Did you ever hear of Francis M. Pottenger, Jr.? This gentleman lived from 1901 to 1967 and was the son of a physician who co-founded the Pottenger Sanatorium for treatment of tuberculosis in Califormia. He completed his residency at Los Angeles County Hospital in 1930 and became a full time assistant at the Sanatorium. Between 1932 and1942, he conducted what became known as the Pottenger Cat Study. One particular question that he addressed in this study was about the nutritive value of heat liable elements, nutrients destroyed by heat and available only in raw foods.
He used donated lab cats to test the potency of the adrenal extract hormones he was making. For the experiments he removed adrenal glands of these cats and noted that most of the cats died during or following the operation. He was feeding the cats a supposedly nutritive diet consisting of raw milk, cod liver oil and cooked meat scraps of liver, tripe, sweetbread, brains, heart and muscle. When the number of donated cats exceeded the supply of food available, Pottenger began ordering raw meat scraps from a local meat packing plant, including organs, meat, and bone; and fed a separate group of cats from this supply. Within months this separate group appeared in better health than the cooked meat group. Their kittens were more energetic and, most interestingly, their post operative death rate was lower.
At a certain point, he began conducting a controlled scientific study involving approximately 900 cats over a period of ten years. During this decade three generations of cats were observed. In one study, the so called "Milk Study," he reviewed the effects of five different diets on cats: The first 4 all included one third of raw meat and cod liver oil. Then in the first one he added 2/3 of raw milk, the 2nd one 2/3 of pasteurized milk, the 3rd one was completed with 2/3 of evaporated milk, and the 4th one with 2/3 of sweetened condensed milk. The 5th diet was made up of 100% raw, metabolized Vitamin D milk.
Pottenger’s findings were: Diet A, consisting exclusively of raw milk and raw meat was the only adequate intake which insured the maintenance of optimal health for the cats. The findings on the cats being fed the remaining diets, all included processed milk, were as follows: Common heart problems, vision abnormalities, arthritis, infections, inflammations, paralysis, meningitis, hypothyroid, abnormal respiratory tissue, inferior fur, generations with various sizes, malformation of face, jaws and teeth, steady decline in calcium content resulting in cats becoming what he called “spongy” by the 3rd generation, affected by various parasites, females became irritable and violent, males docile and sexually passive, increased fertility problems, frequent spontaneous abortions, as a matter of fact jumping from 25% in the first generation to 70% in the 2nd one, many mothers including their kittens died (while raw milk fed cats had only a few miscarriages), kittens weighed 20% less than the raw milk fed ones, after about 14 months cats weighed 40% less than the raw milk cats, and the list goes on and on.
What’s my point? Cooking, whether it is frying, baking, boiling or heating in any matter, severely alters food. We know that heat is as a matter of fact a food killer in that it destroys valuable enzymes. During heating vitamins and minerals, amino and essential fatty acids and other important micronutrients are either altered, depleted or lost completely. Even worse, heat by initiating chemical reactions can turn perfectly fine food into toxins. I learned that from Dr. Wysong, DVM..
How is commercial dry food manufactured? By heat processing perfectly fine ingredients.
What’s wrong with Pottenger’s studies? Nothing when it comes to the results related to cats. Only when we relate those results 100% to humans. Because we need to realize that we are dealing with two significantly different metabolic mechanisms: Cats are carnivores whereas humans are omnivores.
What’s wrong with commercial dry food? In some cases a lot, in others not so much. That depends on the motives of the manufacturer, i.e. pure profit driven vs. other, for our companion animals beneficial basic believes and inspirations. Depending on some circumstances it may be even beneficial. It only shouldn’t be relied upon as a single food source.