Day 198–Cats and Vegetables

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We have a stalker in our home. A compost stalker. That stalker of veggie peelings and shavings is Cosmo, our young cat. Despite all the cat books that stress cats as carnivores, this suburban feline apparently also likes a good salad. We are careful to make sure he does not have any onions or garlic (which can cause a life threatening anemia in cats), but the boy sure can put on a pouty face when I’m cutting up cucumber. And broccoli. And kale. And who can refuse that face?

I have a friend whose dog would beg for baby carrots, but I’ve never seen a cat actually beg for vegetables. Maybe it’s the variety or maybe he’s trying to keep his boyish figure, but I like that he wants to indulge in the fresh, local veggies we’re bringing home. The problem? Keeping him out of our little compost basket where we put our evening’s extras before taking them outside.

Now if only I could get the dog involved…

Day 32–A Locavore’s Lunch–18 Seaboard

I love restaurants that let you know up front where your food is coming from. 18 Seaboard in Raleigh is a higher end restaurant with a committment to featuring local and North Carolina food, especially seafood, cheese and beef. I’m getting so used to asking servers (who typically have to ask someone else), where the food comes from, so it’s nice to have it laid out there on the menu. I did find on a recent visit, that the staff are pretty familiar with where the menu sources from as well. How refreshing!

If you’re on a budget, go at lunch–you’ll get many of the same entrees for a reduced price. I had a great pasta dish with gemelli pasta, roasted butternut squash and fresh Pamlico Sound shrimp. So delicious and not heavy at all. I think I might be able to replicate this at home! Other entrees included fresh catfish and greens and short rib stuffed ravioli (which looked terrific).

18 Seaboard is by William Peace University in downtown Raleigh and is open for lunch Mon-Fri and dinner every night but Monday. You can find their menu at www.18seaboard.com

Day 11–Healthier Living for Our Furry Family Members

Rita

We share our home with a very lazy dog and a very “spirited” cat. They mean a lot to us and we want to keep them as healthy as we can. Last year, we lost a precious cat, Rita, to feline diabetes. She had been (as far as we knew) a healthy cat. We were shocked. How could this happen? As I started reading more about diabetes in cats, I started researching pet food and pet diets. HOLY COW!!! I had no idea that the supposedly “premium” brand of dry cat food (you know, the one with the picture of salmon on the bag), had no salmon in it and was mostly grain fillers and by-products. Rita’s sad death spurred me into a kind of information frenzy that makes my family roll their eyes and my friends slowly back away at the mention of pet food. It made me angry and regretful. Angry that the pet food industry is allowed to lie to consumers and regretful that I had never bothered to look at the contents of the bag of food.

We learned, for example, that brands like Science Diet are extremely high in poor quality fillers and they have very low protein. The protein sources they use are typically “by-products” of chicken, etc. What is a by-product? A by-product is a meat sourced from the remains of meat processing. You know, the beaks, feet, bones and scraps as well as animals too sick or damaged to go through processing. It also includes brewers mash by-product, which is the leftovers of grain after beer is made. Well, yum. All of these damaged, injured, sick animal products can be included in your pet’s food and it can still be labeled “healthy” “wholesome” “natural” and “premium.”

We also learned that the first 4 ingredients on a pet food label represent 75% of the food content. So if “salmon” is listed at number 18…you get the picture.

Needless to say, we made some changes. I’ve read about RAW food diets for pets and they sound great, but in reality, our family is not set up for that level of involvement. We began the process of transitioning our dog’s food from a high-priced, but almost worthless food to Wellness, a high protein food with whole grain (oats) and some vegetables. When we adopted our rescue kitten a short time later, we started him on Wellness (grain free) high protein food. Wellness is not the only high quality food out there. Thank goodness there are lots more on the market now.

Our dog (a senior) has shown a remarkable level of energy and vigor since we changed her food. She is more playful and puppy-like. And–best of all–she no longer blasts us out of the room with her toxic poots. Some of you know EXACTLY what I am talking about. Our cat is very healthy, sharp and has a beautiful coat. Yes, the new food is more expensive, but we hope we will avoid diet related illnesses and extend their lives through a healthier diet. It’s our tribute to Rita and a way to honor Jessie and Cosmo.