My cats’ health and happiness is more important to me than just about anything else in my life. I spend a lot of time researching cat health topics, not just for Allegra and Ruby, but also to be able to bring you the latest information on how to keep your feline family members happy and healthy.

As a result of my strong interest in cat health, I also do a lot of research into human health and nutrition. The two go hand in hand for me. I’ve always eaten a reasonably healthy diet. I believe in moderation. While I eat mostly vegetarian, I do eat some fish and seafood, and I’ll even ocassionally indulge myself with some red meat.

My biggest challenge is my wicked sweet tooth. I grew up in Germany, a country with the lovely tradition of the daily afternoon “Kaffee and Kuchen” (coffee and cake) break. It’s a time when Germans take a mid-afternoon break to indulge in a little sweet treat and some conversation with friends or co-workers. When I worked at IBM Germany in the early 80’s, Kaffee and Kuchen break in the company cafeteria was a tradition that was never messed with, no matter how tight a project’s deadlines might have been.

enjoying Kaffee and Kuchen with my dad

enjoying Kaffee und Kuchen with my Dad

But I digress. The point of this post is that as I transitioned my cats to a grain-free canned and then raw diet, I found it increasingly easy to make better choices when it came to my own meals. It seemed ridiculous to pull a Lean Cuisine dinner out of the freezer when I had just spend the last hour writing about how bad processed foods and artificial additives are for cats. And of course I know that they’re equally as bad for humans.

I used to be a good cook, but haven’t really cooked for myself in years. I didn’t enjoy it, so I just stopped. I eat out a lot, and I buy a lot of prepared foods. Granted, I buy most of my prepared foods at Whole Foods, so at least I know they’re not loaded with preservatives and chemicals, but I know that they’re still not as healthy (not to mention less expensive) than if I were to make my own meals.

My cats don’t have a say in what they eat – I make that choice for them. So why wasn’t I making better choices for myself?

I began making more conscious choices about what I eat. I started printing out easy recipes that take less than 30 minutes from start to finish. I have green smoothies for breakfast. The green part took some getting used to, but in the right combination, they’re actually quite tasty. My favorite: 1/2 cup of milk, a banana, a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter, a handful of kale or spinach, and a little Stevia for some sweetness and to cut the bitter taste of the greens. By the way, Allegra approves: she taste- tests my smoothies every morning. The only times she wrinkles her little nose is when I go a little too heavy on the greens.

I started cooking again. It’s a work in progress. Last weekend’s chili was a big success. The salmon and tomato omelette? Not so much.

I bought a juicer. Not the super expensive $500 kind, just a little $30 Black and Decker model. It works great. If I decide that juicing is going to be part of my lifestyle, I’ll invest in something a little more powerful. The jury is still out. I like the idea of juicing. I understand the concept of why it’s so good for you. I’ve made some tasty concoctions, but you throw out so much of the vegetables and fruit after the juice has been extracted that it seems pretty wasteful.

I believe in moderation, so in case you’re wondering whether I’ve completely given up sweets – I haven’t. But I have cut back considerably. Most days, my mid-afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen break has turned into more of a cheese and crackers or handful of trail mix break. I indulge on weekends, in moderation. A nutritionist at a lecture I attended a couple of months ago recommends that you eat healthy 80% of the time and allow yourself a break the remaining 20% of the time. That approach makes sense to me, because it’s something anybody can live with without feeling deprived.

These changes were fairly easy for me for two reasons. Once I got a better understanding of how harmful so many of the additives and chemicals in our foods are (the average American eats 5 pounds of pesticides a year!), it was kind of a no-brainer to make more conscious choices. But the biggest reason for these changes are Allegra and Ruby.

Once I switched Allegra and Ruby to a raw diet, the transformation was dramatic. They are the two healthiest cats I’ve ever had. Their coats are glossy and soft. They’re both lean and energetic. The transformation was particularly dramatic with Ruby. She was fed a grocery-store brand dry kitten food in her foster home, and her foster parents told me she wouldn’t touch canned food. I didn’t even transition her to raw food, I just put it in front of her for her first meal in our home. She balked. I held firm. An hour later, she ate it, and she hasn’t looked back since. When she came to me, her coat was dull and scruffy looking. Within a week, it was glossy and smooth.

Did my coat turn glossy and smooth? Well, not quite. (Actually, my hair has gotten much softer and healthier since I stopped using hair products containing lauryl or laureate sulfates, but that’s a blog post for another day.) But I do feel better overall. I have more energy. My blood sugar doesn’t slump in the afternoon the way it used to. I sleep better. Thanks to my cats, I’m healthier.

Have your cats inspired changes in your life? Please share in a comment!

20 Comments on Sunday Purrs: Healthy Cats, Healthy Human

  1. I enjoyed reading this post because it was validating what I have been experiencing. I have noticed that when I eat processed foods my body somehow communicates that, even though I took in calories, it is not satisfied and needs nourishment. So, I am less and less satisfied with processed stuff…just doesn’t hit the spot anymore. I like the 80/20 rule. I can be successful with moderation but always fail with extreme measures.

    My cats have changed my life in many ways. Most of them are related to resetting priorities about what really matters and what doesn’t. If they are happy and healthy then I am too. If that means I need to change my environment then I do. One thing we have been struggling with lately is THE NEW RUG. It is a simple wool rug which, to them, is a simple wool scratching pad. My cats have numerous options for scratching so they are not deprived. But they cannot make a distinction between rug and post/pad. I have tried deterrent sprays. Any ideas on this? I am just about to give up and let them have their way with it.

  2. Scott and I have totally changed the way we eat in the past year and he’s lost 70 pounds and is off his diabetes medication, completely. As food makes us sick, it can heal, too. Our one indulgence is dark chocolate, and we have it every day with a cup of coffee. I look forward to the treat and time together.
    Since I’ve had cats all my life I can’t really say how they have changed me,it’s more that they have molded me.

    • Trish, that’s wonderful that you and Scott made these changes, and especially that Scott was able to come off his diabetes medication. And dark chocolate is said to be sooo good for you!

  3. I was wondering how to get rid of my sugar cravings and found a lot of people had good success with “The Diet Cure” by Julia Ross, which walks you through amino acid supplementation. I noticed a difference while I was taking them, and then when I ran out I really noticed a difference.

  4. Great post today, Ingrid. HH, too, used to cook all the time, but had resorted to prepared food until lately. Now, she’s trying to get back to cooking and not eating the prepared stuff.. Hopefullly, she make the transition completely, because she sure feels better when she’s eating the good stuff.

    Have a great day and thanks for the time it took to put that post together.

    pawhugs, Max

  5. Ingrid, so glad you’re cooking again! I worry for people who don’t even if they are eating quality prepared foods. My love of cooking grew from my love and skill for growing things, kind of a roundabout way to get there but the lessons of organic gardening and respect for living things just made it a natural choice, and it made a huge difference in my physical, intellectual and emotional condition or I would not be where I am today.

    My cats have always gotten the best I could get or knew to prepare, and I can credit them with entering the world of homeopathics and natural medicine, lessons I’ve transferred back to myself and then to others. Providing a completely raw diet for a household of at least seven cats is not possible for me, but I provide the best canned when I can’t but somehow they’ve all managed to live to their late teens and even into their twenties. Bon appetit, or however you might say that in German!

    • It’s “Guten Appetit” in German, Bernadette. I’m actually quite amazed at how much of a difference these small changes have made in just a few weeks.

      • That was my guess but I’m never certain of my translations anymore. I can tell you that I went off my diet earlier this year for just a month or six weeks and ended up with a gall bladder attack, yes, the change, in either direction, comes that quickly.

  6. I need help. My two oldest cats are runny, stinky stools once a day and I’ve tried every kind of cat food there is on the market. They love the junk food!! I’ll buy good natural food andthey’ll eat it for a minute and turn their nose away from it. I’ll try for two days, they’d rather starve! Help! P.S. they are been to the vets, nothing is wrong with them.

    • Cathy, I would start with elminating all grain from their diets. Get a good, grain-free canned food (some brands I like are Nature’s Variety Instinct, Weruva, Wellness CORE). If you’re comfortable with the idea of raw feeding, you can also try that.

      Transitioning can take time, and requires patience. This article was written specifically for transitioning cats off dry food, but the tips apply to making any diet change:

      I hope this helps. Don’t give up – getting your cats off the junk food and on a better quality grain-free food is one of the best things you can do for their health.

      • Thanks, I’ve tried some of the food you mentioned. I guess I’ll try some again and see what happens. I’ll read the article!! Thanks so much!!

  7. This is a great post, Ingrid. I learned a lot about you. I am also one who believes in moderation. I eat about 80% vegan and have learned to listen to my body and take its cues. As for my cats inspiring me, I can say one thing for sure: they have taught me to slow down and relax a bit more. I’ve always been a go-go-go person and have dealt with some pretty unfortunate anxiety difficulties over the years. My cats remind me to take breaks, naps, and play (and they are more than willing to “help”). I still am prone to anxiety, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was.

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