Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Toothless Tuesday!

I do not think that I have mentioned the newest addition (even though this addition occured last fall!)... My bearded dragon, Toothless! She is a normal colored juvinile bearded dragon who is very sweet. She likes to "cuddle" and fall asleep on me and eats from my hand. Her favorite foods are fruits such as apples and veggies like bell pepper.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Piece of the Ocean: An Overview of My 20-Gallon Nano-Reef.

I have mentioned my coral reef tank on this blog before, however, I have never given an overview of what I have and how the whole tank is run. First off, I have a 20-gallon tall (24"L x 12"W x 16"H) aquarium with a black rim. The equipment is listed below.
Filters: 2 Aqua-Tech 5-15 filters with phosphate removing filter pads and carbon
Heater: Tetra 10-20
Lights: Odyssea 4x24 watt (96 watt total for those who don't want to do math!) T5HO lights with a DIY retrofitted moonlight LED (Tetra GloFish LED). Bulbs are all WavePoint brand (1 actinic "Super Blue460", 2 10,000K "Sun Wave", 1 purple "Reef Wave")
Protein Skimmer: Lee's Counter Current Medium skimmer run with an Aqua-Tech 40-60 air pump and limewood air stone (run from outside due to pH being low if run inside).
Powerheads: 2 Koralia Nano 425's
Corals: green mushrooms, blue mushrooms, kenya trees, clove polyps, zoas, acan, blasto.
Inverts: 6-7 blue legged hermit crabs, brittlestars, asterina stars.
Fish: Royal Gramma
Food: Ocean Nutrition Prime Reef (frozen), Brightwell Aquatics Zooplanktos-M, Kent Marine CromaPlex (very rarely used), Omega One Super Color Flakes.
Water Changes: ~2-gallons every week. I usually use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals or Aqua-Vitro Salinity salt mix with distilled water.
Parameters: Calcium 450-460ppm, Alkalinity 7-8dKH, pH 8.1-8.3, Nitrate 5-10ppm (most often around 6ppm), salinity/specific gravity 1.024-1.025
Here are a few pictures of some of the corals.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Protein in cat food. Myths and truths.

It is an topic with many opinions and questions: Should cat food have high levels of protein? Does that protein cause kidney disease? Do cats with kidney stress need low protein foods?
My opinion is that cats are obligate carnivores and therefore, are made to eat protein (and fat). However, the TYPE of protein and quality of that protein determines how that protein is assimilated and used. Cats, being carnivores, are made to eat protein from meats and not plants. However, many dry foods use plant proteins (corn, soy, etc.) which do not have as high of a biologic value (they cannot be used as well) as meat proteins. Meat proteins also contain required amino acids that plant proteins do not (taurine, for example, is only found in meats). So why is it that many pet food companies and some veterinarians say that excess protein is hard on the kidenys and is bad? Well, it comes down to this... when you include soy or corn protein (or animal sourced proteins like lower quality by-products and by-product meals), it becomes hard for the kidenys to assimilate that protein and deal with the waste that cannot be assimilated. Another issue is that low-quality meats and meat meals have more ash than high-quality meats and meat meals. This is also hard on the kidneys and will likely lead to problems in the future. In addition to all the above, protein delivered in food that is more natural to a cat (more similar to what they would natually eat) and has a high water content (cats have a low thirst drive) is much easier on the kidneys.

Many "senior" foods have less protein because as cats age, if they have been fed a lower quality food, they will have kidney damage and these foods are thought to minimize future damage. HOWEVER, senior cats actually need MORE protein in their diet due to aging processes that can cause muscle wasting.

So, what is the best way to feed a cat the protein they need without compromising kideny health? Feed your cat(s) the way they are meant to eat, with a food that has sources of high-quality protein at reasonably high concentrations. Dry foods are OK if they are of a high quality (and I feed one as a "base" diet as well) but, if possible, you should really include a canned or other wet food (I feed raw as well as canned) to your cat's diet to help maintain their kidney health for many years to come. However, if your cat has a medical condition, always talk to your veterinarian before switching diets.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Formula Change

Hi all. I wanted to give you guys a heads up about the NEW formula of Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe cat food in case any of you feed this brand or plan to. I'm updating the ingredient list on my ratings page (will list both old AND new for a while since there will likely be bags of both for a while) and will let you guys know how my cats react to the change. I noticed the new bags (they look different) of kibble (with slightly different ingredients) on the shelf of my local store and thought it was odd since the Blue Buffalo website didn't have any info about it. I contacted BB and they got back to me very fast and let me know the new kibble (which has VERY recently been changed, hence the reason for no updated website) ingredients. So, go check out the ratings page for the new ingredients and to compare them to the old ones. The food is still VERY high quality so the rating is not changing, just the ingredients. The biggest change (because it is high up on the ingredient list) is the change from potato starch to tapioca starch, which shouldn't cause any problems for most cats). They also include egg in the food now, as well as an assortment of fruits and veggies (low on the ingredient list and probably part of the "Life Source Bits"). I don't know if other formulas have changed also, but I would guess that most of the other formulas in this line (salmon, duck, weight loss, indoor, etc.) HAVE. I cannot say whether dog foods of this brand have changed. If anyone knows and lets me know, I will post it for more people to see.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Blue Buffalo lawsuit update

So, as most of you know, I feed Blue Buffalo Wilderness to my kitties. As some of you probably also know, Blue Buffalo was sued by Purina earlier this year. Purina claimed that Blue Buffalo was falsely advertising. Purina claimed that they sent samples of Blue Buffalo food to a laboratory that performed highly sophisticated testing that PROVED that Blue Buffalo used chicken by-products and other ingredients that they say they do NOT. Blue Buffalo has finally gotten Purina to release the "test results" and methods used and I've read them. They do not prove anything whatsoever. The tests consisted of a 10x-20x microscope analysis of the food after it had been broken down with chemicals. Then these ingredients were analyzed (by visual cues) and determined to be certain things (based on a book of ingredients). This type of testing is not reliable (it also is not scientific because the ingredients can be interpreted differently since they will certainly NOT look exactly like the book). On top of that, this was supposedly a "blind" test, but while reading the paper, it was clearly not a TRUE blind test. So, Purina is basing their whole lawsuit on these tests, which are not scientific or accurate. On top of that Purina is now saying that Blue Buffalo claims their food is "human-grade", which they don't. This idea of Purina's comes from Blue Buffalo's slogan, which is "Love Them Like Family, Feed Them Like Family". This does not say anything about human-grade food (it is simply a slogan, something that many companies have). This lawsuit seems like a pathetic attempt by Purina to complain about competition (they even state that they have lost sales to BB). They KNOW people are getting ingredient savvy and they don't like it because it hurts their profits (a Purina employee said this not too long ago). So, until Purina can provide better evidence (I'm a biology student so I know what should be done for these types of tests), I don't believe them and will continue to purchase Blue Buffalo for my kitties.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My rotation feeding method for my cats

As many of you have probably noticed, I feed my cats several different types of food (I agree with the rotation feeding method). I try to stay grain-free with my selections. I currently feed Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe as the "main" food with Sheba Pate (not super happy with ingredients but the cats eat it, which is something I cannot say for many types of canned foods) canned foods (mostly the turkey and the whitefish and tuna ones) and Wild Calling kibble included in the rotation as well. I also get different canned foods (brands/flavors) as well. I have now started to introduce RAW into the rotation as well. I picked up a bag of Nature's Variety Instinct Frozen Raw Duck Bites yesterday and let the cats try it today. After sniffing it for a bit (it is very different in texture, smell, etc.), they decided it was food and scarfed it down. Hopefully they continue to eat it. The main reason I am using the brand I am is because of the safety and quality control methods that they use to prevent bacterial contamination. So, to wrap it up, in my rotation for the cats, I feed Blue Buffalo Wilderness dry, Sheba canned, Wild Calling kibble, Nature's Variety Instinct Frozen Raw Duck Bites and assorted other canned foods. I figure that feeding a wide variety of foods will lead to less "food boredom" as well as fewer health problems.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sunny Turns 5!

As hard as it is for me to believe, Sunny turns five years old today. It doesn't seem like five years (almost since it's not the day I got her yet) since I picked up a crying, one-and-a-half week old kitten. She was so tiny we weren't sure she would make it but after several weeks of bottle-feeding every few hours and taking her everywhere (since she had to be fed so often) with me, she was getting bigger and stronger every day. She is still very attached to people (me especially) and is such a sweet kitty. Happy Birthday, Sunny!