#13 Kasie Maxwell: How to make the jump to raw

Kasie Maxwell is back, this time sharing her decades of experience in helping pet owners make the transition to raw feeding. We discuss kittens, puppies, kibble addicted cats, and dogs and how each is unique in their needs to make the jump smooth.

Not only has Kasie worked through her SFRAW buying club to help people climb to a higher nutritional plane for their pets, she also shares how a walkabout in Kenya helped shape her recommendations on feeding your cats. She was lucky enough to live among the Masai for a spell and learned how lions actually eat. And what “normal” big cats stools look like!

If you’ve ever needed a little help getting your animals switched to raw, you’ll want to listen to this episode closely and read the accompanying material linked in the show notes.

Bottom line: all those groups of animals need a somewhat different transition but none of it is difficult when you learn from an expert like Kasie.

Links for this episode

Kasie’s articles on transitioning to raw:
For your dog
For your cat

Vital Signs Video

And Kasie’s favorite toy for engaging cats in play pre mealtimes

Rescue Remedy(with a reminder from Kasie, do NOT use the human tablets sweetened with xylitol, known to be toxic to dogs)

My Bach Flowers for Animals course is yours when you join our Vital Animal Pack

This episode brought to you by our sister site, Vital Pet Health, where you’ll find our powerful canine immune booster:

Using these two together is a perfect complement to all you are already working on to make your animals naturally disease-resistant.

Thanks for listening!

If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to Vital Animal Podcast so you don’t miss a single episode.

Will Falconer 0:01
Welcome, welcome. You are on the Vital Animal Podcast. This is Dr. Will Falconer, and I'm re-welcoming my guest today, Kasie Maxwell, from San Francisco with SFRAW, who's going to help us with the subject of how to transition to raw diets for dogs and for cats. Because if you've decided from past episodes, hers included, the benefits are there, how do you make the switch? That's what we're going to talk about. Welcome, Kasie.

Kasie Maxwell 0:33
Hi, I think what happened was we were discussing kitties and how difficult that can be. And one of your guests had mentioned how difficult that, you know, that's one of the challenges that she faces regularly as a feline veterinarian. And I sort of piped up and said, "I've got this foolproof method!" Because that's how I, that's basically how I started, was switching with a resistant, kibble-addicted cat that was nine years old and sick and wouldn't even touch canned food, let alone raw. So, I've come up over the years with the, you know, that was my start, was a challenging case, and since then, many, many, many, many more after that. So I wanted to go through, I do have a protocol for switching cats that's pretty foolproof, if people follow it to the letter. That's the trick. It's usually the people, not the animals. And so, that's the thing. And then there's a couple of things, little things you have to be aware of, and be more mindful of when you're switching kitties. But there's a couple different categories, when you're first considering switching a cat to raw. One of the first, the easiest thing is, you get a kitten, and there's no transition, you just don't even... I usually, if I get from rescue, or I just say, go ahead and donate the food, you don't even need to bring anything home. You just want to get them immediately on raw. Cats do imprint on what is and what isn't food when they're little babies and kittens. And they can become texture dependent and sensitive, they can become rather picky, and sometimes that has to do with their immune system or their vital force, as you know as a homeopath. But it can also be a direct result for what they're exposed to as kittens. And so there's a lot of differences between dogs and cats and switching them and transitioning them to raw, not so much with when they're finally eating. But with transitioning, there are quite a few significant differences. And one of the things with puppies is we'll start with something very simple, and once a week, we'll maybe add in one new thing at a time and go pretty slowly. But with kittens, it is important to not go crazy and do 10 different foods the first day, but you do want to expose them pretty regularly, and you know, on a clipping kind of pace, as far as new textures and new flavors and all of the good foods that they should be eating should be sort of exposed to them pretty early on. And so, with a kitten, you do not need to do any transition. It's just immediately onto raw food. And you even want to start with something, if they're a little teeny kitten, and I've had a lot of four-and-a-half-week, five-week-old kittens that I've rescued over the years, I'll even smash up some chicken necks or something like that. And you don't want to cut them, cut them is just making them a choking hazard. You want to smash them, so that brings the marrow out and makes it a little bit easier for them to sort of experiment on and get familiar with it. They probably won't be able to eat it, but they at least can kind of play with it and get exposed to it and get used to it and start getting familiar with the idea of that being something that they will eat. And you want to give them everything at about room temperature, a little bit warmer if you can, just because they're so little. But all those things are important. So, you don't want to feed them a chilled food, and you do want to feed them like a ground whole animal if you can, that would be ideal. That's easy for them to get in the calories that they need. But then you also want to offer them little bits and pieces of breast and thighs and... Chicken is an easy one for most people to start with. The sourcing of your chicken, of course I'm not going to go into too much detail about that, but that's critical. You don't want something that's been enhanced, that has sodium or any natural flavors added to it, which can happen even with an organic chicken. So do mind your labels and read those things. But you want to feed them nice fresh food and you want to just... Meat, bones, organs, whole animals, all those things in the beginning is really important, and room temperature, and different proteins along the way. So, we want to build up to a minimum of four. We want to add in egg yolks, those are important for cats. They also have a high need for fat. So, I like to add in things like grass-finished, grass-fed butter. The CLA in that and anything that's very healthy fats are going to really build their brain power and you're gonna have a brilliant little kitty. If you add in some marine phytoplankton, the eggs from pasture-raised animals, all of the meat that has the fat, keep that fat in there. Of course, it's going to be more nutrient dense if it's from a pasture-raised animal, just the conventionally-raised meat's sort of empty calories, and it can be contaminated with things like anything that those animals were exposed to during the industrialized raising of them. So that's not necessarily healthy. But when you get it from good, clean animals that are raised on pasture, then that's going to be a beneficial food for them that will build their brains. But you can just switch them right away. The other category that you can switch right away is maybe a young or even an older cat, that is, you know, I ask people, "So you eat meat?" And they say "Yes," and I say, "Well, so when you're making food for yourself and your cat's on the kitchen counter and trying to steal your food, they're trying to grab that chicken away from you or grab that beef or steak or liver away from you, if you eat liver and you're a good paleo eater, ancestral diet-type person. But if they're trying to steal your meat from you, then they are an awesome..." Or, I have this other situation where maybe they don't necessarily have that happening, but they're feeding raw to their dog, and they come in and they complain that their cat keeps stealing the dog's raw food, and I'm like, "You are so, so lucky. You're the luckiest person. Let's just take a moment to really just recognize how amazing and wonderful and miraculous and fantastic that is, because you won the prize. And you get to move forward with just getting rid of that commercial cat food and going straight to raw." And if they're feeding a nice species-appropriate diet that's rich enough in taurine, and appropriately balanced with the calcium phosphorus ratio, they can go ahead and even share a lot of the same foods with their dog as what they do with their cat. So, the dogs and cats can eat a lot of the same foods, with some minor adjustments. But you know, those cats can just go right on to raw and you just want to get rid of... Sometimes people have this thing about the canned food or the dry food where they feel like it's almost like a security blanket, where they'll just add a little bit of it because for some reason they think it's somehow healthy. But it's actually diminishing the quality of the nutrition that you're providing. It's not adding something, it's taking away. So, what they need to realize is when they're adding in that little, they just don't want to miss out on, there might be something important going on—that's just not true. What it's doing is it's kind of, think of it as like adding in chemicals or adding in sugar. That's not something you need to add in, it's not helping your animal in any way. So, the best thing you should do is just go ahead and switch to a whole foods diet, species-appropriate, raw if you can, you know, a nice variety. We'll help you with the nutritional balance, making sure that you're doing things right. But those guys you can switch. Yeah.

Will Falconer 7:57
Here's where I bet you that's coming from: I want to add a little canned or I want to add a little kibble just to cover those bases. Here's the mindset, I suspect: we look at a label, right, on a commercial food, and we go, "Oh, I can't make all that in my kitchen." Right? And so I'll add a little bit of that just to make sure I'm not missing any bases, because I haven't got, you know, 40 letter words in the ingredient list in my kitchen. So I get it. Yeah, but like you say...

Kasie Maxwell 8:28
And you shouldn't. And you shouldn't be feeding that.

Will Falconer 8:28
No, exactly.

Kasie Maxwell 8:32
Yeah, that's the dangerous stuff. That's the stuff that's causing animals to die. Literally, they're dying. You know, these animals are dying from those vitamin mineral packs that are being added to food, where there's way too much synthetic vitamin D, and they are dying from that. This is a whole nother topic. I'm sorry. Don't get me started on that. But you know, this is how we had the pet food recall with the melamine. We don't know what's in those vitamin mineral packs, and it's all synthetic nutrients that are not beneficial for their bodies, not easily recognized by their bodies or assimilated by their bodies. So, that's the danger. Those are the danger foods, and those are things you want to avoid completely. So that's not helping, yeah. But yeah, I agree.

Will Falconer 8:38
The better model to frame it against is, if I'm going to raw food, my model should be, what would the bobcat eat, what would a lion eat in the wild?

Kasie Maxwell 9:24

Will Falconer 9:25
My little, small cat is based on that same genetic expectation. Let's feed something that's close to prey.

Kasie Maxwell 9:32
Correct. Exactly. So, I mean, that's the model. And the only thing that we need to consider is that for... The primary differences between dogs and cats is that with cats, they can't use a few different amino acids to manufacture taurine in their bodies. They need taurine to be provided in food, but that is in all animal food. It is in all animal protein, mostly in abundance in things like the heart and the tongue. And it is something that diminishes over time and with processing, so the more you grind it, the more you freeze and defrost and cook it, and all of those things, make it less available in the food, you know, diminish the quality or the quantity of it in the food. So that's why people, sometimes as a security blanket or as something that makes them feel more comfortable or confident in feeding raw, is that they may supplement with taurine once a week. One thousand milligrams for a cat is usually adequate supplementation if you're feeding a fresh raw food diet without anything that would inhibit their absorption of taurine. So, if you're feeding a meat bone, you know, a prey model-based diet to a cat, with plenty of fresh heart, you know, meat, dark meat in particular, then you're not going to have to worry about that. And then also with cats, they do have a more narrow calcium phosphorus ratio range that is safe for them. So, one-to-one calcium phosphorus ratio to about a 1 to 1.4, 1.5 at the top maximum, basically, is going to be... And that's pretty high, but you don't want... Cats have a more of a narrow range, where dogs have a wider range. So, dogs can do a 1.1 calcium phosphorus ratio to a two-to-one calcium phosphorus ratio. So, you can actually feed a lot more bone to dogs, and you'll be okay. But with cats, you don't want to do that. And one thing I noticed is that I was fortunate enough to go to Kenya, and I spent a lot of time out on the Maasai Mara, which was totally amazing, and we stayed in a reserve with the Maasai. And so we were able to have these guides, and I was just sitting in the front seat, begging him to bring me to every kill, and I wanted to see everyone's scat and poop and all of the carnivores that were there and what they ate and how they ate, and I just learned a lot. And one of the things that I learned there, that we don't have happening in this country, is that we are so worried about this balance, and then you look at these huge, healthy, really strong, incredible, large cats, and they eat a lot of organs. So basically, when they make a kill, they don't eat very small, very little, they don't waste their time. The Maasai said, "Why would they waste their time on a mouse or something?" You know, they're not going do that. So, they take down a really big animal, not even every day, so they don't even eat every day, and then they eat the thigh, and then they eat through the chest cavity, so they get a little bit of that cartilage, they take out the heart, the lungs, the liver, and then they just leave it and they actually don't go back to it. And then the dogs come in, and all the birds of prey and all the other animals on the Mara come and pick at that animal and eat everything. And the dogs end up eating a lot of the bone, a lot of the bone. So, the dogs eat primarily the bone and the cats primarily eat the organs. And so, I've made some adjustments to our product line here at SFRAW based on that experience where now we sell the bones separately, ground-up, so people can titrate their diet. So, we have the whole animal ground-up, which is perfect, but then, you know, as far as, you have the whole animal ground-up. But there are some dogs in which they require more bone in the diet, and then there's some cats which may do better with a little more organ. So, we sell the bones ground separately, and the organs ground separately. So, you can sort of titrate that meal for the individual animal for their perfect stool quality, which is a way that I like to determine whether or not they're doing well. And then we can follow it up with, of course, everything else, their coat and their energy and their mood and everything else about them to show that they're a vital animal. And then if you'd like to, you can do a hair mineral analysis test, you can do bloodwork, you can do all of the tests you'd like to do to make you feel comfortable and confident that you're feeding an appropriate diet for that animal that they're meeting all of their nutritional needs. But one of the things that they told me is that, I looked at all the scat, and the dog scats were just fur and bone and white.

Will Falconer 14:02

Kasie Maxwell 14:02
Yeah! And the cats had this tarry, black diarrhea, which is basically what you'll see and you know, Will, you'll see that when, we call that...

Will Falconer 14:12
Lots of organs.

Kasie Maxwell 14:13
Lots of organs. And I said, "Oh, does this cat, you know, I think this cat maybe ate too much liver or something," and they looked at me so confused, and they said, "No, that's just what, that's what a lion poop looks like." So, that's just how a lion poop looks, like there's no other way for it to look, that's how it always looks. And that is a healthy, normal poop for a lion, in Kenya in the Maasai Mara, at least. There, that is what's considered normal, and it just kind of blew my mind, because I realized that, wow, you know, cats really do have a real affinity for organs. And we've always been careful to, "Don't feed too many organs, be careful with this," but honestly, sometimes I think they do do a little better with a little more organ and that's okay. And then dogs do a little better with a little more bone, and that's okay, too. Anyway, that's a totally different topic again, I'm sorry. I'm going on these tangents.

Will Falconer 15:07
But it's so great that you've got that background, Kasie, because, I mean, how many people get to look at scat from a lion? You know, that's a great learning experience.

Kasie Maxwell 15:18
Ah, it was amazing. A wild lion, because lions in captivity or even in rescues and sanctuaries, that's not going to be the same. Because we're still feeding, they even sometimes feed them, goodness, like, you know, kibble and processed foods. So, that's not the same as an animal that's just living in, a wild kill, wild-living animal in their native environment where they're supposed to be. They're not like a non-native species that was put somewhere where they weren't supposed to be, eating food they're not supposed to eat or anything like that. This is the perfect conditions under which they are supposed to live and thrive. And it's evident by looking at them that this is true. And then you look at all of, you know, their whole association, how they hunt, how they're eating, when they're eating. Did you know that when they're mating for an entire week, none of them eat? They don't eat at all, they fast for an entire week. That's going to, we're going to go into that topic as well about, you know, anytime you get into a situation with anorexia with switching a cat to raw. But anyway, so those two kitties, baby kitties and kitties who like to eat their dog's food or stealing your food, if it's raw meat, we can go ahead and move them right away, get rid of entirely all of the kibble and the canned food, and even the dry food and even those little bonito flakes. This is maybe a controversial topic, but I continue to ascribe to the idea that cats should not eat seafood. That was something that was presented to me in The New Natural Cat by Anitra Frazier. That's the book that I used in 1989 to switch my kitty over to raw. And she describes in that book some situations under which some cats will be fine and stable and have no problems with feline... I'm not sure how it's referred to now, but basically, feline lower urinary tract disease or urological syndrome, where they would get crystals are blocked or have problems with the urination. It's very life-threatening and serious, and they would be perfectly fine on the raw food, everything is great, and then they would get like a little bite of a shrimp from somebody's Chinese food or something or they would get a little bonito flake and they will get a blockage. And so, I have noticed that, I think that, for a long time I said that you need to just stay away from that if your cat had urinary issues or had that feline urological syndrome, lower urinary tract syndrome, or however you want... I'm not sure how it's being referred to these days. But yeah, it keeps being modified. But that was the animals, and then animals who had hyperthyroidism, or if they seem to get a little bit crazy if they get seafood, and they don't... Because we do see this problem with cats that get really addicted to tuna, particularly canned tuna. And this can also happen with just liver, if you're feeding a diet exclusively of liver, or exclusively of tuna or you're feeding too much tuna, they can actually get to the point where they won't eat anything else unless it has that ingredient in it. And so, I usually recommend people to avoid foods that are seafood for cats. And so, that's something, because I do see an increase in hyperthyroidism, kidney failure, kidney blockages, kidney urine problems, and crystal formation, and so I like to just avoid it entirely. And dry treats are not a good idea for cats either, because they are desert-dwelling animals, and people are usually surprised to learn that their cat should not be drinking water, unless it's really, really hot. But if you give your cat anything dried to eat, then they will start drinking water. And that if you're not feeding them dried treats or dried food and they're drinking water, it's a good indication to tell your homeopath about, that they're drinking water, because it usually means that there's something a little out of balance with them that's not good. So, all these things that we try and do to make cats drink water when they're chronically dehydrated on a kibble diet, like the fountains and all these kind of things, people get into complicated things to try and get their cats to drink water, all of that is eliminated and cleared away when you're feeding them a species-appropriate diet and you're not feeding dried anything to them. If they're just eating wholesome, fresh, raw foods, then they would rarely, if ever, drink. And I keep a little wasabi dish on my countertop and it just dries out from being evaporated, but if I ever see anyone go to the dish, or I see the water level go down, I see, oh, there's something going on that I need to pay attention to. Or maybe they did get some treats, maybe I was sharing treats with Groovy, with the kitties and everyone got some snacks, and they got some dehydrated liver or some freeze-dried something, then they would want to drink water. But I do know that that's why. But that's something that... Most cats would get most of their water in their food if they're eating the right food. Anyways, yeah.

Will Falconer 19:59
Let's talk about those challenging guys.

Kasie Maxwell 20:00
Yeah, so the kitties who...

Will Falconer 20:01
Those guys that are on kibble, they're addicted.

Kasie Maxwell 20:02
Exactly. So, speaking of that, so the first things first, a lot of times people will come into SFRAW, and they want to feed raw and they're, "Yeah, I have a cat and I want to switch to raw, I'm gonna come, I'm gonna, I'm ready to buy today and get all the..." And there, I sort of send them away, which is kind of sad. But I send them away because they have work to do first. So, if their cats don't meet those two first criteria of kitties, then the first thing first is we need to... Everything with a cat needs to be done very, very slowly. And I always explain to them that slow and steady wins the race with cats. You do not want to try, don't try something, don't push anything. Don't go, "Oh, they liked it this one time." Please don't do that. Because you may set yourself up for a long-term failure. And I want to set you up for long-term success. And the best way to do that is, first we start with where you are, and we see where you're at. So, if you are feeding, free-feeding kibble in any way, even if you're feeding canned meals, things like that, but you're free-feeding kibble, the first and foremost step that you need to do before anything else is take away the free-feeding. So, that's stressful enough for a cat, okay? So, we don't need to do anything else except for that to start with. And what I want you to do is do meals. Two meals a day, three meals a day, probably no more than that. I know that there's some different opinions about that, about frequency of meal times. I frankly feed one meal a day, but it's taken me many years to get to that conclusion, that that actually is fine. But with cats who've been eating kibble for a long time, it's going to be easier for them to do two or three meals a day. You put down the kibble, just whatever kibble they're eating now, and you offer it to them during a feeding window, about 15, 20 minutes, maybe a half hour at the most, then the bar gets closed, everything gets cleaned up, you put that into the fridge, you make sure that any kibble food that you have in the house is sealed and stored and put away in a cupboard, in a some sort of bin or tub or something that's sealed. So it's not even having that smell. Because that smell actually changes the pH of your cat's body and changes their entire hormones and metabolic function and everything. So, we want to make sure that there's not food sitting out. That's actually really damaging for your kitty. So, you don't want food sitting out all day, that does change their biochemistry. And so, we want to just do those meals, and then in between the meals total fast. Nothing. No treats, nothing. And if they are asking you for food or seem stressed out or seem like that's something that's really distressing for them, then my recommendation is for you to use something called RESCUE REMEDY. Something you can find at any health food store, it's not difficult to find, you can order it if you need to online. It's a flower remedy, you can use it with anything else, it's totally safe to use with any medications your animals are on. And I recommend the frequency of dosing to be six times a day. And also you can add it to any water dish. You can also add it to every meal. And that can be, you know... Most cats don't like sprays, but it comes with a spray if you want to spritz where they sleep or mist around them. Yeah, like kind of a, almost like, it's not aroma therapy, but sort of like that idea. That you would be spritzing it around them. But it can also be put on their ear tips, and it can also... They don't have to just necessarily ingest it. It just has to be rubbed on their body or put underneath their lip. Those are the easy ways to give it to them. And if you miss, you know, people get really a little bit anxious, like, "Oh, I missed a dose, so I need to double the next dose." That's not how it works. The way it works is the frequency of dosing, not how many drops you give. So, even just one drop six times a day or two drops six times a day, that's fine. It's not going to be like, six drops one time a day. That's not how that works. So, it's the frequency of dosing that's more important than the amount of drops that you're giving.

Will Falconer 24:01
Big stress reliever.

Kasie Maxwell 24:03
It's amazing.

Will Falconer 24:03
Big, big stress reliever.

Kasie Maxwell 24:04
Yeah, the way I explain it, because a lot of people think that it's only really useful for things like noise phobias or anxiety, but that's not necessarily true. I actually find it to be incredibly stabilizing, physiologically stabilizing, so it's even great in like a situation like a hit by car or a situation where they've gotten a dog bite or really traumatic physical experience has happened and you need to stabilize that animal while you're getting them to the vet. RESCUE REMEDY does come to the rescue, and it's incredibly effective in those situations. And so, this will be like biologically and physiologically stabilizing for your animal if they're experiencing any metabolic challenges when they're switching or, you know, basically going from free-feeding to meals, if they have an issue with their blood sugars or glucose or insulin or anything like that. And so, this will be helpful in that respect. It also helps with behavior changes and stress, like you said, stress reducer. It's really great.

Will Falconer 25:01
Changes, big changes.

Kasie Maxwell 25:03
So, we do those meals, and we do that, and people say, "Well, how long do I do it for?" And I say, "You do it for as long until your animal doesn't care anymore." And it's completely stress-free, and it's a no big deal. And they're super cool, and they're not freaking out, they're not upset in between meals they're not waking up in the middle of the night, they're not yelling and howling, and you know, they're not standing by the door of the cupboard. When they've gotten over that change, and they're relaxed about it, then we're ready to move to the next place. And that's going to be different for every animal. And that's going to be true for every step along this journey of transition for a kitty. My first cat, I took a year to switch. So, people need to have slow and steady in mind. They need to know that this may be, you know, it might be a couple of weeks, a month. That'd be pretty quick, though. For a lot of animals who are really seriously kibble-addicted, it may take a long time. You need to be ready for that long haul. And just be patient. You know, we don't want to stress out your cat, we want them to be very comfortable with this whole transition. And we want it to be so slow that they honestly don't even really notice. That's our goal. Our goal is that they don't notice the switch. And then all of a sudden, at the end, they're like, "What? Wait." They didn't even realize that everything's changed. So, we start with just meals, then once you've got meals accomplished, the next thing we're going to do is you're going to... So, if your cat likes canned food, so here's another thing we can—we can actually move to step two. If your cat isn't free-feeding and you're already doing meals, what we do is we start with canned food meals. And we just get rid of that. Sometimes people leave the free food out because they're worried their cat's gonna get hungry. And I say, "You know, a cat's a carnivore, they don't need to be grazing all day long. They're not an herbivore, they're not a cow. They don't need to be grazing all day long." So, we get rid of that free-feeding, and we focus on the meals. And if the meals are canned, and they're able to eat canned—some cats won't even eat canned food. So, that's why we start with those meals with the kibbled food. But if your cat likes canned food, just get rid of the kibble completely, and we'll switch to meals with just canned food with no kibble. The kibble should just get donated, don't bring it back in the house. You know, sometimes people say, "Oh, they wouldn't eat that, so then they had to eat this." And I say, "Well, who brought that in the house? Your cat didn't go to the store and pick that up. You must have done that, right?" So, it's like, "They won't eat this thing." "Well, how did they get ahold of that?" You know. So, you can make these decisions in the best interest for your animal. And my recommendation is that if your animal's eating canned food, just don't even consider kibble food as a possibility. So, we'll just get that, eliminate that entirely, because there's no benefit to that, it's only harmful. And then you do the meals with the canned foods. So, if we can switch from adding a little bit of canned to those kibble meals for those that are truly addicted and they want to eat something, it's going to be hard for them to switch from a dry food to a canned food. We'll just start with a little tiny scoop of some canned food with the kibble on top of it. So, they'll eat the kibble and they'll maybe get a few licks of that canned, and slowly but surely, you add more and more canned and less and less kibble, until you finally get a meal of just canned. And when we get to that point, we get rid of the kibble completely. Or, if you're ready to go to just that next step of just the canned meals, then we do that. Once you're on to canned meals, again, take a minute, enjoy it that you're at that next level, let your cat be relaxed. Yeah, it's a big deal. And just sit in that for a little while, let your cat be experiencing that and be comfortable with that and not stressed out. And the next thing we're going to do is we're going to take some just plain, really good, fresh meat, ground meat. So, in the past, we would use ground turkey, that's an easy thing to do. We also have things like, now we have ground alpaca, and we have ground elk, which are also usually big favorites for kitties. But ground turkey's something most people can find. Again, the warnings that I always give about making sure it's not something that's been enhanced or has any sodium or flavors added to it. That's important. But you want to make little tiny meatballs. And you take those meatballs, and you put them in the freezer on a tray, so they freeze independently in these little balls. Then you put those into a Ziploc bag and you keep it in your freezer. Every day, you take out one of those little, teeny-tiny meatballs, and you defrost it and you mix it in or you kind of hide it in the canned food meal. And slowly, slowly, slowly but surely, you want to do less and less of the canned food and more and more of the raw food. And that's going to be different for every animal, how quickly or slowly you do that. You want to do it to the point where the cat doesn't really notice and they're just kind of getting it and somehow that's getting in and they're not really realizing it too much. Eventually, you want to get to the point where there's no more canned food, and it's just a meal of only this ground meat. Now, that is not a balanced, long-term diet, but that's a great step that we're going to be on and we're going to sit there for a minute and we're gonna let that settle and be good. And then the next...

Will Falconer 30:03
Enjoy that.

Kasie Maxwell 30:03
Exactly. And let your cat settle into it and use RESCUE REMEDY all along the way, as long as you need to. It's safe for long-term use, you can use that along the whole journey if you need to, and intermittently here and there whenever you feel like it's necessary or helpful. And then the next thing we'll do is add in a little bit of calcium. So, we'll add in—the next step would be either a seaweed calcium, the Animal Essentials brand is nice. That's a half a teaspoon for every pound of meat. You can mix that and freeze it, that's safe to do. Or you can use a eggshell powder. You can make your own at home. You want to dry the egg shells, the information on how to do that is on my blog. If you want to look that up, we can include that in the show notes. And you do need to grind that up adequately so that they'll be able to absorb calcium for that, or a bone meal powder. And every brand of bone meal powder will have a different amount of elemental calcium, so, you'll have to do some calculations if you do that. But you want to make sure that you have adequate calcium to balance the phosphorus in the meat. And so, you're going to start adding that and that's the first thing that we add. The next thing that we add will be liver and heart and gizzards, and all the different organs. We kind of add those in, start getting it mixed in, and again, along this way, you want to go slowly and slowly. But as your cat gets more accustomed to eating... So, I mean right there, they're eating raw, we're just kind of making the finer... Yeah, we're making the finer tweaks there to make it a balanced diet. And each one, you want to still continue along that slow path. But wow, that's how it works. As we start with eliminating and doing meals, then we go from getting rid of the dry to the canned meals, then we add in just plain meat to those canned meals, slowly switching to meals of just meat, then we add in meals of just raw meat plus a little bit of calcium, then we add plus a little bit of the organs. And we continue to build the diet along the way. And along the way, after we get to a nice, balanced diet, you can start adding in a new protein once a week. We can start offering things like, you know, the chicken wings and the chicken necks and different pieces of thigh and breast cut into pieces and see if they'll start eating little chunks and things like that. And cats have different preferences, some like more of a pâté, and some like things drier and chunkier. You'll have to find out what's more of an interest. If your cat's really addicted to kibble and they like that dry crunchy stuff, maybe they're gonna not like a pâté. But if you have a cat who is accustomed to eating canned food, they may prefer a pâté-style raw diet. So, we're going to have to figure out what's their preference. And you can also, one other option, if you don't want to do a DIY, is you can get a really great brand of a commercial raw diet that doesn't—it's not HPP, it doesn't have the vitamin mineral premixes added into it. These are hard to find, mind you. But if you can find a good, maybe locally made, or somebody's making a nice feline diet that you can use, you can use that to start adding in to the plain ground meat. So, you can do that also, that's another way to start adding, transitioning over, depending on what your long-term goal is. Some people just want to feed a raw diet that's all ground up. And some people are more open to trying the parts and pieces. And frankly, I think the parts and pieces are more nutritious and beneficial for your cat. So, I think that that should be the ultimate goal. I mean, ideally, you'll be feeding things like day old chicks and little quail and rabbits and things like that. We do sell that here, but that's not everyone's cup of tea and not everybody's comfortable with that. And so, I understand, we have to do what works for the person and for the animal, both. But that'll get you there.

Will Falconer 33:52
Yeah, that's beautiful. Yeah, slow and steady wins the race. I think that's the key. And not getting the cat into a stressful situation. Because they're creatures of habit.

Kasie Maxwell 34:02
Yeah. And that, speaking of stress—so if we do come across a situation that I wanted you to speak on a little bit where, and this can happen, people think, "Oh, that's from eating a raw diet." It's not from eating a raw diet, but if your cat becomes anorexic for any reason, there is a really high... So, one of the things we do with dogs is we fast them into raw—that's my personal preference, is to fast them into raw. Now, early on, I fasted many a cat into raw, I will admit. Really old cats, but usually really skinny cats. So, I didn't have cats that were overweight. And I do think that that's why they were able to survive my fasting them into raw. But that's not the recommendation and it's not safe now that we know about this condition—people call it fatty liver disease or hepatic lipidosis. So, maybe you could speak about that and talk about that risk.

Will Falconer 34:53
Sure, sure. So, the risk is for those cats who are addicted to kibble and they're making the transition, and they're overweight, they're obviously overweight: they've got a fat pad on their belly, or you pet them down the back, and there's like no definition of spine, you don't feel that spine as you pet them. Those cats are overweight, even if they've been that way for years, and they seem normal to you, that's not normal. That's overweight.

Kasie Maxwell 35:18
Thank you.

Will Falconer 35:18
That means they've got excess fat on that body. So, those cats are at risk for—the $40 word is hepatic lipidosis, but fatty liver is a simple term—and it just means if they fast, what are they gonna digest? They're gonna digest their fat stores, like we all do. When we fast, we digest fat first, that's what goes first. And cats, they are particularly sensitive to those fat stores rushing into the liver for processing, their own liver, and plugging it up. And that throws them into a downward spiral of, "Oh, I don't feel so good, my liver's all stopped up. I don't want to eat now." When they don't want to eat now they're digesting more fat, the liver's getting further fatty and further blocked up. And so, they go into this downward anorexic spiral where they're really getting sick. And so, in that point of transition, we want to be really careful that they're eating something every day that's not their own bodily tissue. So, fasting, like you say, works fine for the skinny guys, and works fine for the youngsters who are normal weight.

Kasie Maxwell 35:30
And you do think that's safe, even for cats? I mean, I didn't know if I should say that. But you find that to be safe enough?

Will Falconer 36:34
I think so, yeah. I mean, again, the model is these lions, who are not eating every day, they're not eating twice a day, you know, they may have a little more reserve than the smaller guys, but I like your approach better. I think it's going to be safe for everybody to just go slow.

Kasie Maxwell 36:53

Will Falconer 36:54
But if you've got somebody who's overweight, you want to make sure every single day that cat's eating something that's nourishing, and giving them some energy. And I've heard it said, I think Pitcairn was the one who told me way back in the day that that can even be a teaspoon full of something that's exogenous.

Kasie Maxwell 37:13
That's one thing people don't realize. Yeah, one thing people don't realize is that, you know, a lot of times people will say, "Oh, my cat's just not eating, or my dog's just not eating." These are not under the transition circumstances, but other circumstances. And oftentimes, I'll learn that, well, they are eating something. And you'd be shocked, right, Dr. Will? I mean, you'd be shocked how long they can survive on eating just a lick of food. Just a lick or two of food, they can go weeks and weeks and weeks like that. I mean, they're not thriving, but people don't understand that that still is something. Yeah, and that can sustain them for a while.

Will Falconer 37:50
I'll tell you a funny story. When I lived in Hawaii for a number of years, every once in a while—I was in the Department of Agriculture, so every once in a while we'd hear about a cat who got trapped in a container coming across the ocean.

Kasie Maxwell 38:03

Will Falconer 38:03
From your part of the world, California to Hawaii. And that's a voyage of several days to a week, you know, it could be 10 days before they get that container unloaded. And out comes this cat, and he's like looking around, "Where's the food? I'm really hungry, I'm pretty thirsty, but I'm alive. I'm glad to be here. Where's my next meal?" You know? So, they can survive these things.

Kasie Maxwell 38:27
Yeah. And how many animals have you treated as a homeopath that, you know, they were maybe chronically ill, or very seriously ill with something, and yet, they would continue to keep going with just a few bites of food? You know, they didn't really... It's kind of amazing. So, I think people have a different expectation about like, well, they just had a quarter cup of yogurt and a few treats. And it's like, well, that's fine. I mean, that's enough food. They're gonna, they don't need, you know, because maybe they're being picky. And I say, "No, you know, you really have to fast them." Dogs in particular, you really do have to—truly, nothing by mouth—to fast them to reset their metabolism and their appetite sometimes when it's been derailed by something. Yeah. So that...

Kasie Maxwell 38:30
But a good way for these cats to prevent fatty livers is, even a little bit of food every day is enough to keep them out of that. Yeah.

Kasie Maxwell 39:22
Good. Okay. And that, of course with RESCUE REMEDY, is a nice thing, because it is life threatening. I mean, that is a really terrible, very high-risk situation. Yeah. So, thank you.

Will Falconer 39:34
Well, let's use our last part of our hour with dogs, because they're much easier, much faster, and how would you go about it?

Kasie Maxwell 39:42
Can I mention one more thing? I just realized I forgot to mention, one thing that people...

Will Falconer 41:17
If it's short.

Kasie Maxwell 39:46
It is short. Okay. One thing that's mentioned with kitties is that they—also, there's a lot more about feeding kitties that, it's not so much about the food or the protein or this or that. A lot of times for cats, it's about behavior. There's a lot of ritual involved with eating, there's a lot of ritual that we need to honor, respect and include in every mealtime. Some cats, it's a very social moment, to eat. And so, I have cats who, they want to rub on you, they want to snuggle with you, they want to get pet while they're eating. There's a lot of cats under which that's a really big part of them having an engaging meal and a satisfying meal, good metabolism, and enjoying and taking their food in. But before that, even, one thing that's absolutely critical, in my opinion, is a good, hearty play session into meal is important. So, you know, one, you don't want to have a stressful situation where there's a dog barking at them, or there's things that are... If they don't care about that stuff, that's one thing, but most cats, it makes them nervous, and we want them to be in a peaceful, safe place to eat, where they're not being harassed, they're not being scared, or, you know, think about that, it's really important. And then the other thing that we want to do is a nice engaging play with something like Da Bird, or some kind of really cool hunting game, because all of that play is usually mimicking hunting. So, you want to enact a hunt before every meal. And so you really get them going, running around hunting, hunting, hunting. Then, wow, they got the kill, put the plate of food down and into it they go. Because that just made it so easy for them, and it's not just the...

Will Falconer 41:34
The entire loop.

Kasie Maxwell 41:34
Yeah, it's not just about the ritual and the behavior, but that actually, that engagement, that moving around and that being vigorously moving, building up kind of an appetite really does happen for a cat. That changes their biochemistry, it changes their metabolism, gets their bodies ready to eat, gets their digestive system ready to eat. That's really important, and people don't usually even think about it. But that's super important. So, you want your kitties running around on the hunt before they get to their meal, that's very important. And thinking about everything being safe and not stressful for them around their mealtime and making sure they're not being harassed during their meals as well is important. And then after they eat, a nice little grooming session, great time to hit them with the flea comb, make sure nobody has any fleas. You know, examine their body, make sure everything looks really good. Anyway, so those are two important things I find is important with cats.

Will Falconer 42:25
I can imagine stomach juices starting to flow during that hunt.

Kasie Maxwell 42:28
Exactly. That is exactly what happens. I mean, that is preparing their bodies, this is exactly how their bodies are supposed to be prepared before they eat a meal. And you've just honored that and you're engaging in that, you're making sure that that's all happening as it should, and that's going to be better digestion, they won't have those problems with indigestion, or... This is just gonna really help them in a lot of ways. And about their appetite. Yeah.

Will Falconer 42:53
I love it. I love it.

Kasie Maxwell 42:55
All right, so doggies, right?

Will Falconer 42:57
Let's talk through the easy guys. Yeah, dogs are going to make it, like in a heartbeat compared to these cats, right?

Kasie Maxwell 43:03
I know. Well, you know, I mean, I've been doing it so long, and also, I just have so much to say about everything. It's hard for me to be short sometimes. But yeah, with dogs, though—so, with puppies, we usually start them off on a... You can start them off, and people get so concerned about balance, but what I like to do is start something really simple. So, just ground beef, maybe some goat milk, raw goat milk, if you have it, or a raw kefir, a little bit of slippery elm if you want to, but just that easy stuff just in the beginning to get them started. And three meals a day is perfect for a young puppy. Also at room temperature for young puppies. We're talking puppies, all these puppies within weeks of age, up to like, 12 weeks or something, this is what I'm talking about. And we even have raw breeders that start puppies off with just ground beef, when they first get home to a new home. People get concerned that they need to slowly transition from whatever they were eating at the breeders or at the rescue to what they're going to be feeding at home. I disagree with that, because my take on it is they're going to have what I like to call turbulence, digestive turbulence, as they launch into the atmosphere of raw feeding, going launching and they're gonna have a little turbulence.

Will Falconer 44:21
Buckle up.

Kasie Maxwell 44:22
Yeah, buckle up, you're gonna have some turbulence. You may have turbulence just because they're moving, the stress. Oftentimes, they're coming from a situation where the microbiome, everything's going to be in transition. They're going to be leaving their parents, their littermates, their microbiota, biological little, you know, pod that they were in, everything's going to change. There's going to be stress that will impact their microbiota, there's going to be a new, you know, exposed to new bacterias at your home, new sounds, new people, new... All that stuff is going to impact their digestive health. In addition to that, a lot of animals, unfortunately, are also given things like vaccinations, they're given flea and tick medications, they're getting sort of gone through the traditional veterinary allopathic model before they come to you or right before they come to you. So, they're going to be coming off of that, and they're going to have digestive upsets from that as well. So, just, you're going to have digestive upset, most likely. So, what we're going to do is, don't even mess around with feeding the canned or the kibble, or whatever they were eating before, and just get them onto something that's a basic meat. And we want to start also exposing them to bones. So, that doesn't mean they're going to necessarily eat the bones, but we want to put them in there, and then have, you can even, with a little puppy, you can start with the recreational bones, like the marrow bones and things like that are going to be fine. Even if those are one of the more dangerous bones as an adult, as a puppy I find that to be a nice safe thing that you can start with. And it's a good thing to expose them to. So, three meals a day, just meat in the beginning, we build that up, adding in the calcium, adding in the organs, adding in the tripe, adding in the fish, adding in the, you know, all of the raw dairy, adding in the eggs, all of those things that I find to be important. People wonder about veggies. Veggies are a whole different topic. They don't necessarily need them. I like herbs. I do like some soaked, sprouted seeds, and things like that I think are nice. But those are things that you want to offer to them independently and give them a choice about whether or not they want to eat those or not. Because they're not necessary. And if they like them, and they want to have them, they can have them and you can incorporate them. But please don't think you need to mix that in and make them eat it. Things like pumpkin and sweet potato, I've changed my opinion on. I used to think that those were useful tools because of the fiber that would help with solidifying stools, but now I don't really feel like that's really worth the risk because they're so sweet and sugary. It's not necessarily the best thing to be adding in. But I do think that just going with the meat and the slippery elm is a useful tool that most people... Slippery elm bark, you can get in a powder, you can get in capsules, you can—it is actually a Native American herb that was used as a gruel that you can actually feed as a meal, almost like a porridge, and they can eat that. It's nutritious and it helps coat... I'd say it's like Pepto-Bismol, herbal Pepto-Bismol—coats, soothes and protects the digestive system. If they have diarrhea, it will help curtail that. And if they have any kind of blockages or constipation, it helps move things through. It's a nice regular, it regulates the bowel to be normal. So, it's nice that way.

Will Falconer 47:33

Kasie Maxwell 47:33
And it's a wonderful, they usually like the flavor, they like the taste. It works well with a little warm goat milk, if you need to, that's a great thing to have on hand. And I like that, I make a herbal blend called "Starter Herbs," and the basics of that blend is slippery elm bark powder. So, those are things you can use for puppies. And we do build the diet pretty slowly. And every week we want to add in or every like four to five days, we want to add in a new protein and add a new food, so that we build up to the four different proteins over about four to six weeks at the most. And by the end of about a month, you want to make sure that you do have nutritional balance. But before that, don't be too concerned about things being super balanced.

Will Falconer 48:15
That's a really good point. Let me speak to that for a second. You know, Thomas Sandberg was on a few episodes back, and he said, "You know, when you're making the switch, even if you give nothing but chicken," and he was talking about meat, not bone, not organs, just chicken meat, "if you do that for a couple of months, you're not doing any damage at all." I thought that was really striking.

Kasie Maxwell 48:38
Yeah, well, with a puppy, they're growing, so they're going to need some calcium, I would think.

Will Falconer 48:41
Sure, sure.

Kasie Maxwell 48:42
But with an adult dog, absolutely. I mean, not a problem for like three months. But with a puppy, they are growing fast, and they do need a little bit more nutrition. So, I'd kind of curtail that more to like four weeks, probably, to be safer, in my experience, at least. But I think that, yeah, I mean a lot of people think that every single meal has to be perfectly balanced, because they're rapidly growing and they are rapidly growing, we have to make sure to get them there, but we want to go slow enough so that they're able to be stable and not having this horrible, you know, a big bunch of turbulence. We want it to be pretty minimal. But you will have some turbulence and that's normal, and that's to be expected and just kind of work through it. As long as their vital signs are normal—and I do highly encourage every single person to go on YouTube and learn how to do your dog's vital signs. That will save you so much money and so much unnecessary veterinary intervention. Because if your animals are stable and you're able to do vital signs at home and they're acting normally, and maybe they have digestive upset, but otherwise they are happy, they're energetic, they're, you know, still want to eat and things like that, and their vital signs are good, just stay home. You're okay, you know, you don't have to rush to the vet. Really, you don't have to rush to the vet because they have digestive upset if their vital signs are stable. And, you know, people get worried, "Oh, they're gonna have immediate, immediately dehydrated." Unless you have a little, teeny-tiny puppy or kitten or very small animal that's really seriously ill, that risk for dehydration's not as big as people sometimes are led to believe. And it's pretty easy to check to see if they're dehydrated with some at-home tests that you can learn to do on YouTube. So, that's pretty, you know, do the tent test with their skin, and then also do capillary refill and check the tackiness of their gums. It's pretty simple to check. And I always want people to feel empowered by that, because they just don't want anything terrible to happen to their precious baby that they just got. And I totally understand that. But the risk of running to the vet for every little thing is so high for the long-term health of the animal that I like to have people learn those basic skills to do at home, or have your veterinarian show you how to do it if you're not comfortable. But just to know when you really do need to go to the vet is important to have that understanding. And then, for an adult animal, anybody over the age of six months—so with puppies, I'm not going to go into a lot of details about long-term feeding with puppies, I'm just going to go through transition here. But with a dog over the age of six months, you can easily fast them into raw. And so, that's my favorite method and what I really like to do. It just gets them there faster with less problems. And so, there are some circumstances under which some people are really adamant and they feel very strongly, like their intuition, and I want to honor that, and I really respect that, and I do think that sometimes they do know, "Oh, I know that that's not going to work for my dog and I have to do a slow transition." Okay, we'll do that, that's fine. Or maybe you want to cook first and go into raw slowly. You have that inner voice speaking to you, and your animal, I think, is probably communicating that to you, so we need to do that, and I agree. But for the majority of everyone else, my recommendation is for you to have 100% fast for 24 hours, only water. That's it. Now people think, "Oh my gosh, they're gonna die, or they're gonna suffer, I'm torturing them."

Will Falconer 49:26
24 hours—nothing.

Kasie Maxwell 52:05
"That's the worst thing, how could I possibly do that? They're gonna think, they're gonna be so miserable." So, what I explained to people is, here's what you're gonna do. A couple of things are happening when this is taking place, and you know, probably about this, too, is that if the animal's asking for food, two things are happening usually in this 24 hours. Because it's usually not from genuine hunger. It's usually from habit and behavior. So, they're just used to getting fed at that certain time, or used to, "When I come home, I get a treat," or, "When I come at this hour, I get fed." So, it's more of a behavioral thing, and not necessarily about leptin and ghrelin levels of hormones that are true, actual hunger. It's more that they're just, you know, mimic—they're sort of used to this routine that you guys have. And so, what I usually recommend is to pretend that you don't understand what they're saying to you. And just go, "Oh, you want to go for a walk?" or, "Oh, you want to have a nice..." Like, you engage in some other behavior that's of value to them, that's joyful to them, that's a bonding experience you guys both really enjoy doing together. Like, they come in, and they say, "Hey, I'm hungry," and you go, "Oh, you want to go for a walk? I think that's a great idea. Let's go outside and play." So, you know, you just pretend you didn't understand what they were trying to tell you, and you just distract them with some other fun, cool thing. Now, sometimes, they want to just get on the couch and watch Netflix and snuggle with you, and that's the best thing ever, or they want to go for a nice, long hike, or go to the beach, or go see their friends, or go for a car ride. Whatever the fun thing is for them to do, just immediately pretend that they didn't ask for food or a treat and you go into that other fun, great thing that's gonna happen that doesn't involve food. So, that's usually what I recommend. And then also just to know that if they really get insistent and really have a hard time and they're yelling at you, like, "Rah, rah, rah," you know, really upset about not getting their food, and that sometimes'll happen, or they're jumping on you, or they're really—my recent understanding of what's probably happening there is this is the dying-off of the microbiota in their gut. Their gut microbiota is speaking and saying, "Give me carbs, I need sugar." Because they were eating sugar and those bacteria are dying off and they're trying to survive. They're living things just like us. So, they're like, "Give me sugar. I need sugar to survive." So, it's not necessarily your animal that's communicating to you. That's that bacteria in their gut that we want to go away. We want it to die off. We want it to be replaced with a nice, diverse level of a healthier microbiome microflora. And so, if they're going through that real distress of that die-off of those microbiota that are more, they're fed by carbs and by sugar, then what probably would be helpful would be the RESCUE REMEDY, and then also exercise. Because that will help push that out, that will help speed that up along and reduce the stress. And that helps reduce the stress in your animal a lot too. So, if they're a healthy animal, and they're able to go out for a good, long hike or a long going-out in nature, that's going to help even with the microbiota, as well. So, just, people to understand that that sort of really, you know, really strong, aggressive reaction to not being fed is oftentimes the microbiota speaking and not necessarily the animal, and to be mindful of that and feel compassion for your animal that that's happening, but to know that it's not necessarily coming directly from the animal and that we're getting rid of those bad guys, and that's a good thing. And think of it as a good thing and have that energy that it's a good thing, and then go out and help your animal by giving them exercise and giving them RESCUE REMEDY and giving them all of the things that will help support them through that breaking off of those things. And then on day two, we're ready to go in and feed a little bit of food. But what we want to do is wait as long as you can into the later part of the day, because dogs' biorhythms is meant to be eating primarily... The ideal time to feed them as between 12 and 7. And so, they can have two meals a day, or three meals a day within the 12 to 7. And so, if we can do that, that's going to be the best time to feed them. And if they're an adult dog like a two- or three-year-old dog, we can just do one meal a day during that 12 to 7. If they're a young animal, we can do, you know, at six months of age, we can still do three meals a day. But that first meal should be kind of later in the morning, and it should be a lighter meal. And on day two, we're going to feed just half of what we expect them to eat. So, if it's a 50-pound dog, we expect them to eat a pound of food a day, we want to feed them half a pound spread out across either one to three meals a day on that day two. Then by day three, if everything's going well, by day three, we move into whatever the feeding schedule will be. And that's going to be the full amount that we expect them to eat. So, by day three, we go to the whole, in this example, with a 50-pound dog and a pound of food a day, we go to a pound of food spread out between one to three meals, depending on their age and how many meals you're feeding a day. And then we go from there. We just start with a basic, you know, one protein, but then we're going to add a new protein as often as we can, maybe every three to four or five days. And we want to build up that menu over time. And you can usually accomplish that between anywhere, depending on how they're doing with their gut and everything's going, we're gonna do that within about four to six, maybe eight weeks.

Will Falconer 57:53
Beautiful. Beautiful. And I want to mention to people, as we wrap up, that Kasie has written all this down for you. And I'm gonna have links in the show notes for both cats and dogs making the transition. So, we've covered the high points, and been great to hear some of these examples that are probably not in those blog posts, like the lions eating organs and squirting out diarrhea as normal. That's beautiful. Only somebody who's been to Kenya could tell us that, that was lovely.

Kasie Maxwell 58:19
Yeah. Oh, that's awesome. I'm so grateful I was able to have that experience.

Will Falconer 58:25
So, be sure to get over to vitalanimal.com, forward slash I think this is number 12, you just put /12, and you'll find Kasie's show notes with links. And if she's got a favorite vital signs YouTube, I'm going to ask her to send that link over to me as well. So, you can learn how to check vital signs in your youngsters at home, or any age at home. That's a good thing to do.

Kasie Maxwell 58:48
Yeah, any animal. Yeah, we used to teach a class with a vet that was "How to Not Go to the Vet."

Will Falconer 58:54

Kasie Maxwell 58:55
It was taught by a vet. It was pretty awesome.

Will Falconer 58:56
It was taught by a vet. Love it.

Kasie Maxwell 58:57
It was amazing. And then I would do first aid and safety of raw feeding, and she would teach, here's what you need, all of the things you could do at home, so you don't have to ever go to the vet. When it's safe, obviously. But it was pretty awesome. It was a great class. Yeah.

Will Falconer 59:08
Yeah, that's great.

Kasie Maxwell 59:12
I hope this is really actionable and useful information for people. I'm so grateful you invited me back. Thank you so much for that.

Will Falconer 59:19
Oh, you're welcome. You're welcome. Great to have your experience behind this episode, because Kasie's been at this for a long time now. So, thanks, we're gonna wrap up and we will see you next week with another episode, yet to be determined. But thanks ever so much, Kasie, for coming on.

Kasie Maxwell 59:38
Thank you. Thank you so, so much. And if anyone has any questions, you can always follow up and we'll be here, right?

Will Falconer 59:46
Yeah, in fact, I want to invite you to this episode's show notes because if questions come in, you are more than welcome to answer right in the comments there on vitalanimal.com. Yeah. So, do feel free to stop in.

Kasie Maxwell 59:59
Absolutely, Will. Make myself available, I'd be honored and pleased to do so. Thank you.

Will Falconer 1:00:03
Awesome. Thanks, everybody. Until next time, this is Dr. Will Falconer with Kasie Maxwell, we'll see you soon.

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Next week: FEAR! This episode will help you see why, most always, it’s not good for you OR your animals. And I offer up the chief way to combat it in this “Age of Pandemic.”


  1. Shonda Chapman on February 21, 2022 at 10:44 am

    I have a 7 year old standard goldendoodle–a lovely dog. He has been on a raw diet based on Pitcairn’s book for over 6 years. We do feed some oats and sweet potatoes, which I may try to reduce both quantity and frequency. He also seems to have trouble with chicken (gets jelly poops), but does great on turkey, beef, bison, venison, chukker, etc. His one issue is he sometimes will not eat in the morning, acts nauseous and sometimes throws up bile. If I catch it soon enough, Nux Vomica will often interrupt this process, but I would like to help him get over this. I would say he has a sensitive stomach generally. He gets pastured chicken wings as well. I used Pitcairn’s Healthy Powder and make my own egg shell powder. I try to get him to eat sardines on occasion, though he is not a fan. Any ideas about the morning puking?

  2. Kathryn Kennell on November 25, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Excellent podcast. Very informative. Thank you

  3. Amy on November 25, 2020 at 9:53 am

    I have been making raw cat food for 6 years now with chicken thighs, bones, hearts, gizzards and livers. I have two cats lived to 20 years old been fed with both dry and canned food but another cat loved dry food and died of fatty liver disease. I learned how important that is to feed them good nutritious food so I switched to make my own.
    Now I have a question whether it is a good idea to incorporate some wild caught fishes in the mix. They like fish so we do add some canned fish (not tuna) in their raw food.

    • Kasie Maxwell Grujcic on November 27, 2020 at 10:29 pm

      Hi Amy! Thank you for your excellent question for which I think others will also benefit learning more about.

      First off, it’s just outstanding that you’ve made the switch over to a species appropriate, fresh, raw whole food diet for your kitties. Well done! Making this important choice will serve them well – from what we have learned, this change will support them to be able to enjoy as long and healthy a life possible – free of suffering from so many common ailments and a tragically shortened lifespan that so many other domestic cats are subjected to when fed processed foods and dry kibble. That you have made decision to put in the extra effort by committing to a DIY menu is laudable and an inspiration. That’s awesome! Removing the damaging foods and then feeding them what they are designed to metabolize best, by nature’s design, is really the very best we can do for our animals that depend on us for nearly everything in their lives. I bet they’re shining examples of good health! <3

      As for the question about adding in seafood to your cats’ diet. While certain seafood choices such as clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, mackerel, cod livers, are exceptional sources of important, even essential, nutrients that cats require be provided in their daily diets – namely taurine (highest in clams and other shellfish) and animal sources of vitamins A & D (found in cod livers, along with incredible amounts of valuable omega fatty acids/fats) plus important minerals like zinc and selenium, for example – it is my position that seafood should be avoided in the feline diet entirely for a number of reasons. I review some of the reasons in my blog post here:

      Tuna in particular is an especially dangerous choice for cats due to the higher levels of bioaccumulated contaminants and naturally occurring heavy metals. Tuna consumption can even cause your cat to develop a Vitamin E deficiency which may lead to a painful, inflammatory condition known as steatitis (“yellow fat disease”). All seafood can be highly addictive to felines and can be a primary or maintaining cause of dysregulated appetites. Having a troubling/variable appetite, pickiness or inappetence can all be a real problem in felines, even as we try our best to provide them with nourishing foods.

      Consumption of seafood has also been correlated to the risk for developing urinary stones, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), hyperthyroidism, and renal dis-ease. Anitra Fraizer wrote in The New Natural Cat (first edition published in 1981) about a cat client for whom she had finally gotten their FLUTD under control with a raw diet that experienced a flare of the condition after a single innocent nibble of shrimp. I used her book as my guide when I switched by first cat to raw in 1989, and I’ve just always avoided seafood from the recommendations she made in her book.

      For these reasons, I do avoid feeding cats seafood completely and this is my recommendation to others as well – especially tuna and things like dried bonito flakes, etc. Instead, I have chosen to focus on providing my cats with plenty of taurine-rich foods including the dark meat cuts of turkey and chicken (and other poultry), pork or beef heart, liver and tongue, other meats like lamb stew, elk or venison stew meat, and even some seasonal live insects (such as crickets and other nutritious grubs known in the exotic trade as "live feeders" – whichever ones they enjoy eating). They also really benefit from the inclusion of egg yolks which I think is fairly necessary in the feline diet for providing adequate levels of choline, for example. The eggs are available seasonally in most areas when truly pasture-raised outdoors where they are permitted to forage freely – this changes the nutrient quality of the eggs. The yolk in particular is very beneficial and this might be my first choice if you were to consider adding other ingredients and foods to your kitty’s menu plan.

      Now, if you really, really, really want to include some kind of fishy things, there are a few other options.
      1) seaweed such as kelp, dulse, wakame/arame and nori maybe added and used in moderation and provide a nice source of iodine and other trace minerals – just be careful to not overdo or you may risk causing a thyroid imbalance from too much iodine
      2) MarinePhytoPlanktoin is a sea plant based form of clean and healthy omega-3s which would be outstanding to include and I do highly recommend the inclusion of this in the feline diet – I like the Alive or Sunfood Brand myself, but there are other nice ones available, Be sure to ask the company for a certificate of analysis to ensure their product meets the purity, safety and nutrient standards you require.
      3) Adding the liquid from any packs of meat that you defrost or serve is always a good idea as this is where many nutrients will be found – we call these “meat juices” or run-off myoglobin and it is considered a good source of nutrient dense moisture and can really help your cat when added back into the food as a dressing or when you make your meals
      4) lastly, one thing that might be okay and not have the usual associated risks is clam juice which is incredibly high in taurine. This is simply the water taken from when they steam/boil clams – so it is not the clams, but the juices. Adding extra moisture to the feline diet is always a good idea/practice, and this may very well provide some great nutritional benefits that your cats are seeking out in a safer way over tuna and other seafood. Alternatively, if you consume water packed wild salmon (from a brand like Vital Choice, for example) – giving the water from these cans is also very high in taurine and this , too, could be a similar benefit to adding in calm juice to the diet as a topper or mixed into the meals as a flavor enhancer and also little nutrient boost without the risks associated with consuming seafood.

      I hope this helps! If you have any more questions – feel free to ask away 😊 I’ll do my best to answer.

  4. Kim T on November 24, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    I tried raw food for my (then 1 year old) dog over a year ago (various commercial brands and proteins.) She came from kibble, transitioned over a couple of weeks and did OK for a couple of weeks after, but then for 3-4 months after that, we had ever more frequent vomiting (6-8 hours after a meal and by the end every day.) We tried more frequent meals, digestive enzymes, switching brands, switching protein, lower fat, mixing in raw goat milk/kefir, etc… nothing helped. Finally had to abandon raw and now feed various commercially prepared ‘lightly/gently cooked’ foods and while she had some vomiting even after the switch, we’re now stable for months, no vomiting. I’ve thought to dip my toe back into raw (maybe switching from lightly cooked be easier?) but am nervous to get back to the daily vomiting. Any advice?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on November 24, 2020 at 9:23 pm

      My first thought as a homeopathic vet is there’s some underlying chronic disease that needs to be addressed. Raw food should be easier to digest than any other and is species appropriate to dogs by definition, genetically so similar to the wolf. On our cat interview with homeopathic vet Dr. Tasi earlier, she points out how healthy cats don’t vomit. If they do regularly, there’s illness present and, like all well trained homeopathic vets, we’d approach that constitutionally, i.e. treating the unique individual and only looking at digestion as one part of a larger whole. When their chronic disease is cured, the vomiting stops, along with an overall improvement that’s usually visible in several different areas.

      So, the fundamental question is: was the fault the food or the dog? I think the latter. As we learned from Thomas Sandberg earlier, even grocery store meats can make a huge uptick in health for a dog coming off commercial food. Often with miraculous results, in fact.

      I tell you how to choose a qualified homeopathic vet on my Rec’d Resources page.

      • Kasie Maxwell Grujcic on November 27, 2020 at 11:28 pm

        I concur with Dr. Falconer on his suggestion to seek out the counsel of a qualified homeopath to help treat your animals’ imbalances. A healthy animal should, indeed, be able to eat the foods their body’s are so perfectly and elegantly designed to eat and homeopathy can help restore this balance and ability in such an easy and gentle way. It would be my first choice.

        So, yes! I think you can and should try again. I’m so happy to hear you haven’t given up entirely; your willingness to not give up on your animal is HUGE and will go such a long way in helping them to live the very best life possible. You are acting as your animal’s selfless advocate and this is so wonderful to see 🙂 It really shows how much you care and love them to continue to strive to make these good choices for them.

        In case homeopathy is not your first choice, there are other things you can consider and I’ll review some suggestions below.

        For example, you may want to consider doing some “biological” at-home testing to determine if there are any imbalances that you can work on as your transition them back to a raw diet. A few great tests that can help you learn more about the inner ecology of your animal’s unique system include:

        a) AnimalBiome fecal test, to get an analysis of their gut microbiome that can help determine which specific probiotic strains or prebiotic fibers might be most useful in restoring a better balance to their gut microflora (and digestive health)

        b) the Parsley Pet Nutritional Blueprint test can help you to learn if there are any issues with heavy metal toxins which can be found even in some ingredients/foods found in some of the best raw diets but might need to be avoided for your individual pet. The test results may lead you to adding in certain foods or herbs to help alleviate any issues they are experiencing. The tests also show if there is an imbalance in specific minerals and also their adrenal function/metabolic fitness – all useful when putting together a plan for an animal experiencing problems eating any diet.

        c) Consider either the Glacier Peak Animal Life Stressors test or the HemoPet NutriScan tests for testing of food intolerances or reactivity. The Glacier Peak test uses bio-resonance reading for a very extensive test for many different ingredients and foods, and costs less to do. The HemoPet NutriScan test provides you with antibody levels to a limited number of foods and is more costly. These tests can help you come up with a nice starting roadmap/plan for which proteins could be used in your return to feeding fresh foods, and also help you to decide which things you might want to avoid.

        These tests are certainly not required or necessary options, but some people have found them very helpful in sorting chronic problems like this out and figuring out a way to improve upon their current menus. I mention them here only to point out these options in case they resonate with you, and becasue you just may not have known about them – they’re just something to consider.

        If you were to walk into SFRAW, my question would be to ask you to think back to when your animal was doing really good on a certain food and then try to remember what protein that food was made of. We would probably start there – maybe it was salmon or beef or turkey? — whatever the “flavor” was that they seemed the most stable on and enjoyed the most.

        Then we’ll feed just this – just the muscle meat from a super high quality source (regenerative farmed, wild, pasture-raised, well produced from a great supplier) and nothing else. Just the meat – either stew meat or ground burger meat. We can cook it at first, too, if this is what you think your animal would do best on.

        This would be in addition to my usual transition suggestions reviewed in the podcast for fasting into the diet and going slowly when it comes to quantity.

        If all goes well, after about a week or two we begin to build the diet – adding in a source of calcium first (maybe Animal Essentials Seaweed Calcium) then adding in one organ meat at a time – first heart, then liver, kidney or gizzard, etc.

        We add one thing at a time and give it a few days or aa few weeks before adding in the next thing until we have a fairly well rounded base to work from.

        This can be cooked. If any addition causes problems, we’ll reassess and pivot – seeking out other options such as freeze-dried organs, for example.

        Slowly you can start to cook these base meals less and less, so that you are feeding a mostly or fully raw diet eventually. At that time, we will begin to build in much more variety and create a better long-term menu plan.

        But start with just plain meat first – then add in calcium, then organs one by one.

        If vomiting occurs at any point along the way, you can try adding in a splash of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar to the meals (or an HCL supplement). This can sometimes fix the problem, but for some it can make things worse. So you just have to try it and find out which way it goes with your dog.

        Adding in prebiotics and probiotics will certainly help, too, and I have suggestions for this — it’s very specific and beyond the scope of this comment but there is a lot of new research on this fascinating topic that we can use to help our animals. It’s pretty exciting! One probiotic product is not nearly the same as others that are available – there is a lot to know here. The combinations of different types of categories and different probiotic species employed make a huge difference in determining outcomes.

        Prebiotic choices are many and we would choose one based on a number of things – perhaps you have a test result we can use (see above) to determine the best choice, or maybe there’s one you are using for yourself that would help your animal, too!

        Herbals can be very useful in these cases. Have you already tried things like slippery elm bark, ginger, fennel seed, peppermint, dandelion, chamomile, catmint, chicory? Incorporating digestive “bitters” can work wonders for some.

        These are some simple suggestions that I hope might help you in planning your next steps.

        Again, I applaud you for not giving up! We’ll be here cheering you on as you slowly make you way back over to a raw food menu.

        As you see, I think for your animal should DIY type diet at first but there’s a possibility that a commercial diet might work in the end. This will be further down the path, however and for this, there are but a very very few that I can comfortably recommend, but I’d be happy to if you get to this point eventually.

        I sincerely hope that some of my suggestions might be of use and help you and your dog try raw again together!

        • Kasie Maxwell Grujcic on November 29, 2020 at 10:33 am

          Apologies for all the typos. If anything might be difficult to discern due to this (or any other reason) please let me know and I’d be happy to clarify. I thought I would have the option to go back and edit and tidy this up, but there’s not an option to do this. Please excuse my mistakes made in writing.

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