How nature restores and maintains health – discovering Vitamin “G.”

Several times a year we like to devote a newsletter to you, the person who is the caregiver, the Maid or Butler, the guardian, the Cat Mom or Cat Dad – whatever ways you refer to yourself as a lover of cats and all animals who lives and cares for cats, or who wishes they could. It’s important to us that YOU are as happy and healthy we wish to see your cats be!

The Japanese term Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing” was coined in Japan decades ago, and the practice has spread globally. In Japan people would walk slowly, bathing in the sights, sounds, smells and energy of the forest. They found that they felt better, got healthier, and diseases would reverse. This is not macho hiking with a pedometer! It’s done slowly and purposely with intention and an open heart and mind. It has been so successful that since 1982 it’s been part of the Japanese national health care program. No water is involved! And you keep your clothes on, unless of course you know you are alone and are brave!

Earthing one’s feet is equally beneficial and you can do both practices at the time of any outing into nature. Earthing, sometimes called grounding, connects you with the electrical charges of the earth, directly from the earth. Since many of us are indoors most of the time we have lost this vital health restoring and maintaining connection. Think of this earth as a giant-sized battery which can in turn charge your cells, your organs and every system in the body.

Dr. Josh Axe tells us: “Because of our modern way of living — for example, always wearing shoes and living most of our lives above ground in our homes or offices that are located several floors up in tall buildings, we’re losing touch with the earth’s natural “electrical” force. It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact, that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The Earth’s negative charges can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems which may be important for setting the biological clock, regulating circadian rhythms, and balancing cortisol levels.”

When one is electrically grounded to the earth you should immediately feel:

  • Centered
  • Solid
  • Strong
  • Balanced
  • Less tense
  • Less stressed

If you do this on a regular basis, you’ll see that inflammation goes down dramatically. Other benefits are:

  • Better sleep
  • Less Anxiety
  • Better Circulation
  • Less Pain
  • Less stiffness and soreness
  • Improves autoimmune disease such as Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Irritable Bowl, and Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lowers free-radicals and oxidative stress

Dr. Josh Axe goes on to tell us that he and his friends have discovered a new vitamin – they humorously refer to earthing or grounding as Vitamin G, as in grounding! So, go outside, get barefoot and absorb some Vitamin G – it does not come in a bottle and its free!

One last thought about earthing/grounding, it has been proven by scientists and veterinarians that when a cat or other animal is sick they seek out soft earth to lay upon to get well. We found many articles about this and we encourage you to read a few of them. And you thought this story was just about people!

Worried about cooties in the dirt on your bare feet? Us too, so we apply one drop of Oregano Oil to each foot will kill any parasites lurking in the soil. Make sure that the earth you stand on is free of herbicides like Round Up which your feet could absorb. To find out if the area you want to earth in has been sprayed with herbicides ask a ranger if one is available ask them, or before you go seek out maps that would have this information. When you return home soak your feet in cool water with a bit of Epsom salt or apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes. Worried about cooties in the dirt getting on your bare feet? Us too, so we apply one drop of Oregano Oil to each foot which repels parasites and other unwelcome critters.

Using www.meetup.com I found a forest bathing group in my city which is a group activity. I think doing it solo and with a group can both be beneficial. If you don’t have a Meet Up group near you, start one. All you need is some sort of forest or woods, and a bit of reading up in advance on how to instruct your fellow forest bathers.

Using Flower Essences in Nature

While taking a leisurely “forest bath” Sunday, then stopping to earth my feet, (this is also known as grounding) on a bench surrounded by 3 ancient trees I noticed that one of my favorite wildflowers was growing nearby: Forget-Me-Not. These small plants with small blue flowers were pushing themselves up through a large area of non-native and invasive ivy. Their message was loud and clear – remember the love of nature you had as a child or a youth, or during periods of time in your adult life when you could go out into nature to refresh and renew yourself and push through all barriers!

To deepen your forest bathing and earthing experience we highly recommend using flower essences during that time you are surrounded by the plants, trees, birds and the general vibe of the place. Cat Faeries Single Flower Essences can be mixed ahead of time or you can pop a few of them in your bag or pack and take them under the tongue when you arrive. You can create your very own I Love Nature formula! Instructions come with your order!

Are Forest Bathing and Earthing Two Activities that are Appropriate for Your Cat?

I think we all wonder if our house cats are missing out on the joys and health benefits of their feet touching dirt like we do. That’s one of the many reasons we like and have written about CATtios which are outdoor enclosed patios just for your cats where they can bird watch and roll around on grasses and dirt. If your cat has at least one year’s experience on a leash and harness, consider taking your cat on your forest bathing and earthing outing! But remember, it can be risky, so only use a 6-foot leash – never a retractable leash, and be ready for anything which could spook the cat.

The only harness that we recommend is the step in harness from our buddies at Cetacea: http://www.cetaceacorp.com/pets/step-in-harness.html They are made in the US and when fastened correctly your cat cannot back out of it like they can with collars and many other harnesses.

If you take your harness experienced cat be prepared for dogs and cyclists and the need to grab the cat quickly to get out of their way.

Or build a CATtio in your own backyard that your cat can enter and exit as they wish. They will be safe from predators and cars. Stray cats can’t get inside the CATtio to fight with or bother them. And because it’s your own backyard you know exactly what is in your own soil.

Now that Spring is popping up in many parts of the country it’s a great time to get ready for some forest bathing and earthing. When you come home you’ll energized, happier and healthier. Your cats and other beloveds will love to be around the energized you!

A short video about Forest Bathing:

http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html

Do you want to run off to a forest or woods right now, but can’t? Enjoy the sights and sounds from these videos. Just watching, listening and imagining that you are there can work wonders! This video lasts 8 hours! Seriously! Turn it on and go about your day listening to the chirping birds which will also entertain your cats!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G8LAiHSCAs

Usi the cat on his first hike in nature! Notice the short leash – this is so his person can keep control of the cat for the cat’s safety. We recommend walking much slower than the man is and stopping to breathe deeply, gaze upon, and touch the sights of the forest, park or woods.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmmyGo8eZnk

 
 
 
 

Are essential oils safe for your cat?

Cat Faeries gets about 30 emails a week asking if we carry essential oils, and if we don’t, they want to know why. We also hear from people who have essential oils confused with flower essences, which are what Cat Faeries specializes in and are two very different things. And these are great questions! One is a volatile plant oil, and the other is purely vibrational, the vibration of a plant or flower, not actual plant material.

In 1982 Auntie Cat Faerie got her first certification as an aromatherapist and believe me when I tell you, in 1982 NO ONE knew what on earth that was, the word actually scared them! Auntie Cat Faerie went on to get 4 more certifications during the 1980’s. (just a little obsessed are we?!) But by the early 1990’s the term aromatherapy was being misused and overused so she got out of that field not wanting to be associated with a modality that had corporations who make those toxic “air fresheners” but began to call them aromatherapy, or with people who had zero training or background who got involved in multi level marketing selling essential oils to friends and co-workers. Also, aromatherapy was never a good term for essential oil usage as the smell is only one part of the benefits of this healing modality – Essential Oil Therapy would have been better. Anyway, the oils penetrate skin, enter the blood stream, and can affect all vital organs, therefore on must be highly trained to recommend or administer them. And understand the species they wish to work with.

Sir Issac Newton our “feline editor at-large” wanted to give our readers the scoop on essential oils and their use for cats. Before you pounce on that story I’m going to tell you about a use for one essential oil, oregano oil, which will prove how effective the oils can be – as well as – how strong these volatile compounds are.

You’ve heard about “oil pulling” with coconut oil? If not, you would take a spoonful of coconut oil, and add ONE drop of oregano oil to it, put it in your mouth and swish for 15 to 20 minutes, first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything, to remove toxins and freshen the mouth. Yes, 15 or 20 minutes seems like an eternity to swish something in your mouth so to distract myself I feed the cats and check email – the time flies. When the time is up spit it out in the trash (not the sink) and rinse with water or use a dedicated toothbrush. My dentist is blown away by my progress because I had a history of gum disease which is 100% resolved from the swishing. I try to swish again before bed, after flossing, and interestingly the two oils always seem to find and dislodge a particle or two that I missed flossing! Now this is where essential oil therapy comes into play and its truly fascinating – the added oregano oil is so potent that it literally has kept me from accumulating any tartar. As you know tartar is so rock hard at the gum line or clinging to teeth needs to be chiseled off by a dentist. Well, if oil swishing with one drop of oregano oil has keep Auntie Cat Faerie tartar-free (truly, my mouth is a tartar producing factory) you can imagine what too much could do if ingested by a person and small animal like a cat. The best of the holistic veterinarians we know, like Cheryl Schwartz, says NO to essential oils for cats. Many cats have died or ended up in the Kitty ER from essential oils.

As a side note, our Catnip Meow Mist is a hydrosol which is the watery run off during the process of making essential oils. Catnip doesn’t yield much in the way of essential oil (don’t trust anyone who says that it does, it will be fake if they are selling it) but it makes a divine hydrosol and it’s perfectly safe for a cat, baby, or any being to come in contact with. Can this be said about other hydrosols? Maybe yes, maybe no – it would depend upon the plant used.


Newton’s Purrspective – Essential Oils – Should They be Used on Cats?

Essential oils are all the rage for people these days. Uses range from plain enjoyment of the fragrance to treatment of actual physical ailments. The oils can have therapeutic value, but many factors determine the quality of the extracted plant oils.

These include:

  • The plant itself and what part is used
  • Climate and cultivation methods
  • Timing and method of harvest
  • How the oil is produced and stored




Isaac Newton

How many people do the research to determine if the essential oils they purchase are high quality? Are they likely to do what the company claims? Do they contain impurities which could be harmful? To date, there is no regulation.

That said, I’m not surprised that the use of essential oils for cats remains highly controversial. One of the attractions of the oils for people is the scent. Cinnamon! Eucalyptus! Lavender! Cats’ noses are very sensitive (one of the reasons we prefer unscented cat litter) and we are unlikely to find enjoyment in such concentrated perfume.

Some people use the oils for perfume as well as therapy. A drop or two of lavender is said to be calming for people. However, it is unlikely to have the same effect on Kitty. Also, remember that anything you apply topically to a cat is likely to be licked off in minutes. Oils may be safe for humans to ingest, but cats have a different metabolism and sensitivities to chemical compounds.

Essential oils are highly concentrated. Some, such as the popular Tea Tree Oil, can cause serious skin irritation if not diluted. This, of course, is a danger in applying any oil directly to a cat’s skin. Also remember that oils are fat soluble. They cannot be simply rinsed off. And, once absorbed by the skin they can travel to any part of the body containing fat.

Most oils can be distributed into the air using a nebulizing diffuser. Although much less concentrated than direct inhalation the mist could still be an irritant to Kitty’s delicate nostrils. For safety’s sake some recommend using a diffuser only in a part of the house with no cat access.

The bottom line is I could find no evidence that essential oils should ever be used on cats. The potential hazards are far too great.

However, cats can still enjoy the benefits of plant compounds. Hydrosols come from steam distillation of plants used for aromatherapy. The result is a much less concentrated plant essence. Auntie Cat Faerie explained to me that this is the process used to produce Catnip Meow Mist. I love this for freshening up my Cat Faeries toys. I didn’t mind pieces of dried catnip all over the floor, but it triggers the need to vacuum in some people.

Flower essences are the safest product available for your cat. They are generally made from an infusion of plants and flowers picked at their peak. However, Cat Faeries is one of the few companies using a special process that is in harmony with the natural and healing spirit worlds.

Unlike oils, flower essences have no scent. Cat Faeries flower essences also lack alcohol, vinegar or anything else that would taste bad. They can be sprayed on furniture, added to food or water, and even applied directly to Kitty. The Flower Essence section lists more than a dozen scenarios and directs you to the appropriate product for your cat or cats. If you are unsure, send an email to Auntie Cat Faerie. She will be happy to answer your questions.
 
 
 
 

Giving Homeless Cats Jobs: City Rat Catcher!

Over 100 years ago many American cities and rural communities kept cats for rodent control. The cats had some sort of housing and usually a human caretaker who would let them out at night to prowl for their prey. This was a practice that went out of favor when the chemical companies upped their greedy game, saw major profits in poison, and began to push their agenda for toxic chemicals to control rodents, and sadly people fell for this ruse and seemingly easy way out, and stopped using cats. Must we tell you that poison kills more than rodents? It can wipe out an entire family of owls if they eat poisoned rodents (which tells us that owls and other wild life are also good for rodent control)

Fast forward to now. Rescue groups in various US cities have decided it’s high time to give homeless cats a job: Rat and Mouse Abatement! This is a win-win for all especially done in our more modern way with shelters being in charge which ensures that the cats are suited for the job, spayed/neutered, and well cared for. It sure beats euthanasia for the scores of homeless and feral cats! For sure we’ll see rodent populations go down as well as less poison in the environment!

Here’s how two cities are doing it:

In Washington, DC…

http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2017/03/20/rodent-problems-d-c-rescue-group-will-give-you-a.html

http://www.humanerescuealliance.org/blog/posts/humane-rescue-alliance-announces-launch-of-blue-collar-cats-program

In San Francisco…

http://ecosalon.com/working-cats-rodent-control/

Here’s how Barn Buddies does it by providing cats for barns, stables, farm land, and rural businesses:

https://www.heartforanimals.org/barn-buddy-program.php3

 
 
 
 

Feline Toxoplasmosis and human babies – blasting the lies, myths, and unfounded fears

Don’t you just cringe when you hear “I’m pregnant and my doctor told me to get rid of my cats to protect my baby’s brain.” Haven’t you wondered if the fear of brain damage from exposure to toxoplasmosis was a bunch of hooey from doctors who feel they need to dish out caution to nervous expectant mothers to make themselves look smart? Us too! We found some statistics that shoot that antiquated theory out of the sky and asked our Feline Contributing Editor At Large, Sir Isaac Newton, to chime in with the facts and figures to spill the beans on this situation. Spoiler alert: the studies were seriously flawed, babies are safe!

Speaking of babies – in a few weeks Auntie Cat Faerie will be visiting the ASPCA in New York City to see, in particular, their stellar Kitten Rehab. It’s where abandoned kittens, kitten literally found on the streets, hundreds of them per year, are bottle fed and taught proper toilet habits by loving and caring saintly humans. They are willing to keep these kitten’s cute baby butts nice and clean while they grow and learn to do it themselves. Stay tuned for the story!


Newton’s Purrspective – Toxoplasmosis

Cats have not always been popular house pets. Perhaps you’ve heard the old wives’ tale that cats smother babies or suck the air out of their lungs. Today few believe in this witchery. It is far more likely that cats in a baby’s crib are seeking warmth or are attracted to the scent of milk. However, some doctors still tell expectant mothers that they should get rid of their beloved pets as a health precaution. The fear today is not focused on a devilish feline behavior, but on a single celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii (the cause of Toxoplasmosis) carried by cats.




Isaac Newton

But cats are not alone. Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common parasitic diseases, affecting nearly all warm blooded animals, including humans. The CDC estimates that as many as 60 million Americans carry this parasite, but few show signs of clinical disease. A healthy immune system is able to prevent illness due to the presence of Toxoplasma.

Most people who are infected are unaware. Some may have flu like symptoms such as swollen lymph glands accompanied by muscle aches. Severe Toxoplasmosis (usually found only in people with immune deficiency) can cause damage to the eyes or brain. Treatment is available and is patient specific.
https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/faqs.html

Early in the 1950’s scientists started looking at the potential relationship between Toxoplasmosis and psychotic symptoms such as those seen in schizophrenia. They hypothesized that owning a cat could increase the risk of mental disorders. We now know that the early studies were flawed. Controls were inadequate and alternate explanations were not considered. Although in rare cases Toxoplasmosis can damage the brain, current investigations reveal no higher risk of psychosis for those who share their homes with cats. http://www.livescience.com/57978-cats-psychosis.html

Cats are singled out because they are the only definitive hosts for Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite completes its life cycle inside a cat’s intestines and eggs are shed in the feces for up to two weeks. Most cats will not show symptoms unless their immune system is compromised due to age or diseases such as Feline Leukemia or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Cats are not routinely tested for Toxoplasmosis and the only prevention is to avoid ingesting the parasite. http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/brochure_toxo.cfm

Toxoplasma must be ingested or transferred directly. It cannot be absorbed through intact skin or inhaled. According to the CDC there are a number of ways for this to occur in humans.

  • Eating undercooked meat (especially pork, lamb, and venison) contaminated with Toxoplasma.
  • Not thoroughly washing hands after contact with infected meat and accidentally ingesting the parasite.
  • Eating food contaminated by utensils, etc. have been in contact with raw, contaminated meat.
  • Drinking water contaminated with Toxoplasma.
  • Accidental ingestion due to not thoroughly washing hands after:
    • cleaning a litter box used by a cat that has shed Toxoplasma
    • gardening without wearing gloves
  • Eating unwashed garden fruits or vegetables
  • Mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/faqs.html

Pregnant women, or people with weak immune systems need not worry that they will be forced to part with their beloved cats. Indoor only cats pose a smaller risk since they are less likely to come in contact with Toxoplasma. However, use common sense and avoid cleaning the litter box or, if you must, wear gloves. Always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

There is actually a benefit to keeping Kitty when you are pregnant. Cats can improve health in young children. The chief of the allergic mechanisms section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Marshall Plaut, MD says “high pet exposure early in life appears to protect against not only pet allergy but also other types of common allergies, such as allergy to dust mites, ragweed, and grass.” http://mentalfloss.com/article/51154/10-scientific-benefits-being-cat-owner

 
 
 
 

Reduce disease in cats with proper light and Circadian Rhythms

Recently Cat Faeries talked about how our modern house cats live in artificial light which causes them to shed year round. This week we will learn how to get our and our cat’s bodies to produce disease fighting melatonin using color and light.

This topic is very important to us because in 2016 we lost two dear Cat Faeries customers to cancer. Cancer among all species is on the rise and rather than talk about causes which we cannot stop or which will take serious collective effort to halt (Fukushima’s ongoing radiation spill into the oceans, and deregulation of US environmental, health and safety laws among them) we will talk about Circadian Rhythm, that 24 hour clock which signals sleep, brain alertness, and melatonin production.

If we follow nature’s rhythms which say when one should be in light, what kind of light, and even when to eat, the tools to reduce disease will be right inside every home! Dedicated to Linda and to Judy.

About Circadian Rhythms and how they affect your cats (and you)

Before the invention of artificial light and the industrial revolution, our ancestors and their animals lived in natural light centering their lives around sunrise and sunset. They got up early, were productive, ate dinner early and went to bed early – their evening light was candle light. Most did not die from cancer or other of our common modern diseases.

Researchers and doctors have told Cat Faeries that if you don’t eat and sleep as nature intended and follow the cycles of light and dark, we could be courting cancer and other illness. Our feline family members should follow the same laws of nature but they need your help as you control meal times and lighting.

What is The Circadian Rhythm?

The Circadian Rhythm is often called the “body clock” because it tells our bodies when to sleep, to rise, and to eat as well as regulating many of the body’s functions. This internal body “clock” is affected by many cues including environmental, such as sunlight and temperature. If a person’s or cat’s circadian rhythm is disrupted, eating and sleeping patterns are thrown off and chaos in the body results. Research is being done on adverse health effects to these disruptions which include heart attack, Diabetes, cancer, obesity, psychological problems like aggression, depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and other mental diseases.


 
 

Reducing cancer with sleep and the role of light

Our bodies need the two extremes of time spent in light and time spent in dark to be healthy and disease free.

We need the bright light of daylight hours which naturally contains all of the colors of the spectrum to give us the energy and brain power needed for the day. Our brains are awakened by this light which supports specific body functions. The light from the sun has a full color spectrum which includes blue.

In contrast, darkness contains the full color spectrum with the omission of blue. The absence of blue around us at night triggers the person’s or a cat’s body to manufacture its own melatonin which is our body’s main and natural anti oxidant – a crucial disease and rapid aging fighter. When the sun sets the darkness with its absence of the color blue activates melatonin which begins to flood the blood stream. If we turn on artificial lights which contain the daytime color spectrum, which includes blue, or we stare at computer screens, we prevent our bodies from producing cancer reducing melatonin. Blue light also causes insomnia as melatonin is a sleep hormone produced by the pineal gland in people and felines.

We need to produce melatonin, not suppress it as proven by science happens when we are surrounded by blue containing lights at night. If we compare the high rates of cancer, diabetes and other diseases of today to those of the distant past the numbers make a profound statement. Since your cat lives with you and is bound by your schedule you could be inadvertently harming your cat.

Melatonin reduces the four most common diseases affecting our modern house cats: kidney failure, hyperthyroid, cancer, and diabetes.

Don’t we all joke about how much our cats sleep? But what if we didn’t realize that our modern habits disrupt our modern house cat’s true sleep cycles to the degree that they are now not as nature intended. And what if our artificial lights at night are causing the four most common diseases in cats?

Much research and documentation is to be found about the positive healthful and even curative effects of melatonin on the four most common diseases which affect our cats. Cat Faeries feels after reading countless studies that it’s because of blue emitting artificial light at nighttime. You’ll see in this article this is very easy to correct.

We wondered about a cat’s eye which has an inner eye lid, and if it might act as a screen for blue light, but not enough tests have been done. It’s important to note that light is also absorbed through skin so our house cats could be absorbing blue light at night time when the cat isn’t sleeping with closed eyes.

Examples of melatonin’s effects on people and animals:

  • At Washington University rats with tumors were injected with melatonin rich blood. The tumors shrunk.
  • A group of nurses were studied for 20 years. Half of them worked daytime shifts, and the other half worked the night shifts. Far more of the graveyard shift nurses got breast and other cancers than the nurses who worked day because the night shift nurses body’s could not produce the protective melatonin they others did.

Blocking the color blue at LowBlueLights.com

Dr. Vilnis E. Kubulins is a “light physicist” at John Carroll University in Ohio, who with his associates highly decorated scientists Richard Hansler, Ph.D. and Edward Carome, Ph.D., founded LowBlueLights.com which manufactures computer screen covers, mobile device covers, and special eye glasses to block out blue light. Dr. Kubulins discussed the role of beneficial blue light in daytime hours and how that same light is harming us in nighttime hours.

Dr. Kubulins tells Cat Faeries: “All standard light bulbs, computer monitors, cell phones and TV screens emit blue light which halts nighttime melatonin production. Orange is opposite blue on the color spectrum, so orange neutralizes blue.”

LowBlueLights.com produces special blue light filters for laptop and computer screens, and mobile devices. They make special orange color eye glasses which you simply wear at night to block the blue, and they have developed blue-free LED light bulbs. The screens attach and detach easily, the eyeglasses can fit over prescription glasses, and each clean up quickly with soap and water.

Each of their items have been thoroughly tested and proven to completely block blue which is why we endorse these doctors for their extremely high standards and who have the same ethics that Cat Faeries has.

When it’s time to turn out the lights and remove the glasses you need to sleep in a completely dark room with heavy drapery as street lights emit blue and can disturb sleep.

Will everything be orange when I wear my blue-blocking glasses at night?

Dr. Vilnis told us that all of the colors of the spectrum come through the lenses except blue. Yellow will look yellow, red will look red, but the blue will look black or gray because you’ve blocked it out. Interestingly white will look amber because white contains all of the colors, but now it won’t contain blue. You’ll quickly get used to this just like you got used to sunglasses during the day.

Wouldn’t it be easier for me and my cat to pop a melatonin pill?

You could and your veterinarian can provide the dosage for your cat, but the tablets will not do the same as allowing your body or your cat’s body to produce melatonin imprinted with its own DNA which is far more effective and curative than a pill. It is unknown how long the melatonin from a pill would stay active in the body, but it is known that you and your cat will continually produce melatonin as long as you are not exposed to blue light at night. Your body and your cat’s body know exactly how much melatonin to produce – free of charge!

 
 
 
 

Is that cute cat food bowl really lead safe? (maybe not!)

Recently Madam Cat Faerie began to see a Naturopathic doctor who ordered all kinds of detailed tests to delve very deeply for root causes of various conditions that regular doctors either don’t know about, or don’t put much thought into, or even think are not needed. One test panel was for heavy metals which revealed that my blood has a high level of lead, in fact, the highest level this doctor has seen in any of her patients. How on green-earth did this happen to someone who’s been obsessively organic, and really careful about everything, and for decades? I asked Dr. Diane Angela Fong what she thought the top culprits might be and she narrowed her eyes at me and said “red lipstick is notorious.” GASP! I’m notorious for wearing it and thought I was buying the lead free brands! But more on that later in this article. Let’s talk about ceramics.

I spent the entire drive home thinking about possible lead exposures. Topping my list of potential trouble was my collection of vintage restaurant ware dishes. I wondered about my “good china” which was made years after it was mandated the glazes be lead free.

Well guess what dear readers; what we learned about “lead free glazes” will have your head spinning.

3M makes a kit called LeadCheck which is an accurate way to test for lead at home; in fact it’s actually a product that professionals use. Each package contains special “swabs.” They come 2 to a package or 8 to a package. They are expensive ranging from $4 to $6 per swab, but are easy to find in paint stores and hardware stores. There’s another brand called First Alert but we didn’t use those. We bought 3 packages of 8 swabs giving me 24 swabs to test with. Party time – nothing was safe for my test swabs! On a rainy Saturday afternoon of lead testing I was both relieved and horrified by the results.

What failed my swab tests:

A cute new lead-free tea cup

A new casserole (it has the bare clay areas where the lid meets the pot which were tainted during firing in an old kiln)

My French made enamel Dutch oven

“The good china” which was made 5 years after laws for lead free glazes went into effect

A cute new treat dish for the furry ones

Lead free glazes – why you can’t assume it’s all ok.

I called one of the largest glaze companies in the US the one that most potters and ceramists buy from. They gave me the usual song and dance that the glazes come to them with a guarantee. When I asked if they randomly check just to make sure about the lead, they got hissy and said “No, not anymore, we used to test but stopped, we trust our supplier.” I didn’t like that answer and they didn’t like that I pressed harder and that I wanted to know why they just accepted what they were told without randomly testing.

This conversation did not end well, but before they hung up on me, I did learn something very scary:

If the kiln is an old one and if that kiln ever fired pieces with leaded glazes the lead remains and will cross contaminate anything fired in the future.

Interestingly, when this glaze company did test for lead they used the 3M swabs.

As our long time readers have read in the past our cats have always had their food and water in clear glass Pyrex but for fun we have a few “cute” treat bowls for the cats and bunnies. One of them tested positive for lead.

Red Lipstick

A few years ago Mother Jones printed a very shocking article about lead in lipstick. I read it with horror that one of the top offenders was Nars which for years had been my “gluten free” lipstick of choice and the redder the better. I was so angry that I reprinted the article in Cat Faeries newsletter since many of you wear make-up, and who among us does not kiss their cat on the head? Dr. Fong tells me that very often the colorants that make lipstick red are lead based. Want to know if yours is safe?

Rub some lipstick on the back of your hand. Take a piece of gold jewelry, a ring is ideal, that is at least 14 karat gold (have it tested even if it’s marked 14K as it may be a much lower percentage of gold) and rub it into the lipstick. If it turns black – it’s got lead.

Here’s the Mother Jones article: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/05/study-lead-metals-lipstick-top-20

I hope that your take away is that we cannot be too cautious or trusting. Testing for potential lead in your cat’s food, water, and treat bowls as well as your own dishes is something to consider. Getting the lead of my body is going to be long and unpleasant. I hope that Cat Faeries has spared you and your cats from a toxic lead load. You can’t go wrong with American made clear glass Pyrex!