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How to Can Raw Pet Food

Step by step instructions: How to can raw pet food. Read why it is a good idea to have home canned food available for your pets whether or not you feed raw.
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I read about canning raw food several years ago when I first started making homemade raw from the information on the CatInfo.org website. I thought it was an interesting idea back then but never really thought that I would ever can raw pet food.

Step by step instructions: How to can raw pet food. Read why it is a good idea to have home canned food available for your pets whether or not you feed raw.When we were evacuated last September for the Butte Fire, I had just run out of homemade raw. Even if I had frozen raw, it would have been a hassle to keep it and prepare it during the evacuation.

I had read lots of articles about the poor quality ingredients in many commercial pet foods so, when I had to go buy something at the store, I agonized over what to get. Christy gets severe diarrhea on commercial canned food and I didn’t want to put that added stress on her.

If I had my own canned food on hand, it would have been easy to pop in the cats’ go boxes. It would have been easy to store and feed from the jar. It would’t need heating – yes, I slightly warm my cats’ raw food in the microwave because it is too cold out of the fridge. Cats like their food at mouse body temperature.

Even after the evacuation I didn’t try canning right away. It wasn’t until I decided to attend BlogPaws and take Christy with me that I knew I needed to learn more about how to can raw pet food.

Last week, I told you about some of the benefits of Canning Raw Food. Here are a few more reasons to can raw pet food.

Reasons You Might Want to Can Raw Pet Food

  • You aren’t comfortable feeding raw but want to know exactly what is in your pet’s food
  • To use to transition your pets to raw
  • Your friend or pet sitter is not comfortable feeding raw while you are away
  • It’s not practical to take raw food while you are traveling
  • To include in your disaster evacuation go boxes
  • To entice a raw-fed sick cat to eat (cooked food has more aroma than raw)
  • It is fit for human consumption

Christy eating canned food - How to Can Raw Pet Food

The idea of canning pet food might be a little misleading. What I learned while researching the process of canning pet food is that you can only the meat without bone or supplements. That’s why it is fit for human consumption. You follow the same procedure you would if canning meat for human use.

I only found one post that discussed canning food for dogs. Those instructions said to cook the meat and vegetables first but I would not can my dog food that way. I would raw pack the meat and vegetables just like I did for my cat food. The temperature reached during pressure canning cooks it so pre-cooking is an unnecessary step.

Steps to Can Raw Pet Food

Preserving food, by whatever method, is serious business. It is important to follow instructions carefully to avoid serious illness. Meat is a low acid food and MUST be processed in a pressure canner, not a boiling water or atmospheric steam canner.

Get Your Supplies Together

  • Pressure canner
  • Jars
  • Lids and rings
  • Lid lifter
  • Canning funnel
  • Jar lifter
  • De-bubbler/headspace measurer
  • Dish towels
  • Bowls
  • Large spoons

Prepare Your Jars and Lids

Wash your jars, lids and rings in hot soapy water and rinse well. Check your jars for any imperfections. If you are using the raw-pack method, your jars do not need to be pre-heated. Heating is to prevent breaking when hot food is added. Prepare your lids and rings according to package directions – some need to be pre-heated, some don’t.

Prepare Your Meat

Since you are going to “cook” the meat, you don’t have to worry about bacteria. You can make things really easy for yourself and buy ground meat. I still purchased my meat in bulk and ground it at home since it is more economical that way. I had a beef roast and a pork loin so I ground and canned both. You can also just cut the meat into chunks.

Raw pork in jars - How to Can Raw Pet Food

If you see a recipe for canning meat that says to add salt, don’t! The salt is for flavoring meat for humans, not preserving and we don’t want it in the pet food.

If you are making dog food and adding fruit/vegetables, stir them into the raw meat.

Pack your meat into your jars as tightly as possible and try to remove any air pockets. Leave one inch of head space. Do NOT add any liquid. The meat will make it’s own delicious juice.

Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth to be sure it is perfectly clean. Put on the lids and screw the bands on finger tight.

Raw beef and pork - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Pressure Canning Your Meat

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for more specifics on preparing the canner itself.

  • Put 2 to 3 inches of hot water in your canner.
  • Place the filled jars on the rack in the canner using the jar lifter.

Jars in canner - How to Can Raw Pet Food

  • Fasten your canner lid securely, leaving the weight off the vent.
  • Turn your heat to high, heating until the water boils and steams. Always vent for a full 10 minutes.
Steam venting - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Steam venting

  • Place the weight on the vent.
  • Start timing the process when the pressure gauge indicates that the recommended pressure has been reached or, for canners with no gauge, the weight begins to wiggle. The pressure will depend on your altitude and you’ll find this information in the instructions with your canner.

  • Regulate the heat to maintain the pressure at or slightly above the recommendation.
  • Processing time for the meat is 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts. I recommend pints for cats because you will need to use it within about 3 days once it is opened. I even used half pints since I was making this for just one cat. If you do use half pints, you still need to process for the full 75 minutes.
  • When the timed process is complete, turn off the heat and let the canner cool down naturally. This can take up to 45 minutes.
  • When the canner is completely depressurized, remove the weight and wait another 10 minutes.
  • Unfasten the lid and open it away from you.
  • Remove the jars from the canner by lifting them straight up (do not tilt) with the jar lifter and placing them on a rack or folded towel away from drafts. Do not leave them in the hot water to cool. They will fail to seal.

Finished pork - How to Can Raw Pet Food

  • Do not adjust the rings. Do not try to dump or wipe any water from the lids.
  • Leave the bands on the jars until they have cooled completely – up to 24 hours.
  • Once completely cool, remove the bands.
  • Check each jar to be sure it is sealed by pressing the middle of the lid with your finger. If it springs back, it didn’t seal. Refrigerate any jars that haven’t sealed properly and use within 3 days.
  • Wipe the jars with a damp cloth. Some oil may have seeped out during processing. You can replace the cleaned bands or leave them off.
  • Label and date your jars. Store them in a cool, dark, dry place for up to one year.

While the meat was processing it smelled so good! As I mentioned above, I did both pork and beef. I filled the jars the same and although the pork looked like it had more fat, it was actually the beef that had more.

Finished beef and pork comparison - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Since you can only the meat, you add your supplements when you serve your meat, or meat and vegetables in the case of dog food. This created a bit of a challenge for me. You can buy supplements pre-mixed but I already had my supplements that I use when I make raw so I made my own. I mixed up a batch of supplements (minus the fish oil) that I would use for 3 pounds of meat then calculated how much I would add to one half pint jar that is about 7 ounces of meat and juice.

When I opened the jar, I poured the contents into a bowl, stirred in the supplements and put the unused portion of the meat back in the jar.

Pork straigt from jar - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Pork with supplements - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Ready to serve pork - How to Can Raw Pet Food

All three of my cats love this cooked meat. Looks like I’ll be making another batch soon.

Is pressure canning a new idea for you or do you already use a pressure canner to preserve food for your family? Have you canned or thought about trying to can raw pet food?

Pin It for Later!

Step by step instructions: How to can raw pet food. Read why it is a good idea to have home canned food available for your pets whether or not you feed raw.

Further Reading:

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Canning Raw Pet Food – Why Do It?

There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.
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OK, I can hear you raw feeders out there all the way over here. Why on earth would I want to can my raw food, you are asking. There are actually a few reasons why canning raw pet food is not a bad idea. I’m not suggesting you can all the raw food you make, but to have some canned on hand for emergencies is actually a good idea.

Benefits of Canning Raw Pet Food There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.Last September, when the Butte fire broke out, I was just getting ready to make a batch of raw when the power went out. We got our generators set up and I was going to make it the next day but, before I could, we were evacuated. I’m bad about waiting until the last minute to make the next batch and I had NONE in the freezer.

I had the cats’ things all ready to go except for food! I couldn’t even buy more at our local store because their power was out too and they were closed. In all the chaos, I didn’t think about stopping to buy some when we were down the hill evacuating the horses. Thankfully, (I think the cats were more thankful than I was) I had a big bag of treats and that’s what they had for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning.

That second day, I was able to go down the hill to the pet store in Jackson to buy food. Oh my gosh. I read and agonized over labels for what seemed like hours. I started feeding raw because Christy has chronic diarrhea on canned commercial cat food and I hadn’t really looked at labels in years. I am still looking for a commercial food she can eat for times like this but it hasn’t happened yet.

My friend Kelly’s relatives were kind enough to offer us a place to stay while we were evacuated but they had dogs and there was not a good place for the cats. I have an SUV and decided the best place for them was in the car. I really didn’t want Christy to have an issue with diarrhea in my car so it was especially difficult to decide what to feed them.

As much as I am against feeding dry food to cats, I decided she would be less likely to get diarrhea from it and I hoped it would only be for a short time. So, I settled on what seemed to be a high-quality dry food and that is what they ate for the next few days. If I had a supply of canned raw food on hand, it would have been easy to grab and put in their go boxes and I would have been much less stressed.

Recently, I went to a pet blogging conference and took Christy with me. I knew taking frozen raw food on the trip would be very impractical so I decided to try canning some of her food to take along. I made it a couple of weeks ahead of time to have time to try it out on her. I wanted to be sure she would eat it and she loved it!

Benefits of Canning Raw Pet Food

  • You know exactly what is in it
  • It is the same food your pets are used to eating
  • It’s convenient to have on hand
  • It is safe for human consumption in a pinch

Canning Raw Pet Food - Should you do it? There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.If you want to try this, check out my instructions for canning raw pet food coming next week.


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Is Lavender Toxic to Cats?

I wanted to know, is lavender toxic to cats? If it is classed as toxic to cats, what exactly does that mean? Is lavender safe to use around my cats?
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I love lavender. I love the flowers, the scent, the color. I love everything about lavender, so imagine my delight when I recently won a gift bag full of lavender scented items. There was a lovely reed diffuser, body wash, moisturizer, even some laundry detergent.

Then someone said, “I hope you don’t have cats!” Oh, but I do. I have three cats. Then I had a little flicker in the back of my mind that reminded me I heard recently lavender is toxic to cats. So I put all those treasures away and didn’t think much more about them.

Then I also remembered that I have been using lavender scented air fresheners around my cats for years. What harm might I have done?

Is lavender toxic to cats? flowers, lavender and titleIs Lavender Toxic to Cats?

The end of June, I went to the BlogPaws pet blogging conference in Chandler, Arizona. BlogPaws and the Cat Writers’ Association joined forces this year to make the conference doubly awesome. We received swag bags loaded with lots of terrific items provided by the sponsors and vendors.

Over the weekend, I finally had some time to thoroughly go through the bags to see what was in them. I needed to decide what Christy Paws would give away on her blog for her birthday/gotcha day celebration.

One of the items included was a calming collar from Sentry. And there, right on the top, it said lavender and chamomile fragrance. Sentry is part of Sergeant’s Pet Care Products and I know Sergeant’s has had issues with their flea medications so immediately a red flag went up. I knew I had to do some research on lavender. I wanted to know, is lavender toxic to cats and if so, what exactly does that mean?

What Exactly Does Toxic Mean?

As with many things on the internet, you’ll find many opinions. I wasn’t interested in opinions. I wanted some facts. Even the ASPCA lists lavender as toxic to cats so there must be some merit to the claim. (When I look at the list of plants toxic to cats, I wonder how they ever survived!) So, the first thing I wanted to know is, what exactly does toxic mean?

Webster’s Dictionary defines toxic as “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation.” Is this really true of lavender? Could it kill my cat? Some seem to say yes, don’t let it anywhere near your cat. It will destroy it’s liver. On the other end of the spectrum, an article in Catster says it is safe for your cats to eat.

Does a Plant Have to be Deadly to be Classified as Toxic?

This is where the confusion and varying opinions come in to play. The answer is a resounding NO! Plants don’t have to be deadly to be classified as toxic. Toxic can mean anything from a little will kill to a whole lot will cause an upset stomach. A “toxic plant” list tells you nothing about how much is dangerous.

Lavender falls into the “a whole lot will cause an upset stomach” category. Ingesting the plant or flowers may cause a mild GI upset with nausea and vomiting, according to the ASPCA. Moderation is the key and I think most cats are good at the moderation part on their own.

Can I use

What About Lavender Lotions and Diffusers?

But back to my goodies. I wasn’t planning on feeding lavender to my cats. I don’t even have a lavender plant. I want to use my room deodorizers and reed diffuser. I want to wear the lavender scented lotion. What about those? And what about that calming collar?

Dr. Melissa Shelton, who has pioneered the use of essential oils to treat animals, has used lavender (and other oils) in diffusers for years. When she first started, she watched her kitties closely and did lots of blood work to make sure they were healthy. She continued to monitor them to make sure no abnormalities were developing. Based on this and her observation of her cats’ behavior, she went on to explore further the use of essential oils for cats.

diffuserI feel pretty comfortable that my reed diffuser is fine to use around my cats. Of course, I have made sure they can’t get to it where they might ingest the oil and they can leave the room to get away from it.

If my cats don’t like the way something I have used smells, they let me know by moving away from me or it. It is unlikely that any hand or body lotion would contain enough lavender to create any kind of a problem but, to be safe, some recommend you wait until it is completely absorbed before touching your cat. I do that with any lotion anyway.

And as for that calming collar, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled. Sentry says their collar uses “a pheromone that mimics the one mother cats produce to calm their kittens, the collars are clinically proven to reduce or eliminate stress-related behavior such as inappropriate marking, destructive behavior, clawing and anti-social behavior. Collars help alleviate problem behaviors triggered by travel, thunderstorms, fireworks and new social situations.”

The collar ingredients state pheromones (squalene) 6% and inert ingredients of 94%. There’s no mention of the lavender or chamomile so I called the company. They should be getting back to me in a day or two and I will update this post.

Once I hear from them, I might give the collar a try the next time I take Christy in the car. She doesn’t hate the car anymore but she sure doesn’t love it! If the collar could help her be more comfortable, that would be a good thing.

Please note that this post is about LAVENDER. There are other herbs, plants and oils that are detrimental and even deadly to cats. But remember, when you read that something is toxic, you really need more information than that.

Lavender bunch and oil

Why the Concern Over Essential Oils?

Treating cats with essential oils is a totally different subject for another post, but I wanted to address, without going into detail, what the concern over essential oils is.

Essential oils are 500-2,000 times stronger than the flower or plant from which they came. A cat’s liver lacks the enzymes necessary to break down and excrete certain chemicals in many essential oils as well as other substances, like aspirin, and these chemicals can build up to a lethal level.

I want to leave you with this list from Optimum Choices of oils to definitely avoid around cats.

Lemon Lime
Orange Bergamot
Tangerine Pine
Mandarin Spruce
Grapefruit Fir
Cassia (cinnamon) Thyme
Clove Savory
Oregano

I’d love to know about your experiences with lavender. Do you use it around your cats? Do you use essential oils?

 

References:

ASPCA – Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants: Lavender
Toxic Plants- What Does That Really Mean
University of Maryland Medical Center: Lavender
Is Lavender Poisonous to Cats?
Pet Aromatherapy And Essential Oils: What You Need To Know
JustAnswer.com Cat Veterinary
Forget Everything Bad You’ve Ever Been Told About Essential Oils for Pets

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How to Prevent Cat Hairballs

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If you have had a cat for any length of time, you have most likely experienced it. You are sound asleep when you are jolted awake by the sound of your cat hacking, gagging and retching. You know when you turn on the light you will be greeted by the sight of a hairball.

Hairballs, how to prevent them. Photo of cat grooming.

Hairballs, how to prevent them. Close up of cat's tongue licking paw

The tiny backward-slanted projections on their rough tongue send the hair down their throat into their stomach

Hairballs are the by-product of your cat doing what it does naturally – grooming. When cats groom, the tiny backward-slanted projections on their rough tongue send the hair down their throat into their stomach. Most of the hair passes undigested through the digestive tract in the feces, but some stays behind in the stomach and eventually forms a hairball.

An occasional hairball, once every week or two, is nothing to worry about. If your cat is refusing to eat, lethargic or has repeated episodes of unproductive retching, you should consult your veterinarian as these could be signs of something more serious.

Hairballs, a by-product of what your cat does naturally. When they groom, they ingest loose hair. Click To Tweet
Ocean grooming Echo

Some cats, like Ocean, feel the need to groom every cat in the house, making them even more susceptible to hairballs

The Best Ways to Prevent or Reduce Hairballs in Cats

Make Sure Your Cat is Getting Enough Moisture

If your cat is eating an all-dry diet, she is not getting enough water. Since cats get most of their water from their food, your cat is living in a constant state of dehydration and her digestive system is working harder than it should to process all that dry stuff. Her GI tract is less able to move the fur and other debris through than a well-hydrated cat. Consider feeding your cat a more species appropriate diet.

Add Omega-3s to Your Cat’s Diet

Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3s, is a commonly seen nutritional deficiency in cats. Commercial pet food often provides more omega-6 than they need and not enough omega-3. A healty balance of fatty acids will not only improve your cat’s coat and skin, but it will help her digestive system deal with the hair and other debris she swallows. Krill oil is the optimum source of omega-3.

Brush Your Cats OftenHairballs, how to prevent them. Photo of cat grooming.

Removing the hair before it is ingested is the best prevention of hairballs. Brush your cats at least once a week and more during shedding season, even daily. The more you brush the less time it will take each time making it more tolerable for your cat. Some cats are not fond of brushing. As with most things, the younger you start brushing your cat the better. If you have a long-haired cat, tangles can be an issue but if you brush often, these should be eliminated.

I have three cats and each takes to brushing differently. Ocean tolerates it but swishes his tail the entire time. Christy enjoys it and lays patiently while I maneuver her around to get the best angles. Echo, when he sees me brushing one of the others, comes and begs me to brush him and tries to take over the grooming spot.

The added benefit of brushing, besides preventing hairballs, is that you will have less hair floating around your house to vacuum up. Speaking of vacuuming, be sure to keep string, thread, and other materials off the floor that could become dangerous if swallowed and entwined in a hairball. I have to be especially careful of this with Echo — he is a string chewer.

Choosing a Brush or Comb

There are many types of brushes and combs on the market. You should use whatever works best for you and your cat. Some prefer one over the other. Combing is more efficient at removing loose hair but brushing is usually more soothing. When you are finished brushing or combing, rub a damp paper towel over your cat to pick up any remaining loose hair.

What I Use

When I discovered FURminator deShedding Tools a few years ago, I got rid of all my other combs and brushes. I had heard how great they were but the price kept me from getting one for a long time. I wondered if they were really worth it. I finally got one on sale and haven’t used anything else since.

FURminator claims to reduce shedding by 90% and I believe it. Your cat ingests less hair, reducing the chance of hairballs significantly. It also stimulates your pet’s natural oil production, which protects the skin and promotes healthy, shiny coats. And less loose hair means a reduction in airborne allergens.

National Hairball Awareness DayTo celebrate Hairball Awareness Day on April 29th, I’m hosting a giveaway for a FURminator. I have not been compensated for this post in any way. I just love FURminator and want to share one with one of my readers. The FURminator in the giveaway is designated for long hair; however, I have both long and short-haired cats and use the long-haired version on both. It works great!

The giveaway will end May 2, 2016 at 12:00 am. The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only who are 18+ years old. The winner will be contacted by email to confirm shipping address. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before an alternate winner is chosen. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you can’t wait to see if you win, you can purchase a FURminator now!


 

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Does Your Pet Have a Protein Intolerance?

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When I first started feeding my cats a homemade raw diet, I used Dr. Lisa Pierson’s chicken recipe from catinfo.org. Once I had my grinder, the recipe was pretty easy, especially the more I made it.

This website doesn’t talk about rotating proteins so my cats ate chicken for probably three years or more. Even though I thought about giving them something different for variety, I didn’t have any other recipes and didn’t know how to make sure another protein was properly balanced.

Avoid a Protein Intolerance

As I did more research on raw feeding, I learned that feeding theTitle image - Protein Intolerance: How to Avoid It - photo of raw chicken in a bowl same protein over and over can cause allergies or at least an intolerance to that protein. So, several months ago, I started rotating their proteins.

Now, my cats eat a way better variety of meat than I do. Some of them I’d love to have for myself but they aren’t available or are too expensive. They have had rabbit, venison, turkey, duck, pork, bison and beef. I buy rabbit, duck, venison and bison from my local raw food supplier, Excel K9. I buy frozen ground turkey in bulk (5 lbs.) at the grocery store. I buy large, whole beef or pork roasts and grind them myself.

Shortly before I started rotating proteins, Christy started throwing up several times a week but I didn’t think that much of it. She’s the reason I started feeding raw since she has always had a sensitive digestive system. I didn’t give it anymore thought since she stopped when I changed her food and all seemed well.

When it was time for chicken again, I made my usual batch. Right away, Christy started throwing up again, this time pretty much every meal. I conducted a little test. I gave her canned tuna and it stayed down. I gave her pork and it stayed down. Another meal of chicken and up it came. This could all be coincidence but it seems she has probably developed an intolerance. And, of course, I have 40 pounds of chicken thighs in my freezer! That’s okay, though. No more chicken for Christy. At least not for a long time.

I want to make it clear that this is not just a raw food issue. Feeding the same protein over and over in any form; canned, dry or raw, can cause allergies or an intolerance. It is important to rotate the proteins and even the brands in your pets diet.

Have you had an experience with a protein intolerance or allergy? How have you dealt with it?


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Feline Chin Acne: Does Your Cat Have It?

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As a foster for hundreds of cats and kittens over a period of more than five years, I learned a great deal about a lot of diseases and ailments. One I had not heard of prior to fostering was feline chin acne.

I was fostering my now adopted cat, Ocean, who was frequently scratching at his chin. When I looked closely, it seemed very dirty so I tried to clean it with a wet paper towel. I thought it was dried on food. A few specks came off but most of the black spots remained. Some even started to bleed a little. The area seemed greasy. I told the medical director for the rescue about it and was told it was probably chin acne, also called feline acne or kitty acne.

Feline chin acne is a fairly common condition in cats. It can effect any cat regardless of age, sex, or breed. Learn the symptoms and treatment.

What is Feline Chin Acne?

Feline chin acne is a fairly common condition in cats. It can be a one time occurrence, come and go, or be a chronic, difficult to treat condition. It can effect either sex of any breed at any age, although some sources say it is more common between 2-4 years of age due to hormones.

The chin of a cat has lots of sebaceous (oil) glands that connect to the hair follicles. These glands get plugged up with oil and form blackheads. In some cases, the blackheads can turn to pimples and eventually abscesses that rupture. Secondary bacterial infections are common at that point.

What Causes Chin Acne?

The exact cause of chin acne in cats is unknown but some of the factors may include:

  • hyperactive sebaceous glands
  • poor grooming habits
  • sensitivity to food or chemicals in the diet
  • compromised immune system
  • stress
  • contact or atopic dermatitis (allergies)
  • hormone imbalances

How is Feline Chin Acne Treated?

There are some conditions like mange, yeast infections and ringworm that look similar to feline chin acne. Skin scrapings may be necessary to rule these conditions out.

Mild cases of blackheads may only need to be disinfected with Betadine or cleaned with a gentle soap. My veterinarian also told me the area could be dabbed with witch hazel or hydrogen peroxide once a week or so.

You need to keep an eye on the blackheads to make sure the condition is not progressing to a more serious stage when bacterial infection becomes a concern. Severe cases might require antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications.

Speaking of bacterial infection, it was once thought that plastic food dishes could be a cause of chin acne. However, it is now thought that the bacteria on the plastic dishes is the culprit and not the plastic itself. Since it is porous, plastic is very hard to disinfect so glass or stainless steel feeding dishes are a better choice.

Does a Dish Really Make a Difference?

A while back, I received a Dr. Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Relief to try out. Christy Paws told you all about whisker fatigue and reviewed the bowl on her blog.

Since we only had one bowl (and three cats) and Ocean had the chin acne issue, I decided it would be his bowl to see if it made any difference for him. Since we received the bowl in January, he has been eating from it exclusively. I stopped cleaning and disinfecting the area to be able to test only the bowl. After 7 or 8 weeks, I do see a definite reduction in the number of blackheads.

Although I can’t be sure the bowl is responsible for the improvement for Ocean, I know he does eat from it differently than his old bowl. He kind of shoveled the food out of his old bowl with his chin. He doesn’t do that with the Dr. Catsby’s bowl.

Dr. Catsby’s Food Bowl for Whisker Relief (Misc.)


List Price: $19.99 USD
New From: $19.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Ocean only has blackheads and no open lesions. I believe using a glass or stainless bowl is very important for cats with this more severe condition to help avoid infection.

Ocean's improved chin

When I told the folks at Dr. Catsby that I wanted to write about the results of this little experiment, they offered to give me a bowl to give away to one lucky reader. If you don’t know about whisker fatigue, which is a whole different subject, and Dr. Catsby’s Bowl, click on the link above to read about whisker fatigue and Christy’s review.

Ocean with Dr. Catsby's Bowl for Whisher Fatigue

The giveaway will end March 28, 2016 at 12:00 am. The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only who are 18+ years old. The winner will be contacted by email to confirm shipping address. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before an alternate winner is chosen.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC Disclaimer: I received a Dr. Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Fatigue to try and review. This review was posted on Christy Paws. I have received no compensation for this post. I only review products I have tried or use and feel might be of value to my readers. All opinions are my own.

More reading:

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3 Reasons to Rotate Proteins in Your Pet’s Diet

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How many of us have found a food our pets like and eat well so we stick with that? We feed them the same thing at every meal, day in and day out. How would that go over with you? How healthy do you think your diet would be if you ate like that? I doubt we would choose that for ourselves, yet we choose it for our pets.

3 reasons to Rotate Proteins

3 Reasons to Rotate Proteins

Alleviate Boredom

I think this one is pretty obvious once you think about it. We would find eating the same food every day pretty boring, at least eventually. I realize we are not dogs or cats, but in the wild, our pets’ ancestors did not eat the same thing every day. They are designed to eat multiple sources of protein to meet their nutritional needs. Different tastes and textures will make mealtime more exciting for your pet and reduce the chance of them becoming a picky eater. Once they are used to the same thing over and over they are less likely to want to try new foods.

More Complete Nutrition The 3 Reasons to rotate proteins in your pet's diet

Just like we need a variety of foods for complete nutrition, so do our pets. All pet food on the market must meet the standards set by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials); however, it is unlikely that any one formula is the ideal food for the life of your pet. No matter how complete and balanced a food claims to be, it is unlikely it contains everything all dogs or cats need for their entire lifetime. If a formula is low in a particular nutrient, your pet could become dangerously deficient. Nutrients like amino acids, fatty acids and minerals all vary from protein to protein. Varying what your pet eats means they will get a better balance of nutrients.

Prevent or Heal Food Allergies and Intolerances

Pet food allergies develop due to overexposure. For decades, pet food has been made from chicken and beef which, by no coincidence, are the most common pet allergens. In order to make pet food cheaper, animal protein was partially replaced with plant protein from corn and wheat, the two most common grain allergens. By rotating proteins and feeding foods that are grain-free you will reduce the risk of your pet developing a food allergy or intolerance and can likely heal an existing one.

 

You can rotate proteins in your pet’s diet using a combination of canned, freeze dried, and raw. I don’t recommend dry food but at least dogs don’t have the hydration issue with dry that cats do. Rotate brands as well as protein sources.

Remember to change food gradually if your pet has a sensitive stomach and is used to one food. I feed my cats homemade raw food and change their protein with every batch I make — about every 10 days. They are used to eating a variety and don’t require a gradual change.

Rotating proteins will help your pet live a longer, healthier life.

Are you already feeding your pet a rotation diet? How does it work for you? If not, have you considered it?


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The 2 Most Dangerous Things About Dry Food

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Tabby cat - 2 most dangerous things about dry foodIf you feed your cats dry food, the best thing you can do for their health is to STOP. I know it is convenient. I know it is less expensive. I know your cat loves it. But it is not good for your cat. Here are, in my opinion, the two most dangerous things about dry food.

Too Little Moisture

The ancestors of our domestic house cats were desert-dwelling wild cats of the Middle East. These ancestors passed down to our pets super-efficient kidneys designed to extract the maximum amount of water possible from their prey. Cats have a low thirst drive and usually don’t drink until they are about 3% dehydrated. This may not sound that bad but it is a level at which many veterinarians would consider giving supplemental fluids.

A cat’s natural prey, the mouse, is about 65-75% water. Dry food is less than 10% water. When all sources of fluid intake are added together, what’s in their food and what they drink, cats eating a dry food diet consume less than half the water of a cat on a canned or raw diet. On a dry food diet, minerals from the kibble and metabolism build up in the bladder because of the reduced frequency of urination, producing hyper-concentrated, over-saturated urine leading finally to blockage. In addition to urinary crystals and stones, this chronic dehydration is responsible for or contributes to many other health issues including bladder infections, constipation, and kidney disease.

Too Many Carbohydrates

Dry foods, no matter how premium or even prescription, are mostly grain-based (or now, other inappropriate carbohydrate sources like potato and pea flour) and contain about 25 to 50% carbohydrates. Cats have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates and feeding them a diet high in carbohydrates is detrimental to their health.

Pet manufacturers may tell you their pet food contains carbohydrates for energy. Humans use carbohydrates for energy but cats use protein and fat and have little ability to digest carbohydrates. When cats process carbohydrates, they are turned directly to fat which promotes obesity. Obesity leads to many other health issues like high blood pressure, pancreatitis, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and so much more.

Carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels higher and faster than other nutrients and trigger the release of insulin. When cats have dry food available all the time, they nibble multiple times a day causing multiple sharp swings in blood sugar and the release of insulin. Over secretion of insulin causes cells to become insulin resistant. That’s just one reason dry food is a major contributor to feline diabetes.

Give Your Cat the Gift of Health

So, no matter how healthy your cat may seem on a dry food diet, consider what it may doing in the long term. If your cat is a dry food addict, there are many articles on the internet to help you transition your cat to a wet or raw food diet. It might take a good amount of time but don’t give up. Your cat’s health depends on it.

 

Additional reading:

Live Science: House Cats’ Wild Ancestor Found

Little Big Cat: 10 Reasons Why Dry Food is Bad for Cats & Dogs

Feline Nutrition Foundation: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat’s Pee

 

Keep your pets hydrated and active!

This post contains Amazon Associate links which means we receive a small commission if you click from our site and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!


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Cat Whiskers — 12 Interesting Facts

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When you marvel at a blind cat whizzing around the room, Cat Whiskers 12 Interesting Facts avoiding all obstacles, you can give the cat’s whiskers the credit. Some people mistakenly think that whiskers are like human hair but this is not the case. Here are 12 interesting facts about whiskers.

Facts About Cat Whiskers

1. Whiskers are very sensitive
Have you ever noticed your cat quickly moving away from your hand if you bump its whiskers or turn its head if you try to stroke them? Whiskers, which are two to three times thicker than hair, are actually touch receptors. The follicles that hold these long, stiff hairs, called vibrissae, are deep with lots of nerve endings that send information to the cat’s brain.

2. There are whiskers on the muzzle
The whiskers found in horizontal rows on either side of the muzzle are called mystacial whiskers. There are usually 12 on each side but the number can vary. These whiskers are connected to muscles that allow the cat to move them.

Muzzle, eyebrow, chin3. They are not just on the muzzle
Most often, we think of whiskers on the muzzle, but that’s not the only place you’ll find them. Cats also have whiskers above the eyes, on the jaw and behind the front legs near the feet.

4. The whiskers on the legs
The whiskers on the front legs help cats when climbing and to position their prey for the killing bite.

5. Whiskers help the cat “see” in the dark
At the tips of the whiskers is an organ called a proprioceptor which sends signals to the brain and nervous system. This helps the cat know where every part of its body is. It can sense even small changes in air current, which is very helpful in the dark (feeling air flow change around furniture) or when chasing prey.

6. Whiskers let the cat know if it will fit
Do you ever cringe, like me, when you see a cat go into a tiny space, wondering if it will be able to get out? A cat’s whiskers are about as long as the cat is wide. This helps the cat know if it can fit through a narrow space. You might see a cat put its head through an opening several times before entering as it judges the size. Cats don’t have a true collar bone so they can twist around and fit in small spaces. 

7. Whiskers help cats measure distance
Whiskers help a cat visually measure distance. This is how they are able to jump so gracefully on to a high ledge or precisely leap on prey.

8. They are an indicator of your cat’s mood
When a cat is angry or defensive, they will pull their whisker straight back against their face. When a cat is curious or on the hunt, they will be pushed slightly forward. Whiskers that are still and sticking straight out mean your cat is happy and relaxed.

Curious cat whiskers slightly forward

9. The longest cat whiskers
The title for the longest whiskers in the world is currently held by Missi, a Maine coon from Finland who boasts 19 cm (7.5 ins) long whiskers and has held the record since 2005.

10. Unusual whiskers
Not all cats have long, straight whiskers. Some have long whiskers that curl in all directions. Some breeds, like the Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex, have very short, curly whiskers.

11. Don’t cut or trim your cat’s whiskers
No matter what your cat’s whiskers look like, don’t ever cut or trim them. They will fall out and grow back naturally, but cutting them will confuse and disorient your cat. It would be like blindfolding us or taking away our sense of touch.

12. Whisker stress or fatigue
Does your cat pull food out of its dish to eat? Does it only eat part of the food and still act hungry? It could be whisker stress. Since cats’ whiskers are so sensitive, it can be uncomfortable for them to eat from narrow dishes. The easy solution is to feed your cat from a wide, shallow dish.

Eating from small dish with cat whiskers touching side

Sources:

How Stuff Works: Why do cats have whiskers?
WebMD: Why do cats have whiskers?
mnn (Mother Nature Network): 13 things you didn’t know about cat whiskers
LiveScience: Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?
PetMD: Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?
PetMeds.com: Help your cat avoid “whisker stress”
Guinness World Records: Longest cat whiskers


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Dangers of Dry Food – Part 2 – How It’s Made

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In Part 1 of Dangers of Dry Food, I told you about some of the main ingredients in dry food — the “meals.” They might be a named meat meal like chicken or turkey, a by-product meal or the hodge-podge of ingredients in meat and bone meal, each one less desirable than the one before.

In addition to the meat meals, there are various grain and soybean meals used in making dry food. Generally speaking, the lower the price of the finished product the more likely it is that it is high in grain products and lower quality meat meals. Although price is not a guarantee, you can see that a manufacturer could not afford to sell a product for a low price and make it with a high-quality, more expensive protein.

The most common process for making dry cat and dog food is through extrusion. The machines used for this were adapted from machines originally used to make puffed breakfast cereal.

The manufacturers “recipe,” which usually contains a mixture of meat and grain meals as well as antioxidants (preservatives), is made into a wet dough. It is pre-heated then goes into the extruder where it is cooked at extreme heat and pressure. At the open end of the extruder, the dough passes through a shaping die and is cut off by a knife into small pieces. These pieces rapidly expand into kibble once they are exposed to normal air pressure.

Kibble is then dried in an oven until its moisture content is low Dangers of Dry Food - Part 2 - How It's Made - Kibbleenough to make it shelf stable. Once dry and cool, the kibble goes into a drum where it is sprayed with fats and a “flavor enhancer,” without which, your pet would probably not touch the kibble. This enhancer is “animal digest,” another rendered product. Due to these additives, kibble only has a shelf life of 10-12 months, even less if the manufacturer used natural preservatives like vitamin E and C. These enhancers can easily become contaminated with salmonella as many recalls and human illnesses have proven.

To make pet food nutritious, manufacturers must “fortify” it with vitamins and minerals because the quality of the ingredients they are using are often extremely variable and the harsh manufacturing processes destroy many of the nutrients the food had in the first place.

Proteins are especially vulnerable to heat, and become damaged, or “denatured,” when cooked. Because dry foods ingredients are cooked twice — first during rendering and again in the extruder — problems are much more common than with canned or homemade foods. Altered proteins may contribute to food intolerances, food allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease.¹

Enzymes are special proteins that aid in thousands of chemical reactions in the body. They are especially fragile to heat and are destroyed at even relatively low temperatures. The normal food enzymes that would help digest the food are destroyed by the heat processing that dry food undergoes. This forces the pancreas to make up for those lost enzymes. Over time, the pancreas can become stressed and enlarged, and even get pushed into life-threatening pancreatitis.²

Dangers of Dry Food - Part 2 - How It's Made - pet food label - Do you think this is a low or high-quality dry food?

Do you think this is a low or high-quality dry food?

What You Can Do

  1. Read your labels carefully
  2. If you must feed dry, be sure to use it before the expiration date
  3. Practice safe food handling
  4. Try feeding canned, homemade or raw

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