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Neal: Hi, everybody, it's Neal. I'm here with the Two Crazy Cat Ladies, Jae Kennedy and Adrienne Lefebvre joining me today from Las Vegas, Nevada. Hi ladies, thanks for joining us.
Jae Kennedy: Thank you so much for having us, so good to see you.
Neal: Well, I have to admit you're two of my favorites. I get your top fan badge. I do watch regularly.
Jae: [laughs] 100% mutual.
Adrienne Lefebvre: 100%.
Neal: The Two Crazy Cat Ladies have a website called the twocrazycatladies.com?
Jae: Yes, twocrazycatladies.com.
Neal: Yes. I will include that in the description for you as a speaker in the Growlies Talks. I wanted to just make sure that people understood that you retail goods, use social media to communicate with a community of cat lovers and you offer advice and investigate further information for that community. Am I correct?
Adrienne: Yes, nailed it.
Neal: Perfect. If you have any interest in cats and if you're watching this video, you do join up the Two Crazy Cat Ladies. They even have a VIP club where they offer more one-on-one information for all of us to learn from. Going forward from there, I just want to hear a little bit about how you guys started. Your first cats that you introduced to a fresh food diet and and how long ago was this before you became the famous two crazy cat ladies?
Jae: [laughs] I don't know if we're called famous. Okay, 14 years ago, back in 2005, we started working in our family business which was in pet nutrition, supplemental nutrition. We kind of just got thrown into this because it of our family, and started learning a lot about the pet food industry and how that works and that supplemental industry and how that works. 10 years later, we always had cats and the rest of our family had dogs.
Fast forward, that entire 10 years we didn't really get much information about our own pets. We knew all about the digestive tract of dogs and what to do for dogs, but we didn't know-- no one, even in our own industry had any answers for us when it came to one of our cats having an issue. Back in 2015, we branched off and started our own business as a Two Crazy Cat Ladies and offering feline specific products for all natural, holistic-- We have an all natural holistic line of supplements for cats, but did a deep dive of research so that we could be the resource that we so long to have that we couldn't find prior to this.
Neal: What was the first product you sold?
Jae: The very first product was CATalyst.
Neal: What's CATalyst?
Jae: CATalyst is a mixture of digestive and live antioxidant enzymes. It's-- We rave about versatile products-
Adrienne: Very personal product.
Jae: -It's an amazing products. It works in a lot of different ways.
Neal: Digestive enzymes, so it aids with digestion?
Adrienne: Aids with digestion. The antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase reduce the inflammation as well as build synovial fluid and things like that in the body. It's really good for joints or even skin, for any kind of digestive inflammation. Of course, the digestive enzymes really help with digestion as well. That was our first product and still our favorite. I take it everyday myself.
Neal: That's exciting. Awesome. Okay. From there, you got into it, you came up with this line of products. What started here with fresh foods specifically because that's our focus of the talks?
Jae: Absolutely. We started learning, right? We just start learning more and more about cats. We started following people like Dr. Lisa Pierson And Dr. Karen Becker and learning about-- Now learning about fresh feeding which our past business didn't talk much about. They didn't focus on fresh feeding.
Adrienne: We've had a very high quality, very expensive kibble.
Jae: Yes. That's what was recommended to us.
Neal: We hear that a lot?
Neal: We don't sell kibble. We have a lot of people coming in and defending their use of it. Then mentioning that they sell the highest quality one.
Jae: Right, yes.
Adrienne: You're a purist.
Neal: I think it's a broken form myself, but I can't judge they're doing the best that they think they can do by their pets.
Jae: Well, the more we learn about cats, the more we learn about how detrimental especially to cats kibble can be, so that means-- How they really need a moisture rich diet because they have a low thirst drive. They're not like dogs. They're not going to get their water that they need from the water bowl. They really need it from their food. It's leading to kidney disease and urinary issues and all of that.
We switched them to a canned food diet. Then we did a ton of research on raw food. We spent a long time doing research on raw food and like barely touching it, kind of doing a--
Adrienne: Literally barely touching it for me.
Jae: Then our oldest cat, he was 18 years old at the time when he was diagnosed with kidney disease. I've done enough research at that time that I knew that this was the changing point. This is the point that we needed to switch them to a raw diet. That was a moment, that was four years ago. We transitioned them and he transitioned within a week.
He was an easy cat, he was smart. I say with age comes wisdom. Because he was older he was like, "This is what my body needs." He was easy. Our youngest was the most difficult to transition and took some time and patience and perseverance.
Adrienne: Lots of time.
Jae: He lived and thrived. I mean thrive for another four years. Jumping from counter to counter. He went from going down hill to going up hill. By switching his diet and adding in some supplements and things like that, but mainly it was that diet change that made the biggest difference for him and his kidney levels never went up.
Adrienne: Well, to be fair, you asked which were our first cats that we did this with. Starting with, 22 when he passed in December, almost 22 when he passed in December. I was very young when I found him. He had a lot, I think Deborah Karen calls it nutritional abuse or neglect in a way, the majority of his life really. Even though we switched him to a high quality kibble when he was about 12 and then on to the wet food, but it was a lot of what we're so passionate about is because we've experienced the reality of the other way. My big regret is that we didn't-- that I wasn't more open to switching to a fresh species appropriate diet.
Neal: Unless you go looking for it, you don't get told that there's fresh food options for dogs and cats.
Jae: There's so much rumor mongering up there too. The media and these big pet food companies, they really put the fear of raw food into you. It's a little scary to take that leap.
Adrienne: That was very scary for me.
Jae: It wasn't for me.
Neal: I worked in marketing in software firms. That's my background. That's called fear, uncertainty and doubt, FUD. Those are spread. That's actually a mechanism that marketing firms use in order to undermine the efforts of the competition. When you're making billions of dollars a year you can spread a lot of FUD.
Adrienne: Yes, a lot of FUD. What's interesting too is going back to Scotch being diagnosed with kidney disease. We had a veterinarian that we really-- She was a wonderful woman. There was a pivotal moment of big disappointment when we would not take the prescription food out the door with us that day. Now to see, speaking of techniques, to know now that prescription diet has been trademark, it's not something-- It makes us think this is what they need and we have to pay more, and it has to be special.
When in fact, when you can take some time to understand how nutrition works. That the fresh food diet is so much better for them and that prescription diet is literally a marketing gimmick.
Jae: Yes. I would even say you don't even have to take time to understand nutrition. You just have to take time to get out of their world and use some common sense, right?
Neal: Yes, I agree with you.
Jae: It's very-- I don't understand nutrition as much as-- We don't formulate our own diets for our cats. We still purchase or use somebody's recipe when feeding our cat. I don't even know-- I wouldn't even say that we know a whole lot about nutrition, but we do know the basics of common sense. A fresh food diet is better than a processed diet, whatever being you are. That is always going to be better.
Neal: Yes, absolutely agree. Can't disagree less. I mean, ultimately, the big difference is fresh foods make a difference in all our lives, whether it be your dog, your cat, your hedgehog, or your family. Moving from a processed food or boxed food diet to a fresh food diet has tremendous benefits.
Jae: Right. I think--
Neal: That's the common sense.
Adrienne: Yes, it's interesting to see too that the past hundred years, processed foods becoming so popular available, affordable. The amount of degenerative disease that plagues us and that's mirrored as well in our feline friends and in our dogs. It is something that's when you take a step back and you look at it, just the basics, it does make so much more sense.
The thing that really was a tipping point for me was-- I'm not a big fan of zoos per se. I love that there's rescue, but you never see a lion or a tiger getting fed a big bag of kibble. It's remarkable when you think about what it is that our cats need and what it is it helps them to thrive. You can see over generations there are being an increase in degenerative diseases.
It does not mean that we can't do what we can do, do our best. Once we know better, we do better and to see those results has been so exciting. There's nothing more exciting than
seeing health and happiness in your pet and then being able to share that was someone else as well.
Neal: Agreed. It reinforces the point that the only animals that are ever obese or diabetic are the once fed by humans or eating our garbage.
Neal: When the left to their own devices, they know what to eat. In the case of dogs and cats, it's prey.
Jae: Exactly. We control that. That's why I feel like it's a responsibility of the pet parent to understand that you are the ones choosing what your pet eats and just like if you have a human child. I think it was Karen Becker that said, you never hear a pediatrician-- Is that a kid's doctor? You never hear a pediatrician say, "Your child should only eat this one brand of processed food for the rest of their lives."
Neal: And you could buy it for me.
Jae: Right, and you have to buy it for me and this is going to be the healthiest thing for them. In the veterinarian industry we hear that. That's very common, actually that they should only be fed one food and it's a processed food and it should be fed for the rest of their lives. We have to be the parents because we're the ones choosing.
Neal: There's no other medical profession that would say, the effect of that single processed food diet is better than a fresh food diet, than veterinarians. It makes no sense that they still say it, and that they still say it with conviction, as if you shouldn't question it, even though they're your employee. This is where we talk about advocation. You are clearly good strong advocates for your pets health with your veterinary practitioner.
Not only do you go and find the best practitioner who works with you, but you then advocate for what you feel is the best for your pet. Talk to me about that. How do you have the strength to do that and at what point do you decide to do that in that conversation?
Jae: Well, I think it's honestly just understanding like what you just said that they work for you basically and that you are your pets advocate. When you take on that responsibility and you think about them as your child, if you think about them as your family, then you are going to stand up. It was a rough road for us. We went through probably, I don't know, 10 or 12 different veterinarians and I ended up, I blacklisted from some of them, but we had because it was like, "No, I'm not."
It was a rough road until I realized that I needed to grow up a little bit and have that conversation in advance. Instead of… get mad at them. Instead now when we are interviewing a veterinarian, we go in and we say, "Okay. This is who we are. We believe in fresh feeding. We believe in supplementation. We don't believe in over-medicating or over-vaccinating or any of this stuff. Are you okay with that, if we're going to take you on as our veterinarian?" We've had way better results.
Adrienne: To speak to this, I think that it's really important. When you're in the natural field like this, it's easy to feel defensive or disrespected or all of that. When I think it's very important to understand that veterinarians are veterinarians, because they love animals. It's not like they were like, "Well, I'm going to go, $300,000 in vet and debt and get paid minimal amount of money and have crazy days where I'm dealing with some heartbreaking things."
I think that it's very important for us to have that consideration of what the world is that they grew up in, what their education is, a respect for that. and also to be clearly honest with them about where we're coming from. Communication key I think is so important because natural or not, we need our veterinarians, desperately at times. It's very important. I think we've made this mistake where we wait until there's something terribly wrong and then we rush to them and say, "Fix this."
Then, you have an impassioned argument about how it's going to handle and that's unfair. It's unfair to our cats first and foremost, and it's unfair to our veterinarian who has no idea what the history of this animal is, and where we're coming from. It's like you said earlier, you never hear about this. It comes out of left field. It's not something that's really promoted.
It's something that's more engaged and sought after. I think it's really important to remember that when we are on that natural path to be communicative about where we're coming from, so that we can have that honest conversation and then move forward together.
Jae: Understand that they're humans too. It's not just the fact that what's happening is that the system is broken. Since becoming the two crazy cat ladies, we've talked to several beautiful, wonderful conventional veterinarians that will be very honest with us and say, "We weren't taught this. This is what science shows us. This is what science says." I can lose my practice if I recommend anything other than A, B and C.
Their nutritional courses are taught by the same pet food companies that they have to recommend. Sometimes their education is paid for by those same pet food companies. It's a system that's broke here.
Neal: I do believe that the BCVMA, the British Columbia Veterinary Medical Association here that licenses the veterinarians in my jurisdiction, I do believe they have rules around recommending law in that they're not allowed to. You won't hear about those at a vet.
Adrienne: I think it's interesting. You'll find one of our most favorite vets that we take our babies to, she's a conventional veterinarian. She's feline only and she is so proactive. She's always learning. She's somebody who cares deeply. I think all vets do, but she's very open to understanding that sometimes that one way is not the only way. She's very honest with us about when we thought that Mr. Bittles was having issues with pancreatitis, perhaps. She asked if we were using Omega-3s, and she asked-
Jae: Digestive enzymes-[crosstalk]
Adrienne: -before we try to treat this medically, let's try some of these things. It's very encouraging that communications open up. It can really bridge that gap that's going on. I think that we find that some people that are really in the natural have a disdain almost for veterinarians and I feel like we can't have that. It's cutting off your nose to spite the face.
Our cats need both. I think that being able to be honest about it gently, diplomatically, openly is going to do so much more for our cats and for the community at large, moving into a new space that is going to be able to consider what's actually best for our cats.
Neal: I can't disagree. That's exactly correct. We need a good veterinarian as much as we need a good diet and a good stress-free household, so on and so forth. The more that we can offer those things, the better, and your tip of interview your vet ahead of time rather than during a crisis to find out his values or her values don't align with yours at all. That's a terrible time to learn that
Jae: Horrible situation.
Adrienne: Jae learned that a few times.
Jae: It took me a little while.
Adrienne: Again, that goes to being a protective pet veterinarian as well though of recognizing. I think cats are sometimes neglected in the way of, they're very stoic. We don't necessarily know something's wrong until something's very wrong. Those annual exams or biannual, once they get to a certain age, they're dentals doing things that are-- It's not like we need to go spend $250 to have this done and get the blood panel in.
That's what we need to do as proactive veterinarians not just so that we're building that relationship with our veterinarian so that our veterinarian can see how our cat is progressing and how our cat is responding to any changes in the diet or anything that environment, whatever it may be, they can know our cat. We don't just come in and say fix this, but we can look at holistically and move forward like that.
Neal: You mentioned dentals, so I have a question for you. Do you feet bones? Do you let them clean their teeth?
Jae: Yes. Cats are a little bit difficult.
Neal: Can I give you some tips?
Jae: When it comes to raw meaty bones.
Neal: Can I give you some tips?
Neal: Literally some tips. I sell them, the little chicken wing tips. They're just the little wing tip. When you're looking at a chicken wing, we're looking at three parts, right? It's the drumstick, the two boned piece and the little wing tip. Just the wing tip, you give that to cats. You leave it on the side of the plate everyday. They're cheap. I sell them for $3 a pound. Not even $3 a pound.
They're cheap because they're normally waste. Just the wing tips. You'll have to talk to a butcher to save them for you because normally, he would send them with his waste to the rendering facility, right? Just the wing tips. You leave it on the side of the plate. Often, they'll use it as a toy to kill, but eventually they'll eat it. Once they start eating it, that's brushing their teeth and it's tiny.
It's not going to do a great job, but what it's doing is it's building their ability to chew. Once they're wolfing those back like there's no tomorrow, then you build them up to tiny little chicken necks. Tiny little chicken necks-
Jae: Legs is where we started.
Neal: That's hard though because they don't have the muscles.
Jae: Here's the other thing is that we're not consistent with it. We got the chicken necks, we didn't try to mix with their food.
Adrienne: Tried a few times.
Jae: We waited till their snack time and gave them that instead, and they'd look at me like I'm dumb. A couple of them might lick a little bit, but they don't gnaw it.
Neal: They don't know what to do.
Jae: There is bone in their food. They do like the crunch with the bone in their food.
Neal: With the necks, get a meat mallet and crush them up for them, because they don't have the chewing capacity to do it, so you'll have to masticate the neck somewhat for them. They'll still have to get through the tendon and the smaller bits of bone now that you've mashed up the malleted neck and that malleted neck-- Well, even cats who can't chew as well as the guys who you've trained with the wing tips. They'll be able to get through those necks because they know it's chicken. They want to eat it. They just don't know how.
When I got a seven your old lab, she had never seen anything like a turkey neck in her life, so I gave her one and she picked it up and she was proud and she carried it, a big packet around the house. Carried it around the house, drool running, proudly carrying it, had no idea what the heck to do with it though. I held it for her, we played pull and toy and once she said crunch, she know what to do.
Until I showed her, they don't necessarily know what to do with that item. Lick it, they're interested. They're like, "But I don't know what the hell to do with that". After they're doing the necks and you're not crushing them up, whole quail.
Adrienne: Our cat does.
Jae: I just recently saw somebody, who was it?
Adrienne: It was Rachel Massaro.
Neal: We sell those. They're fantastic. Whole quail. Crunch, crunch, crunch. They look like a little turkey in your cat's bowl.
Jae: Yes, I want to try that.
Adrienne: We do need to try that.
Jae: You just have to be a little more consistent with it. It's not something we can play with with him necessarily because cat's aren't like dogs in that way, maybe Zorro, but-
Neal: -you can't-
Adrienne: We can't help entice them.
Neal: You can give them the opportunity.
Adrienne: Right, making it available. It's very much like transitioning. To me, they don't really know what to do and to your point, until you took the time to teach her what to do with it, it's very much we teach our pets what food is. When I kibble them as Scotch and Bittles and well, Twist, for much of his life had, the wet food was a little bit boring. You slowly transition or take it at their pace.
Neal: What about transition? How do you transition a cat? What do you guys recommend?
Jae: Our first words of encouragement are when it comes to cats, patience and perseverance pays, which is what we should take our own advice when it comes to raw meat and bones.
Neal: You need a shirt.
Jae: Yes, patience and perseverance. I like that. We'll put that on our next shirts. You really have to be persistent with it. For a lot of dogs, it's food time. You put down some food and they eat it. If they don't eat it, you can say, "Okay, well then you don't get to eat". They might even go, even really finicky dogs might go a few days without eating, but you can't do that with cats.
Jae: You have continuously give them the option as you were saying with the bones, continuously give them the option, and sometimes trick them. We still to this day sometimes have because cats are crazy beings, amazing crazy beings.
Neal: They come from aliens.
Jae: Yes. [laughs] Our cats will go on strike every once in a while from say, turkey. All of a sudden they don't want turkey anymore, so we'll take some canned food or some of their favorite treats or something like that and mix it in.
Adrienne: A meal topper.
Jae: A meal topper, and mix it in to trick them into eating the food that we know that they need, but you have to take at their pace at the same time. There's been to many people that come to us and they're like, "My cat won't eat raw" because they're like we did with the raw meaty bone, and it's like they put it down once, the cat didn't want it and you're done, right? They're like, "They don't like it".
Neal: I tried that two times. They wouldn't like it. [chuckles]
Adrienne: Well, and I I think too there's that fear of waste. Waste of food and waste of money. They're going to try something new and I think that that's something that you've got to have to prepare yourself. For me, I genuinely had to emotionally prepare myself once I realized that this was not going to be just, "Hey, eat the better food, let's go". It was emotionally difficult for me not to give them, I wanted to give them Kibble. That's what they wanted.
Jae: She even snuck them kibbles sometimes and I was like, "No we're not doing it". She was like [crosstalk]
Adrienne: We had some leftover kibble, right? It's not like you just run out completely, so every now and then I just stick my hand and be like, "Here's a few little… I'm so sorry we're doing this to you.
Adrienne: It was difficult though, so I think you have to prepare yourself to understand that you're making the best decision for your cat. For me, I feel like it was more difficult for me than it was for our cat.
Jae: For sure. It was.
Adrienne: Giving them that option over time, and studies have shown, the study out there that showed that cats don't like citrus. People use it as deterrent for certain things. They fed a group of cats a citrus flavored food that was nutritionally balanced. They've done a-- What was the middle one?
Jae: It was a rabbit and a fish. A rabbit and a fish. It was a study that was done in England.
Jae: They tested these cats, a group of cats and they put down these three different foods and they said, "Which one are they going to?" The fish food was unbalanced, but it was flavored with fish. The other food was unbalanced, but flavored with rabbit, or was it chicken? Either way a rabbit. The third food was an orange flavored food, but was completely balanced.
The study showed that the cats immediately went to the fish first, but then over time, they would move a little bit to the rabbit. By the end of the study, they were all eating the orange flavored foods because they knew that that's what was best for their bodies. They didn't necessarily like the flavor, but they knew that it was balanced and they needed that nutrition in their bodies.
Adrienne: When given the option. It just goes to show that the patience and perseverance. Yes, you're going to waste a little bit of food every now and then, especially with raw food. You're like, "That didn't work. We're just going to save that for later". You have to be prepared for that, but the transition period, it's different for different cats, but it does mean being persistent in giving them that option and in different ways.
Some cats like a little bit of wet food mixed in with their kibble to get started. Some of them, it's better to just put it near their kibbles, so they start identifying it as food and they want to eat that alone. There's different ways to do it, but it can be done and when it is, the difference that you'll see in your cat, it's the biggest joy.
Jae: Absolutely. Once you're transitioned, that coat is completely healthy and then you have less shedding, and you see the difference physically in their health.
Neal: it's amazing to me how quickly customers come back to me and say that it's made a difference in their pet's lives. I'm like, "Wait six months. It's only been three weeks".
Adrienne: Right. It's only going to get better. I think the big conviction for me is that I feel like we had those extra four years with Scotch, we didn't get a long time. I know some of it is the fear, but when he was diagnosed and we didn't take the prescription food, I attribute those four years that we had with him to changing his diet and smart supplementation. I think that that was incredible to see him declining so rapidly.
Cats, when something starts going bad, it's not good. To see him declining like that, not wanting to climb up the stairs, not jumping on the bed anymore to just, boom, back to jumping on a refrigerator and onto the island and back to the bed and running up the stairs. It was-
Adrienne: Right. Life-changing. So much of what happened with him motivates everything that we do.
Neal: We got an extra eight years out of our dog. The vet said she has six months to live and she lived another eight years, because we just took her away and started doing stuff ourselves. That's what started our whole store was a sick animal and the biggest pet food recall in history. That was the melamine recall of 2007/2008.
Adrienne: I don't think I knew that.
Jae: Yes, I didn't know that about yours.
Adrienne: I didn't know that about yours, no.
Neal: We got a sick puppy, that's what started us. As an adult, she was my first puppy that I cared for where I had responsibility. We took her, we got her. We had her a couple of weeks, we took her to the vet, get her puppy stuff and make sure everything's okay. They said, "Wow, that's the worst dog we've ever seen." We're like, "What?" They're like, "Hemivertebra, spondylitis, brachycephalic. What else? Everything that could be wrong in a bulldog was wrong."
They gave me the X-rays back and said, "You might want to just go get insurance and we never saw you." [chuckles] I said, "How about, no." They recommended their special diet and said, "The dog probably has six months to live." I said, "Well, I'm going to go learn more because that's crazy to me." We gave her another eight years.
Adrienne: I think that's how so many of us start. I think that's why so many of us are in this because it is just once you know something this awesome, you just want to help others-
Adrienne: -not go through what we went through for a number of issues. Seeing how much it changes your cat's life or your dog's life is just such great news. When we have people come to us, and I'm sure you've experienced this as well, a lot of times people will come to us after they've been to the vet six times and after they've [inaudible 00:32:21]. They so desperately love their cat, they're willing to try something crazy, like the crazy cat ladies.
That moment and being able to just meet people where they're at and see what's really going on, and do what we can do with the information that we have. It's not ever just about our products. It's always nutrition is foundational, and there's so many great things available, so many resources out there that we have found, there's so much help that can be offered. I think it does start with hitting that brick wall and wanting to do more and not feeling like it's time yet and make the most changes.
Jae: Tell me, do you see with your clients that you get-- Obviously, you probably do. I think it's just the industry, but you get more dog clients than you do cat clients?
Neal: Cats are second class citizens. It's a terrible, terrible thing because cats deserve better. I think we're one of the few raw pet food stores who has four full doors dedicated to cat foods of frozen goods. Of course, we have other good products that are fine for cats and dogs, but are more packaged appropriately for dogs in larger sizes. Cats are second class citizens.
I'll have a customer who has been coming to me for five years, and then he'll go "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. My cat-" I'm like, "Your cat? cat food." He goes, "No, he's fine. He eats the Whiskas or whatever." I'm like, "All those cartoons above my freezer door saying cats are obligate carnivores and cats require moisture." I do all these little simple little cartoons in our store if you ever see it.
The little cartoon- I have one just above me that are just above the freezers for cats. I'm like, "What do you mean?" The poor thing. A cat should live with you from 18 to 22 years easily without chronic illness. They're telling me about these cats that are sick at 10 or 12. It's ridiculous. It's half their lives. All because you didn't look up and see the cats could do this too. It makes me crazy.
Adrienne: I'm so excited about Dr. Marci Kowski and Dr. Liz Bales that are looking at cats as cats. There are so many times where you meet somebody new and you say, "Do you have any pets?" They'll say, "Oh, I have a cat." It's not really a pet? We've got people that will say, "I really want to get a dog one day, but I'm going to start with a cat." Like it's a practice pet because they're seen as being very independent, very low maintenance, you can travel, you can just throw out a-
Jae: There's stoic. They're very stoic beings.
Adrienne: You don't know when they're not.
Jae: People think that-- We have people call us all the time. They're like, "I have a senior cat. They're 12. Kidney disease." I'm like, "12 is so young."
Adrienne: That's middle age.
Jae: No, that shouldn't be.
Neal: It's not even really middle-aged, but yes. That's like 30. [laughs]
Adrienne: We're going for 40.
Jae: We're working on 40. We have the clients that come to us and we start talking diet. It's like, "Have you ever considered a raw food diet?" They're like, "I've always fed my dog a raw food diet, but no, I've never thought about my cat."
Adrienne: Obligate carnivores.
Neal: Yes, more important.
Jae: I would say almost more important.
Neal: It is more important.
Jae: It's very important. I would say almost more important.
Adrienne: [inaudible 00:35:59].
Neal: Dogs being facultative carnivores, that can make use of some other things. Cats, they can't. We have to pre-digest them. When I tell people just moving to canned, but low carbohydrate canned preferably, but just moving to canned will tremendously improve the quality and outcome of your pet's life.
Adrienne: We often tell people, we don't care what it is.
Jae: We'll say-
Jae: -even the worst.
Adrienne: -a moisture-rich diet. That's what I think is so pivotal. Whether you're meeting a client for the first time or we're talking to someone for the first time, it's finding out where they're at, and not-- Sometimes it's easy to be like, "Oh, my God, wait." It's also easy for us to take a step back 10 years ago, and remember where we were at and what sounded so crazy to me.
Not just that, but the time investment. Recognizing that whether it's simple things. Whether it is that you shouldn't clean out your-- You should clean up your litter, at least every day, maybe once in the morning, once at night, not once a week. You should have a litter box that's the right size for your-- Most litter boxes aren't. You're going to want to prepare food, put your cats in a routine-
Jae: Wash their dishes after every meal. All the things that we should do even if we're not feeding them a fresh food diet. The things that are required, for sure, if you do that we would think that would be required.
Neal: I'm going to give you some of the tips that I give people. I need you to add to them. One of the tips is; feed them in a saucer or a shallow bowl because of whisker fatigue. I say, have one more litter box than you have cats. When there's a dirty litter box and they're like, "Eww, that's disgusting." They don't go on your bed. I've actually had that happen sadly twice.
That was because of a roommate, that was not because of me. I just want to say. [laughs] What else was- oh, gosh. Put your water in a separate room to your food because cats-- That's why they often go to the washroom because there's no food there. Cats, unlike dogs, are smart enough to know that meat can poison water.
Adrienne: I don't know if I knew that.
Jae: I did not know that know.
Adrienne: Oh, my goodness.
Jae: We feed our cats all over the house. We don't feed them in a specific area.
Adrienne: I love that tip.
Jae: I'll add to the litter box one. This is something that we recently learned and that most people don't know, so we're spreading the news that the average cat litter box should actually be a length and a half the size of your cat.
Jae: The cat boxes that we purchased or the litter boxes that we purchased at the like Petco or PetSmart or one of the-
Neal: They're probably too small.
Jae: They're almost always too small and very expensive. What we do now is we get storage bins. They're $7 to $9 at the hardware store. You cut a hole in it [crosstalk].
Adrienne: Cut a little door for them.
Jae: Now you've got the right size. We no longer have litter issues since getting the bigger box- [crosstalk]
Adrienne: The other thing I would add to your feeding them in a saucer, they make a joke about it. The middle of the bowl for kibble feeders. The middle of the bowls and the cats like, "Where's my food?" when there's tons of food still left in the bowl because they don't like trying to get around it. Also, Dr. Liz Bales, great insight into really engaging your cat's instinct.
She has the noble hunting, indoor hunting system. We use freeze-dried, but it's so fun for the cat to get a little bit of food. You hide it all around the house. They have more than 200 million scent sensors in their nose. They know where that food is at. They get to go find it, they get to pull it out, they bat it around to get the food out, it really engages their instincts. It can be a huge enrichment to their day instead of just trying to find the nearest sun spot again if you're- [crosstalk]
Jae: Exactly, yes. The majority of indoor cats are bored and bored creates stress. The research shows seventy-plus percent of urinary issues in cats stem from stress. We know that stress causes a numerous amount of disease. We want to make sure that we enrich them and we're learning that how you feed your cat is almost as important as what you feed your cat because they need to be able to use their instinctive nature to go through that grey sequence of stalking, hunting, catching.
Adrienne: Playing with it.
Jae: Playing, eating, grooming and sleeping. They need to be able to go through their instinctive nature. There's a lot of ways that you can do that, there's systems, feeding puzzles, things like that that you can use or you can do it yourself. You can hide little bits of food in little bowls or saucers around the house so they have to find them and get them to it, it doesn't have to be expensive.
Neal: Fantastic tip. We do the same thing with our dogs. Currently, I don't have a cat. I don't want to introduce a cat into this household given the current dogs I have, although we've had a cat that they lived with fine in the past. Currently, where their energy is at and all that, I don't think it would be a happy household. [laughs] We don't currently have a cat although I love having a cat. The tip of playing find it and just hiding little things around and making that a fun game for them on a rainy day when they can't go out to the cardio, it's like a bad math problem for them, at the end of it, they're tired.
Adrienne: Yes. They love it.
Jae: It reduces the issue, it reduces their stress.
Neal: Because they had to use their brains.
Jae: Yes, exactly.
Neal: They can't get neurotic when they've had a strong math problem for the last hour and a half.
Adrienne: Exactly. I think it's interesting. We fall into this as well. Zorro loves to play fetch and we love it so much. You ask him where his ball is and I'm sure he's going to come up here and be like, "Where is it?" It's okay, but Dr. Lavelle was saying as well, she's done so much research in finding this innovative way to help engage their instincts and accomplish a number of things. She was like, "I'm only fascinated by people with cats or small dogs."
Dr. Karen Becker points out, cats are absolutely completely unique, different creatures. It's not cats and dogs. Cats are completely different, they express and accept love differently, they do all of life in their own way. The more that we could learn about them, not just their nutritional needs, but their environmental needs, what we can do to engage them and build their confidence even especially in multi-cat households as we've learned, it's really illuminating and it makes such a difference. It's very exciting.
Neal: I have to say, you mentioned the multi-cat household. I think if you own a cat, you should own two.
Jae: Yes. I gave that advice to somebody today. I actually said, "Here's a few tips," and went through number one, number two. Number six was, "Consider another cat," [chuckles] because the reason there are feral cat communities [crosstalk]
Neal: Because they're communal.
Jae: Because they're communal cats, they do like the company of other felines.
Neal: I think that dogs and hedgehogs and guinea pigs too, they all come from a community and they should all have at least one buddy to live with.
Adrienne: Yes, I agree or seven.
Neal: Well, I'm not the quite the cat crazy, that guy, so I would say, I'm okay with two, although I do lean towards thinking I should have a pack of five dogs instead of one, but then my neighbors would really hate me.
Neal: They get enough barking. Then, what do you look for when you're buying commercial food? Let's say if you're just moving from a dry which is what ninety some odd percent of people do, is feed dry food, bagged foods, when you're moving from a dry, what do you look for in canned food?
Jae: Here's the tricky part because I was also consulting about this specifically today. It's really tricky because when you're coming from a Purina dry or a Meow Mix or something or something like that and you don't know anything, then what advice can we give? My first advice, I was like, step one, let's make sure that the first several ingredients are meat. Let's also make sure that it doesn't have certain ingredients like carrageenan in it, for instance. Let's start there, that's a good starting spot because you're going to have to go through quite a few to not find carrageenan and to find meat in the first few, so you're going to get a better quality.
The problem is that some of these cat foods, they're very deceptive with their ingredients and I know where their ingredients come from. Telling a novice that's like, "I want a better quality wet food," to go find out where the company sources their ingredients and all this stuff is a little bit too much or overwhelming. I don't want to overwhelm somebody, but knowing your source is always the most important thing. If you know your source and you know where the ingredients are coming from then [crosstalk]
Neal: Pet Fooled showed that so well. Kohl Harrington's documentary, Pet Fooled showed that sourcing is as important as ingredients.
Adrienne: Exactly. That's really a good place for people that are open. I think I've shared that with almost everybody I've ever talked to about pets. If you just watch Pet Fooled, that's a great place for people to get an idea you did a great job of just laying it out, the common sense of it. You'll find too that people, friends, "Have you actually seen Pet Fooled?" And they're like, "No, I haven't seen it yet." You have to have that motivation in a way, and I think, sadly, so many of us find that motivation through something negative. It's like you said earlier, when you're looking at transitioning, moisture is such an important ingredient for a cat.
Neal: it's a place to start.
Adrienne: Yes. We don't want to overwhelm them with, "You're going to do this. Here's 72 things to look for." [inaudible 00:46:50] to start somewhere. We always recommend going to your local pet food boutique. It's different than going to these big-box stores and checking. There's 307 different kinds of canned food there that are basically all the same. We really encourage them to go and shop local, but these pet food boutiques, these smaller stores, in our experience, they make an effort to at least try and know why they're carrying a product. You can go in there and you can ask questions, say, "I am just transitioning from kibble. I want to get my cat on raw, what would you recommend?" Just go there, start gathering some information. We could only ever recommend what we feed, so it's difficult to say, "This is it. You've got two choices."
Neal: There's no one thing, that's the whole point.
Adrienne: Right, but when it comes to wet food, they sometimes will use wet food to really trick our babies as a meal topper and mix in so that they're more enticed and they're feeling a little picky. There's very few wet foods that we feed. The raw foods, we love variety, variety of proteins, variety of brands, but we can only recommend wet feed, so it's difficult to say.
Neal: We do recommend that people always do keep, especially with cats, some canned into their diet so that when they go away, somebody can care for them easily with the food that they already accept.
Jae: Yes. We were very lucky. We searched and found pet centers that are raw friendly, and we have ample amounts of instructions on exactly how much of this and that and how to mix it, how to lime it up and- [crosstalk]
Neal: Are you routine feeders? Do you have a very set routine or you're the kind of guys who want to switch it up on a regular basis in order to-- For me, I think that not being routine is actually a healthier way to go than being routine because what we're doing when we have routine is we're training the pancreas to be ready at three and the food rather than be ready for whenever food comes. I like to switch it up. I like to say two meals today, four meals tomorrow, skip a meal the next day, that kind of thing. It keeps my dogs on their toes and they're less likely to bug me at three o'clock or 6:00 AM or whenever because they know it's coming eventually, they just have no idea when. In that scenario, which of those two are you guys?
Jae: We are more routine feeders. Now, on the weekends, we switch it up and our cats hate us for it.
Neal: Do they know?
Jae: There is some research that shows that routine for cats also reduces stress. Be it the same time everyday, if you change the litter at the same time everyday. We've noticed that with our high anxiety cat, it makes a world of difference for their stress if they know that-- They want to know when they're going to be fed, when their litter is going to be scooped, all of that so that they have their own routine [inaudible 00:50:20]. We do a pretty strict routine except for the weekend. In the weekends, we're just always busy and doing whatever.
Adrienne: Lunchtimes gets switched out too. We'll do the … around the house for a little lunchtime snack or just give them a full meal. I think that especially with Poo Bear, maybe it is more so with cats that have high anxiety or anxiety issues that we've really seen such a difference and to the point where Poo Bear will literally-- When I'm cleaning his litter, he will sit there patiently and wait for me to finish and then goes in and does his business. It's been a game-changer for him. He's definitely been a big insight into a lot of the behavioral issues that can happen with a high-stress cat. Finding those routines that are a comfort to him have been a big game-changer for our whole household.
Neal: Talking about anxiety for cats, I've often found taking cats who are super anxious and putting them on a fresh food diet can reduce that anxiety. Getting them off of a sugar diet essentially.
Jae: For sure. You're thinking about the inflammation that that causes in the body that the sugar of these carbs that create in the body. What we call that is nutritional stress. It leads to behavioral stress as well. Same with us, if we eat nothing but a whole bunch of unhealthy carbohydrate-heavy foods, for me specifically, I have anxiety issues and my anxiety will be much higher 2hen I have less exercise and I'm eating unhealthy, I am more stressed, but when I have a healthier food, when I'm eating a better diet, then I'm less stressed. Same goes for our cats in that way and dogs for that matter.
Neal: I think it makes a huge difference.
Adrienne: [crosstalk] difference. I think also just the play. One of the big things that while you were talking, I was thinking, just what a difference it made for our Poo Bear who-- We own the kittens game. He was a little like, "I'm not sure about this." Of course, the kittens are just nothing but play balls. They want to play all the time. Beagles and Twist and Scotch at the time were all like, "It's playtime, let's do this." Poo Bear was like, "No, bro," and out he would go. He wanted nothing to do with it.
Dr. Mercy Kaski, Feline Behavior Solutions, really had such great insight into the fact that a cat that doesn't want to play is a liar. They want to play, they want to engage, they want to hunt and chase and catch and all of that. We're like, "Not our Poo Bear." She was like, "Leave him into a room by himself. Engage him at his own pace and play with him." We now catch him playing with the kittens. She said it builds their confidence. It's like, "There's just a little too much going on here-"
Jae: We only went through one session of that. One session.
Adrienne: Yes, before he really started changing.
Jae: 20-minute session.
Neal: They learn fast.
Adrienne: Yes. You can see that he's like, "This isn't something to be fearful of or get away or hiss or bat or anything." Now, it's something that he can engage in. It's really taking his anxiety down to where he's feeling comfortable. It's an amazing thing. Poo Bear is really our first real experience with a high-anxiety cat that deals with a number of health issues because of that. It's just been illuminating and just wonderful to see the changes. When you can try to look at life on your cat's level and find out what, are we missing, what can we do to make this a better situation?
Neal: I have to say that you guys at the show that I met you at, I learned about Jackson Galaxy. I haven't had cable television in 20 years, so I'd never heard of him. While I only sell the bowls, he's got a whole line of products that lay out on the label all the reasons why you're doing that for your cat. Those labels can really open your eyes as to the cat behavior or the animal you're living with. It's amazing. He's done some great research.
Adrienne: He is like the Cat Whisperer. I think it's interesting with people, you can go down the rabbit hole there. I encourage people to go, look and see what's available because there are things that we've just never considered before. It's like litter boxes. If you think of it, the litter box that we got because it's a litter box is not something that's happy for our cats.
Jae: The most expensive and largest one at the store still wasn't even big enough.
Adrienne: $40 for a litter box and Poo Bear doesn't touch it.
Neal: That would be $65 here. [chuckles]
Adrienne: I'm sorry?
Neal: That would be like $65 here.
Adrienne: Yes, probably. The Canadian currency. Jackson Galaxy is a great-- Not only is he entertaining. We watched some of how he was able to hone in on what the issue is and then just through small implementations, can change an entire dynamic of a household. A lot of the best ones I think are when you're dealing with a cat that's not having a good time with a kid. He'll just be like, "Well, look at this." He's just so illuminating, not to mention the fact that he does carry a full line of stuff that-- Just reading the labels will help you better consider what your cat's life is like. [crosstalk]
Neal: I was really impressed with his labeling and him explaining why the fishing rod toy was good for certain types of cats and why the bird toy was better for other types of cats, and whether they're mousers or birders and all that. I just thought it was illuminating.
Adrienne: I think when we think of cats, our experience has been a lot of people look at them as convenience companions, like, "I want a pet to come home to at night." They think cats are just very independent, low maintenance and then they're upset that they don't want to snuggle or they hate it when you pick them up or whatever. It's very interesting to see that when you take some time to look at life from your cat's perspective, they're not a convenience pet, they're a very intricate, complex creature that can be-- You're getting bombarded. That can be one of the most rewarding companion animals out there if we take some time to really respect who they are.
Neal: They're far more complex creatures than people give them credit for. In your recipes, do you use organs? Do you use the kidneys and livers and pancreas and things of this nature?
Jae: We call it or Adrian calls it offal.
Neal: It's offal, O-F-F-A-L?
Adrienne: Yes, I know. It's offal.
Jae: She calls if offal because it's so gross, but yes, absolutely. We've recently partnered with Ronny from Perfectly Rawsome, who is now formulating our recipes for us for our DIY homemade cat foods on a budget on YouTube. We have a YouTube channel where we help other people make their raw food at home and without breaking the bank. We use her recipes now.
Neal: That's Ronny LeJeune from perfectlyrawsome.com?
Jae: perfectlyrawsome.com. They need it. When we're talking about feeding them fresh-food diet or raw meat, a lot of people come to us and they're like, "So, you just give your cat hamburger meat?" I said, "No. It needs to be a balanced diet." It needs the organ meat. We need heart and we need kidneys. We need all of these other ingredients or some other ingredients. It's not super complex, but we need it in order to balance the diet and make sure they're getting all of the nutrients and taurine and vitamins and minerals and whatnot that they need.
Neal: Amino acids, taurine. I think that when you and I or people, humans think of meats, they think of rodents or birds. They're muscle meats or the birds, but when a dog or a cat thinks or a ferret or hedgehog thinks of fresh food, it's meat, fat, bone and organ. There's three of those things that when we say it, we don't even think of.
Adrienne: Right, that we don't consume.
Neal: For the most part. Although in Japan, they're like, "You feed all the organs? We eat the organs." [chuckles]
Jae: My mum grew up on liver.
Adrienne: So did mine. Hooray.
Jae: We don't. [chuckles]
Adrienne: I don't like the liver. I don't like the liver.
Neal: We probably should, but you're right. I don't either.
Adrienne: It's so hard.
Jae: I can't say that I'm not going to be one of those people to say, "I don't like the liver," because I don't think I've ever tried it.
Adrienne: What's the duck liver that people are like-
Adrienne: No, there's some weird-
Jae: Foie gras?
Neal: Foie gras.
Adrienne: Foie gras.
Jae: I had that once in France. It was disgusting.
Neal: It's liver. Of course, it's disgusting.
Jae: I love bone marrow though. That was very, very, very good.
Neal: Well, if it's done correctly. Like anything, if it's done right, it can be good, but so often, they're not. Even for our pets, we overdo it for the most part. Now, just to wrap up in regards to supplementation, what are the ones you absolutely want to see in any fresh food or any diet because I have the same recommendations for fresh food as I have for kibbles because I don't believe the balanced and complete is actually a real thing in nutrition. I don't think that's possible. I want to see some similar things in kibble and raw but what do you guys look for? What do you guys recommend to people to add to the diet?
Jae: We have the three basics that we recommend for the same with whether you're feeding a processed food or whether you're feeding a fresh food. We recommend digestive enzymes, probiotics and omegas in every diet. These are like the three basics that we will add to all of our pets food, every meal. We suggest for our followers, you as well, regardless of the food that they eat. For many reasons, like if the processed food it's usually missing all of that. Even if it's a fresh food, digestive enzymes, for instance, if we're not feeding pancreas within that food, then they're not getting all the digestive enzymes that their bodies can use and utilize. You can't overdose on any of this stuff, so let's make sure that they're getting the right amount of these nutrients that they need.
Neal: The pancreas is in under looked at organ meats for the dogs and cats. I find that cats find it very palatable, that they actually really like it. If you thought out it start to digest itself in the bowl and for pancreas. It comes from an omnivore, so it has the protease, amylase, cellulase, all the different digestive enzymes built into it. Even things that your cat or dog cannot make. I think that it's an amazing underrated organ and it's damn hard to buy.
Jae: Yes, it is. I'll tell you, our pet company that is here locally that we feed the majority of our food, our cats, it's like the main one that the cats love the most. He often adds in pancreas into the meals and he switches it up for it's mainly for Zorro. He switches it up and adds, like every two weeks, it's a different recipe recipe, but he oftentimes adds pancreas in and I think that's awesome and they love it. All cats actually try to eat his food.
Neal: We've often sold it just by itself.
Adrienne: Where do you get it?
Neal: I have a local company who sources it from a local pork farm up Island. They're not factory farmed and it's Island grown, but it's a big enough organization that it can keep one of our local raw pet manufacturers stocked up. It sometimes when there's not been a call for a while, it's not available.
Adrienne: Wow, that's awesome though.
Neal: We try to work with while we prefer the guys who are doing things that are professional like hasip or some of the quality certifications or some of those kinds of things. We certainly prefer those kinds of guys or guys who are headed towards that. We also like to work with local guys to build local industry, to assist them and making a valuable business that helps our community, but the nice thing about them is they're close enough, we can go and look every once in a while. We just randomly drop in and visit, and they're like, "Hi," and, "Hey, yes, I'm the guy who sells a lot of your. Just randomly showing up seeing how you're doing it."
Jae: Thats awesome though.
Adrienne: That's all exciting.
Neal: Yes, you got to do what you got to do to run a business that meets your values.
Adrienne: That's what's so important. I think that we were just talking, especially when we're dealing with supplements. It's like, what do you recommend? You can go into a number of stores and be like, "Well, all of this stuff is good," and I kind of equate it to walking into a GNC and being like, "Well, all of these supplements are right, just grab a whole shelf full of them," because they're good. I think that it's so important to remember, I think it was a Rodney Habib and Dr. Karen Becker that said, very important to know why you're supplementing. You don't want to .. the kitten sink your cat.
There are some things that are helpful for overall maintenance and prevention, especially for a lot of these very common issues that are out there for cats. At the same time, you don't want to make their meals unenjoyable, and certainly, don't want to just not know why you're doing something. I think that it's really exciting when you can look at what your cat needs and understand their nutritional needs and then look at what you can maybe add on top to help maintain health or prevent certain things. That there's so much out there that we can do. There's so much good that can come from especially in our own experience.
Having kibble fed cats for so long not really knowing, and then when we finally do make those little changes, one of Jae's favorite phrases is, "a little bit goes a long, long way." You don't have to be crazy about it. Steps start seeing that difference and it's really an exciting time.
Neal: If you do too many things at once you don't know what was successful and what wasn't.
Adrienne: Exactly, very true.
Jae: We use a lot more when it comes to supplements. We use curcumin, we use ubiquinol for older cats that need a lot of different supplements as well, but those three are recommended staples. We do it for other reasons but the other products, but for those three, it's just like- [crosstalk]
Neal: Gut health is the foundation of our immune response to everything. The healthier we can make that cat the healthier that we keep that animal. But that's true the mouth too. An unhealthy mouth which points to an unhealthy animal.
Adrienne: I say I'm all about the healthy poops as well, so keep an eye on it.
Neal: Yes, absolutely. I can tell you, I always know when it's the neighbor's dog who had a poop in my yard.
Adrienne: It's very different.
Neal: It's easier to clean up the litter box when you got a rough head cat.
Jae: Exactly it is.
Neal: It's funny, but it's a terrible thing to have a conversation about, but we do it weekly in the store.
Jae: We talk about it all the time.
Adrienne: All the time.
Neal: Is there any of one last tip you want to offer somebody interested in fresh foods before we call it an interview?
Jae: Well, I would say, take the leap. Don't be scared. Don't wait too long. Don't wait till it's too late. Like Adrian just said, make-
Adrienne: That sounds little offloaded.
Jae: No I mean, we're talking about how oftentimes we wait until it's too late to make that difference, to make that change. We don't want you to wait till it's too late with your cat. Start small, start a little bit at a time. Give them an option and build it up over time, you'll notice a difference immediately.
Adrienne: One thing I would add to that is I think that if you're thinking about it, reach out to us. If you want more tips and tricks, if you want just some support while you're doing this transition, if you have questions along the way, we're so excited to help and it's been the best decision we've made. That would be my only regret, is that we waited as long as long as we did.
Neal: Okay, on that, tell us your website, your email, the general email box and the platforms that people can find you on.
Jae: Our website is twocrazycatladies.com. T-W-O crazycatladies.com It's usually best to find us on social media because we're there all the time. You can find us both on Instagram and Facebook, @thetwocrazycatladies. T-H-E-T-W-O crazycatladies.com or not dotcom but thetwocrazycat. Our email is just email@example.com.
Neal: Are you on YouTube as well?
Jae: Yes, we are. You can find all of our videos and info and stuff like that, but if you want to reach out to us, try Facebook or Instagram or email or our website.
Neal: Thank you very much, guys. I really appreciate this.
Adrienne: Thank you, we love you.
Neal: Thanks guys, see you.