The Origin of
I am often
asked what led to the creation of
catinfo.org and what fuels my passion
for doing as much as I can to help cats
from all over the world live long and
part of the question is easy to answer:
I really love cats.
part of the question takes a bit more
imagined that I would become such an
outspoken veterinarian regarding matters
of optimal feline nutrition and care
given that my primary focus straight out
of veterinary school was equine
medicine. I never dreamed that I would
end up writing pages and pages detailing
how to make a healthy diet for cats, or
passionately discussing the prevention
and management of feline diabetes and
urinary tract diseases, or writing about
the dangers of ‘dry pilling’ cats, or
putting a litter box-cleaning video on
the internet especially considering the
fact that the World Wide Web was years
away from even existing when I graduated
from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary
Medicine in 1984!
So how did
I become so deeply passionate about cat
nutrition, general care, and the various
medical conditions that affect the cats
that we share our lives with?
Robbie, and Anne Jablonski.
start with Austin who I am pretty sure
was a long lost love from a former
life. I adopted Austin from a shelter
when he was 4 years old. His time was
running out and I am a sucker for the
adults that nobody wants. Plus, brown
tabbies really do something for me. Our
hearts were instantly connected and when
I had to say goodbye to him in 1998, I
was devastated. I still cry over him.
losing Austin, I wanted to do something
to honor him so I started volunteering
with a local cat rescue organization,
TLC Adoptions, to pay tribute to my very
sweet boy. Over the next 13 years, I
rescued and placed approximately 550
cats and kittens in homes.
Unfortunately, I saw very quickly that
we could never adopt our way out of the
overpopulation crisis since the math
just does not add up. There are FAR
more kittens being born each minute than
there are available homes.
lies in getting humans to become more
responsible about spaying and
years of involvement in the rescue
world, I spent many long hours doing TNR
work (Trap/Neuter/Return) of feral
(wild/unowned) cats in order to prevent
the suffering endured by homeless cats
and kittens living in a concrete jungle
and to try to make a dent in the large
number of unwanted kitties that lose
their lives in shelters every day.
often go on periodic 3-4 day-long
trapping marathons to stabilize large
feral colonies using
that I designed and built for increased
efficiency. This would entail starting
to trap at around 7 or 8 PM, staying out
until 4 or 5 AM, then performing surgery
until all of the cats were spayed or
neutered. After a few hours of sleep, I
would get up and start all over again.
that I could say that rescue work is all
about warm and fuzzy feelings - and no
sadness - but that could not be further
from the reality of the situation.
After spending 13 years heavily involved
in rescue work - and having it exact a
tremendous toll on my heart - I am now
taking a bit of a break and
concentrating more on helping cats live
better lives all around the world
through my website.
does my precious Robbie fit into this
the cute brown tabby that adorns the top
of all catinfo.org webpages and who, if
given the chance, would spend his life
wrapped around my neck.
If not for
Robbie this website would probably not
exist and I might still be feeding my
cats a very unhealthy diet of dry food.
Robbie the “best ‘mistake’ of my life.”
I have had
many animals grace my life but my bond
with Robbie is one of the deepest I have
ever had the privilege to experience.
He truly is my furry little soul mate.
took his first breath at 1 AM on April
6, 2001 when, at the last minute, I
decided to do a C-section on his feral
mother. I had spayed 6 pregnant cats
the day before and was emotionally spent
over the death of 27 kittens. I was
exhausted at that late hour and it would
have been much easier to perform a
routine spay on Robbie's mother but I simply could not take
the life of one more living creature.
necessary in rescue work to spay
pregnant cats. This is a fact of life
given the lack of available homes. I had
spayed many pregnant cats in the years
before Robbie’s birth and I have spayed
many more since then but that night a
split second decision was made to bring
Robbie into the world and he has been my
constant companion ever since.
immediately called my decision a
“mistake” because bottle feeding 6
newborns was not an easy task but Robbie
has quite literally changed my life so
it is a decision I have never
Ok, so who
is Anne Jablonski and how does she
figure into the creation of
been dealing with diarrhea for most of
his life and being the dutiful vet that
I was, I tried every prescription diet
available. None of them helped and I
now cringe and get angry when looking at
the ingredients through much more
knowledgeable eyes. Now that I know
what it means to be an obligate
carnivore with a low thirst drive, I
would have to be stranded on a desert
island with no other food source to
consider putting those diets into a
cat’s food bowl.
December, 2002, at the suggestion of a
friend of mine, I joined the Yahoo IBD
group out of desperation. Nothing the
veterinary community had to offer was
helping - including the poor quality
prescription diets, steroids,
time, I was feeding all of my cats a
combination of Hill’s Science Diet Light
dry food and Iams Less Active dry food
with some NutroMax dry thrown in for
variety. No canned food was fed because
I came from the ‘old school’ which is
full of not-terribly-well-educated
people, like myself at the time, who
feel that dry food is healthier than
Unfortunately for our cats, this could
not be further from the truth and when
Man starts to realize this, we will have
fewer sick cats in our world.
the co-moderator of the IBD group and
after a warm welcome, she said in her
Pierson....do you think you might
consider feeding your cats a better
have never had much of an
of ego, I listened carefully to what she
had to say after replying “Really?
Hill’s Science Diet is not a healthy
food? But it says right on the label
that it is ‘Veterinarian Recommended’!”
note: Sadly, many of my colleagues do,
indeed, recommend products made by
Hill’s (and Purina) and this is a
testament to the fact that most
veterinarians are not well-versed in
proper feline nutrition and simply defer
to companies like Hill’s and Purina
whose marketing budgets are huge. These
large budgets include substantial sums
of money dedicated to sponsoring -
including very heavy advertising - our
professional meetings and infiltrating
veterinary schools to get students
‘married’ to their products.
Coincidentally, just after Anne’s
comment, I picked up our profession’s
most recent Journal of American
Veterinary Medical Association (the Dec.
1, 2002 issue) which contained, under
Timely Topics in Nutrition, Dr. Debra
Zoran’s wonderful article entitled
Carnivore Connection to Nutrition in
immediately read it and a light bulb
came on over my head.
I went to
the cupboard and read the ingredients on
the bags of dry food and also noted the
low moisture content while keeping in
mind that cats have an inherently low thirst drive
and are designed to get water with
some cats live long lives on this type
of diet? Yes, they do but I am more
interested in feeding a diet that
promotes thriving and not simply
I want to
feed a diet that gives my cats the
best chance of avoiding
gastrointestinal disturbances, diabetes,
obesity, and urinary tract diseases -
including life-threatening and painful
urethral blockages and bladder
One of the
most important pages on this website is
Urinary Tract Health page
If I could have the reader
of this webpage take away just one word from this discussion, it
would be "water".
If your cat is on a properly hydrated diet of 100%
canned food - and no dry food - you stand a very good chance of
never needing to read this webpage.
canned food as flushing out your cat's
the bladder several times a day.
If the bladder is 'rinsed out'
frequently, your cat is much less apt to
suffer like Opie did as shown below.
smart veterinary urologist has stated:
"Dilution is the solution to
the pollution." This
means that water flowing through the
bladder will dilute any crystals,
protein, mucus, and cellular debris in the
bladder that may form stones and block
the cat's urethra.
not make the very common statement:
"But my cat drinks a lot of water so I
know he is getting enough!"
Cats have a very low thirst drive and it
has been shown that they consume
approximately double the amount of
water when fed canned food (78%
water) versus dry food (10% water).
This is taking into consideration the
water they consume from their food plus the
water bowl but please note that cats on
canned food rarely drink. This is
because they are on a properly hydrated
diet and are getting a large amount of
water through their food.
becomes clearer when we understand that
a cat's normal prey is ~70% water and
they evolved as a desert dwelling
species. If prey was available,
their extra water needs were minimal.
Opie is a
painful example of the suffering often
caused by dry food. He was a stray
cat that would have died a very slow,
painful, and miserable death if TLC
Adoptions had not rescued him in 2008.
It is now 2011 and he has been fine
since his ordeal but you can bet that he
will never be fed dry food again.
nothing in bags of
cooked-to-death, water-depleted, heavily
plant-based protein, high carbohydrate
diets that makes any sense to me.
about dry cat food comes close to
resembling the properly-hydrated, low
carb, animal protein diet that a cat is
designed to eat. When looking at bags
of dry food, I see plenty of
margin-driven ingredients that make the
stockholders of pet food companies very
Dry foods are
contaminated with bacteria, storage
mites, and dangerous - and
life-threatening - mold spores and
toxins which make cats sick more often
than people realize.
and diarrhea are very common feline
problems that veterinarians deal with on
a daily basis. However, it amazes
me how infrequently the food -
especially dry food - is looked at as a
source of the patient's illness.
Anne and Dr. Zoran's article, I made a firm
commitment on December 22, 2002 to start
working toward removing all dry food from
my cats’ diet.
Unfortunately, my 7 cats at the time had
other ideas. They ranged in age from
1.5 - 10 years and had been fed a 100%
dry food diet for their entire lives. I
had 7 die-hard kibble addicts on my
hands which made for a VERY frustrating
next 3 months.
Transitioning Dry Food Addicts to Canned
Food which emphasizes using
patience, time, and tricks to get
cats off of all dry food.
2003, I had won the battle and had
gotten all dry food out of my house. My
cats had finally found their inner
carnivore and were eating a 100% canned
food diet. They now had more energy and
the overweight ones were slimming down.
importantly, Robbie’s diarrhea had
happy that my four-legged family was
finally eating a water-rich diet with
low carbohydrates and meat (not plants)
as their protein source but I was
becoming frustrated over the lack of
control that I had with respect to the
ingredient quality and composition (the
caloric distribution between protein,
fat, and carbohydrate) of commercial
Anne’s guidance, I started making my own
cat food. To be honest, I felt
liberated with my newfound control over
what was going into my cats’ food bowls
and, for the first time in his life,
Robbie had formed stools!
Food page is the second most
visited page on this site - second only
Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition
page. I am pleasantly surprised to
know that there are so many people
willing to make cat food!
your cat's food may sound like a
daunting task but if you knew what an
idiot I am in the kitchen you would be
impressed by just how easy it is.
can make cat food, anybody can.
I spend a
few hours in the kitchen (my least
favorite room in the house) 4-6 times each
year making the food which then goes
into the freezer. For me, this is
a very small amount of time out of my
life to ensure that I have complete
control over what goes into my cats'
my goal with this site is simply to get
people to stop feeding dry food
and to switch to canned food. As noted
Commercial Canned Food page, I
would MUCH rather see someone feed the
cheapest canned food (Friskies, etc.)
than the most expensive dry food.
Because nearly all canned foods address
the 3 main issues with feeding cats:
They all contain an
of water for a species with a low thirst
drive - so cats won’t have to suffer
like Opie did.
canned foods are
low in carbohydrates
(Hill’s products and some
Purina products are notable exceptions).
protein is more apt to come from
and not plants (grains/vegetables).
summary, my love of Austin led me to
rescue work which resulted in Robbie
entering my life. Robbie’s chronic
diarrhea led me to Anne. And because of
Anne’s gentle nudging, I began to look
at the food I was putting into my best
friends’ food bowls with a more critical
deep love of cats and keen interest in
internal medicine and nutrition led to
the creation of catinfo.org.
As my time
permits, I will continue to write new
articles for this site as well as update
asked why I don’t write a book. My
reason? We never stop learning and
growing. Once something is in print, it
cannot be updated - unlike this website.
notice that there is a date at the
bottom of every page showing when the
last revision was written. Keeping the
site current is extremely time consuming
but I do my best as time permits.
all of you and your quest for knowledge,
this website has become quite popular
with over 2 million visitors each
Many of you have added a link to catinfo.org on your own websites which
has resulted in more cats getting fed
and cared for optimally.
have found your way to this site, your
cats are very lucky to have you care
deeply enough about their well-being to
put the time in to research ways to
promote optimal feline health. It is my
hope that the information contained here
will improve the quality and length of
your cat’s life.
Pierson and Robbie
Updated February 2013
Lisa A. Pierson, DVM
DrPierson (at) catinfo.org
Information on this site is for general informational purposes only
and is provided without warranty or guarantee of any kind. This
site is not intended to replace professional advice from your own
veterinarian and nothing on this site is intended as a medical diagnosis
or treatment. Any questions about your animal's health should be
directed to your veterinarian.