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1 Month Old Kitten

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1 Month Old Kitten

Postby Garaden » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:50 am

You have previously helped me about this kitten that i got from a private owner. His belly was very big and hard so we were told from the Animal hospital that he probably have worms so we dewormed him yesterday. But his belly is still very big and hard and he have had diarrhea since the deworming. is this a normal reaction to the treatment ? and shouldn't his stomach be more normal and not still big after the treatment? i lost 2 kittens because of very bad diarrhea

one of them started having blood in his diarrhea in the end the we couldn't afford the vet bills for more checkups the doctors never found out what the reason was. My husband turned him in to SPCA and just today i found out they killed him because he was sick. I'm very worried that my new kitten is suffering something similar because the other ones belly was like that too. My husband told me this will be my last kitten if he doesn't make it. So I'm very worried because I'm a huge cat lover.

I actually found out that he was born on the 2. April so that means he is now 6 weeks old.


ANSWER: Zahra,

It really depends on what worm medicine was used, but in my experience diarrhea is rarely something that's related to deworming. I do think that it's a good idea to take the kitten back to the veterinarian to determine what's causing the diarrhea because it's possible that the kitten may need medication to treat it and/or fluids administered under his skin to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes. There is something simple that you can start doing immediately to help your kitten and minimize the severity of the diarrhea. I would recommend that you start giving your kitten a tablespoon of plain, unsweetened, organic yogurt two times daily before regular meals - it contains the beneficial bacteria normally found in healthy digestive tracts of cats, dogs and even human beings, this might help to reduce the severity of the diarrhea or stop it altogether. I see no reason why this kitten wouldn't make it if he's properly treated by a veterinarian.

Sometimes diarrhea and bloating can happen as a result of improper nutrition. I can make recommendations for appropriate diets if you like, but this takes a back seat to getting this kitten's diarrhea under control. It's important that you don't feed this kitten milk, cream or other products made from cow's milk - it's not uncommon for kittens to be lactose intolerant which can cause symptoms like bloating, diarrhea and discomfort in their tummy. Diarrhea can also be a sign that your kitten is trying to send something that didn't agree with him out of his body. Kittens can die as a result of dehydration caused by diarrhea so it's important that they receive immediate medical care to counter dehydration and diagnose the cause of the loose stool so that it can be appropriately treated. An easy way to determine if your kitten is dehydrated is to gently lift the skin at the scruff of his neck and let it go, if it returns quickly to it's normal position then the kitten isn't dehydrated, but if it slowly slips back into place or remains in a roll your kitten must see a veterinarian immediately in order to receive life saving emergency care.

I am very concerned about the fact that this kitten's tummy is distended and hard, that could point to other medical problems that can be treated and cured if discovered early enough, that's why I suggest that you take your kitten back to the vet for diagnosis and treatment of his illness. I think that it's reasonable to prepare yourself for about 3-400$ in vet bills because this baby will most likely need blood work, tests to determine if the medication used to deworm him worked and he may also require x-rays and a course of one or more medicines to help him get better. If you aren't in a financial position to pay for such care I can provide a list of organizations that can help finance vet care, others may cover some or all of the costs related to your kitten's medical care. I keep an extensive list of such organizations and if you need this information all that I ask is for you to send off an e-mail telling me what city or state you're writing from. The reason that I ask for a general location is to save us both some time, if I listed every resource available every time someone needed help they'd have to wade through tons of information that doesn't apply to them.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------Isa  

Thank you for the information, i will try the youghurt today. His appetite is very good and he sleeps and plays alot when we dewormed him at the doctor they also cheked his weight and it's very normal. He actually gained weight in few days the picture i attached is taken in the first days i got him so he is a little bigger :)

The only problem is the big belly and diarreah which is concerning!

It will be great to get help because i'm not working because i recently moved to my husband from Scandinavia and it will take time to get a job.

I live in California, the city is Fresno. My email adrs. is : [email protected]

here a picture of Isa i hope you will like it. ANSWER: Zahra,

It occurred to me that there is a possibility that your other two kittens succumbed to distemper - bloody diarrea can happen in the later stages of this serious viral infection....If it's at all possible I'd recommend getting Isa to the nearest veterinarian for testing and supportive care as soon as possible because if this is distemper the odds of such a small kitten surviving decrease the longer that treatment is delayed. To be honest the chances that such a young kitten prematurely taken from mom will survive if this is distemper aren't great, but this is one situation where I really hope I'm wrong about my hunch...

Here are the resources that may be be willing to help you with vet costs:

- IMOM Inc., www.imom.org

- Help-A-Pet, www.help-a-pet.org

- The Pet Fund, www.thepetfund.com

- United Animal Nations LifeLine Fund, www.uan.org

- Angels for Animals, www.angels4animals.org

- Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Program, www.fveap.org

- Feline Outreach, www.felineoutreach.org

- Cats in Crisis, http://www.catsincrisis.org

- Actors and Others for Animals, www.actorsandothers.com

- SF/SPCA Animal Hospital, http://www.sfspca.org/hospital/index.shtml

- Animal Health Foundation, http://animalhealthfoundation.net

- Care Credit will finance vet care, you'll have to pay them back in installments according to their criteria.

Animal Connection Referral Service PO Box 965 Santa Ynez, CA 93460 805-688-9995 Email: [email protected] Spay/neuter services. Animal Discount Clinic 13252 Euclid Ave. Garden Grove, CA 714-537-0570 Animal Friends of the Valley 29001 Bastron Ave. PO Box 1143 Lake Elsinore, CA 92531-1143 909-674-0618 Email: [email protected] Low cost spay neuter subsidies and referrals. Call AFV for financial help or if assistance is needed with transportation or cat trapping at 909-674-0618 ext. 22 and leave a message for Patti. She will call you back as soon as time permits. Animal Health Foundation 562-948-4979 Financial Assistance for seniors 65+ only Animal Medical Center 16540 Harbor Blvd. #A Fountain Valley 714-531-1155 Butte County Humane Society 2379 Fair Street Chico, CA 95928 530-343-7917 Email: [email protected] Low cost spay/neuter in exchange for a specific number of hours volunteer work for the humane society in advance. Since there's usually a two month waiting list for spay/neuter appointments, it's best to make arrangements and start work at least two months before your cat needs spay/neuter. CCSPCA Education Office 103 S. Hughes Fresno, CA 93706 559-233-0115 Free spay/neuter for cats of qualifying low income people. Pet Assistance Foundation South Bay Chapter PO Box 1506 Hawthorne, CA 90251 310-372-9593 Low cost spay/neuter for all pet cats. Pet Care "Affordable Veterinary Services" 1014 Douglas Blvd. Roseville, CA 916-791-9599 Pets In Need 873 Fifth Ave. Redwood City, CA 94063 650-367-1405 Email: [email protected] Subsidized and Free veterinary care. I'm not exactly sure whether any or all of these resources will be within your reach, but it's certainly worth checking into....I can't tell you whether or not you'll qualify for funding or subsidy from any or all of these organizations, but you'll never know unless you try...

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Isa haven't used the litterbox today as often as he did before when he had diarrhea maybe he reacted positively to the 2 TBS of yoghurt should i try giving him more ?

I haven't given him formula milk today as much as i did before usually i give him formula maybe 5 times a day(/on request) do you think i stop giving him that since he might be allergic to it? his stomach is a little bit better today i don't know if it was the yoghurt or the fact that i didn't give him more than one time formula milk.

He is sucking my finger right now he want's milk.

You mentioned cats are allergic to cow product i never offered him anything else than Kitten dryfood or KMR the milk formula.

thanks for the websites i will definitely contact them if Isa still have diarrhea right now i don't know.

I will update you..
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:10 pm

1 Month Old Kitten

Postby Dominick » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:39 am


I'm so glad to hear that Isa's diarrea has stopped, the focus now will be making sure he's rehydrated to avoid any serious health problems related to dehydration so be sure to offer him at least 2 tablespoons of water every day for a few days along with his regular meals. You can continue to give him yogurt if you'd like it's a good way to keep his digestive tract healthy and maintain the balance of beneficial bacteria. Since Isa's had some loose stool it might be a day or two before he poops again, if it's longer than that please let me know and I'll make some recommendations to help him poop again. I wanted to mention that feeding Isa plain, unsweetened yogurt once or twice a day isn't a bad thing - yogurt is easier to digest than other dairy products made from cow's milk and most cats tolerate it quite well throughout their lives.

Since Isa was adopted into your home as an orphan he should really have been started on solid food around 5 weeks or slightly younger. I normally start kittens off with my own recipe for a homemade weaning mixture, but you can just as easily use a high quality canned food mixed with a kitten milk replacer or commercially available weaning formula(KMR makes one). Formula just can't provide Isa with all of the nutrition he needs to continue growing properly which is why it's important to start him on solids as soon as possible. Since formula tends to spoil quickly I recommend that you mix a large batch formula according to the package directions, pour it into ice cube trays, place it in the freezer and store the frozen cubes in a tightly sealed plastic bag - the formula keeps for 3-6 months that way.

It's important to realize that Isa needs high quality, nutritious foods that are rich in calcium, calories and fat because his energy needs are pretty high at the moment since he's growing so rapidly. Since cats are substantially different than dogs or people in terms of their nutritional needs it's important to understand them so that you can provide your kittens with the healthiest possible start in life. At 4-5 weeks of age orphaned kittens can be taught to eat solids like a high quality food, in this situation it's better if you serve the canned food mixed with weaning formula(made according to the directions) so the mixed food is a thick, soupy texture. It's best if you warm Isa's meals to body temperature so that he's more likely to be interested and eat enough to meet his needs. If you warm Isa's meals in the microwave it's best to make sure you stir the food thoroughly and use your fingertips or the inside of your wrist to check for any hot spots because if the food is too hot Isa can end up with some serious burns on the inside of his mouth.

Sometimes young kittens who lose their mom before they're weaned for whatever reason have a tough time accepting solids since they'd normally still be nursing at different times throughout the day until they've reached 8-10 weeks of age, although the actual amount of time kittens are allowed to nurse from mom depends upon her personality - some will tolerate nursing kittens for longer than others. It's quite normal that all Isa wants to do right now is nurse, but you can show him how to eat solid foods gently, it will take some time and patience, but he'll learn. If you dip your finger into the canned food/weaning formula mix and touch Isa's nose with it he'll instinctively lick it off. Some kittens take longer than others to get the idea, but once they understand the concept the rest is fairly simple. Once the kitten learns that he can lick food off of your finger then you can gradually move your finger closer to the plate until he's eating off the plate on his own. Isa should have a meal every 4 hours if possible, that way you don't have to worry about issues like low blood sugar. You can certainly leave some high quality crunchy cat food in a bowl that Isa has access to between feedings so that he learns to eat dry food. In some cases this might have to be repeated a few times, but in my experience it works well.

It's possible that Isa might get another case of diarrhea because he's not used to eating solid food. To prevent this I'd suggest adding two tablespoons of plain, organic, unsweetened yogurt to each meal and mixing it together well. The yogurt should help prevent or at least reduce the severity of diarrhea because it contains the beneficial bacteria that are typically found in a healthy digestive tract. If you have any trouble convincing Isa to switch over to solids I have a few more tricks that I can share with you. Another important thing to remember is that once you've mixed the formula according to the package directions it's only going to be good for about 24 hours.

Since Isa came from a less than ideal situation and he was taken from his mother too early he may develop a habit of trying to nurse on human fingers, ears, lips, clothing, blankets, stuffed toys, each other's fur, ears, tails, etc. It's not uncommon in situations like this, I would encourage you to seriously consider whether Isa's finger sucking is going to be okay when he's an adult cat because these self soothing behaviors have a tendency to be lifelong habits. I've had very little success in completely eliminating the urge to nurse on something that many orphaned kittens have over the years so if you're not okay with an adult cat weighing between 10-15 pounds sucking on your fingers I would suggest that redirect Isa to an alternative "security blanket" - be sure it's something that can't be swallowed because if Isa swallows a foreign body he may need emergency surgery to remove it from his digestive tract.

A couple of years ago the vast majority of pet foods were pulled off the shelves in North America because pets were becoming very sick with kidney failure and the companies discovered that the food was tainted with melamine. I was disturbed to find out that a food I truly thought was high quality and the most nutritious food on the market was actually such poor quality that tainted ingredients made it into the mix. My oldest resident cat almost lost her life as a result of eating tainted food so I became disillusioned with the entire industry and I just couldn't justify allowing my cats to eat any of the foods that were recalled when they returned to the shelves. My vet understood my dilemma and she referred me to a website that has some information about the nutritional needs of cats, the address is catinfo.org. This site was created by a veterinarian who wanted to educate pet parents about the unique nutritional requirements of cats and the serious health problems that can happen as a result of not providing high quality, nutritious food for your cat. If you aren't comfortable feeding the diet recommended on the website then I'd recommend that you feed a high quality holistic cat food made with human grade ingredients. The two commercially produced foods I recommend most often are Wellness and Spot's Stew by Halo. Wellness is meant to be fed as a combination of canned and dry food which can get a bit pricey in multiple cat households. I feed my own cats a combination of the diet recommended at catinfo.org and Spot's Stew Sensitive Cat by Halo.

Ultimately when we feed our cats a goal that we should have in mind is how to best meet their nutritional needs. All cats from the largest lions, tigers, cougars, etc to the tiniest house cat are predators and carnivores, they must eat meat in order to maintain their health and meet their needs. There are significant problems with many of the commercially available cat foods, including many of the so-called 'premium' foods - this is simply that the majority of companies manufacturing pet food don't consider what cats really need in order to maintain good health for their entire lives. A common issue with many commercially available pet foods is fact that the manufacturers use soy products and grains as protein sources, which is fine if you're a person, we can access and use these proteins, cats can't. When cats aren't fed a proper diet they usually eat more in an effort to make up for the nutrition that they aren't getting which can cause obesity and other serious health problems. I just wasn't comfortable listening to companies that claimed to have the highest quality foods or using foods recommended by many veterinarians - after all if your cat's diet causes him to become sick vets make money. If veterinarians recommend certain brands of food they get paid by the manufactuer to do so and if the cat ends up needing a prescription diet the manufacturer and the vet get more money. My family vet is an amazing holistic practitioner and she recommended that I check out catinfo.org, this is a website created by a veterinarian in an attempt to educate pet parents about the unique nutritional needs of their cats and the health problems that commonly occur when these needs aren't properly fulfilled. Since we have to face the reality that daily life may not allow us to feed young kittens the diet recommended all of the time I normally suggest providing a high quality dry food and a bowl of fresh, clean water when you're away at work so that if Isa is hungry during the day he can nibble away on food that's good for him, meets his needs and lessens the chance of certain health problems. If you're not at all comfortable feeding the diet recommended at catinfo.org then you do have some high quality options in terms of commercially prepared foods. Feeding high quality food may initially seem expensive if you're accustomed to buying your food from a grocery or discount store, but there are important advantages to consider. Cats who are eating high quality food aren't going to eat as much. Vomiting and diarrea are considerably less common in cats being fed high quality foods because their digestive systems aren't being irritated by indigestible junk and potentially toxic additives.

A new health concern emerging in house cats is obesity, if the cat doesn't have to eat as much to meet his energy needs and he uses more of what he eats he's less likely to become overweight and have the health problems that can be associated with obesity. I normally recommend high quality, holistic cat foods made from human grade ingredients such as Wellness or Spot's Stew by Halo. Wellness is designed to be fed as a combination of canned and dry food which can be a bit expensive in a multiple cat household. I feed my cats the diet recommended at catinfo.org and there's always a bowl of Spot's Stew Sensitive Cat by Halo so that they can snack between meals if they want to. When I fed only Spot's Stew by Halo a 6 lb bag lasted my 3 resident cats for about a month and it cost around $25 CAN, which works out to roughly 28 cents per day per cat, that means that it actually works out to be less expensive than feeding the lower quality foods that cats tend to eat more of in an attempt to meet their nutritional needs.

Another important thing to point out is that if cats don't eat as much there are fewer litter box deposits which means that you use less kitty litter. Another advantage of high quality food is that cats are able to use more of higher quality ingredients so the litter box deposits aren't usually anywhere near as pungent, although there will obviously be some degree of odor when you're scooping the litter box you shouldn't be overwhelmed by the odor - if you want to completely end litter box odor you can teach your kittens to use the toilet once they get a bit older and are able to jump up to and down from the toilet with ease. There are books and training programs that will help teach you to toilet train your cat if you want to go that route. Cats have complex nutritional needs. If your cat is fed a low quality food that's sort of like you or me eating McDonald's for all of our meals all of the time, there isn't a whole lot of nutrition in fast food, but it can sure pile on the pounds and cause serious health problems, junk food causes the same problems for cats. Some vets either don't see the problem with these lower quality diets or they're more interested in making money than having the cat live a long, healthy life, either way I have serious concerns about the majority of commercially produced pet foods.

Commercially produced cat foods may vary in price, however price isn't necessarily an indicator of quality, there are many overpriced low quality cat foods on the market. When it comes down to it choosing a pet food is the same as anything else - to avoid buyer's remorse you'll want to do your own research on any food you plan to feed your cat rather than taking anyone else's word when it comes to the quality of the food, ultimately you're the person who will have to deal with the health consequences if your cats eat a steady diet of junk food. I have taken the liberty to include a rather eye opening article that I think somewhat sums up the dirty little secrets of the pet food industry. Sadly although many pet food manufacturers claim that they have included nothing but the best and healthiest ingredients this is usually not the case. Often times ingredients change without notice based on what’s cheapest at that time, this is especially true with the cheap, low quality foods commonly sold in grocery stores. I have done my own research into making homemade food for my cats and I must say that this can initially be expensive and time consuming, but once you've gotten comfortable with the process and you have the equipment the price of making high quality, homemade foods is well worth every penny. It's important to be completely honest with yourself in terms of what you have the time and money to do when it comes to preparing your cat's food at home - cats require fairly complex nutrition, getting it wrong could cost them their life or cause some serious health problems. I found the article below on a pet care website - bear in mind this article hasn’t been checked for accuracy, it sums up a general view of many pet foods claiming to be “nutritionally complete” or “whole food that your pets need” that market their product in grocery stores with minimal cost. Another revealing fact is that many pet food manufacturers don’t manufacture pet food as their primary product - for instance Procter and Gamble makes Eukanuba and Iams pet foods - they also make soap, shampoo, household cleaners, personal hygiene products like anti-perspiran.Given that their primary focus isn’t on manufacturing a whole pet food with ingredients designed to promote optimum health I have concerns about their food and the potential for other products to end up inside a bag of pet food just as they did during the recent Menu Foods recall of most pet food brands as a result of pets becoming seriously ill and dying because there were ingredients like melamine found in a substandard ingredient from China.

“Whole chickens, choice cuts of beef, fresh grains and all the wholesome nutrition your dog or cat will ever need.”

These are the images pet food manufacturers promulgate through the media and advertising. This is what the $10 billion per year U.S. pet food industry wants consumers to believe they are buying when they purchase their products.

This report explores the differences between what consumers think they are buying compared to what they are actually getting. This document focuses in very general terms on the most visible name brands - the pet food labels that are mass distributed to supermarkets and grocery stores - but there are many smaller, more highly respected brands that may be guilty of the same offenses.

What most consumers are unaware of is that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food industry, also known as the agriculture industry. Pet food provides a place for slaughterhouse waste and grains considered "unfit for human consumption" to be turned into profit. This waste includes cow tongues, esophagi, and possibly diseased and cancerous meat. The "whole grains" used have had the starch removed and the oil extracted - usually by chemical processing - for vegetable oil, or they are the hulls and other remnants from the milling process. Some of the truly whole grains used may have been deemed unfit for human consumption because of mold, contaminants, or poor storage practices.

Four of the five major pet food companies in the United States are subsidiaries of major multinational food production companies: Colgate-Palmolive(Hills Science Diet Pet Food), Heinz(9 Lives, Amore, Gravy Train, Kibbles n Bits, Recipe, Vets), Nestle(Alpo, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog) and Mars(Kal Kan, Mealtime, Pedigree, Sheba). From a business standpoint, multinational food companies owning pet food manufacturing companies is an ideal relationship. The multinationals have a captive market in which to capitalize on their waste products, and the pet food manufacturers have a reliable source from which to purchase their bulk materials.

There are hundreds of different pet foods available in this country. And while many of the foods on the market are virtually the same, not all of the pet food manufacturing companies use poor quality and potentially dangerous ingredients.


Although the purchase price of pet food does not always determine whether a pet food is good or bad, the price is often a good indicator of quality. It would be impossible for a company that sells a generic brand of dog food at $9.95 for a 40-lb. bag to use quality protein and grain in its food. The cost of purchasing quality ingredients would be much higher than the selling price.

The protein used in pet food comes from a variety of sources. When cattle, swine, chickens, lambs, or any number of other animals are slaughtered, the choice cuts such as lean muscle tissue are trimmed away from the carcass for human consumption. Whatever remains of the carcass - bones, blood, pus, intestines, ligaments, and almost all the other parts not generally consumed by humans - is used in pet food. These "other parts" are known as "by-products" or other names on pet food labels. The ambiguous labels list the ingredients, but do not provide a definition for the products listed.(See the API Pet Food Shopping Guide for a more detailed list of ingredient definitions.)

The Pet Food Institute - the trade association of pet food manufacturers - acknowledges the use of by-products in pet foods as additional income for processors and farmers: "The purchase and use of these ingredients by the pet food industry not only provides nutritional needs for pets at reasonable costs, but provides an important source of income to American farmers and processors of meat, poultry and seafood products for human consumption.

Many of these remnants are indigestible and provide a questionable source of nutrition for our animals. The amount of nutrition provided by meat by-products, meals, and digests can vary from vat to vat. James Morris and Quinton Rogers, two professors with the Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of California at Davis Veterinary School of Medicine, assert that, "There is virtually no information on the bioavailability of nutrients for companion animals in many of the common dietary ingredients used in pet foods. These ingredients are generally by-products of the meat, poultry and fishing industries, with the potential for a wide variation in nutrient composition. Claims of nutritional adequacy of pet foods based on the current Association of American Feed Control Officials(AAFCO) nutrient allowances('profiles') do not give assurances of nutritional adequacy and will not until ingredients are analyzed and bioavailability values are incorporated.

Another source of meat you won't find mentioned on pet food labels are dogs and cats. In 1990 the San Francisco Chronicle reported that euthanized companion animals were being used in pet food. Although pet food manufacturers vehemently denied the report, the American Veterinary Medical Association confirmed the Chronicle's story.  Many pets are euthanized with sodium pentobarbital and then rendered. This poison does not break down and goes into commercial pet food and feed for cows, pigs and horses. I must admit that this point has been made many times over many years - if it’s true that has to be one of the scariest things to consider in the case for making high quality food for pets and livestock from ingredients that we would actually consider eating. When you think about this it makes you question the safety of many common foods found in the average human diet - after all, if these ingredients are making into food used to feed livestock are they ultimately making it into the human food chain?For the detailed report by the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine on popular commercial pet foods containing pentobarbital, click here. When you read the report, please know that AD(animal digest) is animal waste(to be polite)!

Protein is protein once it is rendered. What is rendering? Rendering, as defined by Webster's Dictionary, is "to process as for industrial use: to render livestock carcasses and to extract oil from fat, blubber, etc., by melting."

What can the feeding of such ingredients do to your companion animal? Some veterinarians claim that feeding slaughterhouse wastes to animals increases their risk of getting cancer and other degenerative diseases. One factor is that the cooking methods used by pet food manufacturers and rendering plants do not destroy many of the hormones used to fatten livestock, or medications such as those used to euthanize dogs and cats.  

Animal and Poultry Fat

You may have noticed a unique, pungent odor when you open a new bag of pet food - the smell of restaurant grease from a hundred fast food restaurants. What is the source of that delightful smell? It is refined animal fat, kitchen grease, and other oils too rancid or deemed inedible for humans.

Restaurant grease has become a major component of feed grade animal fat over the last fifteen years. This grease, often held in fifty-gallon drums, is usually kept outside for weeks, exposed to extreme temperatures with no regard for its future use. The next few times you dine out, be sure to look out back behind the restaurant for a container with a rendering company's name on it. It is almost guaranteed that you will find one. "Fat blenders" or rendering companies then pick up this rancid grease and mix the different types of fat together, stabilize them with powerful antioxidants to retard further spoilage, and then sell the blended products to pet food companies.

These fats are sprayed directly onto dried kibble or extruded pellets to make an otherwise bland or distasteful product palatable. The fat also acts as a binding agent to which manufacturers add other flavor enhancers as well. Pet food scientists have discovered that animals love the taste of these sprayed fats. Manufacturers are masters at getting a dog or a cat to eat something she would normally turn up her nose at.

Wheat, Soy, Corn, Peanut Hulls, and Other Vegetable Protein

The amount of grain products used in pet food has risen over the last decade. Once considered filler by the pet food industry, grain products now make up a considerable portion of pet food. The availability of nutrients in grain products is dependent upon the digestibility of the grain. The amount and type of carbohydrate in pet food determines the amount of nutrient value the animal actually gets. Dogs and cats can almost completely absorb carbohydrates from some grains, such as white rice. Up to 20% of other grains can escape digestion. The availability of nutrients for wheat, beans, and oats is poor. The nutrients in potatoes and corn are far less available than those in rice. Carbohydrate that escapes digestion is of little nutritional value due to bacteria in the colon that ferment carbohydrates. Some ingredients, such as peanut hulls, are used strictly for "filler" and have no nutritional value at all!

Two of the top three ingredients in pet food are almost always some form of grain products. Pedigree Performance Food for Dogs lists Ground Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, and Corn Gluten Meal as its top three ingredients. 9 Lives Crunchy Meals for cats lists Ground Yellow corn, Corn Gluten Meal, and Poultry By-Product Meal as its first three ingredients.  

Since cats are true carnivores - they must eat meat to fulfill certain physiological needs - one may wonder why we are feeding a corn-based product to them. The answer is that corn is much cheaper than meat.

Of the top four ingredients of Purina O.N.E. Dog Formula - Chicken, Ground Yellow Corn, Ground Wheat, and Corn Gluten Meal - two are corn-based products ... the same product. This industry practice is known as splitting. When components of the same whole ingredients are listed separately - such as Ground Yellow Corn and Corn Gluten Meal - it appears there is less corn than chicken, even though the combined weight of the corn ingredients outweigh the chicken.

In 1995 Nature's Recipe pulled thousands of tons of dog food off the shelf after consumers complained that their dogs were vomiting and losing their appetite. Nature's Recipe's loss amounted to $20 million. The problem was a fungus that produced vomitoxin, an aflatoxin, which is a subset of mycotoxin, a poison given off by mold contaminated the wheat.

Although it caused many dogs to vomit, stop eating and have diarrhea, vomitoxin is a milder toxin than most. The more virulent strains of mycotoxins can cause weight loss, liver damage, lameness, and even death. The Nature's Recipe incident prompted the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) to intervene. Dina Butcher, Agriculture Policy Advisor for North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer, concluded that the discovery of vomitoxin in Nature's Recipe wasn't much of a threat to the human population because "the grain that would go into pet food is not a high quality grain. Which means that the grain used in pet food is not fit for human consumption and therefore not a threat to the human population.

Soy is another common ingredient that is sometimes used as filler in pet food. Manufacturers use it to add bulk so that when an animal eats a product containing soy he will feel more sated. While soy has been linked to gas in some dogs, other dogs do quite well with it. Vegetarian dog foods use soy as a protein source.

Industry critics note that many of the ingredients used as humectants - ingredients such as corn syrup and corn gluten meal which bind water to prevent oxidation - also bind the water in such a way that the food actually sticks to the colon and may cause blockage. The blockage of the colon may cause an increased risk of cancer of the colon or rectum.

Additives and Preservatives

Many additives are added to commercial pet foods to improve the stability or appearance of the food. Additives provide no nutritional value. Additives include emulsifiers to prevent water and fat from separating. Antioxidants prevent fat from turning rancid and antimicrobials reduce spoilage. Added color and flavor make the product more attractive to consumers and their companion animals.

How prevalent are synthetic additives in pet food? Two-thirds of the pet food manufactured in the United States contains preservatives added by the manufacturer. Of the remaining third, 90% includes ingredients already stabilized by synthetic preservatives. Premixed vitamin additives used to supplement pet food can also contain preservatives. This means that your companion animal may eat food with several types of preservatives that have been added at the rendering plant, the manufacturing plant and in the supplemental vitamins.

Additives in Processed Pet Foods

Anti-caking agents, Lubricants, Antimicrobial agents, Non-nutritive sweeteners, Antioxidants, Nutritive sweeteners, Coloring agents,

Oxidizing and reducing agents, Curing agents, pH control agents,

Drying agents, Processing aids, Emulsifiers, Sequestrants, Firming agents, Solvents(vehicles), Flavor enhancers, Stabilizers, thickeners, Flavoring agents, Surface active agents, Flour treating agents, Surface finishing agents, Formulation aids, Synergists

Humectants, Texturizers, Leavening agents

Adding chemicals to food originated thousands of years ago with spices, natural preservatives and ripening agents. In the last 40 years, however, the number of food additives has greatly increased. Of the more than 8,600 recognized food additives today, no toxicity information is available for 46% of them. Cancer-causing agents are sometimes permitted if they are used at low enough levels. The risk of continued use at these cancer-causing agents has not been studied and the build up of these agents may be harmful. Ethoxyquin(EQ), for example, was found in dogs' livers and tissues months after it had been removed from their diet, and as of July 31, 1997, the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine requested that manufacturers reduce the maximum level for EQ be cut in half, to 75 parts per million.

While the law requires studies of direct toxicity of these additives and preservatives, most of these additives have not been tested for their effect on each other once ingested. Three commonly used preservatives, BHA, BHT, and EQ, have a proven synergistic effect that may lead to the development of certain types of cancer.

Butylated hydroxyanisole(BHA) and butylated hydroxtoluene(BHT) are the most commonly used antioxidants in processed food for human consumption. For these antioxidants, there is little information documenting their toxicity or the safety of long-term use in pet food.

In animal feeds, the most commonly used antioxidant preservative is ethoxyquin. While some pet food critics and veterinarians claim ethoxyquin is a major cause of disease, skin problems, and infertility in dogs, others claim it is the safest, most stable preservative available for pet food. Ethoxyquin is not approved for use as a preservative in human food, however.

Nitrate is the exception to the rule when it comes to safety. Nitrate is used in meat for human consumption. When nitrate combines with bacteria, the chemical can change to another form with carcinogenic properties called nitrosamines. Very small amounts of this chemical can cause acute and chronic liver damage.

"Natural preservatives" and antioxidants are known as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and mixed tocopherols. While the avoidance of using pet food laced with chemical preservatives is something to consider, some critics think that natural preservatives are somewhat less effective than chemical preservatives. The Manufacturing Process - How Pet Food Is Made  

Although feed trials are no longer required for a food to meet nutritional standards and profiles, most manufacturers do require a palatability study when developing a new pet food. Animals are fed side by side, one animal fed a new food while the other is fed a similar formula. The total volume eaten is used as a gauge for the palatability of the food. Most pet food companies keep their own animals for taste testing.

Dry food is made with a machine called an expander. First, raw materials are blended, sometimes by hand, other times by computer, in accordance with a recipe developed by nutritionists. The mixture is fed into an expander and steam or hot water is added into the mixture. The mixture is subjected to steam, pressure, and heat until the temperature reaches 305 degrees F. The mixture is then extruded through dies that determine the shape of the final product. Then it is cooked at a high temperatures and high pressure. Then the food is allowed to dry for another 30-45 minutes. Once the food is dried it is usually sprayed with fat to make it more palatable. Although the cooking process may kill bacteria in pet food, the final product can lose its sterility, during the subsequent drying, fat coating, and packaging process.

Ingredients are the same for wet and dry foods. The main difference between the two types of food is the water content. Wet or canned food begins with ground ingredients mixed with additives. If chunks are required, a special extruder forms them. Then the mixture is cooked and canned. The sealed cans are then put into containers resembling pressure cookers and commercial sterilization takes place. Some manufacturers cook the food right in the can.

There are three primary types of wet food. The "all meat" product is defined by AAFCO as "When an ingredient or a combination of ingredients derived from animals, poultry, or fish constitute 95% or more of the total weight of all ingredients of a pet food, the name or names of such ingredient(s) may form part of the product name of the pet food; provided that where more than one ingredient is part of such product name, then all such ingredient names shall be in the same size, style, and color print. For the purpose of this provision, water sufficient for processing shall be excluded when calculating the percentage of the named ingredient(s). However, such named ingredient(s) shall constitute at least 70% of the total product.

The "dinner" product is defined as "When an ingredient or a combination of ingredients constitutes at least 25% but less than 95% of the total weight of all ingredients of a dog or cat food mixture, the name or names of such ingredient or ingredients may form a part of the product name of the pet food if each of the ingredients constitute at least 3% of the product weight excluding water used for processing and only if the product name also includes a primary descriptive term such as 'dinner', 'platter', or similar designation so that the product name describes the contents of the product in accordance with an established law, custom or usage or so that the product name is not misleading. If the names of more than one ingredient are shown, they shall appear in the order of their respective predominance by weight in the product. All such ingredient names and the primary descriptive term shall be in the same size, style and color print. For the purpose of this provision,

water sufficient for processing shall be excluded when calculating the percentage of the named ingredient(s). However, such named ingredient(s) shall constitute at least 10% of the total product.

The "flavor" product is formulated to have a specific flavor, and it is defined as "No flavor designation shall be used on a pet food label unless the flavor is detected by a recognized test method, or is one the presence of which provides a characterisitic distinguishable by the pet. Any flavor designation on a pet food label must either conform to the name of its source as shown in the ingredient statement or the ingredient statement shall show the source of the flavor. The word flavor shall be printed in the same size type and with an equal degree of conspicuousness as the ingredient term(s) from which the flavor designation is derived. Distributors of pet food employing such flavor designation or claims on the labels of the product distributed by them shall, upon request, supply verification of the designated or claimed flavor to the appropriate control official.

What Happened to the Nutrients?

R. L. Wysong, veterinarian and long time critic of the pet food industry, has said, "Processing is the wild card in nutritional value that is, by and large, simply ignored. Heating, freezing, dehydrating, canning, extruding, pelleting, baking, and so forth, are so commonplace that they are simply thought of as synonymous with food itself. The processing practices for grain and meat used in pet food severely diminishes its nutritional value.

To make pet food nutritious, pet food manufacturers must "fortify" it with vitamins and minerals. Why? Because the ingredients they are using are not wholesome, and the harsh manufacturing practices destroy what little nutritional value the food had to begin with.


Commercially manufactured or rendered meat meals are highly contaminated with bacteria because their source is not always slaughtered animals. Animals that have died because of disease, injury, or natural causes are a source of meat for meat meal. The dead animal may not be rendered or cooked until days after its death. Therefore the carcass is often contaminated with bacteria - Salmonella bacteria contaminate 25-50% of meat meals. While the cooking process may kill bacteria, it does not eliminate the endotoxins that result from the bacteria. These toxins can cause disease. Pet food manufacturers do not test their products for endotoxins.

Escherichia coli(E Coli) is another bacteria that can be found in contaminated pet foods. E Coli bacteria, like Salmonella, can be destroyed by cooking at high temperatures, however, the endotoxin produced by the bacteria will remain. This endotoxin can cause disease as well.

Aflatoxin - This is a toxin that comes from mold or fungi, as in the case of Nature's Recipe. The improper drying and storage of crops is the cause of mold growth, which can result in Aflatoxin contamination. Ingredients that are most likely to be contaminated with this toxin are cottonseed meal, peanut meal, and fish meal.


The National Research Council(NRC) of the Academy of Sciences set the nutritional standards for pet food until 1974, when the pet food industry created a group called the American Association of Feed Control Officials(AAFCO). At that time AAFCO chose to adopt the NRC standards rather than develop its own. The NRC standards required feeding trials for pet foods that claimed to be "complete" and "balanced." The pet food industry found the feeding trials to be too restrictive, so AAFCO designed an alternate procedure for claiming the nutritional adequacy of pet food. Instead of feeding trials, chemical analysis would be done to determine if a food met or exceeded the NRC standards.

The problem with chemical analysis is that it does not address the palatability, digestibility and biological availability of nutrients in pet food. Thus it is unreliable for determining whether a food will provide an animal with sufficient nutrients.

To compensate for the limitations of chemical analysis, AAFCO added a "safety factor," which was to exceed the minimum amount of nutrients required to meet the complete and balanced requirements. By establishing its own standards and disregarding the NRC standards, AAFCO established itself as the governing body for pet food. In essence the pet food industry developed their own standards for nutritional adequacy.

The 100% Myth -- Problems Caused by Inadequate Nutrition

The idea of one pet food providing all the nutrition a companion animal will ever need for its entire life is a myth... Cereals are the primary ingredients in most commercial pet foods. Most people select one pet food and feed it to their dogs and cats for a prolonged period of time. Therefore companion dogs and cats eat a primarily carbohydrate diet with little variety. Today, the diets of cats and dogs are a far cry from the primarily protein diets with a lot of variety that their ancestors ate. The problems associated with a commercial diet are seen every day at veterinary establishments. Chronic digestive problems, such as chronic diarrhea, are among the most frequent illnesses treated.

Allergy or hypersensitivity to foods is a common problem usually seen as diarrhea or vomiting. Food allergies have become an everyday ailment. The market for "limited antigen" aka "hypoallergenic" diets is now a multi-million dollar business. These diets were formulated to address the increasing intolerance to foods that animals have developed.

Many commercial pet foods are made with ingredients that have poor protein digestibility. Diets containing protein with less than 70% digestibility cause diarrhea in dogs. Some fillers used in these foods can also cause colitis, which is the inflammation of the colon. Most pet food companies do not publish digestibility statistics and they are never seen on pet food labels.

Acute vomiting and diarrhea is often a symptom of bacteria contamination and the toxins bacteria produce. Dry commercial pet food is often contaminated with bacteris, which may or may not cause problems. Improper food storage and some feeding practices may result in the multiplication of this bacteria. For example, adding water to moisten pet food and then leaving it at room temperature causes bacteria to multiply. Yet this practice is suggested on the back of some kitten and puppy foods.

Pet food formulas and the practice of feeding that manufacturers recommend have increased other digestive problems. Feeding only one meal per day can cause the irritation of the esophagus by stomach acid. Feeding two smaller meals is better.

Urinary tract disease is directly related to diet in both cats and dogs. Plugs, crystals, and stones in cat bladders are caused by commercial pet food formulas. One type of stone found in cats is less common now, but another more dangerous type has become more common. Manipulation of manufactured cat food formulas to affect acidity in urine and the amount of some minerals has directly affected these diseases. Dogs also form stones as a result of their diet.

History has shown that commercial pet food products can cause disease. An often-fatal heart disease in cats and some dogs was shown to be caused by a deficiency of an amino acid called taurine. Blindness is another symptom of taurine deficiency. This deficiency occurred because of inadequate amounts of taurine in cat food formulas. Cat foods are now supplemented with taurine.

Rapid growth in large breed puppies has been shown to contribute to bone and joint disease. Excess calories in manufactured puppy food formulas promote rapid growth. There are now special puppy foods for large breed dogs. But this recent change will not help the countless dogs who lived and died with hip and elbow disease.

There is also evidence that hyperthyroidism in cats results from commercial pet food diets. This is a new disease that first surfaced in the 1970s, when canned food products appeared on the market. The exact cause and effect are not yet known. This is a serious and sometimes terminal disease and treatment is expensive.

Many nutritional problems appeared with the popularity of cereal-based commercial pet foods. Some occur because the diet is incomplete. Some are a result of additives. Others are a result of contamination with bacteria, toxins and other organisms. In some diseases the role of commercial pet food is understood, in others, it is not. The bottom line is that diets composed primarily of low quality cereals and rendered meat meals are not as nutritious or safe as you should expect for your cat or dog.

Despite the appealing blandishments of pet food advertisements with their claims of providing "complete and balanced nutrition," if you're not exceedingly circumspect, you may end up feeding your pet chicken heads, road kills, spoiled or moldy grains, cancerous material cut from slaughterhouse animals, tissue high in hormone or pesticide residues, and even shredded Styrofoam packaging, metal ID tags and minced flea collars.  

A growing number of veterinarians state that processed pet food(kibbles and canned food) is the main cause of illness and premature death in the modern dog and cat. In December 1995, the British Journal of Small Animal Practice published a paper contending that processed pet food supresses the immune system and leads to liver, kidney, heart and other diseases. Dr. Kollath, of the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, headed a study done on animals. When young animals were fed cooked and processed foods they initially appeared to be healthy. However, as the animals reached adulthood, they began to age more quickly than normal and also developed chronic degenerative disease symptoms. A control group of animals raised on raw foods aged less quickly and were free of degenerative disease.  

The pet nutrition industry is a multi-billion dollar industry full of hype and false claims. Consumers are being duped into believing that they are feeding their pets healthy foods, when in actuality they are feeding nothing more than inferior meat meals, cheap grains(including corn and soy), fillers, by-products, pesticides, preservatives and toxins.  Never before has the pet-food industry been rocked by widespread contamination and rampant recalls. In all, more than 5,600 products by dozens of pet food makers have been recalled, from chain supermarket brands to prescription-only foods. This is a staggering number of products, and is unprecedented in this business. Thousands of deaths are due to the contamination, and many thousands more have suffered illnesses. We shudder to think of the long-term impacts of the compromised liver and kidney function and how this will affect thousands of companion animals in America. Leading experts believe that the severe reactions experienced by some cats and dogs were the result of an interaction of chemicals, between the melamine and a list of other culprits, including cyuranic acid.  Read the latest about the pet food recall. Thousands of Cats and dogs suffered kidney failure, and many died after eating the affected pet food.  

Dr. Don E. Lundholm, D.V.M. - "We are seeing disease conditions in animals that we did not see years ago. Many of these may be traced to nutrition as the source..." The primary ingredient in many dry commercial pet foods is not protein but cereal. Corn and wheat are the most common grains used but, as with the meat sources, the nutritious parts of the grain are generally present only in trace amounts. The corn gluten meal or wheat middlings added to pet foods are the leftovers after the grain has been processed for human use, containing little nutritional value. Or they may be grain that is too moldy for humans to eat, so it's incorporated into pet food. Mycotoxins, potentially deadly fungal toxins that multiply in moldy grains, have been found in pet foods in recent years. In 1995, Nature's Recipe recalled tons of their dog food after dogs became ill from eating it. The food was found to contain vomitoxin, a mycotoxin. Harmful chemicals and preservatives are added to both wet and dry food. For example, sodium nitrite, a coloring agent and preservative and potential carcinogen, is a common additive. Other preservatives include ethoxyquin(an insecticide that has been linked to liver cancer) and BHA and BHT, chemicals also suspected of causing cancer. The average dog can consume as much as 26 pounds of preservatives every year from eating commercial dog foods.  

I've learned through my years of experience to have a healthy distrust for folks who stand to make money when my cats get sick. During the Menu Foods crisis my oldest cat almost lost her life due to acute renal failure, at that time I was feeding an expensive brand of food that claimed to be vet recommended, it was supposed to be a super premium food and I was willing to pay the super premium price in exchange for knowing that my cats would be healthier and happier getting the nutrition that they needed. Sadly pet food manufacturers and unscrupulous veterinarians benefit from health problems caused by substandard nutrition in our pets. Pets who eat lower quality foods get sick more often and have more serious health problems, this means that they visit the vet more frequently and often prescription diets are recommended in an effort to alleviate these serious health problems. Ultimately in every aspect of caring for my cats I try to keep things as natural as possible, this includes feeding a good quality diet and carefully considering when, whether to and how many vaccines I want my cats to have.

The ingredient list of Spot's Stew Sensitive Cat is as follows: Turkey, Pea Protein, Whole Dried Eggs, Oats, Pearled Barley, Pea Flour, Turkey Liver, Salmon, Flaxseed, Salmon Oil, Pea Fiber, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Blueberries, Green Beans, Carrots, Cranberries, Zucchini, Alfalfa, Inulin, Calcium Sulfate, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Folic Acid, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Cobalt Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Bitartrate, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifidobacterium Longum, Enterococcus Faecium, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite. Obviously choosing to feed a high quality homemade diet requires time, commitment, money and some special equipment so I would urge you to do your research carefully. It's important to consider your limitations so that you can make the best possible decisions for Isa's long term health and wellbeing. I've provided the ingredient list of Spot's Stew Sensitive Cat so that you can compare the quality of the food to foods you have been or are considering feeding to your cats. My vet is a great holistic practitioner and she was suitably impressed by the quality of the ingredients in Spot's Stew, you'll notice that the first ingredient is meat and there aren't any grains, fillers or by-products.

Since it will soon be time to make some decisions about Isa's medical care, including when, what type and how many vaccines you'd like him to received I wanted to point out that there is reliable new research that suggests in North America we're over vaccinating our cats. Although the problem with administering too many vaccines too frequently may not show immediate consequences over vaccinating cats has shown to increase rates of certain cancers, auto-immune conditions and renal failure. The rabies vaccine is legally required in most jurisdictions, my vet recommends using the 3 year vaccine to minimize the number of times my cats are vaccinated and the overall exposure that they have to the rabies vaccine. Much of the new research suggests that kittens properly vaccinated early in life may be immune to distemper, calcivirus, etc for many years or even a lifetime, this can be confirmed by a special blood test. For the long term health benefits Isa will enjoy you may want to look into cycling vaccines rather than administering them every year. If memory serves me you can check this information out on the University of Guelph website, you may also be able to find additional information on this subject by performing internet searches. You can have the vet test your cat's level of immunity to the infections we routinely vaccinate our cats against by performing a blood test and measuring the level of immunity, these tests are expensive but they provide accurate information about your cat's levels of immunity. These tests are referred to as blood titers, it's something you may want to consider asking your veterinarian about. Another recommendation that I routinely make is to have pet parents consider looking into having a holistic veterinarian(trained in conventional medicine as well as one or more alternative therapies which may include Reiki, homeopathy, massage or even acupuncture to name a few) provide health care for your cats, this way cats can be exposed pharmaceutical treatments when it's necessary rather than drugs always being the first treatment option. Any responsible & ethical holistic vet understands that there are times when it's necessary to use conventional medicine to treat illnesses, however sometimes the response to therapy is better when a combination of conventional and holistic treatments are provided. As a pet parent of a kitten these are all important issues to consider, after all we all want our cats to have the highest quality of life and be healthy, happy cats for as long as possible. I am willing to send you more information or clarify points within the answers I've sent your way if necessary. Hopefully things will go smoothly for Isa from this point forward so that he can enjoy being an energetic and playful kitten. In the event that you try to send another question my way it's possible that the website will tell you that you've asked one follow up too many, if this happens simply return to the expert menu and select my name, that should allow you to send another question my way. I'm certainly interested to hear how Isa likes solid food and how he's developing....Make sure you enjoy Isa's energetic kitten days, they fly past quite quickly.
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