I found my way with the help of the book Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Cats and Dogs.
INTESTINAL PARASITES. Diatomaceous Earth.
Our poor kitty Tootsie (14) almost died from worms 18 months ago. Her coat was ragged, eyes, dull, she was skeletal-thin, and she did nothing but sleep on a heap on a basement rug. We just thought she was "getting old", but a friend noticed her and keyed us in: parasites. We realized how badly she was infested when she puked up a worm just weeks later.
We had already started the conventional route, feeling like we needed to take action ASAP and not knowing what else to do. (It had been YEARS since we'd paid any attention to the health of our cats.) It helped a little, but as we were warned, getting rid of intestinal worms is very hard. The same friend pointed us in the direction of diatomaceous earth; and after we started putting a small amount of DE on wet cat food each day, slowly but surely, she regained her health and went back to her normal, glossy self.
MOUTH SORES and OVERALL TOXICITY. Homemade Cat Food.
Our gentle old dame Bay (15) had gotten to the point of stinking so terribly that no one wanted to be around her. Her eyes were dull, her coat was raggedy and dull, and she hid and slept most of the day. She had sores around her mouth that would not heal, no matter how they were tended. They hurt her so badly she stopped cleaning herself and her coat turned lumpy and matted.
I knew without a doubt that it was the food that was causing it. Dried kibble? Complete garbage. Wet cat food is no different, it is just a moist version of the dried stuff. I have made cat food in the past and had been feeling guilty about it for years, but felt swamped with young children and managing a household. The cats seemed "okay". But the time had come. There was no doubt it was the food causing the problem.
And after I started making it...? Her sores starting healing within a few days. She was completely recovered, looking and smelling better in a matter of days and weeks. Her stench wasn't a not-cleaning-herself smell. It was a toxic smell. There is no other way to describe it. And now..? She smells like a normal cat. Of course.
CORNEAL ABRASION. Eyebright and Apricot Kernel Oil.
Poor Bay. Just last week she was scratched full across the eye by an outside cat, with a tear in her cornea that went across three-fourths of her eyeball. It looked terribly painful.
I tried to get at it every day, keeping it clean with a mild saltwater solution and the application of eyebright drops, but it wasn't healing as quickly as we would have wanted. I finally found the time to apply a just a few drops of apricot kernel oil and within a day it looked so much better. Of course I was kicking myself. Why didn't I do it sooner?? (Mother of four!) (Weeding season!) (Three gardens!) The suggestion was to use almond oil or cod liver oil, but I opted for the apricot kernel and it worked just as well.
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Out of everything, the deep nutrition from their homemade food is going to be the most important to keep them healthy going forward. I will never, and I mean NEVER, go back to dry cat food. With a decade of cooking experience under my belt, homemade cat food is a cinch. I make a double-batch every couple of weeks, freeze it in pint canning jars, and voila - lunch.
As a surprising side-benefit, the cost is same or less than the bagged/wet cat food we were buying. It is better all around.