For Cleo – The Mission

Exactly what IS in your dog or cat’s commercial food?


Our kitty, Cleo loved to eat, especially Fancy Feast and tuna. We would also leave dry kibble type food out for her most of the time. We did what the veterinarians of that time suggested and at the last years of her life, we were told she “had” to be fed a special “science” diet food. If only we knew then what we know now. Have you ever said that? We do the best we can in the moment and hopefully learn, grow and change for the better.

My journey with animal communication and healing (Reiki) started in 1994, just before Cleo made her transition. Sometimes good things come out of deep sadness. My life was forever changed, but little did I know the extent. Cleo started me on a “mission.” Oh my dearest “Iddy-Biddy-Kitty”! First step… Cleo let me on a very eye opening journey to learn about animal diet and nutrition, as well as, homeopathy.

Step One

Step 1 began at  The National Center for Homeopathy, which happens to be located about 20 minutes away from where I live. During the summer, The National Center for Homeopathy offered courses for professionals as well as people like you and me. I signed up for Homeopathy for Animals, taught by a wonderful veterinarian Christina Chambreau. At least half of the class was made up of practicing veterinarians. I felt over my head, but something “told” me to attend anyway. At the beginning of the several day course, Dr. Chambreau shared with us that a major key to animal health is diet and nutrition.

Good Health through Diet & Nutrition

Diet and nutrition is a major key and the foundation for good health and healing for both animals and humans. Dr Chambreau was such a fun teacher and loved to tell stories and demonstrate her points in a dramatic way. She introduced us to the idea of feeding raw food. What? Keep in mind that this was 1994. Most of us in the class were concerned by the thought of feeding raw meat to our animal companions, but she had our attention. Her reasoning was that food in its raw form is closest to what an animal would eat if they were living in the wild. That made sense to me.

What are the INGREDIENTS to look out for?

Next, we learned about the ingredients that are in almost all commercial pet food from kibble to canned.  All of us were shocked! (Again keep in mind that it was 1994 and we did not have nearly the choices for our animal companions that we have now.) She talked about how the good and healthy nutrients in our food in its raw form (fruit, vegetables, meats, dairy, etc.) is killed when it is cooked and the more processed any food is the less healthy or alive the nutrients are. Hum. So cooking not only kills bad “bugs”, cooking also kills the healthy good ingredients. That was interesting food for thought!

Next, Dr Chambreau did a demonstration. She stood next to the window in the class room and said, “This is raw food.” She placed raw food at the top of her list as the healthiest thing you can give your animal companion.

Then she walked about half way across the room and said, “This is human food that has been lightly cooked.” (Another words, food that is home cooked by us for our animal companions to eat.) Down the list just under raw food.

Next, she walked just outside the classroom door and said, “This is canned food.”

All canned food is cooked. Any of the pate types of canned food has been processed. Even the healthier brands of canned food that is available today has been cooked so much of the healthy nutrients had been killed in the cooking process but it is still a good choice.

Finally, she walked way down the hall, out of our sight and yelled, “This is kibble or dried food!!!” We all were amazed and kind of shocked. It was hard for some of us to comprehend. And then there are the ingredients…

It is important to educate yourself so you know exactly what you are giving your animal companions. Then you can make your own decision as to what you choose to feed them. Always remember that it is YOUR choice.

Do you want to know what is actually in your animal companion’s food?

Back in the 90’s, there was not very much information available about more natural and healthy food alternatives for our animal companions. Most of us just blindly did what we thought was best and bought what the TV commercials so brilliantly “fed” us. But what really is in the food that comes out of a bag or a can? Do you know? Do you want to know? If you care even a little bit about your precious animal companions (and of course you do) you MUST learn, and then make an informed decision about what you place in their bowl or on their plate. Most of our animal companions depend on us for their food, nourishment and overall health and well being. It is up to us to know exactly what we are giving them.

Empower yourself by learning the FACTS

If you choose to educate yourself about this very interesting topic do not beat yourself up as I did, once you learn the truth. Remember that we each do the best that we can in the moment. I would never feed any animal what we fed our Cleo back in the 80’s or early 90’s, (including Science Diet brand) but at that time I thought we were doing the very best for her. After all, the TV commercials made it look so good and conventional veterinarians insisted. Who knows, maybe 10 years from now I might look back and think, “How could I possibly have done that or fed that to my fur baby?” We do the very best that we can in the moment and we hopefully continue to learn and remain open to new information.

My education on the topic of a more healthy diet actually began with a monthly holistic magazine by the name of Tiger Tribe and two books: The Natural Cat by Anitra Frazier and Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Dr. Richard Pitcairn. I highly recommend the latest version of these books. Tiger Tribe (about cats) and Wolf Clan (about dogs) are no longer published, but you might enjoy and find informative, magazines like Animal Wellness & Equine Wellness.

Some of the “bad” ingredients

What is actually in many of the popular commercial canned and kibble pet food that is produced by the big pet food companies, including the science diet brands? You will never know unless you learn what each ingredient listed actually is. I suggest that you make a list of the really “bad” ingredients and read the labels when you go shopping for pet food.

Here is a short list of “bad” ingredients to get you going:

  • By-products
  • meat-and-bone meal
  • BHT & BHA
  • sodium benzoate

Here is a link to an article that you might find very helpful. It has a good explanation of these ingredients. Please click here to read an article by Celeste Yardnall. The title of the article is a bit dramatic to get attention, but the explanation of the actual ingredients that are found in many popular pet food brands is information that everyone should know.

What would they eat in the wild?

The bottom line is, after what they would eat in the wild, the healthiest food that you can give your own animal companion is something that you would make yourself and something that you would eat yourself. (Don’t worry if you don’t have time to prepare this diet for your animals. These days there are lots of options available.)

Organic raw meat, bones and veggies are the best for your animal companion followed by lightly cooked food “human”. One must also make sure that the proper vitamins are minerals are added to the raw or cooked food for a true balanced diet.

You must also make sure you know your food source as best as you can for the meat as well as vegetables. Never leave raw food sitting out. Certified organic is best, but even meat that is not organic is a million times better than what is in the “big pet food” companies kibble and canned food.

Get healthy food delivered right to your door!

If you feel that you don’t have time to prepare food for your animal companion there are many pre-made raw food brands available. They come frozen. All you do is thaw and serve. It is so easy peasy now.

Can’t feed raw?

If you can’t bring yourself to feed raw food you can always buy a healthy canned food or gently cook the raw food recipe. You will be able to fin that there are so many wonderful healthy brands or canned food available now. Always read the ingredients and if you don’t know what they are look them up. It’s so easy to learn what an ingredient is now by doing an internet search. You most likely can not find them in your local grocery store but stores like Whole Foods and other health food stores carry large selections as do the many healthy pet stores that are opening in many towns and cities and more rural areas. You can also have the healthy brands delivered to your home. We feed a combination of raw food and healthy canned food.

Don’t take someone else’s word. Learn for yourself!

Educate yourself about what is actually in the product that you are feeding your animal companions. It will make all the difference in their health and well being not only now but in their future. As more and more people have become aware of what was actually in (and still is in many brands) our pets food, companies began to make changes because we demanded it. Don’t take someone else’s word for it. Educate yourself and make an informed choice no matter what it is.

Remember the “Mission”!

As the years went by since Cleo died (1994) I sometimes find myself becoming discouraged. During those times I “hear” Cleo say, “Remember the mission!” Before Cleo’s mission for me, I did not feel that I had a purpose in this life or if I did, I did not have any idea what it was. Cleo gave me a mission and I choose to accept it! I did not know that I accepted it. Oh she was a tricky kitty. So wise.

As I mentioned earlier “The Mission” began with my education about animal health and nutrition. Next I was pointed in the direction of animal communication and Reiki. I felt a kind of thumbs up (or paws up) from Cleo as I started down this interesting and amazing path. Finally, her mission for me was to share with others what I was learning. She would say “one human at a time“. I translated that to mean, “if one human at a time would begin to open their hearts, connect with animals and listen, this world would be a very different place“.

One human at a time.

I am reminded of this every time I get in my car. My husband gave me the most wonderful present of a license plate that says: 4 CLEO because everything I do is because of and for Cleo.

I would love to hear from you about your experiences and discoveries with healthy nutrition and diet with your own animal companions. And what mission does your animal companion and animal friends have for you?



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  • Joyce Cross

    Hi Janet –I have been down the same path with food and homeopathy with my horse and now cat. I hope your readers take this info seriously about food — it is so vital! Do you know Terri Grow and her wonderful store Pet Sage in Alexandria? She has a website, too. And — I LOVE your guided meditations! Cheers, Joyce

    • Janet Dobbs

      I do know Pet Sage. Pet Sage is a wonderful place and Terri has so much knowledge and experience. This article barley begins to scratch the surface of the topic but it is may helpful to someone.

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