As pet owners become increasingly disenchanted with commercial pet food, they find their only other option is to provide natural foods for their pets. Pet owners are finding support from some, but not all, veterinarians who are equally disturbed and distrusting of the pet food industry. Many veterinarians are noticing that on average, the domestic cat’s life expectancy is increasing, but the numbers of food-related disease is also increasing, as are cancers, kidney diseases, hyperthyroidism, and autoimmune disorders that could potentially be linked to poor diets.
Unfortunately, not all veterinarians are on the same page. Most veterinarians receive very little diet and nutrition instruction during their tenure at college. That small amount of instruction is generally done under the auspices of large, commercial pet food manufacturers, who either donated to the school or who set up large research facilities there. It is very hard to believe that a bias toward commercial cat food does not exist. As Robin Olson, Cat Writer’s Association member and multi-cat owner, found out, it also means that you may have to put up a fight with your veterinarian.
When Olson’s cat was diagnosed with diabetes, the veterinarian explained to her that it was necessary to feed the cat a dry kibble and canned food that was primarily made of grain. She balked at the idea. He persisted and began offering her pamphlets and literature that he received from the pet food manufacturer. The information explained the food was created in a sterile environment and safety-tested on cats. Olson still felt uncomfortable with the idea and continued to refuse his advice. Instead, she opted to put her cat on a grain-free, raw diet. Within four weeks, her cat’s diagnosis was changed — he was no longer diabetic and was taken completely off insulin.
Olson now takes her cat to a homeopathic veterinarian who supports feeding a raw, grain-free diet to her cats. A homeopathic veterinarian is a holistic, or integrative, animal doctor who takes into consideration all facets of a cat’s life. A traditional veterinarian will diagnose a disease or disorder and then prescribe treatment for that particular health issue. A holistic veterinarian, on the other hand, will diagnose a disease or disorder, prescribe treatment for it, but will also look at the diet, behavior, and environment of the animal to see if there are ways of altering any of them to make the cat’s overall health improve. Your cat’s holistic vet might want to know more about your cat than you ever thought about. He or she may ask questions regarding your cat’s family history as well as complete medical history. The vet will want to know all about your cat’s sleep and play patterns, whether or not he or she is housebound or spends much time outside, if he or she shares the human family with other animals, and how many humans there are in the household and their ages.
Your cat’s diet will be of primary interest to a holistic veterinarian. According to holistic philosophy, proper nutrition is at the core of repairing and healing all health and wellness issues your cat may ever face. Holistic vets believe your cat’s body has a beautiful system to repair and heal itself, and that that system runs on nutrition. The vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are naturally present in fresh, whole foods are tailor-made to replenish and refuel cells so they can rebuild tissue and fight off disease. Because the processing of food to become commercial kibble or canned products depletes the natural nutrient density of the original foods, most holistic veterinarians believe you should be feeding your cats fresh, whole foods, so they get the nutrition in its purest form.
Holistic treatment modalities generally affect the cats’ lifestyle, but in a positive, appropriate, and minimally invasive way. Holistic veterinarians understand cats can become stressed, and changes will compound the stress, so they strive to make all treatments as easy on the cat as possible. They work equally hard not to allow a treatment for one disease or disorder to create another issue. Side effects are not accepted as a necessary evil in the holistic point of view.