Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Goodnight Midnight

It’s amazing how one small animal can make such a huge impact on your life. It’s true…I’m in mourning. This past weekend we lost a precious fur child to complications from inflammatory bowel disease. Midnight was one of the sweetest babies I’ve ever had the privilege of being owned by. She loved everyone and everyone loved her. It was impossible not to. She is the third fur child in five years in our family to succumb to feline IBD. After Alex, I didn’t think I’d have to deal with it again so soon. I was hoping not at all. But it was not meant to be. 

After my sister lost her husband, she moved in with us and brought her two cats, Moufasa and Midnight. Moufasa was sickly and it was not long before I recognized the symptoms of the dreaded disease I’d come to hate so much. Luckily his case was easier to handle than Midnight’s, but he did not live as long. I changed his diet to strictly raw food (Stella & Chewy’s) and it put an end to his uncontrollable diarrhea. He did very well for a long time. Sadly after almost two years, he developed a mass in his stomach and eventually we had to let him go. But with raw food, B12 injections and plenty of love, he lived a lot longer than we thought he would. 

After he passed, Midnight did very well for a few months and then began developing symptoms of her own. I was so upset and I couldn’t believe it was happening yet again. Because of all I’d learned between Alex and Moufasa, I was able to give Midnight an extra four years with us. Medications, B12, fluid therapy and diet all played a role and again, I learned so much I didn’t know before. In the end I know that’s a good thing and my knowledge can now continue to help others, as I did when Alex passed. But when it comes down to it, seeing yet another creature I love suffer is just unacceptable.

This disease is robbing us of way too many years worth of love and happiness. Yes, kitties with IBD can lead a very good quality of life but I defy you to find one pet parent that is accepting of what their babies have to go through, even in its mildest form. For me I’m left yet again to sift through the happy memories I have and try hard to remove the ones of how sick Midnight was at the end. Unfortunately it’s impossible to do completely and it hurts me terribly that she had to go through this at all. We need to push universities to further their research and make advancements into better treatments and hopefully a cure. The loss I experienced recently is one that’s happening every single day somewhere in this world and it’s leaving pet parents everywhere alone and traumatized. It has to end.

In the meantime, I’ll force the bad memories to the back of my mind and concentrate on how completely loving and affectionate she was; how she adored us and showed us every single day how big her heart was for such a little girl. She loved belly rubs, couldn’t get enough kisses and was the best patient for a sick kitty that ever lived. In all the years I had to give her pills, injections, fluids and occasionally syringe feed her, she never once fought me or made a fuss. She’d never even flinch. Until the very end where she was hurting so badly she couldn’t stand to be touched anymore and actually hid behind the bed for the first time.

Well Midnight, my sweetheart, there is no more medicine! No more poking with needles and no more losing weight and feeling lousy. You are free from all of that now and as much as it hurts us and we miss you, I can only hope you are running around and playing, having shed your old, broken body. I hope we meet again someday my sweet girl and until then I’ll see you in my dreams.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Risks of Feeding Your Pet

Feeding your pet these days is a dangerous task. Never mind all the disgusting ingredients in their food but all the recalls and notices are making it very difficult to know what’s safe! The 2007 melamine pet food scare killed thousands upon thousands of pets. I can’t even be sure I didn’t feed some of it to my Alex when she was sick. I’m assuming if she did eat it, her organs would have shut down immediately and she would have died within hours. Oh wait…that’s exactly what happened! I don’t know that the food had anything to do with it in all honesty since I was at the point of feeding her ten different brands, just to make sure she ate. Her kidneys were not failing as was the case with so many of the pets that died. She was eating something grain free, but I can’t be sure there was no rice in it, which could have contained melamine. It was not one of the better brands, that’s for sure and she did go downhill extremely fast and out of the blue.

The truth is we’ll never know. I didn’t have the money for a necropsy, nor was I even given that option. I wasn’t told much of anything really and once I found out I could have done that, she had already been cremated. Also by the time I'd even heard of melamine, the food I'd fed her was gone. Thrown out or given away. I’ve always wondered if it had anything to do with the food she ate. In fact I do know a few people who have lost their kitties to possibly tainted food; one as recently as a few months ago. Come to find out in this recent instance that the food she was feeding could possibly have been mislabeled and counterfeited as the real thing. Again, this may not be the case and there’s no way to know for sure but it’s currently being investigated. It’s beyond devastating to think that something you think you’re doing right for your pet could actually harm or kill them. And although it’s not the pet parent's fault in any way, there isn’t a one of us that wouldn’t feel like it was indeed something we did wrong.

There was a time when it was mainly dry food that had recalls. Then it was wet food and in the past year it’s expanded to premade frozen raw food. Feeding a home prepared raw food diet is the healthiest for your cat but how can you be sure the food you’re getting at the grocery store is safe when there are plenty of recalls there as well? Admittedly it’s mostly prepackaged, ground meat that’s the problem but chicken is not far behind. And the U.S. government is debating importing chicken from China which I think is the most preposterous idea ever! China is where most of the problems stem from, although the U.S. does have issues of its own. But given all the food issues we have with them, the recent bird flu deaths and all the dogs dying from chicken jerky, I see this as nothing short of catastrophic.

So what are we supposed to do? What on earth do we feed our pets? Every time we think a brand of pet food is safe, there’s a problem or a recall. Not everyone has the time to make their own pet food but I think it’s coming to that. Even without all the hidden dangers I have been questioning some pet food ingredients for years now; carrageenan, spinach, avocados, corn, corn and wheat gluten, etc. etc. etc. Not to mention the chemicals found in them such as BPAs. The way I see it, pretty soon it will in fact come down to most of us making our own food. I see that as the only option if things continue this way and I see no end to the corruption in the industry. Cutting corners, using cheap fillers and raking in the money are what it’s all about. In pet food, as well as people food.

In any event, whatever way you are feeding a homemade diet, whether it’s a cooked meal or a raw food diet, the safest bet would be to go to a local or holistic market to get your ingredients. I do this for myself anyways so why wouldn’t I do it for my pets? There’s one here that I go to called Fresh Market that sells fresh, organic and locally obtained meats and other foods. I absolutely love this place! They cut the meat fresh right in front of you and you can tell the difference between that and the supermarket brands or prepackaged meats. Most everything there is locally and organically grown and obtained. This is what I prefer to do, it’s probably the safest available, and it’s only a few dollars more than the grocery brands. And of course there's always ordering from reputable companies that cater specifically to raw pet food. 

If you can’t feed a homemade diet for whatever reason I suggest researching pet food companies extensively and even calling them and talking to someone in charge to get a handle on what and where they manufacture, distribute, etc. A good company will not make excuses but will understand your concerns and work with you. Staying vigilant and taking as much control of what we feed them as much as possible is what it’s going to take to keep them healthy.