Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cats and New Year's Food

Welcoming in New Year with Your Feline Friend

It’s hard to believe that it’s already New Year’s Eve! Soon my laptop will be displaying the year 2009 on the screen. Amazing. I wish that my cat Saki were still alive to herald the New Year.

But I do have my friend’s cat Mittens, who is the same age as Saki if she were still around. (Saki, wherever you are in the Great Beyond, are you happy?)

Never Feed Your Cat Holiday Tidbits

Anyway, as a cat guardian I have to look after the well-being of my furry friend. On New Year’s Eve, that specifically means:

Do NOT give kitty any table scraps. Nil. Nada. It’s bad for cats. And dogs. Even if they beg, even if they look entirely too adorable, you absolutely must resist the impulse to toss them tidbits from the holiday table.

Can Mittens Ever Vibrate!

Okay, I confess. On Christmas Day I gave Mittens some organic, grass-fed filet mignon from my friend’s plate. (It’s way too expensive even for human consumption.) She was ecstatic. She blissed out. She emitted 4 loud, resoundingly happy meows, purred loudly, and vibrated her tail. Mittens vibrates more vociferously than my cell phone.

Hours later, she threw up. Fortunately, that’s all that happened. But really, I should not have given her human food. And not in the quantity that I did. Just because Mittens looked so cute that I could’ve simply squeezed her till she was purple (do cats ever go purple?) doesn’t give me the license to feed her steak.

(Okay, more confessions. I’ve given Mittens turkey from the restaurant on Thanksgiving Day. In the past, I’ve also brought her home some cheesecake.)

Nutritionally Unbalanced Holiday Fare

Festive fare is too rich for cats—probably too rich for human!—as well as unbalanced nutritionally and could be harmful to their health. It doesn’t pack the nutrients that your cats need.

Cats Must Avoid Japanese Sweets

Kittens require food that can help support their development and growth spurt.

More confessions. When Saki was a kitten, I was living in Japan so I gave her some Japanese sweets. She loved them. Even though cats can’t taste anything sweet.

When I happened to mention the snack to the vet, he shot me a look so withering that I wanted to tuck my tail and slink away. Well, at least I never fed Saki any more bean-jam filled pastries.

Be Careful What You Feed Elderly Cats

Older, geriatric cats find it harder to digest unaccustomed food. Like aging humans, their metabolism is slowing down, and they need all the nutrients they can get to help them cope with the onslaught of age.


Take it from me: Keep your cats away from New Year’s delicacies!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Herbs for Cats with Liver Disease -- Part 2

Your Cat's Not Responding to Conventional Medicine?

You might try herbal supplements for your cat if you’re not getting much result from conventional medicine, or you want to avoid giving your cat medication on a long-term basis for a chronic illness.

Cats with liver disease might benefit from herbs and nutritional supplements. As mentioned in my previous post, however, please be very careful if you choose to do so.

Spotty Quality Control of Herbs

Bear in mind that there is as yet little research on the effects of herbs on cats. That doesn’t mean that herbs aren’t safe—but it does mean that you should talk to your vet before giving your cat any herbal remedies.

But most vets don’t know anything about herbs or nutritional supplements. It’s rather like asking your regular doctor for nutritional and other dietary advice—they mostly don’t have a clue. (I know, I’ve gone that route before for myself.)

Get Expert Advice

Look for a vet who knows how to use herbs for cats with liver disease. Whatever time you may spend researching for one is time well spent.

You really need expert advice. Dosage has to be adjusted for the smaller body size of the cat. And remember too that some substances that are safe for humans can be toxic to cats. (Like chocolate and garlic.)

Get herbs from a reputable manufacturer. (Again, get the recommendation of a vet or a practitioner that you trust.) Herbs are not regulated by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) and the quality can vary a lot.

Helpful Herbs and Vitamins

Here is a short list of herbs and vitamins that are sometimes used to treat cats with liver disease. I will discuss them at greater length in my next post.

Milk Thistle

L-Carnitine or Carnitine


SAM-E (S-adenosylmethionine)

Vitamin B complex

Vitamin C

Vitamin E

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Herbs for Cats with Liver Disease -- Part I

Should You Try Herbs for Liver Disease?

I never used to think that cats could get liver diseases. Certainly not just because they stopped eating for a few days. But they do, they can get quite sick if they stop eating for a while, they can get hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease.

For symptoms and treatments, read "Could Your Cat Have Fatty Liver Disease."

If you’re a cat lover it’s gut-wrenching when your cat gets sick. You just want to do everything possible for you companion.

Alternative Therapies for Cats Diagnosed with Liver Disease?

I think that if my cat had a liver disease I'd want to check out alternative therapies in addition to conventional medicine.

In fact, I'd check into alternative therapies for any illness that my cat was suffering from. After all, I always consider dietary and other approaches to health care for myself, so why not my cat? There is, as they say, more than one way to skin a cat. (Oops, sorry, bad analogy! My cat Mittens is glaring at me from across the room. I think I've seriously offended her.)

So I did a little research into some possible herbs that a cat might take if he had a liver disease. I discovered that many herbs that help people with liver disease also seem to benefit cats.

Precautions to Take When Giving Your Cat Herbs

As long as you follow the following precautions, it should be okay to consider herbs and nutritional supplements for a cat with liver disease:

Do NOT try out any herbs without getting them cleared with the vet. Although people tend to think that supplements or herbs are completely safe, they are not totally without side effects.

And you absolutely should NOT mix herbs with prescription medication. If your cat is taking meds, you definitely shouldn’t give him anything without first consulting the vet. Otherwise, you could do your cat serious damage.

You MUST get all herbs and supplements from reputable sources. They can be tainted and unsafe for consumption – as alas, so many pet owners have discovered in recent years.

Keeping a Daily Log

It's best if you can keep a log to record your cat's reactions to the herbs. In fact, it's a good idea to keep some sort of daily journal if you have a sick cat. Don't just rely on your memory.

Record the date, the time and dosage for any herbs, medication, or nutritional supplements that you give your cat. Observe your cat and note any signs, symptoms, or unusual reactions of any sort. Even if it doesn't mean anything to you now, it might provide a clue later.

Leave a space to jot down any comments. Having a journal will make it easier if you need someone else to look after your cat. And, of course, it's handy to have around when consulting the vet.

In my next post I'll list the herbs that may be beneficial for cats with liver disease.