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Resource Guide: Save Your Cat's Life

In this follow-up to my post, “Save Your Cat's Life with a Question”, I wanted to share with you some resources you can use to help guide you in making proper choices for your cat's care. Please note: there are certain situations where you do NOT have time to do research. Please use common sense to determine what is most appropriate. The information below is a partial list of what you can find on the internet. When in doubt, keep looking, the answers are out there.


One of our friends wrote a comment yesterday about her cat who was mis-diagnosed with liver failure: “On day 7 I heard my cat screaming in my bedroom & ran in to see him in the cat box. He pooped out a poop that was rock solid about 8 or 9 inches long AND it contained a blue wal-mart bag. MY CAT ATE A PLASTIC BAG! OMG!!! I scooped it up into a plastc baggie & Monday morning I took it to the vet office & gave it to the vet & said - here is your liver failure!

The vet did not do any blookwork on my cat, even though his belly was rock hard & solid, they never offered an xray or ultrasound. Had they done an xray or an ultrasound they would have seen the obstruction. I did not know enough to ask for it or even question the hard belly. The Vet did not offer an opinion on it after the physical exam so I assumed it was caused by his being jaundiced. My opinion, the vet never looked past the jaundice & just assumed cuz he was a big cat, he was in liver failure even though he had never had any issues like this ever before.

This is why you must exercise due diligence and do the research: ask questions, make phone calls, email friends and colleagues. This poor person thought her cat was going to die of liver failure at any moment, but the symptoms didn't add up. Now she knows better to ASK more questions and be a better cat-vocate!

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©2010 Bobby Stanford. MacGruber getting checked out. (He was adopted with non-sibling kitten, Polly Picklepuss)

There are support groups online available for just about any disease or disorder you can think of where you can dig deeper and get even more information. Your Vet can't sit with you for hours and go over every detail. It's up to you to do the leg work so you can understand what your Vet believes is going on and so you can compare those findings with other cats who suffer from the same issues and/or test results. MANY of these groups have a presence on Facebook, so look there, too.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. the DOOD waiting for Dr. Larry (he can't fit into that cat carrier he got from his Aunt Elke any more!)


(This is NOT a complete list, but it will get you started):


Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, FIV+




FELINE CHRONIC RENAL FAILURE (also heart problems included)








FELINE IBD, Hepatic Lipidosis, Pancreatitis


The MERCK Veterinary Manual

Cornell University Feline Health Center

Dr. Louis J. Camuti Memorial Consulation Service via Cornell University. This is a fee-based phone consultation service that can provide you with a second opinion. I've used the service and found it to be very helpful and the Vets on staff are very caring and compassionate.


WINN FELINE FOUNDATION-currently working on Anti-immune evasive therapy for FIP, as well as decontamination of textiles exposed to ringworm (man, do I need that info!).

Doctors Foster & Smith Information Center. This is not a shameless plug for a retail operation, but I include them because their reference area is very good. I've used it specifically to get information on how to read my cat's blood work. I found the information very easy to understand and well written. Just try not to buy something while you're doing research because you'll certainly be tempted.


A key factor in getting your cat the care she needs is to make sure your Vet is on top of the latest information regarding your cat's issues. All major Universities have research programs, as well as many take on cats as clients just as a “regular” Vet would do. Spending some time looking up what the Universities are researching may lead you to being able to have your cat be part of a study or you may get valuable information that will make a difference in your cat's future.

Here's a short list of Universities with research programs. If you want to see a longer list, you can visit the Ranking of the Top Vet Schools of 2011

UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Research -they are currently researching FIP.

Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Penn Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (they have been doing kidney transplants here for over 10 years)

Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine

North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine

University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine

University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine


I will say this until I'm blue in the face-avoid MANY of your cat's health issues by feeding a species appropriate diet!

Feline Nutrition Education Society (MUST READ! Great reference material and insightful articles on many different health issues that are effected by diet)

Cat Info by Dr Lisa Pierson, DVM (she was my inspiration for changing my cat's diet and FNES helped refine my understanding.)

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©2011 Bobby Stanford. Vet with Phil (who was later adopted & nicknamed, Poppy).


Pardon my use of the word “alternative,” because here in the USA we are so very “western-medicine-centric,” but I'm not sure what would describe these therapies better. There are certain medical issues that benefit greatly from these additional therapies and I encourage you to look into it. I've had great results with homeopathy and kittens with upper respiratory, as well as with reducing anxiety in my cats and I know a few people who swear that acupuncture helps ease their pet's discomfort with joint issues.

That said, as with anything else, do the research, understand the limitations of the type of medicine you're investigating. The thing that's really great about many of these therapies is that they work with the natural order of how the body works. They don't utilize antibiotics, do surgery and, in theory, make your cat feel worse. It doesn't treat all maladies and often times you still need to work with your “Western Vet” depending on the issue. These types of Vets include: Homeopathic Veterinarians, Holistic Veterinarians, Acupuncturists, Vets who specialize in Traditional Chinese & Western Herbal Medicine & Chiropractors. I believe most of these Vets have a “traditional” Veterinary background before they specialize.

Homeopathic Vets can be found via the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy
or by looking up Homeopathic Vets in you area.

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association has a search form that includes the following modalities: Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Homeopathy, Chinese herbs and Western herbs.

Additional LINKS for finding Holistic Vets


Jackson Galaxy said something to me when we were at dinner a few weeks ago. He spoke passionately about the importance of sharing information, whether it be how to give SubQ fluids to a fractious cat or how to medicate a kitten. He has a great deal of respect for people who have been “in the trenches” for years. What they've learned about working with cats needs to be shared. To paraphrase what he meant; “It hurts everyone if there's only one person who really knows every single way to trap a feral cat. We have to share our knowledge. No one should be a gate-keeper.”

So with that in mind, I hope this information helps you and your kitty have a much better, safer, happier and healthier life together.

WSJ Article Slamming Owners for their Obese Pets is Way Off Base!

Gwendolyn Bounds wrote an article earlier this week in the
Wall Street Journal decrying the epidemic of obesity in cats and dogs in the United States. While it's true this IS an epidemic of obese pets, how we got to this point with out companion animals is way off target.

She notes that pets are like their overweight parents, under-exercised and over fed. That the only solution is to do the same for people as we do for our pets-put them on a diet! Make them exercise! And yes, to solve this problem, some pet food manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon and are now offing a "weight watchers" style feeding program for fat pets!


Considering the pet food industry is at fault for our pets soaring weight problem, the finger needs to be pointed at THEM, not the pet owners; especially in regards to cats.

Let's get a few things straight:

If you look at the history of pet food, when it started to be available at the turn of the last century, it was a way to make a profit off of the leftovers of other processes and most of them were related to the GRAIN industry. What to do with horse meat, rendered animal fat of who-knows-what animals? What to do with all this corn and corn by-products? Let's put them into pet food. Up until that time owners were feeding "table scraps" which was common to do and was actually much better for the pets health. Ads used to show that "including their pet food with table scraps would make a complete diet." They were just using it as a way to get folks to buy their junk, based on NO SCIENCE WHATSOEVER. It was based on making MONEY, pure and simple.

In the 1940's during WWII, the tin for cans had to go to the war effort, so manufacturers came up with dried food in bags. They began a marketing campaign saying that table scraps were BAD, might as well be poison, and the only really good food was their dry food. Again, not based on doing any studies of animal health.

It was simple to feed, easy to use, cheap. Again, always touting that this was the best, balanced food for your pet, made out of junk.

As time passed, families just followed the advertising promising their food was wholesome and showed pretty pictures of healthy looking cuts of meat and vegetables on their packaging-which couldn't be further from the truth. Proving their food isn't all it's cracked up to be, as recently as the 1980's manufacturers didn't even know to add taurine to a cat's diet or they would DIE. I wonder how many cats were fed this junk and died as a result?

Somewhere along the line, the truth of what a cat needs to thrive, got lost in hype. So what could have been based on science and creating a species appropriate diet got lost in making a buck. Who pays for this? We do! Our animals do by sickening and dying. Do some cats thrive on drive food? I doubt it. They will live, but in what condition?

The obesity epidemic is due to inappropriate pet food being sold. It's the same as if we went to McDonald's every day and loaded up on junk. We'd get fat, sick, and die. Put a cat on cheap kibble, full of grain and watch them get fat, sick and die. They won't get obese if we just feed them something based on what cats NEED, not advertising.

Cats are "obligate" carnivores. They NEED meat to survive. They cannot process grains. They have no teeth to crush dry food or crush grain. They bite, rip and swallow, they don't grind food. Their digestion is short, unlike humans. That's why they can't process grain effectively. They also lack the enzyme to digest it. SO WHY FEED IT TO THEM?

©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. My cat Spencer before I switched to grain-free, then a raw diet.

Cats get energy from PROTEIN, NOT CARBS! Cats cannot be put on a DIET! They can get Hepatic Lipidosis so you must be careful changing what they eat. Cats need MEAT, BONES, ORGANS...that's it.

You don't have to buy a treadmill for your dog or your cat or run them around the yard, you need to READ LABELS on what you buy. Don't fall for the seductive ads with pretty pictures.

I suggest the following:

1. Pick up the bowls of kibble and throw them out. NEVER BUY KIBBLE AGAIN. Even premium brands, though much less dreadful, are too processed. Cats lose nutrients they really need in the overcooking of protein. Do you see your cat wolf down their dry food? They're desperately trying to get the nutrition they desire, but aren't getting it. They will eat and eat and drink LOTS of water. Their litter pan will be overflowing with foul smelling bowels. You don't leave a bowl of food out all day. The cats can get two measured meals a day and be totally fine.

2. READ THE LABEL-At least buy canned cat food marked, GRAIN FREE. If you've done that, you've done a great kindness to your cat. The first ingredients should be a known protein source, not a by-product. The more protein, the better. The rest is common sense-get the best quality ingredients you can afford-and YES, it will cost more, but how much do vet trips cost with a sick cat or treating diabetes or cancer?

3. If you want to do the ultimate, feed a raw or (even lightly cooked if you must) diet to your cat. Their ultimate food is a live caught mouse, but I'm not asking you to do that. There are many pre-mixed, ready-to-go, brands of raw food or you can make it up yourself. If you need a recipe, email me and I'll send you one.

Your Vet may pitch a fit. He or she may say "The cat will get Salmonella and you will, too." VETS DO NOT GET MORE THAN A FEW HOURS OF NUTRITIONAL CLASSROOM TIME AT SCHOOL. You need to do the research and read about feline nutrition. While it would make sense that handling raw meat leads to illness, it's NOT the case for cats. Their digestion is too acidic and their digestion process is too fast to "brew" any decent salmonella. Safe handling of meat, hand washing keeps you safe, too. Wipe down the countertops and wash all utensils in hot water. COMMON SENSE. We have never gotten sick or sickened our cats.

So while it's true our cats and dogs are getting fatter by the minute, I hope you'll take a moment to think about what you feed your cat. Is it really appropriate for them or is it just keeping them alive and at the cost of them really THRIVING?

This epidemic is not the fault of the pet owners as much it is the pet food companies and their clever advertising. Please don't fall for it and do what YOU think makes the most sense. Your cats depend on you. Don't let them down.

©2008 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer about a year or so after the switch. Nice belly, still, but appropriately sized!


Decide for yourself. Here are some helpful links:

If you'd like to read more about feeding a raw-fed diet, visit the Feline Nutrition Education
or read Dr. Pierson's web site.


Lastly, if you're feeding dry kibble to your cat, I'm not being critical of your choice. If you feel it's the thing you want to do, then you do that. I'm providing this information to all of you in the hopes you will begin to open your minds and be aware of what is going on in the pet food industry. They make lots of claims about balanced diets and find ways to make the nutrition info on the labels look good, but if you look deeper, you'll realize this stuff is really not appropriate for your cat and when you switch their diet, you will be AMAZED when you see your cat slim down to an appropriate weight, get a refined, silky coat, not load the litter pan with smelly poo and gain a sparkle in their eyes and renewed kitten-like energy. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Here's to your cat's good health!

UPDATE: Since I wrote this article, the misleading information about pet obesity was picked up by CNN. I wish someone would do their homework before announcing such nonsense. I really worry about the welfare of our companion animals.

At Last! I'm Published!

If you don't count the GILLION or so articles, stories and posts I've written here as being published, then you can visit one of our good friend' where I'm proud to say, I have my first article posted!

I'm constantly asked by my adopters; "What should I feed my new cat/kitten?” My article discusses the challenge to change peoples' minds about the dangers of feeding a dry/kibble diet, why Raw feeding is excellent for cats and how they can, at least, begin to make a change, even if it means only feeding a grain-free diet.

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My article is here, along with oodles of information about what to feed your cat and why, including helpful tips and stories from folks, like you and me, who are struggling with keeping their cats happy and healthy.

Also, they just re-designed their web site and it looks fantastic! So be sure to stop by and check it out!

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