded pair, though not genetically related. And then I received the devastating news, Sabrina had renal failure. The veterinarian recommended prescription food, and I spent the next two years feeding Sabrina (and Daphne, since the vet said it was okay since they were both seniors) prescription renal food.
In February 2014, in a devastating series of events, I lost Sabrina to renal failure. My world was literally shaken off balance, as she was and still is my kitty soulmate. I then decided that Daphne, who was 15 at the time and very healthy except arthritis, needed a food of her own. Since I felt like I had a bad experience with the vet at Sabrina’s passing, I turned for suggestions to the holistic veterinarian I had been seeing to help Daphne’s arthritis. Her first suggestion was “raw.”
I didn’t even know what that was, but I didn’t like the sound of it!! I asked, if that’s not an option, what else would you suggest? She said canned food. I started looking into pet foods and I was horrified at finding out that I had been feeding my cat with renal failure – a disease with the cornerstone of treatment being fluid intake – dry, dehydrating food. I had been literally hastening Sabrina’s death!
I knew my Daphne loved canned food, so canned food it was. I went to a local pet store and began feeding her a very high quality canned food after they gave me some education on what was in the food. Two months after starting her new food, Daphne became really picky, so I switched to another canned food which she ate with gusto, but only for two weeks, and then she stopped eating all together.
It turned out, Daphne had multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. She lived successfully with treatment for six months and during that time, she ate any kind of canned food she wished – not all of it high quality, but for a very food driven cat, she was in her element and happy. She also received acupuncture treatments and a high standard of passionate care from her holistic vet. She passed peacefully at home and to this day, I have no questions and no regrets about her care during her illness.
My house became quite lonely, and so I adopted a beautiful calico who had been dumped and left to fend for herself on the streets. When I saw her picture, she looked to me as if Sabrina and Daphne had been combined into one cat. I met her and knew I had to take her home. I immediately started feeding Olive high quality canned food, and she looked gorgeous. But she was prone to aggressive outbursts, and I couldn’t figure out why. I eventually adopted a kitten to befriend her, which was definitely not in Olive’s plan, and her aggression worsened.
Randomly, I was watching an episode of My Cat from Hell, when I saw a cat with Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome profiled on the show. That cat reminded me so much of Olive that I began to video her in order to show the holistic veterinarian. After eliminating other causes, Olive was diagnosed with Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome. During this period, her adopted sister, Elsie, became very picky with food. I bought so many canned foods trying to find something they would both eat. To top it off, throughout this period, Olive’s weight ballooned from 11 pounds to 14 pounds. About that time, my holistic veterinarian again suggested raw. Feeling at my wit’s end, I decided to give it a try.
At first, neither cat was interested. I tried every raw food I could find, and the only thing I could consistently get them to eat was freeze dried – without it being re-hydrated! Well, since I was on high alert to make sure my cats had sufficient fluid intake, I knew I couldn’t live with that as the solution, so I told the vet that I had to go back to canned, because they just would not eat the raw. Then, by chance, I visited a local boutique pet food store, and commented how gorgeous the store cat was. The store owner mentioned the cat was raw fed. I told her how much I had tried and that I was really interested, but my cats just weren’t up for it. She gave me samples of the one food I hadn’t tried, Rad Cat. I mixed some into their canned food, and both cats ate it with gusto. Within a week, I even had picky little Elsie eating raw without anything else mixed in with it! While I recognize that a homemade raw diet is cheaper and not that challenging, I had to go with the cats on the food they’d eat and what would fit in with my lifestyle, and so we started on raw full-time.
Within a week, my neighbor commented how beautiful the cats looked and she asked if I put oil on Olive’s fur. She has become so gorgeous! After three months of raw, I can honestly say, Olive’s hyperesthesia is greatly reduced and she very rarely shows aggression. In fact, she and Elsie are becoming better friends all the time. I can only attribute it to eating raw. She is also finally losing weight, and I can honestly say she is the healthiest she has ever been – from dumped on the street to a gorgeous indoor kitty with lots of play time on the cat tree.
I tell everyone who will listen, take the time to read what is on the cat food label. It’s a great first step. Then, do your homework, and while veterinarians have great input, you have to do what’s right for your cat. And lastly, remember, you are in charge of their food, even though the cats might make you believe otherwise! I am motivated to do the best I can by my kitties to honor the memory of my soulmate kitty Sabrina and to make sure that no cat under my care suffers unnecessarily. When my kitties come snuggle with me and can rest easily in a safe home, I know it’s all worth it, and that I’m doing the right thing for them.
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