Reprinted from www.counterpunch.org by ANIS SHIVANI
Who Will Stand Up for Rad Cat's Ethical Standards, and Who Will Check the FDA's Aggressive Tactics Against Raw Food Makers?
"It is the nature of this product to be contaminated and raw food is not consistent with the scope and values of this organization. The FDA doesn't condone raw pet food because it's dangerous and what you do is not conducive to public health."
-- FDA's Seattle Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) programs supervisor Mikel Wright to Rad Cat owner Tracey Hatch-Rizzi.- Advertisement -
Last week a truly tragic development confronted cat lovers around the country, invested in providing the best available species-appropriate food to their beloved friends, as the FDA, after a series of increasingly aggressive actions meant to put pressure on Radagest Pet Food, Inc.(a Portland, Oregon-based independent company that paid high wages and full benefits to its employees), finally succeeded in putting out of business the country's leading provider of genuine raw foods for cats, sourced from free-range, pasture-raised animals and produced according to the highest standards of health and safety.
I know, because I have researched cat health issues and diet and nutrition for ten years, and have ventured quite deeply into the range of difficulties that typically confront felines who are not provided the diet they were meant to eat. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they need to eat meat, and their diet needs to approximate as closely as possible to what they would be eating in nature: a warm-blooded mouse, or something close to it. They need muscle tissue, bones, and organs, not carbs and fillers which do nothing for them nutritionally, and inevitably lead to the kinds of feline diseases, particularly late in life, we have all become used to accepting as a matter of routine. This doesn't need to be the case because cats are highly resilient creatures who handle their own bodies very well, and if we only provide them the appropriate diet they are not likely to develop the costly and debilitating illnesses upon which the veterinarian-commercial pet food industry thrives to the tune of billions of dollars each year.
Where does Radagest, maker of Rad Cat, enter into this picture? Increasingly, over the last few years, it has been the only such company in America with widespread reach, while still adhering to the highest standards of raw food production, as myself, and those who have done research and practice in this area, can easily testify. Some years ago when my last cat Fu was sick, I turned to making raw food on my own--unfortunately not being aware of Rad Cat's existence at the time--and I can categorically state that while I was using the highest quality ingredients--human-grade, pasture-raised, organic meat and organs--and making it at home with meticulous attention to safety, there is no way that I could ever reach the standards of perfection Rad Cat has attained with its dedicated team of professionals.
No matter how much I love my cat, I cannot duplicate Rad Cat's consistent standards at home. Rad Cat has a rich red muscular yet moist texture, and achieves the correct balance between nutrients like calcium and phosphorus to ensure the long-term health of a cat; I would never be able to attain that precise balance. When your cat eats raw food, you will notice that he drinks little or no water, because a cat is designed to get all his moisture from a complete food.
You only have to open a jar of Rad Cat to be able to instantly tell that it is the real thing: real venison, lamb, chicken, turkey, or beef, whatever suits your cat. For anyone who has tried to make their own raw food, or researched the pale substitutes available on the market, the difference is startling and immediately visible. There is much discussion on cat health forums about the process of transitioning to raw food, if your cat has unfortunately been eating species-inappropriate kibble or wet food, but in my experience cats take immediately to Rad Cat, without any period of transition, because right away they recognize that it is the correct food for them.
Cats know what's good for them, so we must not ignore their instincts. When Fu was sick and in his last year of life, once I introduced Rad Cat to him he looked at me as if to say,this is the food I've been waiting for my whole life. A big part of his diet had been cooked human food, the best-quality pasture-raised chicken I could find for example, but cooked food does not provide the nutrients that cats need. I think of the sad moment in the vet's office where Fu was being treated for IBS/IBD, and she said, with regard to my queries about what nutrition would be best for his ailing digestive system, "Let me set up an appointment with a nutrition counselor to see how you can balance the foods you cook for him. It will cost you $500." All she had to say then, was, "Hey! You don't need to cook special foods. Do you know about Rad Cat? Just rush to your local Kriser's or other natural pet foods store and get a jar! That will solve all your problems." But this vet, who advertised herself as holistic--and she was, to an extent, compared to other vets I encountered--never even mentioned this option.
As for Fu's successor Foolittle, when he was a baby I took him to the veterinarian for vaccinations, and as is typical of veterinarians in this country, he was totally uninterested in, and even against, raw foods. "You know that's not safe, right?" he said cynically. This tends to be their fallback attitude, without investing any time in trying to research and understand what is after all the single most important component of a being's health: diet. I ignored him, and said I knew what I was doing, sad that a man responsible for cats' health would advocate feeding them the disgusting dry and canned foods commercially available, which inevitably cause illnesses over the long run, and certainly deprive cats of their natural liveliness, athleticism, happiness, and playfulness, which one notices as soon as we put them on a raw diet. "How much of this raw food are you going to feed Foolittle anyway?" the skeptical vet went on to ask. "As much as he wants to eat, of course!" I shot back. The vet had visions of an obese cat dancing in his head, but in the last three years of eating only raw venison, Foolittle never put on an extra ounce, and was the most athletic and energetic being I've ever known. You can take a guess if I've taken Foolittle to a vet since then or if I ever plan to.
I relate these incidents because most cat lovers who are invested in their friends' well-being have probably gone through some version of stressful encounters with the veterinarian-pet food industry. If cats never developed diabetes and kidney problems, or other even more serious issues, how would the entire industry survive? If humans, likewise, fed ourselves species-appropriate diets and as a result had the energy to exercise and be playful and happy, then how would we ever get sick, and especially at the end of our lives become cash cows for an industry very little interested in preventive care or even regular maintenance?
I am sure that around the country there have been tens of thousands of relieved cat lovers who could at last count on a steady supply of raw food of the highest quality, produced according to exacting specifications of what best suits a cat's nutritional demands. As I said, I have in the past made raw food according to the proportions that have been arrived at by common consensus, but Rad Cat produces it with the kind of consistent accuracy and delicious texture that I am not likely to ever attain.
Here is what the Rad Cat pasture-raised venison recipe consists of: "Venison trim, venison heart, water (sufficient for dry ingredient hydration), venison liver, gelatin, organic dried egg yolk, organic dulse powder, egg shell powder, organic psyllium husk powder, vitamin E supplement, manganese gluconate." No junk, no filler, no pseudo-meat (other manufacturers use mechanically separated meat, something disgusting which can pass as "raw meat," and something you should get acquainted with, if you think there are any real substitutes available on the market), no 4D meat (from dying, diseased, disabled, or dead stock, which apparently is quite okay with the FDA). The other stuff that passes for raw food in America's pet stores, whether in freeze dried or nugget form, simply cannot hold a candle to Rad Cat's jars of real raw food, which do not consist of various meat and bone substitutes. Every time I open a jar of Rad Cat, I tell myself, "Hmm, I could eat this stuff myself." And of course I could, it is actual food completely similar to the well-chosen food I put into my own body.