Saturday, May 3, 2014

#PawNatural Product Review

So we've had our samples of Only Natural Pet foods, dental sprays and litter for three weeks now. Here are our thoughts on the products we tested:

Pine Cobble Litter

Only Natural Pet's pine cobble litter smells fresh and fantastic - naturally. No chemicals added, which I like a lot. And I was happy to see it was 35¢/pound cheaper than the biodegradable brand we're currently using.

Maxwell: So momma, you gonna talk about this all day, or are we going to get on with the testing?

I compared the texture of the litter to what we've been using, and noticed it's a bit less rounded. I wondered if this contributes to the "pancake-style" clumping Only Natural Pet says their litter features.

Only Natural Pine Cobble on the left. The brand I've been using on the right.

One of many complaints people have about litters is the high dust associated with it.
So I decided to do a pour test.

Only Natural Pine Cobble on the left. The brand I currently use on the right.

The pine cobble did give off a small puff of dust, but it was far less than what I recall clay litters producing. Still, you may want to be careful when you initially pour it into your litter pan. Since using it, though, I can tell you I've experienced no dust in everyday use/scooping. The clumps are a bit looser and less formed than you get with other litters but it's still scoopable.

Maxwell doesn't mind the switch-over at all.

Can you get cheaper litter? Yes. Many clay litters beat biodegradable brands by up to 40¢/pound.  


If you haven't heard of the potential dangers associated with clay litters, please read on:

Clumping cat litter contains sodium bentonite. This mineral has the ability to expand to up to 20 times its volume in the presence of water - so you can see why it's an attractive ingredient to manufacturers of clay litter.

But some serious concerns have arisen with its use.

•  It has been blamed for the death of a basset hound who ingested it.
•  It can be a contributing factor in gastrointestinal blockage in cats.
•  Kittens are particularly vulnerable to sodium bentonite toxicosis.
   [Many shelters, including ours, instruct foster families to avoid clay litters for that reason]
• It can present an inhalation hazard to humans as well.

According to, this particular type of bentonite often has an exaggerated caustic Ph value.

I will never, ever go back to using clay - and now you know why.

The Food Test

But first: I was curious about the origin of pet food as we know it today, so I did a little digging. Did you know that processed foods for dogs and cats are a fairly recent invention?

Wikipedia tells us that:
"The 1930s saw the introduction of canned cat food and dry meat-meal dog food by the Gaines Food Company." So commercial pet food is a post-WW I creation.

Easy Raw even smells good - like people food.
Something you'd serve at your Thanksgiving table.
I think we can safely assume that pre-1930, our pets were not eating highly processed foods with loads of additives.

Only Natural Pet food doesn't have these things, either. And I do like that.

Look at the ingredients on the labels. I have, and you can, too, at this link here. You'll see it’s the kind of stuff you’d have on your own dinner plate.

Their foods include ingredients like free range and cage free meats, with no antibiotics or hormones, fresh vegetables and fruits. And no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. [We should all eat this healthy!]

So what did the gang think of this food?

First up: Max Meat Grain-Free Air-Dried Chicken.

Allie inspects a piece of air-dried Max Meat Chicken
As you know, cats are creatures of habit to the point that animal behaviorist Dr. Temple Granden likens them to autistic children. They do not like change. So when introducing a new food, you must proceed slowly, mixing the new in with the old. Gradually increase the new while decreasing the old. Depending on how set in his ways your cat may be, this process could take weeks.

At three weeks in, we're still not done with the switch-over, though there are some promising signs:

I mixed Faraday's first bite of Max Meat with his standard fare.
Official Member of the Clean Plate Club  :-)

Next up: Easy Raw Turkey Dehydrated Cat Food

I wondered about the amount of vegetables I saw in the mix. Cats are obligate carnivores, after all, so that means meat, not veggies. Here's Only Natural Pet's response:

"The amount of fruits and vegetables are in this formula to avoid using synthetic vitamins...whole foods are better assimilated and we have to remember, these kitties are in our environment now, and they need a lot more antioxidant help."

Now on with the test:
Easy Raw, mixed in with Allie's standard fare.  Seriously guys, this stuff smells great.
Allie gave Faraday some competition in the Clean Plate Club category.

Again, we're still working on slowly introducing these foods. Easy Raw is very easy to mix, and you can whip up four days' worth and store it in the refrigerator.

We're also trying out All Smiles - a spray-on dental solution.
Because after the February we had, I would do anything - ANYTHING - to keep our three from having any more teeth removed.

Eight teeth removed between the three of them was very traumatic. And painful, too.

Only time - and another trip to the vet in 6 months or so - will tell if this product is helpful.

I certainly hope so! Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Only Natural Pet on behalf of the BlogPaws Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Only Natural Pet, but A Tonk's Tail only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Only Natural Pet is not responsible for the content of this article.


Wikipedia's History of Pet Food
Discover Magazine interviews Dr. Temple Grandin

Sources on sodium bentonite:
Veterinary and Human Toxicology article on toxicosis in kittens 


  1. Great reviews and we never knew that about some kitty litters. Have a super Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. We are super happy with our litter that we get from Aldi. It is clumping litter but it is super with forming clumps, not dusty at all and there is rarely any odor from the cat box. The dust is something we really don't like around here. Nice review and enjoy your kitty food on a silver platter ;)

  3. Very interesting...I tink mom wants me to go to (all right-in) pine litter, she hates clay but worries I won't like da switch....pine? Does dat mean I has to start chopping down pine trees now mom? Is dat why yoo moved us here? Da dental spray is verrry interesting...I lubs my toothpaste but it doesn't lub messes up my tummy-if yoo know what I I can't have it. But just how do yoo spray it in da mouths wifout getting da bitey? Great info..lots to look in to. Happy Caturday everybuddie.

  4. Great reviews. We use pine litter for our bunny, but the cats don't care for it. It definitely creates less dust than the clay stuff.

  5. Very interesting about the cat litter. And good job on eating your foods up Maxxie! I think the foods they offer are just so awesome. Nice to see what the cat foods look like after they are mixed.

  6. Wow, you guys have been busy! We may have to check out that litter. Mumsy usually makes our food, and we like our kibble, but we may check it out just the same. Mostly, we are curious how you guys are going to like that teeth cleaning stuff.

  7. Great reviews in one single post ! We were very interested about the litter, Mum is going to check mine now ! Purrs

  8. Super informative and thank you for the reviews.

  9. I have read a few things about Clay litter before too and try to stay away from that. Enjoyed your review of the food. M has tried lots of things on me - I refused to eat any of those that were supposed to be really good for you.

  10. I've tried several 'natural' litters and can't (because Jack eats them) or choose not to (due to possible health issues) I don't much like the idea of pine litter due to the possible phenol issue, which is toxic to cats. As for biodegradability issue, if you put it in a landfill, it will not degrade.. and they composting people recommend not putting cat litter in the composting bin..

    As for the food, cats lack the digestive enzymes to pull out the nutrients in plant based foods.. it makes it a lot harder on the cat's digestive system to try.. (and pecans?? wow.. ) Interesting about cats being like the autistic, I can see that.. but there is also a digestive component in there as well. Cat's digestive tracts are very specialized, and takes a while to adapt to new food sources.. It is why cats who are fed only one type of diet all their lives have such a hard time when their food is discontinued or the formulation changes

    Well aren't I just merry sunshine all over this post of yours.. sorry about that.

    1. I've never heard about the phenol issue - I must go study up on that - thanks!
      And yes, I'm not convinced of this either, which is why I raised the question and provided their answer without endorsing it. Personally, I'm a lot more comfortable with a food that feels more meat-based than this, I think.

  11. Great review. That food does look promising. We will be interested in hearing your feedback on All Smiles. We're with you on clay litter, we use World's Best. Have a wonderful weekend and looking forward to meeting you at BlogPaws!

  12. What a good review. We are particularly interested in the food. We may need to give it a taste test too!

  13. I really enjoyed this review - it was very informative and well done. I didn't know about the problems with clay litters. I have looked into switching to a natural kind, but with 5 cats, we go through litter pretty quickly and just can't realistically afford the fancy stuff. Maybe one day soon! Your post makes me want to make the switch even more!

    As for the food, I can tell that you are a bit hesitant about the fact that it has so many fruits and vegetables in it. I feed a raw diet as well, but I either make it myself from locally raised and hormone free meat or I buy Blue Ridge Beef brand. They don't have anything added - it's just ground meat (chicken, turkey, quail, rabbit - they have a million choices), and then I add in vitamins and supplements to make sure the kitties are getting everything they need. It looks like your kitties enjoyed the Only Natural Pet food though! :)

  14. Thanks for the review. Wes shall has to sees if wes can gets it up here!

  15. Wees weally hope yous follow up wiff da teefy spway. Wees vewy innewested in findin' out ifin it wowks. Fanks

    Luv and Hugs and Kitty kisses ♥♥♥



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