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Welcome back, you unwashed masses! It's time for your weekly dose of pseudoscience and phooey we like to call the Snake Oil Bulletin. Our main story today involves the delightful murderous fluff muffin you see above, let's meet that kitty cat!


Vegan cat food is a thing and we officially hate people

Are you ready to lose a little more hope in humanity? This week, Yr Wonkette fell down a veritable rabbit hole exploring the world of "natural" pet care and discovered a product that might as well be labeled Animal Abuse in a Bag: vegan cat food. Vegan. Cat Food.

This, dear readers, is VeganCats.com, a repository for the apparently booming market of meatless, cruelty-free cat foods. Their stocks include brands such as Evolution, Ami Cat, and VegeCat, all designed to wean cats off meat (just like you can wean a baby off oxygen) in order to fit into their owner's personal vegan/vegetarian lifestyles. There are more than a few problems with this philosophy, first and foremost being CATS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY.

Cats are carnivores. In fact, they're not just carnivores, but obligate carnivores, meaning they require meat or else they will die. If an omnivore like a human stops eating meat (which is a totally legitimate thing to do), their body can make up for the loss of nutrients by either producing the necessary proteins themselves or finding them in non-meat products. Cats do not have that luxury. They need an essential protein called taurine in their diet - low amounts of taurine can lead to urinary tract infections, cardiovascular disease, or even blindness - and the only naturally occurring source of taurine is in animal muscle and tissue. Killing other animals is encoded into their DNA. Killing is such a major part of the cat's life that they're one of the few creatures that kill just for the thrill of it because it's just that damn important to their survival. On a gastrointestinal level, the cat body has no real way to digest plant matter. Their sharp-as-knife teeth are about as good at grinding cellulose as a buzzsaw is at tossing a salad, and while they'll chew on grass occasionally, they get no nutrients from it. Your adorable, murderous furball requires fresh, bloody, pulsing animal flesh to sustain it. Cats are nature's perfect fuzzy little killdozers.

In other words, cats are born to eat meat. Of course, don't let that stop the good folks at Vegan Cats. There's a buck to be made in well-meaning pet owners wanting to get their cats on a "healthy" vegetable diet, and by golly Vegan Cats is there to make that buck.

The VC people offer a nice FAQ page where people can ask such pressing questions as "what the fuck even is this?" And good for them, Vegan Cats note in their very first answer: "Being as we're not veterinarians, we cannot offer any sort of medical advice regarding your cat's health. We are only retailers of the products we sell, and due to this we are not any more qualified to give advice on health issues for cats or dogs than we are for humans." That, of course, doesn't explain why further down the FAQ they explicitly say that veterinarians who say cats can't be vegan are wrong. Do they cite peer reviewed veterinary journals that demonstrate the efficacy of their claims? Pfft, that's just what Big Veterinarian wants. Nope, they cite all their customers who tell them about all their perfectly happy vegan cats, whom the VC people take at their word because that's how science works.

Look, Vegan Cats, there might be a reason why even actual vegans are calling out the insanity that is vegan cat food. This nice person happens to be an actual vegan veterinarian, and even she advises that you should not make the conscious decision to starve your cat. Fuck, even that whackjob Dr. Mercola -- the guy who thinks vaccines cause autism and cancer is a fungus -- calls out nutbags who try to force their cats to eat plants, proving that even stopped GMO-free clocks are right twice a day.

Imagine an alien race that beamed down to earth and conquered us puny humans and decided to keep us on as a benign slave race. Now imagine that instead of giving us food that we can eat and poop out, said alien overlords decided to feed us a steady diet of rocks, cigar butts, and broken glass because that's what the aliens eat and it works fine for them, right? That's how cruel it is to force your cat to eat a meat-free diet. What's healthy for one species isn't healthy for another. It wouldn't be such a big deal if it weren't the fact that vegan diets actually kill kitty cats.

If you have ethical trouble justifying the buying and eating of meat (which, again, we as good liberals totally understand and respect), even if you personally won't be eating it, perhaps consider a pet that doesn't require an all-meat diet. Try a rabbit or an adorable guinea pig. Those things are cute, fuzzy, and live off as much organic cruelty-free hay as you want. But if you actually respect animals and don't want to slowly starve them to death, give your puss some fucking meat already. I want chicken, I want liver, I want to rip a small birdie's head off and bathe in its blood. Sincerely, Lord Tubbington the Cat, Esq.

P.S. Eliminate the dog and there will be tummy rubs in your future.

Homeopaths on Parade

We have a fun follow-up story for you! Back in April, we reported about the FDA finally maybe getting around to sort of regulating homeopathic sugar pills, because why not. Well, the hearings were on April 21, and they were a doozy. Homeopathic scientists presented reasoned, scientific arguments, backed by mountains of empirically studied, peer-reviewed data, and thanks to their efforts homeopathy was finally elevated into the hallowed halls of science, vindicated at last from persecution, just like happened to Galileo. Also too, there are cigarette trees and lemonade springs in the big rock candy mountain, we swear!

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The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists argued in their testimony that homeopaths were good enough to regulate themselves, so there's no real reason for the FDA to step in. Nothing to see here, move along! That'd be cool and all, if it weren't for the fact that homeopathy is barely regulated as it is. There's not really a lot of standards in the homeopathic concocting process, and while that usually means nothing for medicine that is almost always placebo, it can spell trouble when reports come out of baby teething tablets having "inconsistent levels of belladonna," or homeopathic drugs and ointments being recalled because they maybe sorta kinda picked up a little penicillin for a laugh.

Fortunately the science-based side saw testimony from notable quotables like Jim Underdown of the Center for Inquiry, who delivered a presentation on the subject with the wonderful take away line: “I hesitate to call these remedies ‘drugs’. They’re mostly sugar pills. People seem to think they actually have medicinal value, but all the science points to that not being true.”

Also appearing was Adriane Fugh-Berman, a Georgetown pharmacology professor (i.e. someone who might actually know what she's talking about), who gave a blistering testimony that basically amounted to "shit don't work, cuz":

[T[he evidence for homeopathy’s effectiveness is between scant and nil; this picture has become much more clear over the past 20 years. Although Kleijnen’s 1991 BMJ paper found that the majority of 105 homeopathy trials were positive, it noted that most trials were of poor methodological quality. Shang’s 2005 Lancet analysis compared 110 homeopathy trials with matched trials of conventional medicine, and found only a weak effect of homeopathy, compared to a strong effect of conventional medicine. Benefits attributed to homeopathy‐‐ but not conventional medicine‐‐ disappeared when the analysis was restricted to high‐quality trials. And just this year, an assessment of 176 studies in 57 systematic reviews from Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council concluded that “that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.”

If this were a rap battle, this would be the point where she would drop the mic and her promoter would yell DAAAAAAAAAMMN. Proposal to replace all regulatory trials with rap battles? All in favor say Aye.

No word yet on how the FDA will ultimately rule. Skeptics are, well, skeptical, seeing as the proceedings seemed to be packed with homeopaths, and the entire spectacle only allowed for 5 minutes of follow-up questions after each testimony, but the verdict remains to be seen. We're just hoping that the FDA doesn't take an additional 80 fucking years to come to a conclusion.

Flotsam, Jetsam, and Hokum

Finally, a sprinkling of powdered dumbassery in the realm of science as brought to you by your beloved Wonkette:

  • Professional Jesus Man Creflo Dollar figured out the real reason his attempt to get a $65 million jet was thwarted. Was it his own obvious greed? LOL nope. It's The Devil and his nefarious journamalisms.
  • Baltimore PD have stumbled upon a new diagnosis to perfectly explain how that dude they killed really died: he broke his own spine, derp! Because that's a thing people can do outside of ninja movies.
  • Dear Lady Scientists, isn't it about time your exhaustive research study settled down and found a nice man to sponsor it. It's not getting any younger, y'know.
  • There's no program too good that it can't be improved by a little Republican liberty-vention, up to and including stopping teens from getting preggers.

[Homeopathy Center / The Guardian / FDA.gov / Forbes / Vegan Cats / Messy Beast / University of Georgia / Little Big Cat / Mercola.com / Herald Sun]

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