I wish you would offer this caring person some more help with providing a happy future for the Russian Blue.
After some thought, I realized they were right: there is more.
If our cat was dealt a bad hand, there are ways we can help them make the most of what they did get. I call this process Cat Optimization.
When my brother gets a recent cat picture during a chat, or one of my cats joins a video call, he always declares, “Your cats look so happy and healthy. I am impressed.”
It’s what I do. So, pondering what it is that I do, I came up with three vital elements to the process.
In my post Hyper-Nutrition can’t hurt and will help, I discuss the different nutritional supplements I like to use with my cats.
Many people have a mental block about such an approach, especially if they feed high quality, mostly canned, foods. Which I also do. I just don’t think that’s enough.
Any upgrades we can make to their food is always going to pay off in lower vet bills and happier family members. But it’s also possible that stressed cats (and most of mine started that way) and cats with challenged genetics (and I’ve had some of those) are cats who need more nutrition than usual.
Ramping up vitamin intake for therapeutic purposes is known as Orthomolecular Medicine. This is the term coined by famous brain and two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling for the theory that some people need far more than the RDA for particular vitamins. It has a long and interesting history. For instance, this paper: Niacin-respondent subset of schizophrenia – a therapeutic review, describes several cases where patients with schizophrenia improved with high doses of niacin. Orthomolecular Medicine is where I got my theory of Cat Hyper-Nutrition.
The impact of genetic issues can be reduced if we make sure our cats are getting enough high quality nutrition. Many of these breeding issues cause their harm by disrupting cellular processes. We can sometimes get around these body roadblocks by giving our cats good sources of extra macro- or micro- nutrients.
I’ve seen some dramatic results. Cats with epilepsy often improve on a grain-free diet with extra fat. Hyper-nutrition was a key element in our giving elderly James Bond a better aging process.
I have also applied the increasing scientific knowledge of human stress reactions to helping my cats. A system under stress becomes a dysfunctional system over time because, for both humans and cats, our stress reactions are designed for sudden emergencies which resolve quickly — one way or the other.
A cascade of chemical reactions ramps up our blood clotting, speed, and reaction time, while another shuts down temporarily unneeded processes like digestion and cellular repair. It is focused on getting away from whatever is causing the stress… so we can revert to our normal functions. Once outside of a natural environment, “getting away from something trying to eat us” is not the kind of stress we deal with.
Carbon-based creatues aren’t designed for continual stress.
Poor breeding and lack of socialization are huge stressors for our cat. Without a well-functioning body, they cannot handle the myriad chemical processes required for health. Without a calm mind, they cannot have a well-functioning body.
One thing I tried that I will use again for any stressed cat is the use of a hormone precursor. As described in James Bond baffles the veterinarians, I gave my elderly cat pregnenolone to help his brain issue.
It comes in a cream version to rub on their paw pads and inside their ears. It can also be in a powder form to add to their food; James acted like it was tasteless and odorless. It helped him stabilize with his dementia problem, and calmed him down.
In both humans and cats, vital hormones and neurotransmitters are built from basic materials in the body. If there is a shortage of “building blocks,” we can’t make enough vital chemicals for everything to run smoothly. So some supplies are going to come up short.
Providing pregnenolone lets our body make all the hormones it needs. It lets our body decide which hormones it needs. Under stress, we make too much cortisol; and short our supplies of other hormones.
As long as we and our cat are not taking other hormones (which will throw off the body’s use of pregnenolone) we can start small and see how it goes.
The third vital element is the social environment we provide. From an arrangement as simple as just ourselves and our cat, to a complex Cat Civilization with many members, social structures can provide support; or stress.
We are in charge of which one.
If our cat is troubled, one of our jobs is to not be trouble. If we exude cheerfulness, attentiveness, and calm, our cat will start to feel a little foolish about feeling worried, neglected, and anxious.
When we love our cat, it is natural to be distressed over their distress. Yet, the best thing we can do for them is display how lucky they are to be here, and how lucky we feel to have found them.
We don’t know how far our troubled cats can go. But what we can do is open the doors to all the rooms of affection and appreciation we have to offer.
And invite them in.
Find out when we can’t do something with my post, Dear Pammy, Would it be best to rehome this cat?
DISCLAIMER: I’m obviously willing to research and experiment when my vet has reached an unknown area, but please discuss things with your veterinarian about your cat’s issues and how best to address them. I’m just telling you what happens with me, and my cats; these are options, not prescriptions. I closely monitor my cats reactions, but even with all the experience I’ve had, I do not have experience with every cat in the world. Individuals differ.
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There’s more ways to care for our cat with The Way of Cats than the article you are reading now. See all of my posts on CAT CARE.