A Productive Rant About Kitten Food

When I first got Sully I didn’t really give much thought to his food. His breeder weaned him on Whiskas Kitten pouches and Royal Canin dry food, so I stuck with those without really questioning it. It didn’t occur to me that you can get lots of variation in cat food; I just assumed it was all made using similar ingredients and that the big brands must be the best choice, seeing as they’re so popular.

I noticed something wasn’t quite right within a few weeks of having him. His tummy was bloated and he was making a real mess every time we went to the toilet, so I turned to Google to find out what might be causing the problem. At first, I was worried that something really serious might be causing his diarrhoea- like some sort of gastric parasite- but the more I looked into it, the more I noticed a theme that kept cropping up; his diet.

I took a closer look online at some mainstream pet food brands and what I found was pretty shocking. It’s a well-known fact that cats are carnivores, so the main ingredient in their kitten food is surely just meat, right?

Wrong. Lots of our trusted brands bulk up their recipes with weird stuff that isn’t part of a cat’s natural diet, and the ingredient lists available online are vague. One website just says “Meat and Animal Derivatives (including 4% Poultry), Oils and Fats, Cereals, Minerals, Various Sugars” which didn’t really tell me anything. I dug a little deeper though and found that “Meat and Animal Derivatives” actually means the cheapest (and nastiest) parts of an animal. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, this can include anything from bits of lung to muscle meat. Gross.

It’s clear that some well-established pet food brands throw any old rubbish into their recipes to keep costs low and demand high. I don’t agree with that ethos and as a newly-turned-vegetarian, I don’t feel comfortable buying into it. I decided to ditch the mystery meat and find a healthier alternative.

My first thought was to put Sully on a raw diet, but I got over that idea pretty quickly. I can hardly prepare a decent meal for myself- let alone my cat! Good quality fresh meat is also expensive. I wanted something that wouldn’t break the bank or compromise on quality. To help narrow my search I came up with a plan; look for brands that offer food with high meat content, low grain content and minimal additives.

The first new brand I tried (on my Nan’s recommendation) was Trophy Pet Foods. They’re a great service that delivers their products straight to your door, free of charge. My local Trophy Nutritional Advisor- a lovely lady called Karen- came to my house for a consultation and gave me some free samples of their Premium Hairball Control Dry Food and the Ultra-Premium Natural Wet Food.

The wet food was amazing. Every pot is made from around 70% human-grade British meat and Sully loved it. His fur was shiny and his toilet troubles improved, but at almost £14 for 21 pots (he’d need 56 pots per month!) it wasn’t cheap enough for me. The dry food, however, was a winner and I still buy it today. It’s only £5 for a 5kg bag; made using over 45% meat and fish, together with vegetables and natural herbs/oils. Karen delivers a couple of bags to me every month so I don’t even need to worry about going to the shops to stock up.

Next, I came across a UK-based brand called Nature’s Menu who claim to be Europe’s leading experts on raw and natural pet foods. Their Chicken Meal for Kittens contains 70% chicken, zero meat derivatives (hooray!) and no grain or sugar. Even though it was still a bit pricey at £31.95 for 48 pouches, I thought it was still definitely worth a try.

I switched Sully over to Nature’s Menu over two weeks ago and I’m already seeing improvements. His litter tray no longer looks like a crime scene, and the high-quality ingredients seem to be keeping him fuller for longer. He used to wolf his old food down and be licking his bowl clean within minutes; now he eats much more slowly and doesn’t always finish his meal in one go.

The only downside to Nature’s Menu is that their kitten range is very limited. Maine Coons develop more slowly than other cats and my breeder recommended that I keep Sully on kitten food until he’s around 2 years old. The pouches only come in chicken flavour, whereas Trophy Premium Natural Wet Food would have given Sully a bit more variation with chicken, salmon and game.

For the moment though, these are the brands I’ll be sticking with and my advice to anybody is: do your research, don’t be afraid to try independent brands and really take notice of what’s in your pet’s food. A household name doesn’t always mean good quality.

Until next time,

MCM x

Why I Love the Maine Coon Personality (and You Should, Too)

This week I want to tell you a bit more about Sully’s personality and how (I think) it’s unique to his breed. I did lots of research prior to getting him and the majority of the stuff I read is true; Maine Coons really do have remarkable personalities. Sully isn’t like any other cat I’ve owned before – if anything he’s more like a dog.

For starters, he eats double the amount of a “normal” cat. I’m talking 200g of wet food per day, as well as around 150g of dry food AND treats on top of that. No matter how much I feed him, he’s always on the lookout for his next snack. If I drop any scraps of food on the floor he hoovers them up straight away; even random food you wouldn’t expect a cat to eat, like bread. A few days ago I even caught him eating a bit of discarded halloumi from a BBQ we had. I always had cats down as fussy creatures, but not Sully. He’s basically a furry bin whose greed knows no bounds.  His low point was when ate the leaves off of my Ficus Bonsai tree…and ended up poisoning himself.

20170710_124938

Second, he follows me absolutely everywhere. I have an open plan living room/kitchen and if I cross the threshold into either room he’ll follow me there. He sits on the edge of the bath whilst I shower, sleeps under my desk when I work from home and plays in the bedroom when I go to sleep at night. I’ve never had a cat that’s followed me around like that before. He doesn’t do it in a needy way, either; he generally prefers me to leave him alone so he can watch whatever I’m doing.

 

Maine Coons are labelled as an outgoing and sociable breed and this is 100% true. Sully is like that one friend you can take anywhere, but in cat form. Usually cats will take themselves off to a quiet place when the house is busy, but Sully loves to be involved and seems to enjoy it when we have people over. He’ll usually make a beeline for whoever he hasn’t met before, which is part of the reason I keep him as a house cat. His curiosity towards strangers makes him vulnerable and easy to steal.

One of my favourite things about Sully, though, is his resilience. He’s super accepting of new circumstances and nothing ever fazes him, which makes him one of the easiest pets I’ve ever had (apart from my goldfish) in terms of moving house, going away for the weekend…anything like that. About a month after I got him, I moved from a small flat to a house and was pretty worried about how he’d react – I knew from past experience that moving a cat is hard because they’re so territorial – but he completely took it in his stride. Within an hour he was legging it around as if he owned the place.

We even took him to stay at my boyfriend’s parents’ house one weekend and he was totally cool about it. We didn’t hear a peep out of him for the entire car journey and when we got there he was happy as Larry; eating, playing and exploring as if he were at home. I think that’s quite unusual for a cat. We had a ginger moggy when I was younger that went missing when we moved. The poor thing turned up (alive) halfway down the M6 motorway, trying to get back to our old house.

The last thing- which isn’t a personality trait per se- is his lack of meow. Maine Coons are known for their “chirp” so I thought his voice would develop as he grew- but it never did. The noise he makes is like a cross between a Velociraptor and TV static; it’s hilarious. He’s also an extremely heavy breather. I’ll often go to bed at night and hear him breathing like Darth Vadar/a serial killer from behind the curtain. I used to find it really creepy, but now I just see it as another layer of his awesome personality.

Until next time,

MCM x

Finding a Pedigree Kitten

I’m throwing it back to before I got Sully to explain to you guys how I found him. I thought, perhaps naively, that I’d find him straight away and it’d all be plain sailing, but it wasn’t at all. There was a hell of a lot of effort, research and back-and-forth involved which I hadn’t expected. So, here are some things to bear in mind when you’re looking for a pedigree kitten, based on my own journey.

Find a registered breeder

First, I found a list of breeders on the Maine Coon Cat Club website, who are linked with the GCCF. Going to a registered breeder was really important to me, simply because it’s the safest option. Although it can be more expensive, legitimate breeders often do everything from DNA testing for hereditary diseases to vaccinating your kitten right up until you take him home. I know that Sully was tested for HCM, Feline Leukaemia and lots of other nasties before I got him.

Visit your local animal shelter

Checking out your local animal shelter is always a good shout, too. I was having a browse on the RSPCA website the other day and came across the most beautiful snow Bengal. She would have easily sold for hundreds when she was younger, and the RSPCA only wanted £55 for her! You could save yourself a lot of money going through a shelter, and there are just so many kitties out there without a loving home. I often get The Guilt because I bought a pedigree cat rather than a rescue moggy. Getting another kitten is on my radar though, so watch this space.

Approach classified ads with caution

I did have a look on a few classified ad sites too, but I wasn’t convinced. Backyard breeding and kitten farms are rife on those kinds of sites, especially the free ones. Saving yourself a few quid just isn’t worth the risk of ending up with a sick kitty that hasn’t been socialised properly.

Prepare to be grilled

Once I had a shortlist of breeders in my area, I sent emails to all of them explaining a bit about myself. After some toing and froing over email, I eventually went to meet a couple of breeders, as some won’t even put you on their waiting list until they’ve met you. One breeder asked me to fill out a questionnaire beforehand.

They only want what’s best for their kittens, at the end of the day. So be prepared to talk about things like:

  • What you love about the breed
  • Your address and how long you’ve lived there
  • Your current pets/experience with animals
  • Your vets details

To name a few!

Patience is key

I started looking for Sully around September and didn’t actually bring him home until January. Most reputable breeders will have big waiting lists, and even though I was lucky enough to reserve Sully straight away, I still had to wait until he was 12 weeks old to bring him home. It’s worth the wait though, because he was fully vaccinated, weaned and properly socialised by that time. Any breeders offering to let their kittens go at 8 weeks are a big red flag, and anything younger than that is a complete no go.

Thankfully, my breeder kept me up to date with weekly photos of Sully so I felt really involved in his early life. Check him out when he was just a little nugget:

baby sully

Until next time,

MCM x