Ask Andi

As a creator of “Human-Grade” products for pets, and Director of Halo, Purely for Pets® holistic pet care advocate Andi Brown frequently explores problems that result from a pet owner treating the symptom rather than the cause.

Your questions about holistic pet care are welcome. E-mail them to

Dear Andi: My cat is finicky. He won’t eat anything but canned food I’ve bought at the grocery store. Its got by-products and salt in it, which I just learned are bad for him. How can I get him to switch to healthier food? In need of a change in Atlanta

Dear In Need: So many cats are just “Creatures of Habit” and they like what you gave them yesterday. First of all, there has never been a single case of a cat starving itself when real, wholesome food is present. He may refuse to eat a meal or two, but you must be firm.

Remember, really healthy food has no flavor enhancers like salt or sugar. Once he makes the switch though, you’ll see a better coat, happier disposition, much-improved litter-box habits, kitten-like vitality, and a healthier digestive system.

Dear Andi: I feed my cat a well-known, high quality dry food, but after our last veterinary visit, we found out how bad his teeth really are – two are going to have to be pulled. I was thinking about switching to wet food, but I’ve always heard dry food is better for the teeth. Toothless in Seattle

Dear Toothless: There is no scientific evidence that dry food is any better for teeth and gums than canned food. Diets that contain chemicals, coloring agents and fillers can be a real disaster for not only the body as a whole, but also for the teeth and gums. Highly processed canned or dry foods with additives can leave a filmy residue on the teeth that leads to plaque build up and can create havoc in the mouth.

You not only need to read the labels; but also you need to know how to decipher them. Real, wholesome, natural foods strengthen every organ, promote health and support teeth and gum health.

You can check my web site ( for a list of ingredients to watch out for or pick up a copy of Ann N. Martin’s book Food Pets Die For.

Dear Andi: Is catnip okay? I buy Charlie, my black-and-white cat, catnip toys, but lately when I bring a new one home, he gets very aggressive, even growls! Sometimes he eats it. Confused in Kalamazoo

Dear Confused, First, make sure the catnip is organic. Then offer a small amount. Some cats will eat it while others will roll around it – let Charlie choose. In moderation, it’s a perfectly safe treat.

Cat toys are a whole other issue. Unless you can be sure of the quality of the catnip inside, you’re better off buying organic or growing your own.