Streaky Bell seems to get mentioned in a large percentage of my columns. As our only furry cohabitator at the moment, he does make an easy subject to write about. That, and he's a pretty cool cat, too.
Streaky Bell (named by my daughter after Supergirl's cat, Streaky, and Alexander Graham Bell) is a Bengal Cat, and is almost 10 now. He is a very integral part of our household, and even though Jackie is allergic to cats, she seems to enjoy the fact his favourite place for his bed is right beside her on the couch, and that he always seems to creep up onto her from his bed.
When we first got him, he was diagnosed with feline colitis, which meant that dry food was never an option for him, because of the discomfort of digesting all that fibre and filler. Like many pets out there, he requires a specialized diet. Whether it is because of allergies (the most common reason), digestive issues (like Streaky) or another medical condition, diet can be the cause of the problem, and can also be the cure.
For the first 8 years or so, we used the highest quality canned foods for him, mainly holistic or grain free ones, and more recently, the canned all meat varieties that are being offered. He has been generally healthy and happy, with only the occasional digestive issues, but never enough to actually seek veterinary help.
Over the last year, we've switched him to a fully raw diet. I had wanted to before, but we were caring for Sheera, my inlaws Aussie cross, after they passed. Sheera was a lovely dog, but very food aggressive, and we were worried that feeding the cat raw might antagonize her. So I held off until she took her journey over the rainbow bridge.
Since converting Streaky to raw, we have seen some pleasant changes in him. He does seem more fit and focused, his play is more directed, he rarely gets in trouble trying to steal food (he was a bread addict, but now doesn't seem to care for it) and in general, he is a much better pet. Jackie's allergic reactions are almost gone, except when she gets a little scratch from him as he leaps. For me, the most apparent change is in the litterbox.
Even on the best canned foods, Streaky could clear two rooms with a single bowel movement. Using the litter gems, the smell would dissipate quickly, but that first 15 minutes, wow. Now, on raw, you never know when he has gone, except for the scritch, scritch, scritching of his claws in the litter. Because the gems don't require you to remove urine clumps, my litterbox duties are reduced to once a week removing a small scoop of feces about the size of a large lime from his litterbox and tossing them into the garbage on my way to the bin on recycling day. That alone is worth any extra effort I put into his food.
Yes, there is extra effort, and possibly extra expense depending on what you currently feed (my costs went down!). Its not as easy as opening a can, or dumping out of a bag/box. And there are cautions you need to heed, proper handling to reduce our exposure to bacteria, and proper balancing to ensure the pet gets all that they need, meat, bone and organ meats in balance. A little research can help guide you with this, but it is pretty easy, once you have the basics down, and get into a routine.
Most people who are against raw point out that there is no scientific evidence for them, that all the benefits are only supported by anecdotal (personal observation) evidence. And they'd be right, because no major corporation has reason to put millions into the peer reviewed papers proving raw works. Until 100 years ago, cats and dogs didn't have the "benefit" of dry or canned foods, and many would suggest they were healthier for it back then. With the overwhelming "anecdotal evidence" out there being positive for raw feeding, though, there must be something to it. The best way to see if there is a difference is to try it yourself. I did.