By Mary Nielsen, Founder of

When you realize your cat is sick, it's likely his mood and behaviors that tip you off. He hides. He may hiss or spit at you. Symptoms of illness can help confirm your suspicions and prompt you to make an appointment with your vet.

Avoid Chronic Kidney Disease
Providing sufficient water and the right kind of cat food can help your cat to avoid kidney disease. Antifreeze is especially dangerous. If he does get sick, talk to your vet about treatment.
Prevent Diabetes
By watching what your cat eats, as well as how much, you can help him to avoid developing diabetes. Monitor his weight, and if symptoms develop, get him to the vet right away. If he is diabetic, the vet will develop a treatment plan.
Protect Against Feline Leukemia Virus
The best protection against FeLV is vaccination. Don’t allow stray cats to socialize with your cat—the disease spreads through close contact. If your cat does get sick, discuss treatments with your vet.
Defend Against Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Feline coronavirus is spread in the feces and saliva of infected cats. It mutates, becoming feline infectious peritonitis. If he does get sick, discuss managing his symptoms with your vet.
Shield Against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
FIV makes your cat vulnerable to all kinds of infections. There is a vaccine available, but it’s not appropriate for every cat. Talk to your vet about this, then decide about vaccination.
Manage Feline Hyperthyroidism
Watch your cat for symptoms of hyperthyroidism (matted, greasy fur, weight loss, increased appetite, restlessness, drinking more water and gastrointestinal symptoms). Decide on treatments after discussing with your vet.
Guard Against Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Some cats seem more vulnerable to developing FLUTD. If your cat is diagnosed, lifestyle changes, a new food and medications may help control his condition. Discuss these with your vet.
Safeguard Against Rabies
Rabies is spread through the saliva of infected animals. There is no cure; rabies vaccinations are mandatory, so have your cat vaccinated.
Shelter From Upper Respiratory Infections
Cats get colds. Vets can prescribe treatments that will help your cat recover, including eye drops, antibiotics and nose drops.
Cushion Against Worms
Worms may be present in the feces of infected cats. Never allow your cat to eat other cats’ feces. Discuss de-worming testing and treatments with your vet.

Check out Feline Living for more tips on how to keep your feline fur kids healthy.
Note: Mary Nielsen is not a veterinarian. The advice she shares is based on experience and research.  Her goal is to find the best information to share with other hardworking pet parents.  
For more information, check out her About Us section on Feline Living.    

Watson's story is spreading once again.   

To the left you can see Watson made the cover of the UK's Real People Magazine.  Salma Haidrani, Junior Writer for Real People Magazine, spent lots of time talking to me about Watson's experience.

The article is written in first-person, which gives it a much different feel than anything we have done before.  It is a fun read that you will definitely enjoy and is a good reminder that although Watson's condition is serious, the journey can still be loads of fun.

I hope you enjoy it and share with everyone.

Have a lovely Saturday - Melanie & Watson

Watson got to show more people what it means to be happy and healthy even though he's different.  Today our podcast with Pet Radio Show was released.  You can listen to it by clicking the link below.  The video above was something I made to promote the podcast.

I can't thank Pet Radio Show enough for allowing me to share Watson's story and spread the message that all animals deserve a chance.  Listen in and let me know what you think of the podcast (Yes, I know I need a better microphone, and I used a few filler words haha).  

Keep an eye out for more stories about Watson to come in the future!  

Watson is jumping into the spotlight, and his story is spreading quickly.  Just last week, I was inside the Local 4 building getting my microphone set for our news segment on Detroit's Live in the D. 

This all came after I received an unexpected call a few weeks earlier from an agency in the UK interested in spreading Watson's story.

Little did I know at the time that this phone call would not only lead to his story being spread throughout the UK, but also would give me a chance to broadcast his message to people in the United States.  

Watching the news can oftentimes be disheartening as channels are plagued with the responsibility to share dreadful reports of what is happening around the world.  Amidst the negative, Local 4 has devoted an hour every weekday to airing positive local stories on Live in the D, and has served as a guide in helping me get to know a city I am still somewhat new to.  
On the set of Live in the D! 
Last week, Live in the D allowed Watson and me (along with my husband Joe who supported me as Watson's official wrangler) to share our story with viewers and help spread the message that disabled and injured animals deserve a chance.  I had the opportunity to tell the public that there are fully attainable options available for animals with special needs.  These pets may take extra time and patience, but if you are willing to invest that part of your life, helping an animal that has had a tragic start can be a successful and extremely rewarding undertaking.

I was honored to be a part of Local 4's effort to share the joy and inspiration that pets bring us.  It was surreal getting to sit next to the people I listen to each morning and see the world from the other side of the camera, and everyone was just as friendly as they seem from my living room.  
I have to give a special thanks to Chris Delcamp for his patience while behind the camera at our house, along with Ken Haddad and Tammy Sortor for giving me the chance to make this happen.

You can watch Watson's story here.

Please share his story.  Each share increases the likelihood that it will reach someone with an animal in need, and their decisions could be impacted by the information you share with them today.   
Local 4 is making a huge effort to share the joy that pets bring us everyday. Check out all4Pets for more stories about cute critters in the Metro Detroit area.


Watson's story is all about getting the message out that there are options for animals like him that are accessible to normal people.  This past week we have been able to make great strides in getting Watson's story out to as many people as possible.  In less than a week, a story about him developed in the UK and is making headway in multiple news stations.

Be sure to check out Watson's story and share with people you know.  Every time you share his story you increase the likelihood that it reaches someone that will someday have an animal in need, and their decisions could be impacted by the information you share with them.  

Check out the links and share on social media & anywhere that reaches people.

Ever felt like giving up?  Meet Chance.  This little superhero is sure to inspire.  Chance has had a pretty rough start in life.  He was born a normal kitten, able to run and play, able to partake in all adventures sought by kittens.  However, things took a turn for the worst when Chance landed in a kill shelter.  About to be euthanized, he got the first of his second chances when someone pulled him from the shelter thinking he might be a fit as a barn cat, but soon after leaving the shelter, Chance developed hind end paralysis.  He was left to dragging himself by his front legs.  Upon examination, no explanation was found – no fractures, displacements, or anything that could point to something fixable or non-fixable.  Many animals in his place would not have gotten the chance to keep fighting.

Chance’s dashing personality and unrelenting spirit quickly won over the heart of Denise Najera, a dedicated volunteer at 4 Paws 1 Heart, an organization established to reduce the number of abandoned animals by funding medical treatments for abandoned, abused, and stray companion animals that otherwise would, in most cases, be euthanized because of a lack of resources to pay for and treat various conditions.  

When Chance first entered Denise’s care, his hind legs were stiff to the point of no movement.  Denise took Chance to Pawsitive Steps Rehabilitation in Rochester Hills, MI where Chance met with Dr. Kern.  After a couple weeks of physical therapy, which included exercises to explore whether or not Chance would regain strength and feeling in his legs, it was determined that he would be a good candidate for a cart that would allow him support the back half of his body on wheels and walk more like a normal cat.  The first cart Chance tried out was made out of pvc pipe and mesh material.  He did so well in this cart that 4 Paws 1 Heart, along with some generous Facebook friends, came forward and provided all funding for Chance to get a top-of-the-line cart from Eddie's Wheels.  After lots of measurements and a few weeks, Chance received his cart. 

Animals always amaze me with their resilience, but I was especially amazed when I saw Chance fly off in his cart.  The room had to be cleared of any obstacles so he could zoom around freely.  He continues to zoom around in his cart for multiple short intervals each day that gradually increase so that he can get accustomed to his new set of wheels.  Denise also does exercises and stretches with Chance multiple times every day to relieve the stiffness in Chance’s legs.

During this period of transition, Chance goes to rehabilitation once a week to work with Dr. Kern at Pawsitive Steps where he undergoes various treatments and gets the full spa experience.  When he arrives, he gets to show off the week's worth of practice in his wheels.  Chance also gets some alternative treatments that are really interesting.  Most people are familiar with acupuncture, but acupuncture isn't just for humans.  It's hard to imagine your bouncing ball of energy settling down for acupuncture, but Chance loves it!  Acupuncture stimulates the nerves that communicate with Chance's brain helping to improve communication. Apparently it's one of his favorite parts of the weekly visit.  In addition, he receives laser treatments.  The laser treatments use light energy to stimulate cells to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation.  Each of these exercises helps to relieve the stiffness in his legs so he can regain movement and feeling.

The most amazing part of this process is still yet to come.  After the stiffness improved and he was able to support his weight with his cart, Chance actually started using his legs on his own.  The cart has allowed him to focus on the strengthening and movement of his muscles.  He is slowly regaining his ability to walk.  He may need the cart forever, but time will only tell.  There is one thing I can attest to – Chance is one happy little guy.  He doesn’t let anything slow him down.  Be sure to like Chance's Facebook page ‘A Second Chance for Chance’ where Denise posts lots of pictures and updates on Chance.

The reason Chance got his second chance is all due to 4 Paws 1 Heart.  4 Paws devotes almost every penny received to getting animals treatment so that they can be ready for adoption.  They have raised quite of few pennies in the past 3 years since their establishment in August 2010.  In 2015 alone, 4 Paws has paid over $100k in medical bills for animals to receive treatment they otherwise wouldn't be able to receive.  99% of donations go to funding medical bills.  You can follow 4 Paws 1 Heart on Facebook here.  

If you are interested in helping animals like Chance visit 4 Paw's Donation Page.  

By Jill Tack, Owner and Founder of The Pet Beastro

Transitioning cats is always a tricky situation. Have you ever seen the “Shell Game” on The Price is Right? Well, that’s what I often equate the transition of a new food to for some felines. You have to offer them several “shells” until you guess which one has the hidden ball or magic food option. Like the players of this game, I find that many times cat owners give up before they find the shell with the hidden ball. But when it comes to improving our felines’ health, making the transition from kibble to raw food is definitely worth the effort.

Advantages of Raw Food for Cats

A raw diet can improve your cat’s overall health in so many ways. Here are just a few reasons why you should consider upgrading your cat’s food to a premium raw diet:
  • Silky, Soft Fur
  • Healthier Teeth and Gums
  • Species Appropriate Diet (Cats are obligate carnivores)
  • Less Stool, Digestive Improvements
  • Less Body Odor
  • Easier on all Organ Systems (especially the kidneys)
  • Less Urinary Issues (i.e. stones, crystals, etc.)
  • Weight Maintenance
  • Bioavailable Amino Acid Profiles
  • More Robust Immune System
  • And much more

Making the Change with Picky Eaters

Switching your cat to a raw diet can be much easier said than done. Cats can be finicky eaters for a variety of reasons. Cats often have a texture issue with food. Sometimes they even get addicted to the carbs and other fillers of dry kibble food, which also makes it more difficult to make the switch. With super picky cats, it helps if you offer food to them in several different ways and allow them to choose what they like best. It is also a good idea to offer several meal options and let them gravitate towards one, which then gives you the chance to manipulate the formula going forward for a more likely scenario of them switching foods. 

Below are some strategies that can be helpful in making the switch:

Ask Nicely
If I had the magical solution to get every cat to change, I would be a millionaire. What I do know is that most often the cat owner is the main component of the cat’s reluctance to switch, or even try, a new food. I often tell cat owners to go home and literally have an out loud conversation with their cat. Even though our feline friends don’t talk back, they certainly hear our voices and our messages loud and clear. After some blank stares and a few deer in headlight looks, the owners often return to the store to tell me that they followed through with this activity and that their cats have attempted the new food offered. I once heard from a feline veterinarian something that describes cats perfectly: “You can tell dogs what to do, but cats, you have to ask them nicely”. This has stuck with me because it is so true!

Mix It with Canned Food
A few simple tricks that we have found to work with upgrading a cat’s diet is to begin with canned food. It is always easier to start the transition with something they especially enjoy. Some cats won’t even change from a crappy, grocery store can of food to a high-end can of cat food. With these cats, it’s easy to mix the bad with the good until you can completely switch to the good one. Once you have made this transition you can begin to add small amounts of a raw diet to the canned food to upgrade to a premium raw diet.
Some cats will never eat more than half canned and half raw diet. There isn’t anything wrong with this way of feeding. Continue to have an open mind about your cat’s likes and dislikes. Some raw is better than no raw. With some cats this transition takes a few weeks. For others it can take months, even years, to get to this point. Each animal will be different and their accomplishments of switching may take some time. You, as the owner, can do nothing more than be patient and diligent with making the switch. Remember, you are doing it to improve your pet’s overall health, well-being and longevity.

Change Up the Temperature and Proteins
Another trick for a raw diet with cats besides mixing it with canned food is allowing it to warm up to room temperature before feeding. Some cats don’t care for the coldness of the food. You may also want to try different proteins. Don’t forget about the red meat options! There are many feline fanciers out there that disagree with feeding red meat since our domestic cats wouldn’t catch and take down large animals in the wild. However, many of our domestic felines have 96% of the DNA of their African big cat ancestors that would actually hunt these red meat animals. In fact, my own cats prefer beef, pork, lamb and venison over turkey or pheasant any day of the week. Don’t be so close-minded that you don’t allow your feline friend to make a transition to a premium raw diet. After all, cats’ digestive tracts are biologically set up for meat, not overly processed kibble.

Make a Schedule
Getting your cat on a regular feeding schedule can also work towards your benefit. Free feeding isn’t the best way to feed your cat. Cats in the wild hunt all day long, which means they eat several small meals throughout the day instead of gorging on two large meals. While dogs do much better with a fast and gorge type meal behavior, cats do not. 

Work Up an Appetite
If you can play with your cat 20-30 minutes before meal time, this will also make their meal offering much more satisfying. The play before eating releases hormones that mimic what would happen in the wild if they were on a hunt for their food. 

Note that if you have multiple felines, they should all have their own place setting and eating space away from the other cats.

How Much Raw Food to Feed Your Cat
As you begin to transition your cat to a raw diet, be sure that you’re feeding them the right amount. An average 10-12 pound cat should be consuming approximately 250 calories daily. With a raw diet, this is equivalent to 6 ounces of food. The daily calorie total includes all food (canned, raw, freeze dried) AND treats. We often forget about all the calories that we give our pets throughout the day in the form of treats but even those can contribute to obesity. Obviously if your cat is smaller or larger than average, you will need to adjust the calories to their weight. Kittens and pregnant Queens will need more food that the suggested average calories.

Choosing a Raw Cat Food

There are many raw food options to help with your cat’s transition. Maybe your cat is addicted to carbs and refuses to give up kibble. In that case, switching to a better dry food would be your first step in the right direction. Then you can begin to add canned food and start to reduce the amount of kibble. From there, you can begin to add raw food. 

If you are a go-getter and your cat isn’t finicky, you may just want to take the plunge and jump straight into raw. Why waste any time, right? I find the Rad Cat is an easy switch for most cats because it has the texture and consistency of a canned food. 

At The Pet Beastro, we offer free Trial Packs of Primal Raw Pet Food. We also typically have samples of many other brands such as Nature’s Logic and Steve’s Real Food. When feeding multiple cats raw, Nature’s Logic and Steve’s Real Food are more cost effective since you can purchase them in large packages and they also offer frequent buyer’s programs

Last but not least, you can always make your own raw food recipe. This does take a bit more time and skill as well as balance to make sure that the diet has all the vitamins and minerals needed to avoid deficiencies.

Cats are definitely different creatures than dogs in many ways. But they are smart and talented. We can even teach felines tricks and clicker training, just like their canine friends. The key to working with your cat is to have an open mind. We can get them to change their foods and habits when we, the owners, change our habits and eliminate negativity about their likes and dislikes.

About Jill Tack and The Pet Beastro:

Jill Tack is a certified Natural Health Practitioner from the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education and is working toward becoming a Naturopathic Doctor in 2015. 

She founded The Pet Beastro in 2003 to help people learn why alternative pet food options are better for pets. The Pet Beastro prides itself in offering the largest selection of raw pet food in Metro Detroit. They also sell dehydrated, organic and natural food, treats and supplements for dogs and cats through their store and online market. In addition to its alternative pet products, The Pet Beastro offers one-on-one counseling and group seminars to help provide pet owners with the knowledge they need to improve their pets’ well-being. 

Keep up with the store’s events and natural pet product specials by following them on Instagram and Facebook.