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Liberty Foundation Launches Rehoming Service for Ex-Research Animals 

Coinciding with World Laboratory Animal Week (19-24 April 2021) a special rehoming service will open its doors to Australians wanting to support animals coming out of research facilities.

Liberty Foundation is Australia’s first service dedicated solely to rehoming the full range of animals from science and research, as pets and companions.

The launch week is significant for another reason, according to founder and director of Liberty Foundation, Paula Wallace: “We think World Laboratory Animal Week is a good time to let everyone know that we are here and to take a moment to remember that there are many animals in laboratories around the world, including here in Australia.

“The good news is that an increasing number of them are finding a new life outside of research as pets and valued members of families and communities around Australia.”

Liberty Foundation started rehoming in late 2017 and since that time has found loving forever homes for more than 350 animals from research facilities. 

Jonty after his first tentative steps at his new home has now become a confident, affectionate boy


They include rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, fish, dogs and catsIt has rehoming agreements in place with a number of large research establishments in New South Wales and plans to expand nationally.

“We have built up the charity to a point where we can officially launch as a professional, effective and sustainable service that puts the needs of animals at the forefront of everything we do,” said Ms Wallace.

“Our activities to date have proven that these animals can achieve a very high quality of life and transition well to life outside the research establishment.

From the 19-24th of April we’ll be encouraging members of the public to find out more about Liberty Foundation through our website and other channels. We will be releasing special videos every day on Facebook and our YouTube channel that demonstrate the values of our organisation: compassion, inclusion, joy, hope and love.”

Tiger was another beneficiary of 
this new rehoming service
There are literally millions of animals used for research and scientific purposes in Australia each year, across a wide range of species from livestock to natives and companion animals. They are used in a range of settings such as universities, hospitals, agriculture, medical and veterinary research and government facilities.


While it’s difficult to ascertain how many animals might be suitable for rehoming from the millions used each year for scientific and research purposes, it is estimated that there may be around 1,000 dogs and 500 cats each year in NSW, along with thousands of smaller animals.

“It is safe to say that most of these animals would have been euthanised. While there are some progressive research establishments already rehoming their animals, the vast majority are humanely killed when they are no longer needed,” Ms Wallace said.

Ellie enjoyed her time in foster care
before going to her forever home
“We have had the support of some very proactive research establishments that have come onboard to try something new and to provide more sustainable outcomes for the animals in their care.”


Liberty Foundation was recognised last October at the Jetpets Companion Animals Rescue Awards, taking out the category of “Outstanding New Rescue Group”.

The organisation works on a foster/adopt model and places animals within the community. It hopes to establish a sanctuary in the future with the support of donors and people joining the organisation for an annual membership fee.

“People can go to our website and join up as a member right now. It’s a way to show your support and stay connected with us through our regular email newsletter,” Ms Wallace said.

“Animals in research are part of our community, they are not forgotten, they are not invisible, they are beautiful and they are part of us. It is up to us to provide a place for them to live out the course of their natural lives in peace after their time in research. In many cases, they have nowhere else to go.”

You can find out more about Liberty Foundation at www.libertyfoundation.org.au 

You can follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LibertyFoundationAustralia 

Watch their latest compilation video here: 


Some information on the use of animals for scientific and research purposes:

On average, in the ten years between 2008-2017, the number of animals used for scientific and research purposes in Australia was 6.4 million annually. The most recent figures, from 2017, suggest around 7 million, but the numbers have been rising in recent years.

If you consider national figures from 2017, the number of animals used (some of whom could be suitable for rehoming as companion animals) included mice (1,471,837); rats (124,472); guinea pigs (8,653); rabbits (4,768); cats (2,587) and dogs (11,368). There are many more species that could also benefit from rehoming such as birds, pigs, goats, sheep, horses and reptiles.

Anecdotally, it has been suggested there may be around 1,000 dogs available for rehoming in NSW each year and a lesser number of cats, around 500

However, these figures are only educated guesses. With current collection of statistics from state governments, which are not nationally consistent, it is difficult to ascertain how many of these animals may be available for rehoming each year. 


MEDIA RELEASE, April 2021



This is the first part of a 2-part series dealing with Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats. Part 1 addresses the role of the kidneys, a discussion of the signs and effects of CKD and how veterinarians diagnose the condition. 

Part 2 describes management of CKD, the role of a “renal diet”, the importance of ongoing monitoring by the veterinarian and by owners at home, and brief case studies of two of the author Candice Drew's own cats diagnosed with CKD.

The Role of the Kidneys:

The kidneys are multi-talented and hard-working organs, serving numerous vital functions in the body. These include:

✔️
 Filtering the blood and removing toxins such as urea and creatinine from circulation, which are then excreted from the body as urine. These toxins are produced when the body’s cells metabolise nutrients such as protein for energy

✔️ The blood-filtering process also retains important substances and sends them back to the body. (Think of the kidneys as gate-keepers which protect the body. Harmful waste is filtered out of the blood and beneficial substances are kept and returned to circulation).

Other jobs performed by the kidneys include:

✔️ Maintaining water balance in the body

✔️ Maintaining blood pressure

✔️ Balancing blood pH (level of acidity)

✔️ Balancing electrolytes such as potassium and sodium, which enables the body’s cells to function properly.

✔️ Secretion of hormones such as renin, which helps control blood pressure, and erythropoietin, which stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells.

What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?

Chronic kidney disease is a gradual, progressive and irreversible deterioration of the kidneys. It is usually diagnosed in older cats, especially those over 15 years, with up to half of cats >15 years being affected. However, it can occur in cats of any age. CKD also occurs in dogs, but it is around 3 times more common in cats. There are many potential causes of CKD which include:


✔️ Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) which is an inherited condition in Persians and similar breeds (only Persian-type cats which inherit the gene will have this condition)

✔️ Exposure to toxins such as lilies or ethylene glycol (antifreeze), causing Acute Renal Failure (ARF) which can sometimes progress to CKD

✔️ Tumours (cancer)
✔️ Infection
✔️ High blood pressure
✔️ Impairment of blood flow to the kidneys
✔️ Impairment of urine output (eg: urinary tract infection or “blocked bladder”)

What happens to my cat when the kidneys aren’t working properly?

Because the kidneys are such amazing organs, they are able to continue doing their valuable work even when they are in the early stages of damage. This means that by the time they are no longer compensating for their reduced function and clinical signs become apparent in your cat, a significant level of irreversible damage has already occurred (up to 75% reduced function). 

These signs are related to the above-mentioned functions of the kidneys, either directly or indirectly. The process of filtering and excreting toxins and keeping valuable substances, control of blood pressure and balance of fluids in the body, and production of hormones are all impaired.

The most commonly-recognised signs of CKD, which you might notice in your cat, include:

✔️ urinating a lot more (increased frequency and/or volume), which results in your cat drinking more to make up for this increased fluid loss.

✔️ loss of appetite and weight loss, vomiting or nausea, caused by an increased level of toxins in the blood.


✔️ lethargy, caused by reduced potassium levels, anaemia and other factors

✔️ depression

✔️ dehydration due to increased urination and an inability to take in enough fluid orally.

✔️ mouth ulceration and bad breath, caused by an accumulation of waste products in the mouth.

If you notice any of these signs in your cat, you should seek veterinary advice immediately. The presence of any of these signs does not necessarily mean your cat has CKD, but they are an indication of ill-health and should be investigated. Additionally, not all cats with CKD will experience all of these signs.

How is CKD diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made by your vet considering the abovementioned signs, as well as blood and urine testing and blood pressure measurement. Sometimes abdominal x-rays or ultrasound are also utilised, if the veterinarian believes they will assist in reaching a diagnosis. Your vet might conduct tests such as:

✔️ Haematology – this assesses the number, size and quality of the cells in the blood

✔️ Biochemistry – this assesses substances and electrolytes in the blood. More recently, measurement of Symmetric Dimethylarginine (SDMA) in the blood has been shown to identify CKD up to 18 months earlier in cats, and is a more reliable diagnostic indicator, compared with measuring creatinine levels only.

✔️ Urinalysis – this might include a “Dipstick” test, a “Urine Specific Gravity” (USG) and a “Urine Protein to Creatinine Ratio” (UPCR) to assess the urine.


These blood and urine tests can identify toxin levels in the blood, determine whether protein is being lost in the urine and whether your cat’s kidneys are able to filter blood and concentrate urine sufficiently.

Your vet should also determine whether your cat is suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension), or from anaemia (a decrease in the number of red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body). 

Among other effects, untreated hypertension can lead to damage of the retina at the back of the eye, and subsequent blindness. Anaemia results from reduced kidney production of erythropoietin, as mentioned above.

Vets don’t rely on single readings of blood, urine and blood pressure when making a diagnosis of CKD. Rather, serial readings (at least two) taken a few weeks apart will tell your veterinarian if there is ongoing, rather than short-term/acute dysfunction. Veterinarians follow an important set of guidelines by the International Renal Interest Society (IRIS) when diagnosing and treating CKD. Fortunately, the body of evidence for treating the disease is growing all the time, which means better treatment protocols leading to prolonged life and increased quality of life for affected cats.

“Cee” was diagnosed with CKD at age 15

It is important to realise that CKD cannot be cured; the damage already done to the kidneys is irreversible.

However, the earlier the disease is diagnosed and treatment begins, the sooner disease progression can be slowed and your cat can enjoy an improved quality of life for longer, often for many years. 

The rate and severity of disease progression is different for every cat, and specific treatments are tailored to a cat’s individual condition and level of stability. 

CKD is divided into 4 stages by IRIS, depending on progression of the disease. Cats in stages 1-2 can often appear quite well for a long time, with minimal or no obvious signs. One benefit of cats 7+ years of age receiving regular health checks is to enable signs of age-related diseases, such as CKD, to be diagnosed early. 

This gives veterinary teams and cat owners more treatment options than if the disease is left undiagnosed and untreated until the later stages (IRIS stage 3-4).

What complications can occur with CKD?

Possible complications of CKD, some of which I’ve already mentioned above, include: 
  • dehydration or electrolyte imbalance: cats which are dehydrated have a loss of fluid in the blood vessels or have excessive waste products in the blood stream (see azotaemia, below) and they sometimes need intravenous (IV) fluids in hospital. Alternatively, some cats can be given subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids in hospital or at home. 


One way of checking your cat’s hydration is to gently pull up the skin between the shoulder blades (only if your cats allows this). If the skin is slow to return to normal position, your cat could be dehydrated. Other factors such as the amount body fat can also affect skin return.
  • azotaemia / uraemia: this is the build-up of waste products in the bloodstream, such as urea and creatinine and other nitrogens, due to an inability of the kidneys to remove them from the body. Azotaemia can cause problems with blood clotting, vomiting, diarrhoea and other gastro-intestinal signs.
  • low blood potassium (hypokalaemia): this occurs commonly in cats with CKD and supplementation is sometimes necessary, usually in combination with IV fluids. Cats with severe low potassium will have difficulty in standing, walking and holding their head up due to weakness. They also have a plantigrade stance, meaning their hind legs walk on the hocks rather than the paws, making them appear flat-footed.
  • deficiencies of water-soluble vitamins: such as the B vitamins due to increased loss in urine, which can be replaced by a vitamin B injection under the skin.
  • high blood pressure (hypertension): this occurs in 20-30% of cats with CKD. Your vet or nurse will monitor blood pressure at each visit and medication to lower blood pressure is commonly prescribed for cats with CKD. Signs of hypertension include dilated pupils, blindness and other changes in the eyes, and neurological signs such as disorientation, circling and seizures.
  • anaemia: a reduction in the number of red blood cells can occur due reduced production by the kidneys of a hormone called erythropoietin. This can affect the delivery of oxygen to the tissues, resulting in lethargy and intolerance to exercise.
  • mouth ulceration: when waste products are converted into ammonia by bacteria in the mouth, ulceration of the gums can occur, sometimes with associated bad breath, pain, salivation (drooling), pawing at the mouth and reluctance to eat.

Some cats might have other conditions at the same time as CKD, such as polycystic kidney disease (PKD), or hyperthyroidism, the latter of which can “hide” renal disease until treatment for hyperthyroidism begins.


If this all sounds a bit much, don’t despair! Although CKD is incurable, there’s a lot that can be done to extend life and maintain quality of life, without resorting to heroic measures.

In part 2 of this article, I’ll discuss treatment of CKD and how you can actively help your own cat. I’ll also share the stories of my previous cat “Cee” and my current cat “Maggie”, both of whom had/have a diagnosis of CKD.

written by Candice Drew, March 2021 for Australian Cat Lover (all rights reserved).

About the Writer

Candice qualified as a veterinary nurse in Australia in 2005, being awarded the Novartis Award for Outstanding Achievement in Veterinary Nursing in her qualifying year. 

She has worked extensively in Australia and the UK, and is a UK Registered Veterinary Nurse. Candice is experienced in general practice, shelter nursing and referral nursing (Surgery and Emergency & Critical Care [ECC]). 

She attained the Diploma of Veterinary Nursing (surgical) in 2009, qualified as a trainer & assessor in 2015, and completed the ISFM Diploma in Feline Nursing in 2018. Candice is interested in most aspects of veterinary nursing but her passions are feline nursing, ECC and working with students. 


Candice is the happy slave of an 11-year-old rescue cat named “Maggie”, whom she adopted in January 2018.

References:

Boyd, L.M., et.al.: “Survival in cats with naturally occurring chronic kidney disease (2000-2002)”, Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Sept-Oct. 2008, PubMed abstract
Caney, S.: “Chronic Kidney Disease: early diagnosis, management and monitoring”, Feline Focus 5(9), pp.219-232
Caney, S.: “Management of Feline Chronic Kidney Disease”, BSAVA Congress on-demand notes, 2020
Caney, S.: “Renal disease: successful long-term care at home”, https://www.vetprofessionals.com/site/cat-professional
Collins, S.: “Nutritional support of cats and dogs with renal disease”, Veterinary Nurses Journal, Volume 32, September 2017
Hill’s Pet Nutrition: “Kidney Disease in Cats”, https://www.hillspet.com.au/health-conditions/cat/kidney
International Cat Care: Chronic Kidney Disease:, https://icatcare.org/advice/chronic-kidney-disease/
International Renal Interest Society (IRIS): “Diagnosing, Staging and Treating Chronic Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats”, https://ca.idexx.com/files/iris-booklet-guidelines-ca-en.pdf
Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery: “Feline CKD – past, present and future”, Volume 15, supplement 1, September 2013
Ograin, V.L.: “Tiger Tales: the challenges of managing a kidney cat”, Vet Education Online Veterinary Nurse and Technician Conference notes, 2020
Ross, Dr Sherri: “Feline Chronic Kidney Disease: Progress and Pitfalls”, Hill’s Pet Nutrition N.Z. Cat Conversations Webinar Series, aired on 3.03.21



AWL NSW Encourages Public Participation In Legislation And Policy-Making Around Pets

Ever since the landmark ruling handed down by the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court in October 2020, adjudging a Sydney strata scheme’s blanket ‘no pets’ by-law as ‘harsh, unconscionable, and oppressive’ under Section 139(1) of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, millions of pet owners in Australia have breathed easy.

Animal Welfare League NSW strives to achieve best welfare outcomes for pets and other animals in the community. We acknowledge NSW Government’s recent decision to include an additional survey around pets in strata as part of their ongoing public consultation efforts. 

AWL NSW supports the move that will provide an opportunity for stakeholders and members of the community to register their say about strata laws in relation to companion animals.

AWL NSW is deeply committed to upholding the benefits of pets within the community, and the positive impacts they have on lives of people. Companion animals have consistently proven to be of crucial importance to the physical, mental and social wellbeing of their owners. 

Their vital contribution to health benefits, especially in regard to older, isolated and vulnerable demographics in society is widely documented. 



Our high-impact educational programs aim at promoting awareness within the community and facilitate a positive change in the manner in which society treats animals. The right information about legislation reinforces our value systems and can be a deterrent to cruelty toward animals.

Underscoring the significant role that companion animals play within society, AWL NSW CEO Mark Slater says, “This initiative from NSW Government is a step in the right direction to factor in popular public sentiment when it comes to the treatment of pets in strata, and broader animal welfare legislation. 

This will also significantly reduce the number of pets being surrendered at animal shelters across the country, because of stringent regulations and often blanket prohibitions of pets in strata. We urge members of the public to participate in the pet survey, to achieve the best possible outcome for companion animals and their owners.”

AWL NSW provides critical care and rehabilitation for hundreds of animals that are surrendered to our facility and branches across New South Wales every year. The support we receive from the community is vital in helping animals get a second chance in life. Help us today to give a better tomorrow to the vulnerable and voiceless animals in our care. Visit www.awlnsw.com.au/donate to know more.

The strata management laws around pets are scheduled to be reviewed shortly, and a report is expected to be tabled in both Houses of Parliament by August 2021

The additional survey is hosted on the NSW Government’s Have Your Say website www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/strata-statutory-review-2020, and will remain open to the public till 7 April 2021.


About Animal Welfare League NSW

Animal Welfare League NSW™ is a registered charity that has been operating for over 60 years. We provide expert care to surrendered, neglected, and abandoned animals across NSW. We believe that all companion animals in NSW deserve a safe and loving home. We strive to accomplish this through our work in rehoming, education, and discount desexing programs.

We are one of the only two regulating bodies authorised to exercise powers under the NSW Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Our Inspectors are authorised to seize and prosecute cases of animal cruelty and neglect, and our team are on the road every day protecting animals, educating owners, providing emergency rescue, and investigating allegations of animal cruelty. 

As part of our ‘Getting to Zero’ philosophy we are committed to achieving zero euthanasia of healthy and treatable cats and dogs. Animal Welfare League NSW relies on the generous support of the community.

MEDIA RELEASE, 10th March 2021






Scooping stinks! Cleaning out the cat's litter tray has to be the least favourite part of being a cat parent...

But there is an easier way which is why we teamed up with PetSafe Australia and Ready Pet Go to give away one of their ScoopFree® Ultra self-cleaning litter boxes.

No longer will you need to get down on your hands and knees to scoop your cat's poop. This litter box will do it all for you...automatically!
 
ScoopFree® self-cleaning litter boxes can be left alone for weeks at a time. It is the only self-cleaning litter box that uses disposable litter trays to provide hands-off convenience and unbeatable odour control. Simply plug in the box and watch it work. 

The automatic rake system sweeps waste into the covered compartment either 5, 10, or 20 minutes (your choice) after your cat uses the litter box. 

Safety sensors will detect if your cat re-enters the box and the timer will reset. 

The litter box uses a special crystal litter, packed in a convenient disposable litter tray, that's 5 times more effective at reducing odour than clay or clumping littersPlus, the low-tracking crystals are 99% dust free and won’t stick to your cat’s paws whilst the hooded cover helps keep the kitty litter inside the box!

Your cat will always have a clean, fresh-smelling litter box, and you'll enjoy a home that's effortlessly odour-freeWith ScoopFree®, you Load it, Leave it, Lose it!


Because there's more to life than the "simple bare necessities", Petsafe have also thrown in a RoloRat Cat Teaser, one of their
FroliCat® Automatic Cat Teasers!

RoloRat appears to roll around randomly as it changes directions multiple times. When its path is blocked by furniture, this toy will redirect itself after a few seconds. This interactive cat toy helps keep your kitty physically active and entertained for hours!
 
*** Win a PetSafe ScoopFree® Ultra + a FroliCat®  RoloRat Toy ***
(Total Prize Value*: $290.00)

The winner's Prize Pack* will include:

✔️1 x ScoopFree® Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box (RRP: $249.99) 
✔️1 x FroliCat
® RoloRat Cat Toy (RRP$39.99)
✔️Free Shipping (Australia only).

Terms of Entry:


1) Like our post (14/03/21) AND our Facebook page 
2) Like the PetSafe Australia page www.facebook.com/PetSafeAustralia/
3)  Tell us "what is the weirdest place your cat has ever pooped and why do you think #ScoopFree is for you?" on the Australian Cat Lover Facebook page before Sunday 28th March 2021 (midnight A.E.S.T.).

TERMS & CONDITIONS

1. This Competition opened on Sunday 14th March 2021 (5pm) and closed on Sunday 28th March 2021 (midnight AEST). Open to Australian residents only.
Congratulations to our winner Marian JA (via Facebook).
2. To Enter, Like our post (14/03/2021) + Tell us "what is the weirdest place your cat has ever pooped and why do you think #ScoopFree is for you?" via the Australian Cat Lover Facebook page
3. This Promotion is a game of skill and chance plays no part in determining the winner.
The entries will be judged by the Australian Cat Lover team. The winning entries will be selected based on the most creative, informative or useful statement.
4. Please note you MUST LIKE BOTH accounts to be eligible for a prize.

5. Entrants in the competition can only enter once.
6. Prizes not claimed within 48 hours will be redrawn.
* Entry into the competition is deemed acceptance of all terms and conditions.




Canadian pet food brand Open Farm - exclusively distributed by Pet Circle - may have made a quiet entrance on the Australian market last year but judging by the glowing customer reviews and "sold out" notice, this novel range of grain-free dry and wet food is proving popular with the kitties of Australia.

We have done very few food reviews with our cat Arya as she’s proving true all the clichés about cats disliking change!

As a kitten, she LOVED one brand for about 6 months but would not touch their adult formula (using the same protein) so we had to find an alternative very quickly…
Any attempts to introduce any new food have since failed…abysmally. All cat owners would be familiar with the distinctive "paw shake of disdain" before their cat walks away in disgust…

So, when a couple of brands approached us to trial their cat food last year, we gave them our honest feedback: “You’re welcome to send something but we can’t guarantee she’ll take a look at it!” Understandably, most gave up...

To their credit, the team at Pet Circle understands cat psychology and was happy to put the Open Farm range to the test with the best selling Wild-Caught Salmon (3.63kg) dry cat food recipe along with some samples (57g) of their Homestead Turkey & Chicken recipe.

Introducing the Open Farm difference

Open Farm’s mission is to provide a revolution in sustainable, ethically-sourced and super premium holistic pet food.

Open Farm diets are made formulated in Canada (and manufactured in the USA) with top quality proteins and superfoods. Every product is also proudly produced with a focus on transparent sourcing and traceability, humane production animal welfare standards, ethically sourced ingredients, and sustainable fishing practices.

All pet food companies claim to deliver a complete and balanced meal for our companion animals. This means that their recipes are formulated to meet the nutritional levels estimated by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for all breeds and life stages (updated regularly) but few go beyond that!

It makes sense for us to eat from the widest variety of food choices so why wouldn't our pets benefit from the same philosophy? To meet this new market demand, the larger pet food companies now compete to offer not only more exotic flavours but also a variety of textures, e.g. dry food as well wet food and freeze dried raw.

In Australia, the Open Farm range is exclusively distributed by Pet Circle who contacted us earlier this year to explore if we’d be open to trialling some of their flagship products for both cats and dogs to share our views on:

✔️ Open Farm Wild-Caught Salmon (Dry Cat Food, Dry Dog Food with Ancient Grains).
✔️ Open Farm Grain-Free Homestead Turkey & Chicken recipe (Dry Cat Food samples)

What is in the Wild-Caught Salmon Dry Cat Food Recipe?

Having recently reviewed the Wild-Caught Salmon & Ancient Grains recipe with our dogs, we noticed straight away 
a couple of difference with this grain-free cat formula.

1) 
The protein and fat contents are significantly higher in the dry cat food than in the dry dog food variety.

The nutrient profile is Crude Protein (min 37%), Crude Fat (min 18%), Crude Fibre (max 3%), Moisture (max 10%) with the remainder comprising of Vitamins & Minerals.



2) A much stronger smell upon opening the cat's food bag than with the dog food variety (same protein). This is a high protein, grain-free and gluten-free recipe loaded with:

✔️ Wild-caught Ocean Wise® certified Salmon, Ocean Whitefish Meal & Herring Meal are the first 3 named ingredients.

All fish is sustainably sourced to avoid overfishing and destruction of ecosystems, and to ensure that fish have lived a natural life free from antibiotics.

✔️ Legumes: Chickpeas, Red Lentils, Green Lentils

✔️ Vegetables & Fruit (from third party audited farms): Pumpkin, Cranberries, Apples, Dandelion Greens, Dried Yucca Schidigera Extract

Dandelions are a great source of vitamins A, C, D, K, and B complex. They are also a good source of minerals - manganese, iron, and potassium - and are rich in protein.

Yucca Schidigera extract is a highly processed extract of the yucca plant. In cat food, it serves as a healthy ammonia binder to help reduce odours in your cat's litter box.

✔️ Natural Superfoods like coconut oil, herring oil, salmon oil, chicory root, turmeric.

The use of chicory root fibre inulin in pet food is currently based on its proven functional benefits in humans; the evidence emerging from studies in pets indicates that these benefits also apply in animals.

✔️ A long list of Vitamin supplements including Taurine and Mixed Tocopherols (a natural preservative for shelf life). Find the full ingredients list here.

There is no grain, corn, wheat, soy or potato here! Even the fruit and vegetables (cranberries and dandelion) are non-GMO. But first and foremost, this dry cat food contains no rendered poultry, meat meals or meat by-products.

Our Experience with the Open Farm range

A big tick for this brand is the great choice of novel single protein options for both dogs (5) and cats (3) and the focus on only using human-grade sustainably sourced ingredients.








In addition to the Grain-Free Wild-Caught Salmon variety, there are a Grain-Free Homestead Turkey & Chicken and a Catch-Of-The-Season Whitefish recipes.

Because all pet food companies (dry food, wet food and raw alike) can be affected by production issues prompting a recall, we applaud Open Farm for providing 100% transparency and traceability with their Traceability Feature so you can find out exactly where each ingredient (down to the added vitamins and minerals) has come from and why.

When we first tried it, this feature did not work as we were automatically redirected to the company's Australian website but we understand this feature will also be available  soon.

However, once we used the US website at openfarmpet.com/pages/transparency, it worked fine the second time around with both bags.

A minor criticism on the current packaging is that all feeding guides refer to pets' weights in pounds and feeding portions in cups so you’ll need to work out exactly how much to feed your cat daily.


We never use calories to measure our pets’ food intake but if you do, the bag indicates the Calorie Content (calculated) to be 3840 kcal me/kg, 470 kcal me/cup.

Since Arya won’t step on the scales unaided, we held her and it works out that we could both lose a bit of weight… Our wee kitten has turned into a substantial 6.5kg cat (approximately 14.33 pounds).


Using the recommended daily ration, her maintenance portion would be 75g/day but since she could stand to lose some weight, 60g/day would be the right amount for her to lose some weight due to her sedentary indoors-only lifestyle! 

Time to reset our automatic pet feeder…


If we were surprised by how small the kibble size was for our dogs, it is probably a third of that size again for the cat food but Arya was totally fine with that.

Our dogs loved sampling their wet food option (Grass-Fed Beef Rustic Stew) but since Arya has never tried any wet or raw food previously, we’re unsure what she would have made of it…

As with the dog wet food options, the Crude Protein (min 7%) content is quite low so we would only feed it as a meal topper in combination with the Open Farm dry cat food.

All Rustic Blend varieties for cats (Harvest Chicken, Homestead Turkey or Wild-Caught Salmon) are available as a set of 12 packs (156g each), which are presented like juice poppers.

If your cat already enjoys chunkier-style wet cat food, this is definitely worth a look into.

In line with their commitment to sustainability, you can recycle your Open Farm packaging through the Open Farm Pet Food Bag Recycling Program. We certainly know where all our boxes get first recycled here...



Price & Where to Buy:

RRP: $69.99 for Homestead Turkey & Chicken; $74.99 (3.6kg) for Wild-Caught Salmon dry cat food recipe, $49.99 for Rustic Blend wet food (all varieties, 12 x 156g) exclusive to www.petcircle.com.au

On this particular food, you’ll save 10% on all options if you opt for Auto-Delivery (you can choose your frequency and are also free to cancel any time).

All options for this brand sell out quickly so you may want to stock up if your cat loves it!

Connect with Open Farm Pet Food on Instagram @openfarmpet and on Facebook.

Disclaimer: a 3.63kg bag of Wild-Caught Salmon recipe and 57g samples of the Homestead Turkey & Chicken recipe were sent by Pet Circle to trial the Open Farm range.

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There are some common misunderstandings about feline diet and feeding so we asked animal nutritionist Shiva Greenhalgh from Sydney Animal Nutrition to separate facts from fiction based on the latest scientific research...

It may surprise you to learn that not all pet owners are aware that cat nutrition differs markedly from dog nutrition. But knowing there is a difference is not enough – and myths have circulated amongst pet owners and even in cat food marketing about these differences. 

For this article, we hope to illuminate the science to resolve these misunderstandings and aim to clarify issues covering diet, tuna and feeding frequency.

Cats: the obligate carnivores

A little bit about Evolution, Biology and Metabolism...

To better understand our modern domesticated feline friend, we need to understand their genesis. Domestication of the cat occurred approximately 10,000 years ago as a companion animal and to hunt pest species on our behalf. 

Unlike dogs (which were domesticated 16,000 years ago), cats have historically been less reliant on our food scraps which meant that they did not undergo the same level of biochemical, behavioural and genetic change. 



Changes in dogs meant that they could thrive on an omnivorous diet (i.e. feeding on food of both animal and plant origin), while cats maintained their ancestral diet as an ‘obligate carnivore’ (i.e. reliant solely on animal tissue) and sourced energy from meats, fish and other animal products.

The difference between the two is stark. Cats have protein requirements which are two to three times higher than an adult omnivorous species. 

Ancestral and wild cats survive on prey which they sense and capture, their canine teeth masticate (chew) rather than grind (as herbivores do) and possess short intestinal tracts with differing enzymes and gut flora suited to digesting animal-based protein. 





Unlike omnivores who derive most of their energy from carbohydrates, obligate carnivores use protein for maintenance of blood glucose concentrations even when sources of protein in the diet are limited. Cats can use carbohydrates as a source of metabolic energy but are limited in their ability to spare protein utilization by substitution of carbohydrates.

Fish: Tuna and Sardines

Fish based foods and treats are perhaps the most prolific in cat food sales and marketing. It is a commonly fed and provides an inexpensive source of protein that is very palatable. However, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. 

When feeding tuna for instance, most pet owners will opt for tuna in oil as opposed to spring water, mainly because of the enhanced flavour and texture that the oil provides and a belief that the oil is very beneficial for the cat.
 


However, tuna and sardines that are packed in oil contain high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Tuna fed regularly leads to an excessive intake of PUFAs which can lead to vitamin E deficiency. An animal’s vitamin E requirement is directly affected by the level of unsaturated fatty acids present in the diet. Therefore, as the level of unsaturated fatty acids increase, the animal’s vitamin E requirement will also increase. 

When a cat is fed a food high in PUFAs, with no concomitant increase in vitamin E, their body fat is not sufficiently protected from oxidative degradation. This results in oxidative stress and the formation of peroxides and hydroperoxides. So why does this matter? 

Over time, this accumulation of reactive peroxides in adipose tissue leads to a condition ‘pansteatitis’. Pansteatitis (or yellow fat disease) is characterized by chronic inflammation and discoloration of body fat (Case et al, 2011). 



Clinical signs of pansteatitis in cats are:

✔️ Depression and anorexia
✔️ Sensitivity to touch of the chest and abdomen
✔️ Abnormal fat deposits under the skin and abdomen.

The prognosis of affected cats is very good, provided it is identified with appropriate intervention to reverse clinical signs. Such interventions include:

✔️ Dietary changes, however, this can be difficult if the cat is reluctant to eat other protein sources, with a preference for tuna and sardines.
✔️ Oral vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), which is prescribed at 10-25IU twice daily until clinical signs resolve
✔️ Corticosteroid therapy (more severe cases).

In other words, remember all good things in moderation and next time you buy tuna for your cat, choose the spring water option.

Issues around feeding frequency

African wild cat (Felix Sylvestris) 

As an animal nutritionist, clients commonly have questions about the amount and frequency of feeding and there are some misunderstandings. One confusion stems from a common belief that the ancestral cat preyed upon large graze eating fauna, like that of the ancestral wolf which meant that cats were intermittent eaters. 

Credit: MpalaLive!
The ancestor of the domestic cat goes back to the small, desert dwelling African wild cat (Felix Sylvestris). 

Its primary prey was limited to small rodents. Rodents were more abundant, easier to prey on and were eaten more frequently throughout the day. 

This meant that the cat avoided the intermittent feeding that the ancestral wolf and larger wild cats experienced. The African wild cat, like most wild cats, lived a solitary life except for mating season.

This meant that unlike the wolf, eating rapidly due to competition was not a relevant factor. This behaviour has carried onto the domestic cat, with food being eaten more slowly and over the course of a day

In homes where there is more than one cat, an increase in the rate of eating or volume of food does not appear to occur. 

Therefore, given this evolutionary behaviour it is best to offer free-choice feeding

Arya's meals are scheduled for 7am and 4pm daily
but she never finishes her meal in one session
Photo: PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Pet Feeder
This option always involves having surplus amount of food available.

The pet can consume as much food as desired at any time of the day. This type of feeding relies on the animal’s ability to self-regulate food intake so that energy and nutrient needs are met. This is best suited with dry food.

Meat and wet food would require a time limitation to avoid spoilage. With that said, it is important to acknowledge that there are concerns of overeating and obesity

The onus is then on the owner to ensure that they provide just a little over the energy requirements of their cat based on their food label instructions, as well encouraging enriching activities that involve good sessions of play and exercise. 

Whilst free-choice feeding is the most suited to the domestic cat, other feeding regimens can be adopted by some cats, and this can all depend on the individual cat. The science is also not fixed on this subject, with a recent study conducted in Canada by Camara et al (2020) suggesting that one meal a day was better for indoor cats as it may benefit them in increasing lean body mass and satiety. 

Whilst interesting, further research is needed with a significantly larger sample size (this study only used eight cats) and looking at more variables pertinent to their lifestyle.

We generally live our lives by conventional wisdom because generally accepted beliefs tend to ring true. However, this is not always the case. 

Common myths about cats have done harm to our feline friend and it is important for us to always be open to learning new things if we want to give them the happy and healthy lives they deserve.

written by Shiva Greenhalgh, February 2021 for Australian Cat Lover (all rights reserved).

About the writer

Shiva Greenhalgh is an animal nutritionist and owner of Sydney Animal Nutrition, which specialises in companion animal nutrition advice.

Shiva holds a Bachelor of Science (Zoology) from Western Sydney University and a Masters in Animal Science (Animal Nutrition) from the University of Sydney.
Shiva is also member of the Nutrition Society of Australia.
In her spare time Shiva volunteers for WIRES, educating the public on native wildlife.

Sydney Animal Nutrition services all of NSW, and can accommodate interstate pet owners. 

To have a chat about your pets' nutrition or to find out more, please visit www.sydneyanimalnutrition.com.au
or the Facebook page 



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