3 ways to help your cat prevent cancer
I lost a feline soul mate to cancer, so I vowed to do everything I can to prevent that from ever happening again.
I’ve taken a lot of care in selecting 3 key cancer-prevention tactics. (See the end of this article for my research sources.) I think if I had known these things long ago, my feline friend may have lived longer.
Cancer is afflicting about 50% cats over age 10 now. That’s shocking to me. As is the fact that lymphoma has become more common in cats than in people. Plus, it’s been affecting younger cats lately too. In his book on animal healing, veterinarian Dr. Marty Goldstein acknowledges that he sees much more cancer now than he did years ago.
No matter how old your cat is, it’s not too late or early to start cancer prevention support:
1. PROPERLY INTRODUCE FISH OIL.
I say “properly” here because I don’t want you to make my mistake, which was to put fish oil on my cat’s food only to have her reject it immediately. It turns out that you need to start by putting a tiny spot of oil on the side of her plate. As she gets used to the smell over a few days, she will then allow you to gradually add it to her food.
Research says the essential fatty acids in fish oil prevent cancer.
I like Dr. Jean Hofve’s article on all the reasons fish oil (NOT flax oil) is important for your cat, and how to select the right kind. I am a fan of Iceland Pure’s brand, and Dr. Hofve recommends Nordic Natural’s brand. Carlson is another good fish oil brand that tests for heavy metals.
2. PROVIDE CAT GRASS.
Most cats are drawn to nibbling on grass–I think they instinctively know it’s good for them. The cancer-preventing aspects of grass are chlorophyll and B17. There have been impressive findings about chlorophyll’s anti-cancer properties. B17, while not researched as much, is reputed to have a fascinating ability to fight cancer. I first read about B17 (also known as laetrile) in an interesting and inspirational book called Outsmart Your Cancer by Tanya Harter Pierce.
Give your cat wheat, oat, barley, and/or rye grass. Ideally organic. These grasses should not always make your cat throw up, unless he needs to dislodge the occasional furball. I prefer wheat grass since it’s most often cited as having B17, although many sources just say “most grasses” have B17. (Note: Spirulina also contains chlorophyll.)
3. BE OVERLY PROTECTIVE AGAINST COMMON TOXINS–in smoke, insecticides, cleaning products, and yard sprays.
We tend to assume that humans are more fragile around toxins than cats are. I think this is because we are told to put flea chemicals on cats and yet we aren’t supposed to touch these same chemicals! (“Gee, I guess my cat can handle these chemicals but I can’t.”) Sadly, it turns out that cats are actually MORE vulnerable to toxins than humans.
It’s only recently come to light that cats are deficient in an enzyme called glucuronyl tranferases that is used to detoxify carcinogens and other toxins.
Research has also shown that “cats living with secondhand smoke are three times more likely to develop lymphoma,” reports Dr. Jean Hofve. While I don’t smoked cigarettes and I’ve avoided pesticides, herbicides, and unnatural household products, I did go through incense-burning phases. From what I’ve read, I now suspect any kind of smoke could be hazardous to a cat’s health.
Another way to avoid pesticides is to choose organic cat food sources when possible, without grains. And, beware of chemicals that may be used in neighbor’s yards. The Toxics Action Center reports that “53% of TruGreen ChemLawn’s pesticide products include ingredients that are likely carcinogens.”
Of course, we cannot control for all toxins all the time. But there’s no need to get overwhelmed.
The fish oil and/or the cat grass can help our cat’s system deal with unintentional toxin exposures.
Finally, let’s not be hard on ourselves for not being aware of all of this before. This is new information. We are now empowered to help our friends have longer, healthier lives with us. And that is something to be happy about.
ANOTHER RESOURCE (added August 2011)
Check out this nice long article Dr. Hofve has just published on feline cancer prevention and treatment.
- Cancer in Our Pets (pdf download) by Nicole Field, DVM
- How Fish Oil Helps Kill Off Cancer Cells, 2009 news article
- Omega-3s are Essential for Your Cat! by Jean Hofve, DVM
- Chlorophylls and Cancer Prevention by George S. Bailey, PhD, Oregon State University
- Digestion, absorption, and cancer preventative activity of dietary chlorophyll derivative, Nutrition Journal research article
- Nature’s Cancer Prevention – B17 by Janet Hull, PhD, CN
- Cats and Glucuronidation, (detoxification pathway), interview on The Lavendar Cat
- ChemLawn Info by the Toxics Action Center
- Avoiding Carcinogenic Chemicals in Household Products by The Breast Cancer Fund
- Chemical Pesticides: Health Effects Research
- Pet Cancer – a “Smoking” Gun by Jean Hofve, DVM, November 2010
- Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Risk of Malignant Lymphoma in Pet Cats, American Journal of Epidemiology
Postscript: Some folks dismiss the new high cancer rates as a “side effect” of supposed longer lives, yet many of us remember cats and dogs living long and cancer-free. I cannot find a record of anyone tracking cat life span statistics over many decades, so I believe that even the “experts” are just guessing at past averages. There are records of cats living well into their 20s in the past–and many still do. There are even some old records of cats living into their 30s! I hope you’ll join me in the effort to move the feline life span in the longer direction by doing what we can to prevent cancer now.
Good News, folks. For the most recent first place and 2nd place wet and raw cat foods please Google http://www.naturalcatcareblog then choose today’s best cat foods – natural cat care blog. Here you will find the results of many months and research by Dr. Karen Becker and other holistic vets. I have learned so much from her. She is the best resource out there. This info. is dated at the end of 2016 so it is up to date. For example Ziwipeak removed the carrageenan and the Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient canned cat food had Montmorillonite clay but is tested to be toxin free. I
believe this will be my next cat food. My little girl just turned 7 and I, too, fed Wellness and regret it every day. I tried to transition her to Ziwipeak but she couldn’t handle the bones. She loved the food though. She was brought to our house by 2 young boys at the stroke of midnight (which is her name) and that was it we had to keep her. She is a doll – a black and white tuxedo cat with a white hour glass starting and her shoulders working in at her middle and flaring out to her rear flanks. She is very shy and jumpy so we don’t know what happened in her first 2 months but my guess is she has never hunted in the wild thus she was unable to digest the small bones in the Ziwipeak. She has had only one episode at the vet due to vomiting and diarrhea. Her liver enzymes were a little high so they put her on antibiotics along with probiotics so she wouldn’t lose all her good gut bacteria. We boarded her as she is impossible to catch and put in her carrier. She recovered nicely and now it’s time to transition her to another food to get her off Wellness. I also believe that a limited Ingredient food is best because cats don’t need all the other added ingredients. She has been eating turkey and I want to try another protein meat like lamb or rabbit. Nature’s Variety Instinct has no Carrageenan and comes in a BPA free can. Dr. Becker’s two big complaints. I want to look into some other sources before I finally decide what to do. Thank you all for your great info. It has helped me immensely and my heart goes out to all of you who have sick kitties or have lost a beloved companion. I lost my little girl in 2011 to cancer and grieved for 2 to 3 months. I was a lost soul without her and then the time was right when Midnight came into our lives. God works in mysterious ways. Good luck to all of you, my prayers are with you and your kitties for health once again. Sorry I got so wordy. I am very passionate about the state of healthy cat food which seems to be lacking with some of the manufacturers out there. Just do your research and find Dr. Becker on her web site. Any topic can be found in her archives. God Bless
Also, I hate carpets but I know most people love them. I don’t have them, thankfully. Those are chemical toxins, as is, and then when people clean them they add more chemical toxins. Our pets are constantly in contact with that stuff.
I also should have added to not use plastic bowls. Stainless steal or tempered glass is preferred. I would be skeptical of ceramic because of what it is sealed with, for ones manufactured for pets.
I’d like to also suggest using filtered water for your pets, and yourself. I like the ease of a filter pitcher. I lost two cats to cancer, both torties, and lament losing them.
Cancer takes way too many lives of our babes having lost 4 to cancer and have another one fighting it now. I pray for my babes a lot and continually search for new developments. I recently ran across pathwithpaws.com and like Dr. Becker as well. Trying to find good quality food is so frustrating since most add too many harmful additives. I have made my own but they tired of eating it and had been forced to return to searching for quality foods that they will eat. Environmental and food seem to be so key. The biggest tools for me is Faith, Hope, Love and Determination to not give up.
It’s funny how rarely people think about second hand smoke and its effect on pets. They know it causes cancer in people but they don’t think about their pet!
Thanks so much for your effort to make the “Six Ways to Help Your Cat Live Longer” booklet. I have a question about pesticides; are pest baits also harmful? My kitty doesn’t go near them where she could accidentally ingest anything, but I was wondering if they give off any harmful fumes. Thanks!
Hi Michele, I don’t have a definite answer about the pest baits, but my guess is that as long as she doesn’t go near them frequently there shouldn’t be an issue.
Thanks Liz. I just wanted to let you know that I ordered the Iceland Pure fish oil that you suggested and it’s working out nicely for my cat and me. I’ve tried a few other brands and my cat won’t eat her food if I use it but since the one you suggested is unscented I’m having better luck. I also love the pump dispenser which is very user friendly; no measuring spoon, no breaking open capsules = no mess (o:
I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my sweet boy earlier this year to lymphoma that started as a lump on his hind paw. I’m in search of making improvements for my little girl. What do you think of using DMG? I’m using one by US Animal of Vermont. Thanks!
Thank you Michele, I’m sorry for your loss too. And sorry for such a delayed response to a comment you left 2 months ago! (I can no longer keep up with all the comments and emails I get via the cat blog, so it’s catch as catch can.) Anyway, I have not used DMG and don’t know a lot about it, but it seems like it has potential to be helpful and it SEEMS to be pretty safe. http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/dimethylglycine
Thanks Liz; I still miss him a lot. I plan to read your new book. I think I’ll like it.
Thanks for the information. Also, since then I noticed that Vetri Science added an information sheet about DMG to their website. I started giving my kitty the liquid formula as support to her immune system on top of her food and she takes it with no problem. She’s about 6 and in good health. Hopefully this will help to keep her healthy.
They also make DMG w/maitake mushroom. The guy at the holistic pet store I shop at says he usually suggests that one for pets with cancer. Lets hope that neither one of us will have to go through that again though.
Celeste Yarnall uses Moxxor on her cats and recommends it for cats, dogs and people. If Celeste recommends it, then I know it’s good :). As you probably know, she has raised generations of raw-fed Tonkinese cats and is an expert on holistic cat care, just like Jean Hofve.
Celeste Yarnall, who co-wrote a book on holistic care for cats with Jean Hofve, feels that Moxxor greenlip mussel oil is far superior to fish oil. I know that Dr. Hofve thinks highly of Moxxor as well (we know her personally, since she is local to us). We were so impressed with Moxxor after Celeste introduced us to it that we started offering it as well. We put more information on our website here: http://www.optimumchoices.com/moxxor.htm.
Thanks Margaret, I’ve been meaning to try Moxxor for myself. It sounds more ecological and gives the fish a break! I was a little uncertain about giving it to cats because of the additional ingredients in it. Nothing bad, I just try to keep it simple with cats when I can.
Thanks Ann-cat! I am passionate about this topic.
This is good information and I am sure it will help a lot of cat owners be more wise about caring for the cats in their life.
Guar Gun, xanthem (spelling?) gum, and carrageen are all being used in far to many cat foods and they all can be cancer-causing, You want to buy food specific meats and fish, otherwise you could be getting too much mercury–laden tuna and meat could be a road kill deer, diseased cattle, etc. The #1 ingredient should always be beef, chicken, turkey, duck, salmon, etc.
The healthiest cat food is made to standards which “are for human consumption. It should be made in small batches and each one should be tested before it leaves the plant which makes it. Cats do not need grain, wheat gluten, rice protein and cyanuric acid.
Some good ingredients are:
salmon, pumpkin, tomato, peas, sweet potatoes and sunflower seed oil.
One of the4 best foods is Fromm family foods which makes both kibble (which my cat loves) and canned food which I am going to try to find online.
Purina One smart blend doesn’t have the 3 bad gums and carrageen. Carageen is also used as a thickener in some human foods such as in some ice cream. If it isn’t safe for your cat it probable isn’t safe for humans also.