“Mom, please can we take him home?” If you have kids you may have heard that plead and yet this was coming from my teenage son. Still it was impossible not to give in. This cat who hung around our spiritual center was a doppelganger for my son-not so much in looks but in actions; a personable cat who always seemed to know when snacks were around. In fact he didn’t let the other ferals get to the food that was put out regularly and so it was agreed he had to go….home…with…us. His love of crunchy food turned out to be his downfall. Within 3 months I found myself rushing him to an emergency hospital on the advise of my vet after determining Chubani had a urinary blockage. This can be very fatal in cats and is very common for male cats who eat primarily kibble. With very little history on Chubani it was hard to know what kind of food this stray ate in his 3 years but clearly it wasn’t the best and most likely it was dry food.The stress of moving to become an indoor cat at my house probably did not help.
Analysis of his urine showed an abundance of crystals with a pH close to 9. Two days in the hospital on IV hoping to flush his system then, once home, constant vigilance to make sure he was urinating. My vet put him on a special diet of wet food. NO KIBBLE. It became challenging to constantly have to pick up cases of food and at my suggestion, my vet agreed to submit paperwork to the UC Davis Vet Nutrition Support Services so I could get a customized homemade diet for Chubani. I kept a careful eye on his litterbox, measuring the pH of his urine while happily making weekly batches of food, convinced it would help him. And one day that pH paper was no longer a dark teal but a light yellow green, indicative that his urine was in the right range. Nowadays Chubani is my loyal taste tester. He loves the pupcakes and he has inspired me to develop a healthy cat dental treat.
My choice to start cooking for my pet arose out of necessity when my cat Rocky was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy on the heels of an inflammatory bowel condition that did not respond to the various prescription cat food. Though common in cats, Inflammatory Bowel Disease is not well understood. Changing the protein source can sometimes reverse intestinal disorders in animals, so on a whim, during Thanksgiving in 2010; I decided to share some turkey with Rocky. I blended it with a little bit of carrots, peas and brown rice into a pate that I thought picky Rocky might try. He loved it and within 3 days his chronic diarrhea subsided!
Being a biologist, I turned to books and the internet to make sure I included all the necessary vitamins and minerals then scrutinized Rocky’s homemade recipe with my vet to ensure it was fortified to meet Rocky’s calcium and phosphorous needs, vitamins A,B,C,D, E, necessary taurine and was low in salt for his heart condition. Impressed with Rocky’s improvement after 2 months, my vet recommended that I continue cooking for Rocky which I did for a year and a half.
Though this diet couldn’t stop the cardiomyopathy from progressing, my vet attributes the homemade food for extending Rocky’s life under these conditions.