Gypsy has a new vet. She came to the house for our first appointment last week, and we sat in my living room where we talked for nearly two hours before she touched the Gyp. By that time, he had developed a cozy friendship with her textured leather bag, no doubt full of the smells of many another cat before.
When they did have contact, she was an old friend, whose familiar and warm voice and gentle touch "allowed" her to build a relationship with my orange boy.
When she left, I had a new meal plan for Gyppy -- one that will take about six months to integrate -- and a new insight on my boy, his psyche and veterinary medicine.
She is a holistic vet, and while she is perfectly willing to use traditional medicine or prescriptions if the situation warrants, she believes is treating the whole animal.
She touched him gently, moving her fingers over the acupuncture points on his back. As we discussed Gypsy's reaction to Stimpy's death nearly five years ago and how he licked his stomach and part of his paws bare (he's now furry again), I was relieved that she understood that animals grieved.
She explained that often soothing himself with grooming also could mean his stomach was upset, as ours sometimes react when we are under stress. And interestingly enough, all the places he licked were on the nerve tracks of the digestive system.
Then she asked me if he threw up. Bingo! And when he does, his dry food isn't always fully digested. As she felt him later, she could tell by his intestines where part of the digestion situation fell.
I learned far more from this session than anyone other than I would be interested in sharing. But there are a few things that might be useful information to all pet owners -- whether or not they someday choose to take a holistic approach with their pet.
She doesn't recommend vaccinations for older cats. It can be hard on their heart, and they may well have an immunity over time. (I'm not sure of her take on this for dogs.)
She advocates use of flower essences for certain behaviors. For example, Gypsy has always been a needy, clingy boy (which I like), and I've always felt it was because he was abandoned as a wee little kitten.
She "gets" this. And he's very anxious in the car. (aka, the Happy Hurler.) Among the essences I'll be getting first are "abandonment" and "anxiety."
And really, things like that work for me -- why wouldn't they work for him?
Corn is very difficult for cats to digest and wheat isn't great either. When you are buying cat food, that should not be near the top of the ingredient list.
And you don't want "by products" there, either. Or, you may be feeding your cat (and dog), things like ground up chicken beaks or fish poop.
She says wet food is often better than dry because of the moisture and being easier to digest, among other things.
But the real idea is to move toward people-grade food. Gypsy will be experimenting with tomato sauces, pasta sauce (hold the pasta), asparagus, and more. This will take some time to integrate that successfully, but will ultimately result in a better coat and easier digestion.
Speaking of poop, she's very big on checking it in the litterbox. Does it break easily? Is it hard? Do things appear digested? And someday, "is it different than usual?"
By listening she could tell me that Gyp had a heart murmer, so no soy sauce for him, but that can be a flavor they gravitate to and it's fine if there's no medical reason to avoid it.
She also listed several commerically prepared cat food brands (and dog) that had a better combination of ingredients. So, I'm off to the pet food store. (And, she wisely also suggested I not overbuy any one of the three recommended to see which he decides he'll like best.)
Gypsy rarely met a brand of food he didn't like, so I'm looking forward to first shifting him to a better commercial brand, then integrating more of my home cooking into his diet.
I was sorry I had to meet people for dinner so we couldn't talk longer! I felt as though I'd met a friend who wants Gypsy to be around a very long while, just like I do. And in the best way possible.
I'll let you know how it goes -- but I think it could be fun!
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