Although I have four vegan cats that I adore equally, I feel most inclined to write you about my 2-year-old Russian Blue, Fletcher. All of my cats were strays, coming from a variety of backgrounds, but Fletcher's past is, doubtless, the most depressing and pathetic.
My boyfriend, Ben, found Fletcher a year ago on a subway in New York City. He lived in a small crate that was caked with filth. Two homeless boys, barely able to care for themselves, fed him what they could from time to time. When Ben bought Fletcher off of them for 20 dollars, it did not look like he was going to make it. He was obviously severely dehydrated and malnourished. he had great difficulty walking; it seemed that the muscles in his legs had atrophied from living in the crate. His head was enormous for his small, bloated body and his fur was dry and matted. he was infested with fleas, mites, intestinal worms, and ringworm was spreading on various parts of his body.
He also had severe behavioral problems, as would be expected, and had a tendency to attack rather viciously when something scared him.
He was such a mess it was overwhelming, but I was afraid that a veterinarian would insist on putting him to sleep. So we decided to do our best on our own. Knowing where to begin was the most difficult part. We bathed him, cleaned out his ears, and used various herbs to treat the mites and ringworm (tea tree oil is excellent for getting rid of fungus). We treated him very specially and with great care so as not to frighten him. We warned visitors not to pet him (we lived in a very tiny one bedroom and couldn't really isolate him), but not many people wanted to visit us; everyone thought we were crazy.
Only a few months earlier I had begun the transition to feeding my two other cats a vegetarian diet. So Fletcher was introduced to my cats' favorite food at the time -- ground chickpeas and brown rice mixed with veggies, oil, tamari, Vegecat, and tons of nutritional yeast. I also encouraged him to drink a lot; he especially loved soy milk (it's still his favorite today), and to eat liquid vitamin E to help his skin heal.
Needless to say, he was by far the easiest to convert to a vegetarian diet (I've converted four other cats to date). He still eats his food with gusto and maintains a perfect body weight.
Two months after we took Fletcher off the subway, we were moving to San Francisco. In order to take him on the plane, we had to get him a health certificate. We took him to a holistic veterinarian. Upon examining Fletcher, the vet commented on what a beautiful and healthy cat he was and what a wonderful disposition he had. I laughed as I told him the condition we found him in only two months earlier. The vet was incredulous.
He was also interested in the natural treatments I used. I mentioned the various herbs and vitamins. But I also told him that I felt strongly that the healthy, vegetarian diet greatly contributed to Fletcher's quick recovery. As an ethical vegetarian, support the slaughterhouse by purchasing pet food was always a dilemma for me. Discovering your product was a lifesaver, literally!