Herbal Medicine & Pets: Natural Nutrition for KittyPat Young February 1, 2012
The love and affection we receive from our pets is wonderful therapy for young and old. And nourishing them for a long and healthy life is one of the greatest gifts we can provide in return.
In her book The New Natural Cat, Anitra Frazier recommends feeding cats twice a day, removing uneaten food between meals, and having clean water available at all times. The result will be good digestion, and prevention of urinary blockage. Stale food can impair the cat’s metabolism. Where there is a poor appetite, and in the absence of disease, the answer is not more or different foods, but the elimination of food to give the cat’s system time to restore its natural balance.
Although Frazier joins with her contemporaries in recommending a raw food diet, she is not as stringent on the blanket endorsement of raw foods, or avoidance of canned foods. She acknowledges there are some pure-food varieties of canned food made without by-products or preservatives, plus freeze-dried and frozen cat foods available from natural pet-food companies.
The cost of feeding cats a “live” diet is comparable, Frazier says, to so-called prescription canned foods sold by veterinarians, and the “gourmet” canned foods in the supermarket. The fussy cat owner may also be saving on veterinary bills, since a raw food diet is known to reduce or eliminate common cat diseases. Frazier recommends organic chicken or beef, believeing that organic meats are more resistant to parasites because the food animals have not been treated with cortisone. All meat should be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, and taken out only long enough to remove the portion needed.
Organic meats, by definition, are more expensive than their supermarket counterparts. So you may want to reduce meat consumption by substituting an organic egg yolk for part of the meat portion three times a week for each cat. Essentially, a combination of 60% protein with 40% raw veggies and cooked grains is all that is required for a basic raw foods diet. You’ll want to experiment with these ratios to suit your own cat’s preferences.
There are also some organic baby food meat-and-vegetable mixes now available in the supermarket which can be used occasionally, provided fat is added and the Vitamin/Mineral Mix (given below) is used to make them acceptable for a cat.
To promote healthy skin, glossy fur, and strong bones, add this mix to the cat’s daily food:
1-1/2 cups yeast powder (any food yeast: Brewer’s, torula, or nutritional)
1/4 cup kelp powder or 1/4 cup mixed trace mineral powder
1 cup lecithin granules
2 cups bone meal, calcium lactate or gluconate
2 cups wheat bran
Mix together and store in a covered container. Refrigerate. Add 1 tsp of Mix to each cat’s meal (2 tsps per cat per day). (This Mix, with its yeast content, should not be given to cats who are suffering from feline urologic syndrome.)
Once a week give each cat 400 units natural vitamin E and the contents of a vitamin A and D capsule (10,000 units vitamin A and 400 units vitamin D). Puncture the capsules and drain them into food, or put them into an egg cup with a tablespoon of hot water and allow the capsules to melt. Add to food and sprinkle the mineral mix over the top.
The daily quantity of food required, plus vitamins, will vary with the weight of the cat, and appetite will vary by season, temperature and humidity. As a rule of thumb, two tablespoons of food per day should be provided, and any food not eaten within 45 minutes should be removed from sight. When it comes to veggies and grains – go with what you eat, and serve them to kitty raw or lightly steamed. (But avoid foods toxic to cats: onions, tomatoes, potatoes, chocolate, grapes, raisins, pasteurized milk, mushrooms, etc.)
To switch a mature cat from sub-standard canned food or a packaged eating program to a raw food diet is not an overnight proposition. The change will have to be made gradually, with live foods introduced morsel by morsel, including the Vitamin/Mineral Mix.
Bones should be part of your cat’s diet. Take a chicken neck, roast it, and give a couple of vertebrae several times a week. It will provide calcium, and a degree of delight.
Herbs are one of the best healing tools for pets and people, but some herbs work differently on cats than they do on humans. For example, catnip is used for its sedative effect on humans, but it is a stimulant for a cat. It is, however, a stimulant that loses its potency if used too frequently. Therefore, we advise talking to a veterinarian versed in herbology or an herbalist familiar with the use of herbs for animal ailments. A few herbals that can be used enhance well-being are:
Burdock root is high in organic iron and vitamin C. Its alkalizing effect will soothe the stomach and intestines. A tea or the cooked root act as a blood purifier for skin and liver.
Calendula: Tea made from this plant promotes healing of cuts, abrasions and burns. Wash affected area with warm water; soak a clean cloth in the cooled tea. Wrap the wound.
Caraway seed: Rich in minerals, these seeds in tea form offer an alkalizing effect. Caraway is slightly diuretic, soothing to the intestines, stimulating to the appetite and preventive of flatulence.
Celery seeds have a rich mineral content, are slightly diuretic and promote alkalization. The tea will soothe the stomach, stimulate appetite and prevent flatulence.
Echinacea: This familiar herb is both antiseptic and antifungal. Its extract or tincture is used on ringworm to dry it up. Given internally, it will reduce fever, act as a blood purifier, and be useful for boils and abscesses.
Garlic: Lowers blood sugar, strengthens intestinal walls, alkalizes the system, and aids in expulsion of intestinal parasites and fleas. As a preventive, I use a 1/4 tsp, finely chopped and mixed into food, once a week.
Parsley: The leaves can be used as an antiseptic poultice, while a root decoction makes a soothing eyewash. It is rich in minerals, vitamins A, B, and C, and beta carotene, and can be finely chopped and added as a veggie to the main meal. Its high potassium content will promote urine flow. It helps alleviate the pain of rheumatism and, when used in combination with nettle, can dissolve uric acid crystals.
Recommended dosage for liquid herbal preparations is: 1/2 tsp, 3X daily for cats and dogs less than 20 lbs. in weight.
North-East Newmarket Veterinary Services is a holistic clinic in Newmarket Ontario, 987 Davis Drive. Call (905) 830-1030, visit http://www.holistic-vet.ca.