Saturday, July 12, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Evolution Based Health Care for Cats.

Higgs discovers another feral cat who came indoors suffers from allergies. He suggests a possible cure.

Evolution Based Health Care for Cats.

Hi. Higgs here. As some of you know, when I was young I lived the as a wild animal, making my way in the world through my wits and hunting skills.

My co-blogger and I were delighted to see that another journalist has adopted a feral cat. A kind reader recently sent us links to several stories that Mark McCaudill is writing for the Mansfield News Journal about his new friend Kimba.

I was sorry to hear that Kimba seems to have broken out with the same kind of skin condition I developed after beginning my new life as a house cat. His veterinarian thinks it’s an allergy – the same diagnosis I got. (The image shows me after an attempt to identify the allergen with a skin test).

I know it’s just a sample size of two but I find Kimba's diagnosis remarkable nonetheless. And Kimba’s vet is starting the same treatment I got – a change in diet.

The diet is based on the hypothesis that some cats are allergic to beef, chicken, turkey or fish, and so the first step is often to switch to a cat food based on venison or duck. When that failed for me, I got stuck on a diet of hydrolyzed protein. This is absolutely revolting stuff. It almost made life not worth living. And it was totally unnecessary. It should have been clear to everyone that I was unlikely to be allergic to the food I loved to eat in the wild. I’m talking about rats.

You humans have your Paleolithic diet fad, so why not consider evolution when feeding us? We felids were eating small birds and rodents in the Miocene.  
Rats are delicious and our bodies evolved to run best on whole animals – bones, organs, the works. It boggles my mind that the grocery store has 45 kinds of cat food and none of them contain rat or mouse.

My itching problem was eventually solved with low doses of steroids. Now I eat regular cat food again – beef, chicken and fish. But I’d rather eat rats. Thanks for letting me share my views - Higgs.

About this blog
Faye Flam - writer
In pursuit of her stories, writer Faye Flam has weathered storms in Greenland, gotten frost nip at the South Pole, and floated weightless aboard NASA’s zero-g plane. She has a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology and started her writing career with the Economist. She later took on the particle physics and cosmology beat at Science Magazine before coming to the Inquirer in 1995. Her previous science column, “Carnal Knowledge,” ran from 2005 to 2008. Her new column and blog, Planet of the Apes, explores the topic of evolution and runs here and in the Inquirer’s health section each Monday. Email Faye at fflam@phillynews.com. Reach Planet of the at fflam@phillynews.com.

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