I’ve taken a lot of care in selecting 3 key cancer-prevention tactics. (See the end of this article for my research sources.) I think if I had known these things long ago, my feline friend may have lived longer.
Cancer is afflicting about 50% cats over age 10 now. That’s shocking to me. As is the fact that lymphoma has become more common in cats than in people. Plus, it’s been affecting younger cats lately too. In his book on animal healing, veterinarian Dr. Marty Goldstein acknowledges that he sees much more cancer now than he did years ago.
No matter how old your cat is, it’s not too late or early to start any of these potentially life-saving actions:
1. PROPERLY INTRODUCE FISH OIL.
I say “properly” here because I don’t want you to make my mistake, which was to put fish oil on my cat’s food only to have her reject it immediately. It turns out that you need to start by putting a tiny spot of oil on the side of her plate. As she gets used to the smell over a few days, she will then allow you to gradually add it to her food.
I like Dr. Jean Hofve’s article on all the reasons fish oil (NOT flax oil) is important for your cat, and how to select the right kind. I am a fan of Iceland Pure’s brand, and Dr. Hofve recommends Nordic Natural’s brand. Carlson is another good fish oil brand that tests for heavy metals.
2. PROVIDE CAT GRASS.
Most cats are drawn to nibbling on grass–I think they instinctively know it’s good for them. The cancer-preventing aspects of grass are chlorophyll and B17.
There have been impressive findings about chlorophyll’s anti-cancer properties. B17, while not researched as much, is reputed to have a fascinating ability to fight cancer. I first read about B17 (also known as laetrile) in an interesting and inspirational book called Outsmart Your Cancer by Tanya Harter Pierce.
Give your cat wheat, oat, barley, and/or rye grass. Ideally organic. These grasses should not make your cat throw up, unless he needs to dislodge the occasional furball. I prefer wheat grass since it’s most often cited as having B17, although many sources just say “most grasses” have B17.
3. BE OVERLY PROTECTIVE AGAINST COMMON TOXINS--in smoke, insecticides, cleaning products, and yard sprays.
We tend to assume that humans are more fragile around toxins than cats are. I think this is because we are told to put flea chemicals on cats and yet we aren’t supposed to touch these same chemicals! (“Gee, I guess my cat can handle these chemicals but I can’t.”) Sadly, it turns out that cats are actually MORE vulnerable to toxins than humans.
It’s only recently come to light that cats are deficient in an enzyme called glucuronyl tranferases that is used to detoxify carcinogens and other toxins.
Research has also shown that “cats living with secondhand smoke are three times more likely to develop lymphoma,” reports Dr. Jean Hofve. While I haven’t smoked cigarettes and I’ve avoided pesticides, herbicides, and unnatural household products, I did go through incense-burning phases. From what I’ve read, I now suspect any kind of smoke could be hazardous to a cat’s health.
Another way to avoid pesticides is to choose organic cat food sources when possible, without grains. And, beware of chemicals that may be used in neighbor’s yards. The Toxics Action Center reports that “53% of TruGreen ChemLawn’s pesticide products include ingredients that are likely carcinogens.”
The fish oil and/or the cat grass can help our cat’s system deal with unintentional toxin exposures.
Finally, let’s not be hard on ourselves for not being aware of all of this before. This is new information. We are now empowered to help our friends have longer, healthier lives with us. And that is something to be happy about.
ANOTHER RESOURCE (added August 2011)
Check out this nice long article Dr. Hofve has just published on feline cancer prevention and treatment.
- Cancer in Our Pets (pdf download) by Nicole Field, DVM
- How Fish Oil Helps Kill Off Cancer Cells, 2009 news article
- Omega-3s are Essential for Your Cat! by Jean Hofve, DVM
- Chlorophylls and Cancer Prevention by George S. Bailey, PhD, Oregon State University
- Digestion, absorption, and cancer preventative activity of dietary chlorophyll derivative, Nutrition Journal research article
- Nature’s Cancer Prevention – B17 by Janet Hull, PhD, CN
- Cats and Glucuronidation, glucuronyl tranferases (detoxification pathway), interview on The Lavendar Cat
- ChemLawn Info by the Toxics Action Center
- Avoiding Carcinogenic Chemicals in Household Products by The Breast Cancer Fund
- Chemical Pesticides: Health Effects Research
- Pet Cancer – a “Smoking” Gun by Jean Hofve, DVM, November 2010
- Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Risk of Malignant Lymphoma in Pet Cats, American Journal of Epidemiology
Postscript: Some folks dismiss the new high cancer rates as a “side effect” of supposed longer lives, yet many of us remember cats and dogs living long and cancer-free. I cannot find a record of anyone tracking cat life span statistics over many decades, so I believe that even the “experts” are just guessing at past averages. There are records of cats living well into their 20s in the past–and many still do. There are even some old records of cats living into their 30s! I hope you’ll join me in the effort to move the feline life span in the longer direction by doing what we can to prevent cancer now.