Article A. The Pottenger Experiments

Editors: Rad Komissar, Anna Linde

—   renewed and edited on October 5, 2018  —

20 May 2018

THE POTTENGER EXPERIMENTS are an example of huge differences between cooked/processed foods and raw foods for cats. Unfortunately, the impact cooked and processed foods have on people can be even worse than on cats. People develop more diseases, especially in old age and increased negative deviations in their personal and social behavior. According to most events during the dark and cruel history of humankind, there is no reason to think humans react better than animals to cooked food.

The following text until the end of the article is taken from here:

Perhaps the most important of all the animal experiments with raw and cooked foods are those of Dr. Francis Pottenger, Jr., one of the world’s great physicians and food scientists.


These were conducted at the long established Pottenger Sanitarium in Monrovia, California, and covered a ten-year period. Both white rats and cats were employed. Rats given heated milk suffered from many kinds of deterioration, and the change in trabeculation of the bones was particularly noticeable.

With the cats the experiments were reported in great detail and covered a large number of animals. A total of 900 cats were studied, and complete records were kept of nearly 600 of them. Through generation after generation the animals were studied, and Dr. Pottenger has issued the detailed results of the experiments as they apply to growth, reproduction, and all phases of the animals’ health. In these tests the animals were fed upon meat-scraps (including the muscle, bone, and viscera), milk, and cod liver oil. The animals were divided into various groups, depending upon the condition, whether heated or unheated, in which their foods were given. Some of the cats were fed entirely upon raw meat and raw milk; others were given two-thirds cooked meat and one-third raw milk. In some cases raw meat and pasteurized milk were used. A number of cats were also fed sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, or raw metabolized vitamin D milk with raw meat. Cod liver oil was used by all animal groups.

The cats fed entirely upon raw meat and raw milk remained in excellent health in all cases. Physical development was virtually perfect and the cats reproduced in homogeneity from one generation to the next, maintaining large skulls an thoraxes, broad faces with prominent malar and orbital arches, broad and well-formed dental arches, adequate nasal cavities, and large and long bodies. The cats were quite free from vermin, infections, and parasites. The membranes were firm and of good pink color. All evidence of degeneration was absent. Abortion occurred very seldom; the size of the average litter was five, and all of the mother cats nursed their young in a normal manner. The cats possessed excellent equilibrium. Organic development was complete and normal physical and mental function was the general rule. Death resulted only from old age or injuries sustained in fighting. None of the cats died from disease.

Cats which were fed the cooked-meat scraps were defective in many respects. They were smaller in build and the bones were smaller in diameter. In some cases the bones would grow out of proportion, with the hind legs being much longer than the forelegs. The animals did not reproduce in homogeneity, each kitten being of a different skeletal pattern. There were variations of facial structure similar to those of human beings. Configuration of the skulls was different in each individual cat. Often there would be marked failure in the development of the upper lip and in some cases a mandibular protrusion. Dental conditions would usually remain fairly good in the first generation, though gingivitis occasionally developed.

Second generation animals usually had much smaller primary teeth than normal and there was irregular spacing of teeth. Bleeding of gums would increase considerably. Some teeth would be lost.

In the third generation loss of most of the teeth through decalcification and pyorrhea would be common. Dental development was generally so irregular that the development of the whole face was interfered with.

There was severe impairment of bone composition in all cases. The calcium content would fall from the normal 12 to 18 per cent of bone weight in healthy animals to 8 to 12 per cent in the first generation, 3 1/2 to 7 per cent in the second generation, and finally 1 1/2 to 3 per cent in the third generation. The phosphorus content also became progressively less, and the third generation the bones would be very porous and similar to rubber. This resulted in bowlegs, distorted spines, and other deformities.

Reproductive efficiency was greatly lowered. Abortion ran from 25 per cent in the first generation to as high as 70 percent in the second generation. Deliveries were very difficult and many cats died in labor. Often the mother was unable to lactate. The mortality rate of the kittens was very high, many of them being even too frail to nurse. In a number of cases the mother would steadily decline in health following birth of the kittens and die about three months later. Others had increasing difficulty with subsequent pregnancies and some failed to become pregnant. In the males there was disturbance of genital development and descent of the testes. Sterility was so common that raw-food males had to be used for all breeding purposes.

Development of the secondary sexual characteristics was incomplete. The degree of masculinity and femininity was lessened and cats of both sexes tended to become more neutral in appearance. For instance, X-ray pictures showed that skulls of third generation cooked-fed animals had neutral profiles for both sexes, as contrasted to the difference in raw-fed animals. At the same time sex interest was very slack; in many cases it was perverted, with some cats developing into true homosexuals.

Most of the cats fed cooked meat were very irritable and would occasionally viciously bite the keeper. Intestinal parasites and vermin were very common. Skin lesions and allergies became worse from one generation to the next. Pneumonia and empyema were the most common causes of death in the adult stock; a great number died from diarrhea followed by pneumonia. No cats survived the sixth month of life in the third generation. Among the diseased conditions that were found upon autopsy were: osteomyelitis, cardiac lesions, hyperopia, thyroid disease, hepatitis, nephritis, paralysis, meningitis, cystitis, arthritis, rickets, enlarged colon, bronchitis, fatty infiltration of the muscles, rachitic rosary of the ribs, and enlarged bladder.

Cats fed upon a combination of two-thirds pasteurized milk and one-third raw meat presented much of the same deterioration as the other animals. Reproductive efficiency was lowered; skeletal structures were severely impaired; dental irregularity and gingivitis were common, and all kittens showed some form of deficiency in development. Cats fed evaporated milk were damaged even more, and sweetened condensed milk produced the most marked deficiencies of all. Even the raw metabolized vitamin D milk (from cattle fed irradiated yeast) proved harmful. The males showed osseous disturbances following its use, and the adult males died within 10 months, with the young males failing to live beyond even the second month.
In some instances cats which had been fed either cooked meat or one of the forms of heated or vitamin D milk would be placed upon a completely raw diet, which would be continued in subsequent generations. Improvement in resistance to disease was noticed in the first and second generations in the “regenerating” animals, though there were still allergic manifestations and reproduction was erratic. In the third generation there was considerable further improvement, and by the fourth generation some of the animals returned to completely normal skeletal and tissue form.

From these experiments as well as all others which have been reported, results of feeding raw and cooked foods under laboratory conditions become readily apparent. It follows that, almost without exception, experimental animals thrive well upon an exclusive diet of raw foods. With general uniformity they immediately suffer from various forms of deterioration — physical, sexual, and mental — when given various forms of cooked foods. It has indeed been shown that members of certain animal species fail to reach maturity and reproduce if sufficient cooked foods are included in their diet. The degree of damage may vary to some degree with different animals, but in no instance have large quantities of heat-processed foods been consumed over a long period of time without some harm being observed. The contrast is clearly observed in all cases, and the many different animals used in the experiments show that the results do not apply to only certain kinds of experimental animals, but may be accepted as a general principle in all such nutritional work.

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