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Pottenger’s Cats: Book Review

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-an astounding nutritional ‘must read’

By Edwin Shank, August 31, 2010

I don’t know why I waited so long to read Dr Francis Pottenger’s classic entitled Pottenger’s Cats. I had read excerpts from it in many other books, and they always fascinated me, but until this past week had never read the actual book from cover to cover. Dr Francis Pottenger Jr. was a medical doctor in California who conducted nutritional/feeding experiments with 900 cats over a 10 yr period during the 1930s. Here is a summary one of his many feeding trials:

The cats in each group were fed 1/3 meat and 2/3 milk. The meat that each group received was always raw but the milk they received was variable. Some groups of cats received raw milk, others pasteurized milk, others evaporated milk, still others sweetened condensed milk. The cats on raw milk exhibited vibrant health while the other groups exhibited varying degrees of declining health and problems as outlined below.

  • The 1st generation cats developed degenerative diseases and became quite lazy toward the end of their life.
  • The 2nd generation’s degenerative diseases started by mid-life and the cats began to lose their coordination.
  • The 3rd generation cats developed their degenerative diseases very early in life. Some were born blind and weak and had a much shorter life span. Many of the 3rd generation cats were sterile and could not produce offspring. Skin diseases and allergies increased from an incidence of 5% in normal cats to over 90% in the third generation of deficient cats. Kittens of the 3rd generation did not survive six months. Bones became soft and pliable and the cats suffered from adverse personality changes. Males became docile while females became more aggressive.
  • The 4th generation cats never saw the light of day. The 3rd generation of cats not receiving raw milk suffered so severely from most of the degenerative diseases encountered in human medicine that they died out totally without leaving offspring.

I’m very much aware that we are not cats and maybe a lot of this study does not cross species lines, but this book is still worth reading for the following reasons:

  • To Understand the awesome effect that nutrition bears on our whole system including behavior, asthma, allergies, and even reproductive ability.
  • To See that processing food does drastically alter nutritional value and that the differences will not show up on a government “Nutrition Facts” panel. ie. raw milk looks the same as pasteurized milk on the Nutrition Facts but is demonstrated by this study to be fundamentally different in its ability to support and sustain life and health. (read Nutrition Facts and the Bikini Atoll for more on this subject)
  • To Realize that the longer a demographic group continues poor nutrition the more pronounced the effects in the rising generation. This one startled me the most. Undeniably, the poor nutrition of one generation was effecting the genetic information which they were passing on to the next generation.

Maybe this is why our nation’s autism rate is approaching 1 in 90 children…? Maybe this is why the childhood asthma and allergy rate is approaching 1 in 5..? Maybe this is why ADD and ADHD is rampant…? I’m no doctor, so of course I don’t know, but it does seem weird to me especially as I understand that the autism rate among the Amish is something like 1 in 15,000. Hmm… I wonder what the Amish are doing different? I do know they drink a lot of raw milk.

Don’t wait as long as I did to read the book. It’s really not a big book or expensive and it is well worth the investment. While you are buying books, check out Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price too. This one I did read several years ago and it is an excellent companion to Pottenger’s Cats.

As always, all the best of food a blessings,

Your farmer,
~ Edwin

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This essay is an excerpt from the Fresh Thoughts on Real Food newsletter written by your farmers at The Family Cow. If you like this article and would like to receive other similar articles fresh as they’re written, feel free to subscribe here.

FDA Disclosure Statement

Edwin Shank is an organic dairy and chicken farmer, not a health professional. If it is a medical opinion you seek, by all means, call a doctor. This information is intended to challenge, or even provoke you to explore beyond the conventional food and health system.

Please Note: Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.