A beautiful rescue cat has recently come to live with me, and she is wild and lovely in many ways. No-one knows how old she really is, but we guess somewhere around 10-14. That means she’s on the elderly side, but she doesn’t act that way. She behaves like a new kitten, charging around the flat transforming crumbs, elastic bands and plastic bags into her toys. She plays ferociously.
However, in some ways she is just as denatured as the rest of us. Ok, I know that the domestic cat is itself a ‘man-made’ creature, but over the past twenty years the cat – all pets – have become massively commodified. I climbed a steep learning curve the first time I walked into Pets R Us and saw the scale of ‘choices’ awaiting me in the food section. There was food for indoor cats, food for kittens, food for special breeds, food for obese cats (‘Obesity Management’); on and on, the products filled an entire wall in the megastore.
When I was a girl and grew up with cats, vitamins and minerals were never mentioned. Now on every packet it seemed special cat-related minerals and vitamins had been added to meet ‘a healthy cat’s needs’. I looked at some of the ingredient lists and shuddered inwardly at the ‘reconstituted poultry meat’; a large proportion of the food seemed to be vegetable oil. But nowhere in this confection was there any raw meat, despite this being the diet cats have evolved to live on.
What feline in the world consumes cooked food? Yet this is what we are told to feed our cats, and then charged for the extra vitamins and minerals needed to make up for the fact that we’re feeding them something un-natural.
In the past, cats worked for their living, and if they needed anything extra, people fed them meat and fish scraps and bones from the butchers. Somewhere along the line we’ve forgotten this, and now are duped into shelling out yet more cash on food and supplements. And of course pet insurance to cope with all the ailments that arise from eating a junk food diet.
Cats often experience problems with their teeth nowadays, but this wouldn’t be the case if they followed a natural raw diet, because animal bones provide the necessary calcium and trace minerals as well as necessary teeth-cleaning effects. So it’s important for a cat to learn how to chew bones.
Another trumpeted amino acid is taurine. There’s no need to supplement with this if you give your cat fish heads, because the eyes in particular have plenty of this so are really nutritious to cats.
So I was pleased that I was cooking trout the following day – this way I wouldn’t have to throw away the fish heads or tails – they would go to good use. Unfortunately, when I put them in her bowl, although she liked the smell, sniffing at them was as far as she would go. She had no idea how to eat them, and subsequently ignored them. I thought of chopping them up, but if anyone out there has tried, you’ll know how slimy and impossible this is to do, without a meat cleaver, at any rate.
I realise now that the only way I’m going to get her to eat raw meat is to chop it up small and hide it within her ‘de-natured’ tinned food. Some older cats can be weaned back to their original diet this way, I’ve heard, though by no means all. Some have become so addicted to the carbohydrates and additives in the cooked tinned food they’ve been given, they are hooked for life. Just like so many of us with our sugar addiction.
She’s only been with us a few weeks, but I noticed another example of denaturing recently- the failure of our new, energetic cat to tackle our mouse problem. Both humane and ‘evil’ mousetraps have failed to capture the rodent, but I assumed that the mere smell of a feline would cause the mouse to move on. Wrong. One morning recently I went to fetch a hat, and picked up a mouse instead! At first I thought it was the cat’s fabric mouse-toy, but as it wriggled under the nearest door I realised it was the real thing. Meanwhile my cat remained immobile in her chair, simply blinking at me as I muttered vague anathemas…
For more on raw food and pets, go to:http://www.rawfed.com/