This is our Faith’s story, the cat who started The Raw Explorer.
It’s a story about a cat who went from kibble to raw, to canned, and then back to raw. We hope that this story will help you to NOT be lazy and succumb to convenience even when the going gets tough, as it will inevitably at times.
About 4-5 years ago we got faith as a kitten when she was abandoned by her previous owner on the streets, and fed her on Royal Canin kitten. Never was there stinkier poo, even when she ate canned. Seriously, RC takes the cake.
Then as we read more and gathered more information from a raw-feeder Dilys (we’ve since lost touch, but if you’re the Dilys that helped us when Faith was a kitten, we owe you 101%, please contact us so we can give you 10001 dinner treats!), we switched to raw.
Faith as a kitten. Regrettably I seem to have lost a lot of her kitten photos! And we didn’t use Youtube then.
Faith now, a quietly affectionate cat. Her favourite human is my sister, even though she seldom feeds the cats.
And then, because of life changes and family changes and work changes, we switched her from raw to canned, thinking that a good canned food would suffice.
Of course, the cost and the time taken to chop and everything made canned seem really enticing. We knew kibble wasn’t good, so what about canned? Surely canned food would suffice? And maybe…we could mix it with really good kibble to save $? At that time, note, there was NOTHING on raw-feeding in Singapore. We sourced from overseas, and we did prey-model-raw. Super diligent, we were, until we succumbed to hectic lifestyles. And even then it was a choice. We could have still CHOSEN to continue raw feeding, BUT the temptation was too great, and we gave in.
Nutripe, being cheaper, was our choice. Grain-free, right? And Fussie Cat, because we were having financial difficulties at that point of time, and Fussie Cat was cheaper.
[Edit: Ironically, we skimped on time and canned food money and bought the cats EXPENSIVE cat kibble, because we knew kibble wasn’t good, so we got good kibble. Yep, top of the line $84 per bag kibble from overseas to mix with cheapo canned food. Go figure. We must have been crazy. We also tried a long line of other premium brands. You name it, we’ve probably tried it]
Well the poor girl began to, firstly, balloon. (Do note that we’ve had her on canned and sometimes kibble for a year or so, which is about the duration of this whole story) :
This was at her fattest.
And then, she began to lose her fur:
Around this time we were often away overseas, sometimes up to a month or so away, so we chalked it up to her separation anxiety and compulsive grooming. She was always our most sensitive cat. Also, of course, canned food was easier for the caregiver to feed as compared to expecting her to defrost and handle raw. No parasite or allergy could be detected–and she was ALWAYS grooming herself. See the bald patches? They got even worse.
Since repeated vet visits and examinations showed nothing, we all chalked it up to stress. So we put her on the cone collar in hopes of breaking her compulsive grooming, because every time we looked at her, she was grooming herself. But that didn’t stop the shedding. Anyway, cats under stress most often have bald patches at the back, near their tails.
The shedding got worse, till a point where she began exhibiting ring-worm like bald patches, and if you blew gently on her coat, fur would fly off like dandelions in the wind.
Brought her to the vet, nothing detected (we went countless of times). Given a medicated shampoo and lots of meds:
Do you know how difficult it is to bathe a cat? Now imagine yourself doing that twice a week. And do you know how difficult it is to force a cat to eat pills? Now imagine yourself doing that 2 times a day. Once at 5am, the other at 10pm.
Slowly… very slowly…she began eating less and less. Took her to the vet again. Nothing showed up in tests and scans. Given more meds.
We force fed her day and night, 3-4 times a day for about a week. We’d wake up at 430am to catch her and make her down 12cc of liquid Transfer Factor before we left for work, because force feeding a cat is really hard! Each feeding took 2 hours, 1ml by 1ml. It was excruciating. We were miserable, and our backs ached, and we worried constantly.
This was the box we put her in to stop her from running away during syringe-feeding. We don’t have pictures of us force feeding her. Didn’t have the heart and mind to anyway.
Back to the vet and was put on a drip to replace lost nutrients. She wouldn’t move; just sat there like a lump. Didn’t eat.
At least she’s moving.
Towards the end of the 1st hospitalization. Notice that it’s the 1st hospitalization? There was more.
She chowed on a bit of canned fish by herself after 2 days of vet force-feeding. Nope, she was not happy.
Brought her home when she got discharged 3 days later.
We hand fed her Nutripe beef (that was the only thing stinky enough for her to eat. She didn’t even want tuna) teaspoon by teaspoon, and syringed liquid transfer factor. We must have gone through at least 4 packets of Transfer Factor Animal Stress packs, and they weren’t cheap.
LO AND BEHOLD….after awhile she stopped eating again, and developed pneumonia.Her chest rattled and shook whenever she breathed. That freaked the hell out of us!
Do you know what broke our heart most? It was that…we were so helpless. She looked like death warmed over, not moving, just sitting there in her bed wherever we put her. And we couldn’t do a single thing.
We never thought of putting her down.
Well, back to the vet we went.
Back to the vet, and was prepared for the worst, because we were told she might not survive. Nearly cried on the spot, but managed to control and left her at the clinic for a second hospitalization. She needed oxygen mask and additional stronger meds and fluids.
And then after another few days of force feeding, the vet tech discovered that she’d eat kibble! SO HAPPY, I TELL YOU. I don’t know why, because I think canned stinks more than kibble, but she’d only touch kibble at this point of time, and we were happy to have her chow on ANYTHING.
She went from 5.5 kg (fat) down down to an emaciated 2.7kg.
Whenever we visited her at the hospital, Faith would cry and meow from the time she heard our voices till we opened the cage to pet her. She knew it was us and she recognised us–and called us. And that feeling was just indescribable, because there were other people there and other crying animals, but she looked straight at us and meowed as loud as she could with weak little lungs…and when a cat is that sick and still trying to communicate her welcome and attention, you don’t just stand there dry-eyed.
Dogs aren’t the only creatures who are affectionate. If you knew how to look, and if you could spare a bit of time to look, you’d see the affection of cats just fine.
Well to cut a long story short, she got discharged again… and we whisked her home.
She’d only eat kibble, so kibble it was for a while. Every 100gram of weight gain was celebrated! Thank goodness for the invention of the electronic scale! She was plonked on it every day, or we carried her and weighed both of us before deducting our weight.
Just had to rejoice every time she ate. Now we don’t look at her and tell her that she’s greedy, because we’d seen the times that she wouldn’t eat, and we never want to live through that hell again.
Because we couldn’t pin-point her disease, and no tests showed anything exactly wrong–we spent a lot of money on many tests–we decided to put her back on raw as soon as we could. To hell with inconvenience and time-consuming preparation!
To date we have no idea what really went wrong (it could be bacteria or virus that attacked her when her immune systems were down), except that when she went back on raw, her fur started growing out again.
As mentioned, clumps of fur would fall off before and float around in the sunlight wherever she walked. But within 3 weeks of raw feeding, excessive shedding ground to a halt.
For the first time in awhile, she stopped her compulsive grooming. No more cone collar! Note that she was still grooming herself like mad throughout and even after the first two courses of medication. But after raw (that came after all the drama)… that stopped.
Happy and healthy again! YAY!
And well, we’re never looking back. Although we can’t 100% attribute her recovery to raw (there were meds given and all), or her sickness 100% to canned food, the BENEFITS AND CHANGES WERE OBVIOUS. Although the medicine surely helped as well, remember that they didn’t help in curing her skin problems even after one bout of hospitalization and 2 rounds of medicine dosing.
We started out raw, and then saw the deterioration ourselves in both her behaviour and health when we succumbed to the convenience of feeding canned and kibble. And then we re-experienced the benefits of raw. So it isn’t as though we are touting a raw feeding from the POV of people who have never fed anything but raw. We aren’t raw zealots who push for a lifestyle just because we want to be judgmental pet owners with a superior attitude–after all, we’ve experienced canned and kibble–and although our account is unscientific, well, the benefits to us were real.
And most of all, we never want to go through this again:
To end our story, here’s a happy picture of her…healthy and cute on raw!
And we owe the good folks at Animal and Avian Veterinary Clinic (AAVC) . Although they didn’t recommend us to begin on raw diet–the dedication that they showed is not something money can buy. Dr. Kenneth saw us even on days that he had off because he said he’d have more time for her, and he came back even after his reservist duty. And there were the daily phone call updates, sometimes once in the morning, and then at night. And because we’d spent a great deal of money on her already, Dr. Kenneth gave us discounts without us asking for it.
(We’re not paid to write this, by the way. It’s just that we are so deeply moved by their kind acts that we MUST share this with every one)
And at night before Dr. Kenneth turned in for bed, he’d ask the vet tech (who lives near the clinic) to check up on our poor little girl. He couldn’t sleep without knowing she was okay for the night. Now note, they don’t have to do that. When we admitted her to their clinic for hospitalization, we knew for sure that there wasn’t 24 hour care.
But you see, they took that extra effort.
In sum, we’re blown away by that extra mile that they took. So for those of you who visit AAVC and complain about the queues…you’re queuing for someone who really cares about your pet. We think that the queuing is worth it.
Dear readers, we hope that this story will encourage you not to be lazy or skimp on quality when it comes to pet nutrition. Many of the holistic vets whom we’ve interviewed and emailed have told us so: the convenience and money saved is not worth the illness that will come later. We’re just lucky that she didn’t develop diabetes or some other lifelong chronic illnesses.
Oh –and you really need a great vet and a great vet team to support you when your pet is ill.
Don’t skimp on pet nutrition. It’s not worth it.
The Raw Explorer