March 25, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was difficult. As anyone who’s cared for an ill, elderly parent knows, it’s not easy. Things looked pretty grim until about mid-afternoon, when everything took a turn for the better, and she finally got some sleep. Elsa was great, staying right there all the time. She (my mom, not the cat) is better today, but still a little wobbly.

In between taking care of my mom, I worked on the various letters in reference to the pet food recall. Let me just say that the more research I did, the more appalled I am by the entire industry. And I didn’t like what I heard from Trader Joe’s – although I’m grateful they got back to me so quickly. Although their food is NOT on the recall list, it IS prepared at Menu Foods, and they’ve pulled it all to run their own tests. They suggested I return everything I have to the local store for a refund. Which I will definitely do.

According to Amelia’s comment yesterday, she’d heard from CNN that the additional animals who died did so at the same time while they were testing foods at Menu; the information I had from NBC was that they tested the tainted food on animals when the complaints began coming in. I’ve asked NBC to clarify.

Purina only outsourced one brand of pouched dog food in the recall – the rest is manufactured at their own plants, so it seems (I’m waiting for a confirmation). However, I don’t know if I entirely trust their wet food, either.

None of the pet stores or book stores around here carry THE NATURAL CAT, and most of them claim they can’t even order it (hey, it’s on Amazon, why can’t they order it?). I ordered a copy through Strand (hopefully they’ll pull it before someone gets to it) and I’m giving the girls baby food for the next few days until I decide what to do. Yes, I could JUST give them dry food, but they’ll tear the house down. Their routine is wet food in the morning, dry food later on. And you don’t mess with their routine! Not without serious consequences, anyway!

If you ever read the wonderful book by a New York City vet called ALL OF MY PATIENTS ARE UNDER THE BED, he states that baby beef is perfectly all right to feed cats. Of course, I also give mine baby turkey, baby ham, etc. And it has to be Gerber’s Stage 2. They hate all other brands, and Stage 1 is too mushy. I have a few jars, but I’ll get some more tomorrow when I pick up the newspaper. Generally, I only give them baby food if they have an upset stomach, but in the circumstances, I think it’s safer than anything else out there, at least in the short term.

Just in case, I checked the Gerber site to see if there were any recalls.

And you really want to get angry? Check out

By the way, Iams and Eukanuba are basically the same company, under two different brand names.

I finished Susan Cheever’s lovely book American Bloomsbury, about Alcott, Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, and Hawthorne. It’s a personal book as well as an historical one. I highly recommend it. I also recently read Mary Poppins, She Wrote, which an excellent biography of PL Travers, and Mia King’s Good Things.

I loved Good Things. You can visit Mia’s blog on my list to the right (Mia Musings) to find out more about the book. Her main character is someone I feel I could be friends with, and she avoids the genre traps of overly neurotic protagonists. It’s a warm, lovely book which has enough surprises so the reader never gets complacent. Go read it.

Once I finished American Bloomsbury, I started on the first volume of LM Montgomery’s Journals. They are fascinating. I love her books anyway, above and beyond the Anne of Green Gables books. And her journals! I also love the way she refers to herself as a “book drunkard”. I know exactly what she means.

Hopefully, my mom will continue to improve today AND I’ll be a bit more all-around productive. The less time I make to write, the more fractured I feel. Now that I’ve tasted the non-writing life for a few weeks – it’s not for me.


March 24, 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

The plan today was to work on recipes; however, my mother came down with a terrible flu in the night, so I’m going to take care of her instead. I went to the local 24-hour store and got in supplies: Powerade, water, saltines, the kind of soup we always have for a stomach problem – and I’ve been giving her ginger tea and water, and letting her doze on and off all morning while I did the laundry, the cleaning, etc.

I might get a little writing done, but I’m not going to count on it. I’ll just take the day as it comes.

Elsa is the best cat to have around when not feeling well – she stays right with you, purring and being quiet and loving. She’s such a sweetheart. The twins get anxious, but they’ve calmed down a bit.

Spooky came up to have his breakfast this morning and visit. He decided he really likes a bright pink catnip mouse, so now that’s “his”. I’ve put it in a bag separate from the girls’ toys until I know everyone’s shots are all updated. I’ll have to buy the girls a new pink catnip mouse, but that’s the way it goes.

There are several things about the Pet Food recall that infuriate me. That it happened in the first place is completely unacceptable. That Menu Foods tested it on animals when the complaints started coming in is also unacceptable, and that those animals suffered and died. What did they do? Get them from shelters and murder them? If they were going to test it on a living thing, it should have been on their damn executives who switched suppliers without checking quality control first. AND, since it was the NY State Agriculture Department who managed to isolate and find out that it was rat poison, there was no need to kill even more animals with their “testing.”

Also, the brands are just as culpable as Menu Foods. If I’m paying the premium price for Iams or Eukenuba, I expect and DEMAND that they have their own plants and strict quality controls. That’s what I’m paying for. To discover that it’s the same stuff as Wal-Mart brand – or any other store brand – is a slap in the face to consumers. And the brand companies are just as responsible for this as Menu Foods. Why are they allowing their supposedly top-line food to be processed without keeping their own quality controls? This is NOT acceptable.

You’ll notice the brand companies have said nothing, but both Iams and Eukenuba have pulled their advertising, as well they should. They should also issue apologies and try to help Menu Foods make it right. No wonder my girls always hated Iams! THEY knew. And wouldn’t eat it.

They eat the Trader Joe’s organic wet food – I switched because it has 0% ash content, and if you use a food with the usual ash content, which is 4%, you are setting your animal up for problems later in life – and no wheat gluten. But I still contacted them wanting to know where the food is prepared and what quality controls they use. I will let you know what they tell me.

I may well go out and buy another copy of The Natural Cat (my copy’s in storage) and start making their food from scratch again.

Unless each and every one of us who is angry about this makes our displeasure known to these companies – not just Menu Foods, but the brand names – this will continue. What are YOU willing to do to keep your pets safe? Apathy = condonement. If you do nothing, you condone what happened.