Friday, June 26, 2009

Growling-Good Kitten Chow

Recently, I cat sat. My two charges, a couple gorgeous little Burmese kitties, were failing to thrive on kitten-formula tinned food.

That's Buffy licking her chops, and Pluto staring wildly at the camera.

Their Vet prescribed an antibiotic-- a blanket remedy for their intestinal issues. It didn't help.

After harried days worrying myself silly over Buffy (the little female was losing weight, not playing, and looking listless), I considered the following:

When I have tummy troubles, what's most often the cause? Answer: Something I've eaten!

The label on the kitten's tinned food read ground chicken liver, plus a list of added vitamins.

If you've eaten chicken liver pate you'll know that it's highly nutritious and rich!

So I took the kitties off their tinned food surmising that rich liver and all those added vitamins were too much for their digestive systems.

In the effort to keep up their fluid intake, the Vet's assistance suggested feeding them the juice from a tin of tuna packed in water, which I did, but still Buffy's intake was minimal and afterward she'd cower in the corner looking pathetic.

That little kitten pulled on my heart strings!

The last time I'd looked after a baby kitten, I was a kitten myself. My mother would have me cut up meat scraps, either raw off-cuts from our butcher or leftovers from our family meals, i.e. beef, lamb, chicken or fish.

And sometimes I'd feed Mehitabel, my kitten, stale bread soggy with beaten egg and milk.

Her diet was a mix of raw, cooked, and leftover human food -- the majority of which was flesh protein. Only periodically did we give her tinned Whiskas. What I remember clearly is that when Mehitabel really loved her food, she'd growl.

I hadn't heard Buffy and Pluto growl over anything I'd fed them.

Unsure if Burmese kittens need a specific diet, I googled looking for answers and came across information that in short, supported my hunch: When in doubt go back to basics.

With that in mind I rummaged around in Buffy and Pluto's people's pantry and freezer (a family that shops at Whole Foods) and came up with the following:
  1. 365-brand tinned tuna
  2. Whole Catch frozen sole
  3. Canola oil
  4. Egg
  5. Rice
Fish Dinner for Kittens
Separate one egg, cooking white in a small pan.
2) Microwave a small chunk of sole, breaking it into pieces.
3) Into a bowl add ...
a) 1 heaped teaspoon of cooked rice
b) 1 white of egg cooked
c) 1 raw egg yolk
d) Cooked sole pieces
e) 1 teaspoon of canola oil
d) Some tinned tuna water
4) Mix ingredients well, spoon small portion into kitty bowl.

Apparently it's a good thing to add canola oil if you're feeding kittens fish since it will supply the necessary fat present in red meat.

And it's important to cook egg white rather than feed it to kittens raw, but raw egg yolk is perfectly fine.

In the days following I gave the kittens a variation on the above 5 ingredients, swapping out the sole for the tinned tuna, a stinky mix that caused them to growl while eating.

Obviously something was working.

By the third day, they'd put on weight, their tummies were on the mend, their fur condition had improved, their eyes were brighter, and they'd resumed playing about in the manner of crazed jumping beans.

At that point, I reintroduced a heaped teaspoon of their tinned food, mixing it into the fish concoction. They tolerated it well.

The moral to this kitten tale:
  • If you have digestive issues, look to your diet first.
  • Always read the labels on tinned and packaged foods.
  • Antibiotics are not necessarily the answer.
  • Stick to a diet of whole foods, some raw, some cooked.
  • Rich food is a delicious treat, eat it in moderation or suffer the consequences.

1 comment:

Louise Ross said...

I'm posting this comment from a friend of mine, who is both an acupuncturist and a cat owner:

Hi Louise,
FYI: Tuna is not necessarily good for cats! Kittens should not be given tuna because they're susceptible to making kidney stones, which tuna has a tendency to cause. It stimulates over
production of uric acid which accumulates as kidney stones. Best to keep them off tuna until well over a year or two old. By then, their urinary tracts have matured to a large enough size to handle passing uric acid crystals. Even as adult cats, tuna should be limited to a special treat.
Another fact is that cats can develop Steatitis "Yellow Fat Disease".