Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Biggest “What If” Worry

My dad’s biggest worry was what would happen to his cats if they outlived him. Part of the reason my dad didn’t take his cats for regular vet care was that he was actually hoping they wouldn’t outlive him. I reassured him that I would take care of them for him, and did for three months; but then when I decided to sell his house, I had to get the cats out.

At the time, we already had two cats--Moe (14 years old) and Spunky Doodle (3 years old). His two male cats were not neutered but the female must have been spayed; however, the males had HIV and the female had parasites. They all had their claws whereas; my two both had their front paws declawed. I looked for someone to take them but couldn’t find anyone and ended up having to have them put down. It was heartbreaking for me and I felt I let my dad down. I just didn’t have any choice. I didn’t know about the cat sanctuaries around.

Now, my biggest fear is for the welfare of our pets if something happened to both Gerard and me. We don’t have children. Who would even know something happened to us and that they were in there all alone?

What’s your biggest worry?

I am donating .50 per legitimate comment this month to Samaritan's Purse for famine relief to starving people in Africa.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Choosing Pet Food: I like the Picture On The Bag

Softie and Sweet Thing Waiting for Whiskas

Harry loved his cats, any and all cats even, but pretty much let them run the show. 
Dad chose his cat food by the picture on the bags and I'm sure he's not the only one.  Of course, his cats had the final say and they loved their Whiskas and Meow Mix.  I fed mine Fancy Feast thinking it was good because of the name; it also had a nice furry cat on the can. When I realized I couldn't go by the name, I switched to Science Diet--the only one out of the three kinds mentioned here that is lifestage specific and test fed.

Which bag do you like best?
The cat is so small, it's hard to see!

I just wish the manufacturers of higher quality pet food would put more effort into making their packaging more appealing.  Just like you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't choose your pet food by the picture or name!  I recently learned that there are two very important things to consider when choosing your pet's food and it is pretty easy to find this information once you know what to look for.

AAFCO stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials. A basic goal of AAFCO is to provide a mechanism for developing and implementing uniform laws, regulations, standards and enforcement policies for regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of animal feeds; resulting in safe, effective, and useful feeds. 

Look For The AAFCO Statement

The AAFCO Statement provides the two most critical key points of information on a pet food label.
  1. What life stage is the food nutritionally balanced for?

    Label A Brand X Cat Food provides nutrition to meet the needs for all life stages. What does that mean? Start your kitten eating this food and continue feeding this food to your cat forever. But, just as we discussed earlier, a human’s nutritional needs change as we go through life, so it does for cats and dogs. When a pet food is for all life stages it must provide nutrition for the most demanding: GROWTH (kittens and puppies). Do cats and dogs need all that extra nutrition as adults and seniors? No, they don’t.

    Label B When a food states it provides complete and balanced nutrition for a specific life stage: growth, maintenance (adult), and reproduction (pregnant or nursing), the nutrients in the food are optimal for that life stage.

    Here are Hill’s life stage guidelines:

    • Growth life stage – high nutritional demands for growth and development
      • Puppies and kittens age 0 to 1 year
    • Maintenance (Adult) life stage – nutrition that maintains good health
      • 1 to 7 years for small & medium breed dogs
      • 1 to 5 years for large breed dogs
      • 1 to 6 years for cats
    • Mature adult life stage – nutrition that supports healthy aging
      • 7+ years for small & medium breed dogs
      • 6+ years for large breed dogs
      • 6 - 11 years for cats
    • Senior
      • 11+. years for cats

  2. Which method (formulation or feeding test) was used to

     determine the life stage for which the food is nutritionally


    Label A Brand X cat food was formulated  based on a nutritional guideline; basically like following a recipe. The "Formulation Method":
    • Does not require feeding the product to an animal
    • Actual feeding or digestibility trials are not required
    • Results can be determined more quickly
    • There is no guarantee of pet acceptance or nutrient bioavailability when utilizing this method
    • Is less expensive to develop the food
    The food has been formulated in a computer based on AAFCO guidelines, and then it ultimately gets tested on your pet.

    Label B Brand Y dog food was test fed using the "Feeding Trial Method." This method is the gold standard for determining nutritional adequacy for a specific life stage. It is the preferred method. The Feeding Trial Method:
    • Requires the manufacturer to perform an AAFCO protocol feeding trial as the sole source of nutrition, including required veterinary exams & biological data collection
    • Feeding trials are the BEST way to document how pets will perform when fed a specific food using AAFCO Standards

    BEST OPTION: Pet food labels with the AAFCO Statement saying the food has been test fed is the optimal choice.

    Both of these key points are found in the AAFCO Statement located close to the ingredient panel. Some manufacturers place this on the side of the bag while others place it on the back. Consumers need to locate this information. It's typically like reading the “fine-print. This information is aside from the marketing claims made on labels, yet it is the information that answers these two critical questions.  NoteTypically there isn't one on treats simply because they're intended to be fed as a supplement. We say that treats should not exceed 10% of a pet's total daily diet.

    Source:  Hills Pet Nutrition Specialist, Lori Smith
    I am donating 1.00 per legitimate comment this month to Samaritan's Purse for famine relief to starving people in Africa.

    Visit Sugar, the Golden Retriver for more Tasty Tuesday posts about good food.

"My Funny Dad, Harry" Book Giveaway

Congratulations to all the winners of the giveaway for "My Funny Dad, Harry" at Red Pine Mountain. I am so happy that four of my regular commenters won! Read what Tim thought of it at Everyday Living.