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Feline Nutrition with Veterinarian Dr. Angie Krause

As many of you know, we spend a lot of time educating our customers about appropriate feline nutrition and which commercially-available foods meet our criteria for a proper diet. You can imagine my shock and disappointment when a coworker of my husband’s was told by his vet that cats are omnivores! I couldn’t believe my ears. The domestic cat is part of the Family Felidae which consists of 41 known species, all of which are known to be obligate carnivores.

An obligate carnivore requires a diet of meat and organs to survive, their bodies do not produce enzymes that can convert plant matter into essential amino acids and vitamins. Taurine is the most commonly known essential amino acid that cats must acquire from meat alone.

Over the years, we have had several personal conversations with local vets about feline nutrition and what their nutrition curriculum consisted of while in veterinary school. I decided to take this opportunity to sit down with veterinarian Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT from Boulder Holistic Vet, and formally interview her about feline nutrition.

As it turns out, our conversation about feline nutrition was short and simple: proper nutrition means feeding a biologically-appropriate diet that is high in moisture, high in protein, and low in carbohydrates. In essence, we should come as close to feeding a mouse, or other typical prey animal, as possible. This also means that for your cat to achieve optimum health, you should eliminate or feed as little kibble as possible. Kibble is too high in carbs and too low in moisture to meet the needs of a strict carnivore.

Of course my burning question was “why have vets recommended a kibble-based diet?” Dr. Krause said that by the time she had entered vet school in 2003, she was taught that veterinarians had gotten it wrong when it came to feeding cats. Cats had previously been lumped into the same category as small dogs, and were fed as such. However, it is now a well accepted truth that cats have very specific needs and that a diet high in carbs and low in moisture is not well suited for these strict carnivores.

Dr. Krause believes nutrition is everything and that if individuals fed their animals a biologically-appropriate, less-processed diet, the need to see a vet would decrease by 50%! She said that when she first started practicing at a conventional vet clinic, a majority of the feline cases she saw were inflammatory in nature (e.g. Pancreatitis, Irritable Bowel, etc.). When she switched to an integrated vet practice, where patients were feeding healthier foods, she saw a huge shift in the type of conditions she would see. This furthered her belief that nutrition plays a vital role in the overall health of companion animals; cats in particular.

The importance of nutrition became clear to Dr. Krause through her own health crisis. When she was just 18 years old, Dr Krause got mono, followed by chronic fatigue syndrome. The doctors told her that she would suffer the effects of her illness for the rest of her life. Dr. Krause was incredibly active and couldn’t accept this prognosis. At just 18 years old, Dr. Krause followed her intuition and used nutrition to make a full recovery. The key to her recovery was the removal of sugar!

We are all shaped by our experiences and what I valued most about my conversation with Dr. Krause was that she has personally experienced the effects that nutrition can have on our overall health and the power it has to bring us back from disease and illness.

Learn more about Dr. Kraus and her practice with Boulder Holistic Vet.

 

Helping Cats with Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)

Dottie, our long-time foster cat, was born without a right hind paw, but that doesn’t slow her down a bit! Unfortunately, when she first came to us, we couldn’t say the same thing about her Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), which caused severe vomiting, diarrhea, and general stomach discomfort that kept her from have having much fun.

The good news is that with a new diet, close oversight, and a little TLC, we’ve been to help Dottie make a full recovery and live a happy, healthy life. We want to take the opportunity to explain what irritable bowel disease is, how it affects cats like Dottie on a daily and long-term basis, and how you can help your cat with IBD or similar stomach issues.

IBD is a general term referring to a group of gastrointestinal disorders that are believed to be the result of intestinal inflammation. The source of the intestinal inflammation is attributed to one or more of the following factors: genetics, diet, and/or diminished intestinal microflora. Cats with IBD will typically exhibit chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea and be at increased risk for intestinal lymphoma.

Current research supports the idea that diet plays a large role in the overall health of both humans and animals. For decades cats have unfortunately been fed highly processed, species-inappropriate foods. Cats are obligate carnivores who have no known dietary requirement for any carbohydrates in their diet. The average kibble is well over 25% carbohydrates! (Please see previous post on carbs in pet food for more details). It is essential that cats with IBD, or displaying symptoms, be fed highly digestible proteins. The more processed a food is, the more chemically altered and less digestible it becomes. Feeding such highly processed, carb-heavy foods has the potential to greatly damage overall intestinal health, especially in cats prone to digestive disease.

Healthy gut flora (or the lack of) is linked to the severity of intestinal inflammation. If a cat’s natural gut microflora is depleted, it is unable to fully digest and absorb the necessary nutrients. This is why it is extremely important, especially after a round of antibiotics, to use a PreBiotic or ProBiotic to re-establish and maintain a healthy flora.

There are varying degrees of IBD, but in all cats with IBD, no matter the severity of their symptoms, it is absolutely essential that they are fed a diet that is highly digestible and unprocessed. The house cats of today are no different from their predecessors. They are built to process and thrive off of their natural prey source of rodents, rabbits, and birds – a raw food diet.

The severity of Dottie’s IBD appears to be minimal. Upon her arrival at The Happy Beast, we fed her an exclusive raw food diet and her stools immediately solidified. It should be noted that she does become loose if she gets even the highest quality canned food. On a day-to-day basis, Dottie is very low maintenance, she eats her raw food, plays around with her catnip toys and loves scratching on her natural tree posts. Long term, we feel that because we got her on a raw food diet early on in her prognosis, she will live a long and healthy life.

Do you have a cat with IBD? Send us an email or stop by the store in Lafayette and ask how we can help!