Pottenger's Cats

Dr. Francis Pottenger Jr., MD was a pioneer in using extracts of the adrenal glands for allergic states and the syndrome of adrenal depletion. In his practice, he always highlighted proper diet based on the principles discovered by Dr. Weston A. Price.

He is known for his classical experiments in cat nutrition across multiple generations. It all started after he discovered a disproportionately high level of mortality among cats who had undergone adrenalectomy. A chance observation about their food led to his experimentation.

More than 900 cats were observed during a 10-year period. Dr. Pottenger discovered that a diet consisting exclusively of raw milk and raw meat was the only adequate intake which insured the maintenance of optimal health for the cats. Cats on the all-raw diet showed good bone structure with wide palates and plenty of space for the teeth as well as excellent bone density, shiny fur, and lack of parasites and disease. They reproduced with ease and were gentle and easy to handle.

Cooking the meat, or substituting heat processed milks for raw, resulted in heterogeneous reproduction and physical degeneration that escalated with each successive generation. Kittens of the third generation did not survive six months.

There was an abundance of parasites and vermin while skin diseases and allergies increased from an incidence of five percent in normal cats to over 90 percent in the third generation of deficient cats. Bones became soft and pliable and the cats suffered from adverse personality changes. Males became docile while females became more aggressive. The cats that suffered from most of the degenerative diseases encountered by humans today and died out totally by the fourth generation.

The changes in facial structure and beginning of degenerative diseases that Dr. Pottenger observed in cats on deficient diets mirrored the human degeneration that Dr. Price found in tribes and villages that had abandoned traditional foods.

But here is the most important part of his experiment: A subset of the 3rd generation cats, who consumed a cooked food diet, had raw and unpasteurized foods reintroduced into their diets and began to show signs of health restoration. After 4 generations of breeding, the offspring of the experimental group displayed optimal health and function to all organs.

This is the first epigenetics study directly related to nutrition. It was performed before epigenetics was even coined as a term.