The number one question I receive (daily) is ‘what diet are Bruno and Carlo on?’ For the first time, I feel 100% confident about sharing the answer!
As many of you may know, Bruno and Carlo were prescribed a wet, metabolic weight loss management food when we adopted each of them – Bruno in August 2018, and Carlo in February 2019. As far as weight loss goes, it worked! Bruno lost 7 pounds in 11 months, and Carlo 3.5 in 5.
Whereas Bruno will consume anything even moderately edible, Carlo’s sensitive. In addition to his over-grooming, he was also throwing up 1-2 times a month. It took a ton of convincing on our part to get Carlo to eat at all, no matter what food we tried. We literally had to follow him around the house with his bowl off and on for hours with every meal. Given he wasn’t crazy about treats either, we figured he just wasn’t food-motivated, like Bruno is.
As soon as we adopted Bruno, I started talking to my friend Carrie Thiergart about him. Carrie and I were co-workers several years back, but after many years in the commercial real estate industry, she made a bold move. Carrie followed her passion and opened Pure Primal LLC – a raw dog and cat food company. For many months, we just purchased freeze-dried treats for Bruno from her, that he LOVES.
It wasn’t until Carrie and I had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one about 10 months after adopting Bruno (4 months after adopting Carlo) that I was able to really pick her brain about cat food. Carrie is incredibly respectful about the fact that a pet’s diet is a very personal decision for the owner, and she’s not one to project her opinions onto anyone. Once I asked for her expertise however, my eyes were really opened to the extreme benefits of a raw diet.
I chose to follow her advice and transition the boys to Primal Pet Foods (a different company than her own). Each boy gets a total of 5 nuggets a day (2 in the morning, 1 in the evening, and 2 before bed), totaling 250 calories. They’re partial to the beef & salmon formula 😊 We re-hydrate the nuggets with water or goat’s milk.
Sidenote: because the nuggets are so nutrient dense, the boys poop way less often, and it it doesn’t smell. WIN-WIN.
For treats, we still give the boys Carrie’s freeze dried turkey heart treats which they both love. They also get PureBites Chicken Breast Freeze-Dried Treats and Tiki Cat Velvet Salmon Mousse on occasion.
Since we made the transition to a raw diet in the end of July, Carlo has stopped over-grooming, and hasn’t thrown up once. He also seems to genuinely enjoy his food for the first time, and is able to finish each serving within about 20 minutes! This is thrilling for multiple obvious reasons 😊 Both boys seem calmer, and their coats are incredibly shiny. It was so fulfilling to see results within a matter of weeks.
Carlo is down 1 entire pound in a month (despite actually eating more than ever before with us), and Bruno is down .3 pounds (his weight loss has understandably slowed down over the past several months, after losing the initial 5+ pounds). Carlo's weighing in at 16.5 pounds, and Bruno at 17.7.
I asked Carrie to sit down with me to share her insight with all of you, given she's a real expert, and can speak so much more eloquently about this than I can. Full disclosure: neither Carrie nor I are veterinarians, though she has completed the Raw Dog Food Nutrition Specialist program through Dogs Naturally University, as well as researched the topic for over a decade. I’m merely sharing Bruno and Carlo’s diet as well as Carrie’s journey with you all. Additionally, I wasn’t paid by anyone to share this information, nor did we pay Carrie. We have been gifted Primal Pet Food nuggets in exchange for posting on Instagram – after switching the boys over, I reached out to the brand after about a month of seeing the great effects. However, I wanted to share the long version of the story here on our blog with you!
Lauren: Can you tell us about yourself, your journey with a raw diet for pets, and your company Pure Primal?
Carrie: I started Pure Primal in 2017 and am a one-woman company that makes the highest quality freeze dried treats for dogs and cats. My two dogs, Miles and Truman, have been the inspiration for me to make my own raw dog food and treats for over 11 years. After countless hours of research, reading books, and talking to many others that feed raw, I developed - and continue to develop - my own recipes and treats that have been put to the test for over 11 years. In addition, I have completed the Raw Dog Food Nutrition Specialist program through Dogs Naturally University. My dogs have thrived on their homemade food. I was always told 'you will be able to tell the difference between dogs that have been raised naturally on a raw diet and dogs that eat a typical (kibble) diet'. It took some time for me to realize that, but it's true - their coats are beautiful and shiny, teeth are clean, they have an abundance of energy and they have a sparkle and light in their eyes. My clients’ dogs and cats have had similar results; even those that simply incorporate my freeze dried meat treats into their pets’ diets have noticed positive health changes.
We have recently fostered and adopted 2 more dogs from Chicago Animal Care and Control and have since transitioned them to a 100% raw diet. The difference in their coats, muscle tone, and energy is astonishing. They have thrived on a raw diet and look so much healthier than they were when we first started fostering them.
Lauren: Why do you think a raw diet is best for cats?
Carrie: Cats are considered obligate carnivores, which means they MUST eat meat to survive. Their digestive systems are designed to eat meat and the majority of their diet should consist of meat. Cats have a short and acidic digestive tract and can quickly and efficiently process species appropriate food (meat) in approximately 12 hours, which gives any potential bacteria very little time to proliferate enough to cause any harm. While cats can easily digest meat, carbohydrates on the other hand are hard for them to process since they only have one enzyme capable of processing them. Kibble is VERY high in carbohydrates; typically 30%-40% and sometimes even higher! Raw meat diets are naturally very low in carbohydrates (around 5%), which make them ideal for cats. In addition, when meat is cooked, the high heat used (especially in kibble) causes many vitamins, minerals and amino acids to be lost in the process. Due to the extreme nutrient loss in cooking meat, these vitamins, minerals and amino acids must be added back into the kibble to create a “complete and balanced” food. However, these things are not added back in their natural food form; they are added as synthetic supplements, which are not nearly as easily absorbed into a cat’s body as the vitamin that occurs naturally in muscle and organ meat. So basically, although you may feel like you’re feeding your cat a “complete and balanced” kibble, in reality, your cat is not receiving nearly as many nutrients as it would if it were to be eating a raw diet, where all of the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are provided in their natural forms.
To simplify things, take a look at the list of ingredients on the back of a bag of dry cat food; ingredients are listed in order of predominance. How many ingredients are in the food? Where is meat on the list, and what quality is that meat? Why are there so many things that most of us cannot pronounce added to our cats’ food? Now take a look at the ingredient list for a package of raw cat food – raw cat food is typically sold either frozen or freeze dried (if freeze dried, you should add water or a small amount of raw goat milk to rehydrate since cats need more moisture). You should see meat, ground bones (not a calcium substitute), organ meat (not synthetic nutrients), a limited number of fruits/vegetables/oils and a couple natural supplements. That comparison alone should tell you which option is far superior for your cat. I know raw food can be more expensive than kibble; however, my philosophy is that you can pay now for better health and longevity, or pay later in vet bills.
Lauren: What are the benefits of a raw diet, specifically for cats?
Lauren: What would you say are some common fears about raw diets?
Carrie: Most dry food/kibble is produced by a handful of very large companies, who in recent years have discovered how much money is to be made in the pet food industry – and therefore are slowly buying up the smaller companies. When this happens the quality almost always goes down in order to maximize profits. In addition, due to all of the numerous recent recalls of dry food (euthanasia drugs found in pet food, salmonella, elevated levels of vitamins), more pet parents are starting to question what their pets are eating and therefore are making the switch to raw/homemade diets. The big companies are realizing this and feeling threatened, so they have started to attack raw companies and diets. They use scare tactics to prevent people from switching to a healthier food. They claim raw diets are not “complete and balanced”. If you choose to feed a commercial raw food, found at most high-end pet food stores, the food is complete and balanced, so there is no need to worry. They also try to scare people away from raw by saying you will contaminate your home by feeding your pets raw meat. Do you ever cook raw meat at home? Use the same precautions. As long as you wash your hands after handling the meat and wash the bowls/surfaces your pet eats on, that’s all you need to do. My dogs have been on a 100% raw diet for almost 12 years and I have never had an issue.
Lauren: How do you transition your cat to a raw diet?
Carrie: When you make the decision to transition your cat to a raw diet, you can do it as fast or slow as you’d like. It will take some time for your cat’s gut to become acidic enough to properly digest raw food, so in the beginning your cat may have loose stools. This is normal and is part of the transition process. Some people like to “rip off the bandaid” and make a quick switch, while others like to ease their cats into a raw diet. It’s a personal choice and depends on your cat and what you are most comfortable with doing for your pet.
Lauren: Can you tell us some more about your company, Pure Primal?
The treats I make are all 100% meat, from small Midwest family farms, with NOTHING added. I never use meat from factory farms because I believe in only using meat from humanely treated animals; it is the ethical thing to do, and the meat itself is so much healthier than factory farm meat. I cut the meat by hand, freeze dry the treats and package them myself in small batches so the treats remain fresh. The freeze drying process gently removes the moisture from the meat while retaining the natural enzymes, vitamins and minerals that are crucial to our pets’ overall health. It’s the healthiest treat option for our pets since they are single ingredient, 100% high quality meat treats.
One easy way to incorporate some raw meat into your cat’s diet is to feed freeze dried meat treats (they can either be fed dry or rehydrated with water). Pure Primal has a variety of proteins (duck, rabbit, turkey, venison, beef, goat, lamb), and I have found that the turkey heart chips, rabbit treats and duck heart training treats are most popular with my cat clients. If you’d like to try some of my freeze dried treats, use the coupon code BRUNOANDCARLO for 10% off your first order at pureprimalpet.com
DISCLAIMER: The material in this blog has been written for educational purposes only. It should not be regarded as veterinary medical advice. I am not a veterinarian. Please consult with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or a holistic veterinarian before applying what you learn from this blog.
Ever since we adopted Bruno in August, folks have been requesting a home tour! Which, let's be honest - is probably the most cherished compliment of my (not so) young life.
First stop: the master bedroom. It's small, so please kindly consider this more of a 'look' than a 'tour', will you? ;)
Jason and I moved in together and into our apartment almost a year ago, and the last thing we touched was the master bedroom. We'd been holding onto Jason's queen sized bed, trying to decide what to do with it/the room when Bruno joined the fam. That pretty much made the decision for us - have you ever shared a queen sized bed with a 6'2" man and a 25 pound cat?
We needed an upgrade.
Not only that, but sweet Bruno has weak joints, likely from carrying around excess weight for so many years. He's slept with us every night since he came home, but wasn't able to jump up on the bed himself.
Picture it: we all get in bed together around 10PM. Bruno jumps down around 1AM to cruise the apartment. He returns 5 minutes later and meows until we wake up to hoist him back onto the bed. Repeat about 5x/night.
Needless to say, we began our search for a king sized, low to the ground bed so the 3 of us could finally start getting some regular sleep. That's when we were connected with Interior Define - a company that allows you to fully design and customize any piece to your liking.
After visiting their Chicago location, receiving swatches in the mail, and working one-on-one with a consultant of theirs, we selected the king sized 'Harper' bed in 'Greige Mod Velvet' back in November. To say I was excited was a VAST UNDERSTATEMENT.
Were we gifted this product? Yes #FullDisclosure. But was it also a genuinely positive and seamless experience? Also yes. Listen, I've more or less worked in customer service for the past 13+ years - I gotta call out a great company with great service when I see it!
Fast forward to January when our bed was delivered, and our lives were changed for good - we were ALL finally able to get some sleep!
My goal when designing the room was to create a tranquil, minimalist space. I did so by focusing on neutrals and soft touches, without anything that felt too feminine for our first shared room as a couple (and a family). I personally find spaces of mine that are busy/cluttered really stressful, so I kept it simple!
After we'd received/purchased everything I'd originally envisioned however (bed, bedding, bedside tables and lamps), the space just didn't have enough character. I needed items to 'dress' the space, so I ran out and bought the throw and throw pillow, the mirror, the faux potted plant and the vase. There's also a ceramic votive holder on the nightstand - that was a handmade gift from my best friend Robert. Once I added these little touches, the space felt much more complete.
The bed obviously takes up most of the room (that's city living, for ya). Our headboard used to be against the wall where the mirror is, but once we got the larger bed, the Feng Shui just felt better with it against the floor-to-ceiling windows (my favorite part about our place) . Atypical I know, but it feels right! Someday when we have a larger bedroom, I'll upgrade the nightstands to something bigger as well.
Check out some model-esque photos of B below, showin' off the new goods, and werkin' his svelte angles (all the items are tagged after the photos, and as you'll see - I have a mild-moderate Target addiction. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?).
Thanks and love to Bruno's Auntie Mary Ellen Crowley (@missmaryellencrowley) for the shots, and let me know if you'd like to see another room reveal from our home!
For months, everyone has been asking us the same question.
“Will Bruno ever get a sibling?”
And our answer was honest!
“Not anytime soon, but eventually we’d like to foster with the intent to adopt”
….....and then, we saw Carlo.
Bruno’s followers send us adoptable pets to share on the Instagram story all the time, which is super kind and helpful. It’s a quick and effective way to get the word out ASAP!
But when someone sent us Carlo’s posting on February 23rd, I just couldn’t share it on Instagram. Because Carlo looked like Bruno’s long lost twin brother, and I KNEW he belonged with us.
Jason is usually the voice of reason in the family, but I texted him Carlo’s PetFinder listing instantaneously, which showcased his stunning photos AND mentioned that Carlo stands on his back legs! Moments later, I got back:
“I WANT HIM”.
Needless to say, insanity ensued for about 3 hours, as I tried to figure out how the heck we were going to get to Las Vegas from Chicago ASAP to adopt sweet Carlo (and not break the bank doing so).
Carlo had been abandoned at a shelter in January, and rescued from that shelter in February, by an organization called Foreclosed Upon Pets (FUPI). They do not have a physical location, but rather, housed pets at local PetSmart’s and with foster families. They informed me that they were happy to process and potentially approve our application online, but as soon as the adoption was complete, it would be up to us to board Carlo until we could get to Vegas.
First off, that wasn’t necessarily feasible for us. And secondly, what if we paid to board Carlo for 3 weeks, only to get to Vegas with Bruno and find Bruno didn’t take to him? At this point, we had to advocate for Bruno first and foremost, as he was our itty bitty only baby.
Fast forward to 3 hours later that Friday night: us packing furiously for our 8AM flight the next morning to Vegas, with Bruno in-tow.
FUPI is awesome, and worked quickly with us to approve our application, and have Carlo removed from the PetsMart. He was taken to a staff member’s home, where we could meet him and introduce the boys peacefully on Saturday morning.
By now, Bruno is a CHAMPION traveler, and getting him to Vegas was a breeze. Carlo was waiting for us at the home, and we were IMMEDIATELY struck by how calm, easy going, and affectionate he was. A true gentle giant! And let me tell you – Bruno looked TINY standing next to him.
FUPI also shared with us that 8 year old Carlo has been abandoned TWICE over the past few years – and no one can figure out why. He’s the epitome of a sweetheart.
We spent about an hour there to let the boys get to one another. There were a few sporadic growls from Bruno, but it became evident pretty quickly that we would face no major problems with transitioning them into a home together. It was crystal clear to us that Carlo was now a member of our family, and the adoption was finalized 😊
We spent the next 24 hours in a hotel room with the boys. We knew we may have to get a second room if the boys got antsy and needed to be separated, but that never felt necessary. Bruno continued to growl now and then if Carlo got super close, but Carlo would just cruise on by as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
Any #SharkWeek fans? Bruno’s a tiger - Carlo’s a whale shark.
The next day, we flew back to Chicago with the boys and introduced Carlo to his new home!
(Side note – anyone interested in a traveling with cats blog? We’ve learned some good tricks!)
Sure, it’s been a transition. As I mentioned, Carlo truly is one of the most laid-back cats I’ve ever encountered. A perfect yin to Bruno’s yang. However, my beloved Bruno has the strongest, most intelligent personality of any cat I've ever encountered. A true diva, (game recognize game, if you catch my drift).
I took the first few days off work to help the boys transition. Once I headed back to work and for the first few weeks, we kept Carlo in the guest room with the door shut whenever we weren’t home, just to ensure Bruno didn’t feel his turf was being impeded upon. Carlo didn’t mind the guest room in the SLIGHTEST. If Bruno were to have acted super territorial, we would have kept them separate full-time for several days, but that never felt necessary.
After about two weeks, it seemed clear that the pair preferred to spend time together (they would sit on either side of the closed door, pawing at it). Bruno is obviously the dominant one, and Carlo plays happily by his rules.
Of course – we wanted to preventatively provide the boys with as many tools as possible to create a seamless transition. Here are a few items we procured:
Carlo’s been home for about 3 weeks and is doing fabulous. Do the boys still get into spats, now and then? Of course they do. The transition will continue for several more weeks! But Bruno seems less bored - like he's exerted more energy during the day while we're gone! And Carlo's contentedly settling in as well. We really couldn’t love him more – he’s the snuggliest, most easy-going cat I’ve ever encountered, hands-down. He’s a much pickier eater than Bruno however, so we’re still trying to nail down the perfect diet plan, although he’s already lost .3 pounds since he got home, hooray!
If you are considering adopting a second (or third, etc) pet and you have the means to do so, I cannot encourage it more. Take time to do the research as to what an introduction to an existing pet family will entail, and it will all be so worth it. That's how we feel, anyway! We are SO glad we did something ridiculously impulsive to (temporarily) complete our little family. It was the right decision for us, and I feel definitively blessed by Carlo and Bruno. Oh, and Jason too ;)
All in all, we couldn’t be happier with the new addition to our family – a second gray furry potato 😊
Have any other questions for our family as to the transition, or otherwise? Leave them in the comments below!
From April – August of 2018, Bruno lived at Wright-Way Rescue in Morton Grove, IL.
Towards the end of his stay, Wright-Way posted the now infamous photos of Bruno on their Facebook that went viral. After seeing them (and, for anyone familiar with the Twilight franchise, ‘imprinting’ on Bruno), I immediately called their adoption hotline.
It only took a casual 45 minutes to get through. They were slammed!
When I finally got through, the woman on the phone (whom I later found out was their Director of Operations) couldn’t have been nicer. She said they’d never experienced anything quite like the reaction they were receiving to Bruno, and they were having the best day ever fielding all the calls and inquiries.
Had I just spent 45 minutes trying to get through to an adoption hotline? Yes. Was I absolutely charmed by the encounter? Absolutely. I found their attitude refreshing and invigorating – they very well may have been overwhelmed, but their positive and grateful spin on the situation was nothing short of inspiring.
Wright-Way Rescue is a nonprofit organization whose “mission is to reduce the number of homeless pets euthanized in the Midwest each year through an adoption program, community education, promotion of spaying and neutering, and a veterinary medicine program”.
But it is the people, in my opinion, who really make Wright-Way stand out from the crowd.
On Friday August 17th I sent in our application to adopt Bruno, accompanied by letters of intent and recommendation, videos of us and our home, and I posted a video of myself singing an original song “Gimme That Fat Cat” (I clearly went completely full tilt in the adoption process). That evening, Wright-Way invited us to stop by the next day to meet Bruno.
We were treated like family from the moment we entered the door.
Employees like Donna and volunteers greeted us with hugs and smiles, welcoming us like old friends. They introduced us to Bruno (OMG), gave us a tour of the facility and other adoptable animals, and answered all of our questions and more. They couldn’t have been kinder or warmer towards me and Jason.
They cemented the belief within me that people who dedicate their lives to working at shelters are of a different caliber. They are excellent, inspiring people who often put others’ needs before their own – both animals and humans alike.
After an agonizing 48 hours of waiting, Lynn from Wright-Way called us on Monday morning to break the news that we had been chosen to adopt Bruno. As evidenced in this video, the joy the employees feel by uniting pets with their new families is beyond evident … it’s absolutely heartwarming.
When we visited the shelter the next night to bring Bruno home, we were once again treated like family. I cannot emphasize enough how much each of these employees CARE. Care about the animals, care about their work, and care about the people they work with and for. Adopting Bruno was a beautiful experience, due in large part to the great community that’s been built at Wright-Way Rescue.
OF COURSE I’d love for everyone to adopt a pet from Wright-Way. But donating is also a FANTASTIC way to support this worthy, worthy cause. Not only did they bring us Bruno, but they’ve continued to be an immeasurable source of support for our family as the months go by. I cannot say enough positive things about this organization.
Thank you, Wright-Way! We LOVE you!
Welcome to our new blog, friends! We’re so glad you found us – THANK YOU.
We get asked so many questions about Bruno that we've decided to create a whole new space that’s far more conducive to communication with you fabulous folk!
Simply put: it’s hard to describe how much happier Bruno has made our lives. I had two cats throughout my childhood that lived to be almost 20 years old (one of whom I constantly referred to as my best friend – weird only child stuff, I know), but it's been almost six years since they passed. The first night Jason and I brought Bruno home and crawled into bed with him (yes, he sleeps with us every night), I just started bawling. Full on weeping, y’all. I had completely forgotten the insurmountable joy having a pet can bring – especially one as special as Bruno. He’s a gift.
What I wasn't anticipating was the way having Bruno go viral would change my day-to-day life. I was completely unprepared to talk to press, navigate hundreds of 'business' emails, use my lunch hour to Skype television producers to answer questions about my cat …you get the picture. Luckily, I had a lot of support. The reaction to Bruno didn't necessarily shock me – my reaction was psychotic (screaming at my desk while seeing his photos for the first time), but I knew it wasn’t unique! The aftermath was just a wild ride - I was getting slammed with so many messages on my personal accounts that we had no choice but to create Bruno’s Instagram before we even picked him up from the Wright-Way Rescue, and that's when all hell really broke loose. Not exactly what I expected when we decided to adopt a kitty!
However, the messages we were receiving were overwhelming in the best way: photos of Bruno were making people smile, and helping others cope with their anxiety/depression. One woman reached out saying she was with her family in a silent and tense hospital waiting room when she came across Bruno’s story. Within minutes, she was passing around her phone to a room full of strangers, while they all smiled and laughed together over this adorably goofy 25 pound standing cat.
Bruno makes people smile, and he brings people together. Who can ask for anything more?
I have (perhaps selfishly) found such joy in connecting with so many of you on Instagram. We truly can’t thank you enough for your kindness and support thus far (can I underline that 300 times?). However, our ability to connect can feel limited in DM's, and messages often get lost in the inbox.
That’s why we’re here.
We genuinely hope this forum invites you into Bruno’s home and life in a whole new meaningful way, encouraging you to join the conversation. We're looking forward to the opportunity to get more in-depth on a variety of subjects, and a lot more personal!
What do you want to know about B/our family? What do you want to see? Looking forward to it all…
Lauren & Bruno