My Life With Cats
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian or formally trained animal practitioner. I have acquired natural cat health knowledge through decades of: self-education, trial and error, research, experience working with holistic animal practitioners, and the guidance of my personal homeopath.
Bona Fide Cat Lover
I was born in Illinois with cats (and dogs, fish, birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, turtles, and rabbits). In fact, I think I might have been a cat in a former life. As a child, I put the family’s cats in my doll strollers and pushed them around the house.
As a pre-teen in the 1970s, I got the urge to help shelter cats, and my mom took me to a local animal control to see about volunteering. My tender young heart couldn’t handle knowing some of these precious creatures would be put down if they weren’t adopted, and I was so upset about the dirty nasty conditions of the facility. (These facilities have sure come a long way, thank goodness.) So, I set the urge aside for later.
Fast forward to adulthood
Cats that needed homes always seemed to cross my path. My first kitty away from living at home was given to me by a coworker and friend, an elderly man, who just simply wanted me to have his cat. A beautiful, shy black and tan calico I named Kitty. (So unique, huh?)
I moved to Arizona and went a few years without a cat, until a coworker’s cat had kittens. Mind you, this is ages ago (1980) when neutering and spaying your cats was even less common than it is now. I adopted two from the litter, a girl and a boy, and named them Mikona and Brittany. Brittany was supposed to be a girl, but turned out to be a boy. The three of us then moved to California and I ended up renting a room in a house. The owner of the house had many dogs and cats that all lived outside but came indoors on occasion. Mikona and Brittany were kept indoors and were very close to each other. The owner did not use any flea control, and Mikona and Brittany got full of fleas, as did my room and bed. I started using chemical based flea shampoo and collars on the kitties. The fleas were so bad, I bathed them in these toxic chemicals weekly, completely unaware of the danger I was placing my precious cats in.
Back then, Feline Leukemia was not as prevalent as it is now, and not much at all was known about it, in fact there was not even a vaccine for it. Brittany, still under one year old, suddenly became very ill–lethargic and not eating much–and the test showed positive for FeLV. “The only thing we can do,” said the veterinarian, “is put him out of his misery.” It was a dismal day, and Mikona was depressed for a couple of months. The veterinarian thought perhaps Mikona was a carrier of FeLV because if one kitten had it, then she should too, yet if I remember correctly, she tested negative.
A few years later, it was time for another kitty cat because Mikona was alone. I adopted Katy, a beautiful black medium haired, from the local animal control. Well, Mikona had gotten accustomed to being alone, and wasn’t very thrilled to share her mom with Katy. But, they did end up friends.
Fast forward again
Mikona is 12 years old and suddenly becomes ill–lethargic and not eating. Her tests show liver and pancreatic cancer. The vet opened her up to remove the tumors, but it was so bad, it was too late for surgery. I took her home to go when she was ready, because I thought that is what she wanted, but really it was what I wanted. Over the next week, she became lifeless. It was misery for me and her, as she began moaning in pain. I knew it was time and took her to the emergency vet clinic to say goodbye to her. It was a very emotionally painful time for me.
When I became ill with many health problems
I began searching for answers and learning about natural healing approaches for myself and then for my kitties. Natural remedies healed all of my health problems, and I later started using them for my cats with amazing results. I learned about the dangers and toxicity of flea products, as well as many other toxic products we expose our cats to, including ingredients in pet food and cat litter and regular vaccinations. I realized that the weekly baths in flea shampoos, while may not have been the entire cause of Mikona’s cancer or Brittany’s immune system succumbing to FeLV, certainly contributed to their immune systems weakening and breaking down. The body cannot fight off illness or cancer cells very easily if it is busy trying to clear out the chemical toxins.
Not long after, upon a visit to the vet, I heard tiny kittens meowing behind the front desk. And so, Pooka and PoKai joined the family. PoKai tragically passed away at a very young age (a story for another time.) By now, I was full fledged into providing a natural lifestyle, environment and healing for any problems for myself and my cats. This provided all of us with a safe and non-toxic household, and helped save on vet bills.
Helping the unwanted
There were stray cats roaming in my neighborhood. This started me on trapping for spaying/neutering and fostering. First was Hanalei, a beautiful buff color medium hair with blue-green eyes. Hanalei was a princess, sweet, easy-going, laid back. Nothing bothered her. She became part of my family. I trapped a momma cat, who was very wild, and after spaying returned her outside. I trapped 4 of her 5 kittens (one ran away never to return), and gave them “temporary” foster names–Six Toes (yes, she had six toes), Fluff, Red, and Fussbudget. They required lots of time to socialize and tame them and I became very attached to them. I tried to adopt them out or have a rescue or vet clinic take them, but 3 of them were too skittish to even be handled by anyone but me. A family wanted Six Toes, the only tame one that I wanted to keep, and I ended up not letting them have her. So, now I had seven cats and I was an official foster failure. Fortunately, they all got along.
In 2005, I acted on my dream and moved to Hawaii. That was quite an ordeal, especially with pets. My ex-husband kept Pooka–I felt she was too old to put her through the move and she had suddenly become frantic in carriers. I found barn homes for Red and Fussbudget because they were still so wild. Katy had passed away. Six Toes, Hanalei, Fluff and my dog Sierra went to Hawaii with me.
In Hawaii, there is a need for cat rescue volunteers and homes for the many homeless dogs and cats. I became a cat colony feeder for a non-profit called Hui Pono Holoholona (which means doing right by animals in Hawaiian). They focused on TNRM–Trap, Neuter (and spay), Return, Manage (feed and care for the cat colony). I started bringing home abandoned kittens and some adult cats by the boat load. (Well, not quite by boat load, but you get the gist of it.) I tamed, fostered, adopted them out, assisted at the surgery clinics. Cried tears of sadness and happiness.
Almost always, the kittens would be sickly, anemic, full of fleas and starving. With the assistance of my personal homeopath, I treated and healed most of them with natural products, bringing them to robust health. (A few were just too far gone and didn’t make it past day one of their rescue.) Cats came and went. Tiger, Harley, Maxwell and Callie became part of the family. Tiger went from being on his death bed as a tiny, starving, sick, anemic kitten to a vibrant, healthy boy, using all natural products. Callie and Harley are the resident clowns. Callie used to get frequent urinary tract infections, as did Maxwell, and both healed using natural homeopathic remedies.
I volunteered for an animal sanctuary, Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary, home of 90 +/- dogs and 250+/- cats. In their in-house cat “hospital,” the rescue’s founder let me experiment with homeopathy to help the sickly cats. We witnessed some miracles. I was so excited that the group exclusively used pine pellet litter, which I had been using for at least a decade. Under my recommendation, we started using digestive enzymes for the sick cats with severe chronic diarrhea, which provided some help. I urged them to try a grain free dry cat food for the entire facility, and we noticed a decrease in the diarrhea and an increase in the quality of the cats’ fur.
In 2013, I returned to California, minus some cats and with a few extra other cats. My new neighborhood had it’s share of community cats well cared for by residents. Cats were abandoned and wandered in to find food. I had trapped a few for spaying and neutering, found homes for kittens, and adopted Edgar. Edgar was a crazed, wild, nasty un-neutered tomcat who after being neutered, turned into a sweet, loving, funny young man who is perfectly content living safe and sound inside.
CATS GONE HEALTHY’S MISSION:
To use my vast experience, trial and error, and knowledge to help you, the cat lover — whether cat parents, fosters, rescue groups, volunteers — provide a natural healthy lifestyle and healing for your cats to:
- Be energetic and lively at any age,
- Reduce costly trips to the vet,
- Avoid harmful, toxic products and drugs
- Live in a safe, non-toxic environment (for you, too!)