Archive for the ‘Cat nutrition’ Category

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Meet the Breeder – Molly Barr of Mythicbells Persians

8 April, 2011

A little peek at Mythicbells Persians

This is the first in a series of interviews with cat breeders. I met Molly through my blog. It turned out that she also fed her cats raw. I was thrilled and impressed by her dedication because she’s got more cats and has multiple litters than I do so it must have been hard work.

Molly breeds Persians that have a more traditional look – they have a ‘bit more’ nose. You can catch up with Molly and her cats on her own Mythicbells Persians website and blog.

http://www.mythicbells.com/index.htm

http://mythicbells.wordpress.com/

Question: Why did you become a breeder?

Molly:  I’d always had the intention to breed cats. About 7 years ago, several things came together in my life more or less at the same time:

I’d been retired for quite a few years and realized one day that if I wanted to breed cats, I now had the time to do it.

I also had 3 elderly Persians, all with health issues and this factored in heavily.

First, I knew “my” breed — it had to be Persians.

Second, my beloved cats were so important to me that I was very fearful of how I was going to handle losing them.

(One cat had just had surgery for intestinal lymphoma, one had just been diagnosed with heart disease, and I’d been fighting inflammatory bowel disease in the third cat for years. I wanted the distraction of a younger generation of kitties coming into my life. Breeding would allow me to do that.)

The third reason I wanted to try breeding was feline nutrition. I’d raised my 3 older Persians on the usual — dry kibble.

When it finally became obvious to me that the vet wasn’t going to figure out a way to help my cat with the IBD, nor were any of the medications working, nor any of the prescription diets, I took the plunge into (GULP) raw feeding.

Over the next few months I began to feel so strongly about it, I felt that I wanted my next cats to be raised on a species-appropriate diet.

I felt that kittens born to such cats and started out with good nutrition would also be healthier overall.

Question: How did you get started?

Molly: The general plan was to get one kitten with breeding rights and have a litter every year.

(Looking back, that was a terribly naive plan, but there you have it.)

However before I made my move I researched for several months, so was a bit more tuned in when I actually did approach a breeder for a kitten. And that was just the tip of the iceberg of the many things I was to learn in the next few years.

I wanted to do it right, so registered a cattery name with CFA and began my search for registered kittens from a reputable source.

I purchased 2 female kittens with breeding rights, and arranged for stud service with the breeder.



Simba Khan, the majestic studcat

Question: What was your happiest moment?

Molly: I don’t recall a happiest moment, but the kittens a so incredibly precious, I enjoy every second they are with me.

Question: What was your saddest moment?

Molly: My saddest moment was the loss of a kitten in an accident here at home. She was six weeks old and had a family waiting for her.

No matter how careful you are, most breeders are eventually going to experience this, and it’s very difficult.

Question: Do you have any tips for anyone thinking of breeding cats?

Molly

1. Have a mentor if you can find one. Someone experienced you can call.

2. Do your research…. and I would like to tell you to “do it right,” but I know many of you won’t listen.

By “do it right”, I mean breed only from registered cats.

I KNOW that your undocumented [i.e. not officially registered with a cat registry for breeding] boy (or girl) is the most precious cat in the world and you’re probably thinking: what a pity that his or her genes won’t go on.

Well, I don’t know how many times I’ve had this conversation with someone wanting a kitten to breed. Though I can understand people who want to have some pretty kittens to play with and, yes, I know many do it without undue consequences or heartaches, but many do not.

3. You will also want to consider these questions:

  • Who are you giving (or selling) these cats to?
  • Do you know the health consequences to your queen and stud?
  • When your stud starts spraying, then what?

… the list goes on!

4. Do not breed unless you can find quality homes for your kittens and do not breed unless you can be a source of support and information to the families who adopt your kittens.

5. Many breeders will tell you to not breed unless you show your cats. I don’t show my cats and I do breed. I’m not listening either. You’ve got to follow your heart.

6. Never stop learning. Your kittens depend on you.

7. The business end of breeding cats is tough. I’m in the United States, so I know it may be different in other countries, but you will need a good website.

Do not trust your kittens to ads in the paper. You should have a contract and be able to guarantee your kitten buyers various things as far as the health and pedigree of your kittens.

Sirocco, one of the queens at Mythicbells Persians

Question: What advice do you have on how to sell kittens?

Molly: If you are breeding unpedigree kittens and plan to sell them cheaply or give them away, I want you to think of how you are going to feel when a perfect stranger arrives on your doorstep, hands you a couple hundred bucks and walks off with a kitten you’ve raised and treasured. If you give the kittens away, same thing.

I’ll never forget the adoption of my first litter. I vetted the people carefully and felt that they were good homes, but when they drove off with those kittens, I felt that nothing short of full FBI and CIA profiles on them as well as their extended family would suit.

1. I now have an extensive questionnaire that must be filled out in detail and I pour over them weighing the pros and cons of each family.
2. Also, I charge a good price for my kittens to weed out that young kid who is going to buy his girl friend a cat, or the impulse buyer.

3. I like my kittens spoken for early so that by the time the family arrives to pick up the kitten, I know them pretty well. There are no guarantees, but you have to try.

Question: What cat breeding books would you recommend?

Molly: There are many fine books on breeding cats. I wouldn’t choose any one over another, I would have them all.

Your greatest resource for information, however, is the internet. Make sure you find the cat breeder forums and particularly a few of the ongoing Yahoo lists regarding feline health. Breeders from all of the world participate in these. You will find over time that you will know more about some the latest developments in feline reproduction than your vet.

One book I strongly recommend to anyone who has a cat and wants it to live a long and healthy life is: “Your Cat” by Elizabeth M. Hodgkins, DVM.

All photos copyright Molly Barr of Mythicbells Persians

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Great Cat Breeder’s Blog – Mythicbells Persian Cats and Kittens

13 February, 2010

I’m so please to be able to tell you about a great cat breeder’s blog:  Mythicbells Persian Cats and Kittens, written by Molly Barr.

Molly breeds (as you’ve guessed!) Persians, and also feeds raw.   She’s not just a cat breeder, she’s also an artist.

So do check out her site for some great information about raw feeding, cat health, and photos of breathtakingly beautiful Persians!

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My visit to the Natural & Organic Products Show 2009 (1)

6 April, 2009

I made my annual pilgrimage to the Natural & Organic Products Show 2009 today.  (You can read last year’s visit in the post here).

It’s a trade-only show, which means that its a showcase for what’s new and cutting-edge in the health and food industry. 

I find it very useful because it’s a one-stop shop to chat to the market-leaders and experts in their fields.  Yes, ultimately it’s a commercial show, but I’ve always met a lot of people who are passionate about making a difference in providing healthier alternatives to the way we eat and live.  And the exhibitors are generous in sharing their knowledge and samples which means I can write based on personal experience!

In most years, a three-hour visit has been plenty.  This year I found myself running out of time and frantically running round even after the show had been declared over, because there was so many new products to investigate.

I’ll cover my findings in the following categories as separate posts:  pet foods, pet-related products, (human) food products and personal care products.

PET FOODS

1.  My find this year was Lily’s Kitchen Proper Pet Food.   Henrietta, the founder, named the company after her Border Terrier, Lily.  She wanted to give Lily a diet that wouldn’t contain any of the preservatives and chemicals that commercial pet food contains.  

Every ingredient in the range is human-grade and organic.  Just as importantly, there is no soya or grains, artificial colourings, preservatives or flavourings or animal derivatives (e.g. cow hooves).  Even the chicken used is NOT chicken meal (i.e. powdered chicken) but from whole chicken.

It’s the only pet food in the UK to be certified both Holistic and Organic.  Lily’s Kitchen was awarded “UK’s Best Pet Food Company 2008-2009”.  And apparently holistic vets like Richard Allport are recommending the food in their practice.

The cat food range has a higher meat content of 60%.  It’s still not as high as I’d like it to be, but for people who can’t feed raw, or are transitioning to raw, this is definitely a big step in the right direction.  The US has traditionally always led where holistic pet food is concerned, but it’s been impossible for US companies to import wet pet food into the UK because of EU regulations.  So it’s exciting that finally, such choice is available to pet lovers in this country.

Lily’s Kitchen for cats is available in Organic Dinner with Chicken and Organic Dinner with Lamb.

2.  Another pet food company new to the exhibition was Forza10.  I couldn’t work out why the name was so familiar, until I remembered seeing it on the zooplus web-site.

The company is Italian, and what is of note is that the President of the company, Dr. Sergio Canello is a Homeopath and Vet.  Again, the impetus for the company was to create pet foods that would not result in food intolerances or cause allergies in pets. 

The ingredients are apparently the result of years of clinical and scientifc research (see website) and are unique to Forza10.  They claim to be effective in helping to resolve food-related allergies such as dry and dull coat, fur loss, paw licking, dermatitis, localised itching, eczema, pyoderma, vomiting and diarrhoea.

There are two Forza10 ranges – Forza10 and Forza10 Bio.  The latter is based on organic-certified meat and fish for cats and dogs.  Furthermore, no meat comes from intensely-farmed animals.

Looking at the list of ingredients for Forza10 Bio wet food (which is available in rich in Beef or rich in Chicken variants), the meat content is an impressive 97.4%, but this is made up of both the meat (min 30-40%) and meat by-products.

(At the risk of sounding facetious, the term “meat by-products” always reminds me of that menu in Terry Pratchet’s Mort, where Mort is faced with a choice of a “curry with named meat” and a “curry with an unnamed meat”!)

Again, it’s nice to know that there is a better choice out there for our pets.  Anything that moves away from pet food that contains artificial preservatives, flavourings, colours and poor-quality meats is a good one.

3.  Rattle and Reward cat treats.  Yes, this is kibble.  But the ingredients are natural (meat and fish), hypoallergenic with no carbs, and rich in salmon.  No artificial preservatives are used.  They come in a little embossed tin, and it’s amazing just how quickly cats will work out what that rattling sound means!  The cat treats are appropriately-named “Cat Cravings”.

Thank you to Lily’s Kitchen, Forza 10 and Rattle and Reward who kindly gave me samples of cat food to try.

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10 April 2009 – Additional findings

I opened the Lily’s Kitchen.  It is a pate-type cat food, set in jelly.  It is not as pureered as most pate-type foods (e.g. Friskies Gourmet Gold), there are small bits of meat and veg in it, but it’s not as evident as say, in a product like Almo Nature where the meat is instantly recognisable.

The Rattle and Reward has been a resounding success.  Ananda, who is usually the gentle soul, actually cries out for it when she hears the rattle of the tin.

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Raw feeding recipe using Woldsway Rabbit

9 July, 2008

Raw Rabbit Recipe

INGREDIENTS

1 x 0.5kg pack of boneless wild rabbit chunks

1 x 0.5kg pack of mixed rabbit offal (heart, liver, kidney, lungs)

1 x 0.5kg pack of minced wild rabbit (bone-in – VERY IMPORTANT for the calcium content)

2 x raw egg yolks (preferably organic or free-range)

2000mg taurine (very important if using frozen meat, or will be freezing the meat)

400IU Vitamin E

100mg Vitamin B

2000mg salmon oil

1 tsp kelp

1 tsp psyllium husk

Preparation

Cut rabbit chunks into smaller chunks if feeding kittens.  Puree offal in meat grinder.  Mix with mince.  Place in large bowl.  Add approx. 200-300ml of water.  Add egg yolks (not the egg whites).  Open supplement capsules and sprinkle over mix.  Mix with spoon or if feeling bloodthirsy, hands.  Spoon mix into small freezer bags.  Approx. 3 dessertspoons per bag will feed 5 kittens (at 7 weeks’ old) per meal.  Will make approx. 10 bags x 3 spoons per bag.  This is approx. 3 days’ worth of food.

Rabbit from http://www.woldsway.co.uk/acatalog/Pet_Meat.html

Supplements from various sources (mostly dry, powder version for ease of mixing)

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Kittens 2008 – their first meal

25 June, 2008

Here is a photo of the first meal I gave the kittens.  As mentioned in my previous post, even though the kittens were just 4 weeks’ old, Mum Cat kept bringing them chicks to eat.  Of course they were too small to even attempt to eat them, but I felt they might be old enough to attempt solids.

I wean kittens onto raw meat.  In this photo, they are tucking into wild rabbit mince gound with the bone, mixed with pureed offal (lungs, heart and liver) and little kitten-mouth-sized chunks of rabbit.  I got it all from Woldsway Rabbit who this year have started doing offal packs – many thanks!  Into this mix I add egg yolks, taurine, Vitamin E, Vitamin B-complex, kelp and psyllium husk.

It is a labour of love – it is more time-consuming to have to put together a home-prepared diet rather than just open a bag of cat biscuits and pour into a bowl.  From reading other breeders’ experiences, I do believe that kittens take more readily to raw food.  Certainly, as you can see from the photo they seem to recognise what food is. 

Not all the kittens ate the raw meat in that first encounter.  In the photo are Mum Cat who’s setting them an example – she frequently calls them to their food – the two boy kittens and one of the creams.  I don’t try to force the kittens to wean if they’re not ready.  All of them are still suckling from Mum.  And the littlest cream kitten isn’t eating as much raw.  However, to date all the kittens are now eating some raw.

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The Supreme, Shopping and a Sphynx

24 November, 2007

The Supreme (which was held on Saturday 17th November this year), is the largest cat show in the UK and is run by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).  To qualify for entry to the Supreme Show a cat must first win at a GCCF Championship Show.   So as you can expect the standard is very high.It’s also one of the best shows if you want to see any breed of cat, meet cat breeders or go shopping for cat products.

It’s held at the NEC in Birmingham, and last year I went by train, which meant I couldn’t get as much cat goodies as I wanted to because I couldn’t see myself lugging bags of cat litter back on the train.  It was a shame because cat shows are the best places to see what was new on the market, buy in bulk, receive discounts, or to get free samples of cat products.

This year I was lucky.  My new kitten owners were curious to see what a cat show was like, plus they wanted to do some cat shopping.  They were going to drive there, so I cheekily asked if I could have a lift there – no problem, they said!  So this year, I did the journey there and back in an extremely comfortable car.  As an added bonus, the said car had a lot of boot space so we could really stock up.

And my, these new kitten owners were smart shoppers.  They came prepared with trolleys on wheels so we wouldn’t have to carry everything by hand.  Definitely a good idea, those trolleys – in fact, we probably could have set up a stand selling them as we saw loads of people struggling with bags while we sauntered by.

So what did we buy?

Cat food:  Applaws Cat food by the box because there was a case discount.  applaws.jpgApplaws is the UK-equivalent of Almo Nature Cat food – very very high quality, human-quality, in fact food.  Real bits of chicken, or fish.  No preservatives, soya, filler, carbs, apart from a little rice or pumpkin.  You could make a sandwich with the tinned chicken – it’s that good.   Bozita cat food by the case as well.  Bozita is a Swedish brand, it comes in nifty tetra-packs which fold over at the top so you can store them easily.  Bozita CrayfishThey were giving away kitten packs with every case – the box containing the kitten pack had a house printed on it, and the windows and door of the house were perforated so you could take them out and the kittens could play in the house!  Interesting flavours – crayfish, for one.  Bozita has an 88-95% meat content.  Unlike Applaws, it’s meat that’s reconstituted into chunks, not real pieces of meat, but without any soya or grains which is good because you want to avoid feeding carbs to cats.  Some of the ingredients seemed expensive to me, like crayfish, but maybe crayfish in Sweden is not an expensive food?  We got some free samples of a new brand of canned cat food from the US – Evangers – premium ingredients again, like organic chicken, or pheasant, and high in protein.  I went home and opened the can, and it was pate-type cat food which unfortunately aren’t to my cats’ tastes – pity.   Royal Canin had a large stand there – they make dried cat food and are priced at the higher end of the market.  I was curious about their breeder scheme, and was told that breeders received 30% discount (or thereabouts) or RC cat food.  However, you couldn’t just fill in a form to join, but you had to buy a 20kg bag from the stand, and then one of their sales reps would sit you down and talk to you.  What about I asked, but they wouldn’t tell me.  I didn’t have the time nor the inclination, so I declined.

CatsBestNaturesGoldCat Litter:  There were a few new-ish brands of cat litter on the market.  It seems the trend is moving towards biodegradable cat litter in a bid to capture the eco-conscious cat lover.  Which is all very well, but how good is the odour control and is it easy to clean?  I bought some Cat’s Best Nature’s Gold – it’s pellets made from fir and spruce wood.  I was interested in it because I’d used Cat’s Best OKO Plus previously which is more granular.  Nature’s Gold is supposed to track less, and not stick to the furry bottoms of long-haired cats.  There was a special offer on:  a 20kg bag for £12, 2 bags for £11 each etc.  World’s Best Cat Litter had a stand and I mentioned that my kitten packs never arrived, and they promised to send them to my kitten owners, so fingers crossed.

ElGatoCatnipCigarCat toys:  we were hoping that Da Bird cat toys would be available, but the person who has the sole distributorship in the UK wasn’t there.  We got some catnip toys – an El Gato catnip Cigar and a Yeoww!  Catnip Banana.  So far I haven’t found a more potent catnip toy, and one which lasts and lasts.  Some of the catnip toys on the market look large, but the catnip doesn’t fill the whole toy.  With an El Gato the whole of the catnip toy is packed with catnip.  And it seems to stay potent for a long time.  I still have a catnip cigar that’s a year old and still gets revisted by my cats.  These catnip toys are more pricey (RRP is £5.50), but we bought ours from a cat club table for £4.  I also bought two spiders made from pipe cleaners from another club table.  My Bengal loves these pipe cleaner spiders – it seems to trigger something in her predator brain and she will pounce and kill them over and over.

Which brings me to the cats, just in case you thought we were only there for the shopping.  Did we look at the Maine Coons?  Of course we did.  We saw some really huge fellas – the largest weighed in at 25 lbs!!!  My new kitten owner was a walking endorsement for me – she showed off her kitten photos, and I was really chuffed.  I’ve been hoping for a red stud boy for Ananda next year, and someone who saw the kitten photos was a breeder with just such a stud, so watch this space!

Which brings me to the final topic in this post: the Sphynx cat.  I wrote briefly about the Sphynx in my post last year on the Supreme.  They are an extreme-looking type of cat, and not to everyone’s taste, but there’s something so alien,  yet noble about their looks that I love them.  Despite their strangeness, they are cats through and through, and love a cuddle and are very friendly.  My new kitten owner hadn’t seen a Sphynx, so I dragged her to the exotic cat section.  She wasn’t disappointed.  In most cat shows, the owners don’t allow their cats to be handled by the public in case of germs.  The Sphynx owners were more obliging than most others – we got to touch and hold two Sphynx cats.

SupremeSphynx1 This is Infurno Kismet owned by Sara Allwright.  When I held him, he just lay in my arms, purring.  I put my cheek to his flank and it was warm and felt just like a peach.  Sphynx cats aren’t totally bald – they have little bits of fur at the base of their ears, and a few hairs on their tails.

See you next year at the Supreme!

(with many thanks to the Zealands for a fantastic day out, and without whom this post wouldn’t have been written)

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Moth

6 September, 2007

Mum cat, Ananda, helpfully brought in a LARGE moth last night. 

She let it go and the kittens pounced.  Moments later, Loki, the brown tabby kitten, was wearing a cute fluttery moustache.  A gulp later, moth was no more and Loki was looking very pleased with himself.

(urggh – rather him than me).

There is a stain on the kitchen floor where the moth’s wings have left their powdery imprint.  Elli, the little black kitten, keeps darting toward that spot and sniffing it.

I suppose this could be construed as raw feeding for cats?  What sort of nutritional values does a moth have?  Is there a market for canned moths for cats?  Are you going to report me to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Moths?

[if you suffer from Mottephobia (fear of moths) as I do, cats are a great way of avoiding it.  I grew up in a country which had Atlas Moths – please be kind – Atlas Moths have a wingspan of 10-12 inches!!!   Imagine, a moth the size of a blackbird!!!! I haven’t seen many moths around this summer.  Now I know why.

Ananda, the mummy cat, understands what I mean when I say “flappy flappy?” in an enquiring tone, and she looks around for the moth.  You know you’re a cat breeder/crazy cat person when you talk baby talk to your cat!]