Saturday, April 17, 2010

Katja's struggle with wheat gluten

I would like to share the experience I had with my cat, Katja, and her health issues related to consuming dry pet food.

Katja is a Cornish Rex, bred by my friend, Cindy Regoni, DVM in Houston. Rex cats are known for their beautiful, wavy coats, as can be seen in my paintings. [See more
Animal Portraits]

Unfortunately, Katja did not have that wavy coat for most of her life. The paintings I did of her reflect how gray and "downy" her coat was.

A couple of years ago, Katja developed kidney disease. She got very thin and weak, lost the light in her eyes, and developed a very dull personality. We feared she would not live past January.

Cats Exclusive Veterinary Center in Shoreline, WA sent information about how cats require meat, and that it is not natural for them to eat grain or vegetables [see The Carnivore Connection to Nutrition]. I started doing research into wheat gluten, which is added to dry pet food. I learned that contaminated wheat gluten from China had been the cause of many pets' deaths in 2007 [see Timeline for China Pet Food Recall]. Even if gluten is not poisoned, it is still very bad for cats (and people). My doctor (Dr. Kimberly Hindman in Portland, OR) explained that wheat gluten gums up the villi (small hairs) in the intestine, which prevents nutrient absorption. People and animals who are sensitive to wheat gluten also have problems with barley and rye. Ash is also added to dry pet food, which may have been another factor in why Katja developed kidney disease in the first place.

Animal Portraits by Bonnie Hodges

I switched Katja to an all-meat diet (raw turkey or chicken, no dry food). The food gave her extra water in addition to the subcutaneous water injections I was giving her. I also took her off of water that had fluoride in it, as fluoride is a toxin that is especially hard on people or animals with kidney problems [see Fluoride: Poisoning the Well].

After about two weeks of being gluten free, Katja's health improved drastically. Her coat came in black and wavy. It looked better than it ever had in her life. She also had a lot more energy and became playful again. It is now mid-April [2010], and she is going strong. Look at Katja now!

I think our other cats were not as fortunate. Our first cat died of kidney failure. It was related to getting a feline leukemia vaccine, but a lifetime of eating dry food could have contributed.

Another cat developed cancer, which may also have had something to do with eating only dry food.

I am glad we figured out there was a problem in time to help Katja.

UPDATE: Our Katja passed away on January 28, 2017 at the age of 19. We miss her terribly.


Edmonds, Washington
Art (at)
Artwork © Bonnie M Hodges 2023

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