Ground breaking research is not always planned. Sometimes it happens by accident. The work of Dr Pottenger that I am about to describe started off as research with cats for the benefit of tuberculosis patients. It ended up as research on the intergenerational impacts of processed and denatured foods.

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For ten years, between 1932 and 1942, Dr Frank Pottenger Jnr conducted a not-since-repeated study on the effects of nutrition on cats – on the mind, body and arguably also the ‘spirit’ of the cats.

What I find so powerful about this research is that it was conducted observing the whole body with a range of foods over a very long period of time. This is quite different to research that is conducted drilling down to individual vitamins and minerals on individual parts of the body. So often in these situations the impact of the whole is lost with the isolation of individual parts.

francis-m-pottengerWhat Dr Pottenger discovered helps to shed some light on the impact of our food choices, not only on our own wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of our children and their children to follow! I understand that we are not cats! You will see the correlation as you read on.

Details of the Study

Five groups of cats were fed five different diets. What was considered an adequate diet was fed to the control group. This was a cat’s normal food of raw meat scraps and raw milk, with the addition of cod liver oil. The other four groups were fed a different combination of meat and milk, with increasing quantities of cooked and processed meat and milk in each group. The final group was fed only a metabolised Vitamin D milk in the altered portion of their diet.


The study was conducted over four generations of cats and the findings included the results for more than 900 cats. The findings detail the physical and emotional problems that developed in the cats fed the denatured and processed foods, compared with the raw meats and milk that cats traditionally eat.

Four generations later, the control group, which was eating a traditional diet for cats, was flourishing with good reproductive health, thick and healthy coats, good dental health, unaltered facial and body structure, no social anxiety or depression and no food allergies.

By contrast, all of the other groups developed to varying degrees a range of structural deformities, social stress, allergies, tumours, heart issues and blood sugar issues with groups 3 to 5 showing the most obvious decline with a clear pattern developing. The first generation developed diseases or issues at the end of their lives. The second generation developed diseases in the middle of their lives. The third generation all developed diseases early in life, often at birth. Many died within the first six months. Others were unable to reproduce. Group 5 was least healthy and did not survive beyond three generations.

As part of the pattern of social anxiety issues, female cats became aggressive while the males became docile. After just three generations, young animals died before reaching adulthood and reproduction ceased.

Dr Weston A Price

Dr Weston A Price

This research conducted by Dr Pottenger in the 1930’s correlates with many of the findings of Dr Weston A Price in the same time period when people from still recognised traditional cultures were consuming increasing quantities of processed foods. Structural body changes, reproductive difficulties and emotional instability were the three main characteristics of Pottenger’s multi-generational study. Today it is interesting to note the increasing prevalence of fertility clinics in our western societies, catering to both men and women. At the same time eating disorders continue to increase, with consequential physical and emotional difficulties. In 2014 in Australia alone, it has been reported that there are almost one million people with eating disorders. This represents 4% of the population. Both these patterns identified by the third and fourth generations of cats, social anxiety and difficulty reproducing, are prevalent in our modern societies.

Dr Pottenger’s study of cats and Dr Price’s study of human groups both gave similar results. As generations were persistently exposed to processed foods of poor nutritional quality, the social and structural changes became more obvious.

Dr Pottenger’s study of cats was a controlled experiment that ceased after ten years. Dr Price’s observation of the deterioration in humans appears to be continuing to this day.

What does that experiment teach us?

  • What we eat affects our own cellular health to the extent that it impacts the health of our children and their children to follow
  • Traditional foods help you to maintain a healthier body than processed foods can achieve
  • Emotional and physical degeneration can be linked back to the foods that we eat
  • The Weston A Price Foundation recommends up to 50% raw foods to equate to the diets of traditional cultures. This includes fermented foods, fruits, vegetables, activated nuts, eggs and raw dairy when it can be obtained.

What can we do about it?

We do have a choice, and that choice is available to us all right now. ‘Think fresh’ and ‘include raw’, is the first step towards reducing your consumption of processed foods. Here’s a few simple suggestions:

  1. Snack on some raw beans and carrots while you are chopping up the evening meal, and share them with the kids!
  2. Eat a salad at least once a day. Make it more flavoursome with a fresh olive oil, lemon and garlic dressing, or try this month’s raw egg mayonnaise recipe. Salads are an easy, tasty way to consume raw food.
  3. Throw away the packet mixes that flavour your evening meals and throw in your own fresh ingredients. This simple step will completely eliminate processed foods from one meal each day! (If you have a favourite bottle mix, try to google search the recipe and you will probably find a replacement that has all fresh ingredients. Try it with butter chicken as an example. I bet you’ll find lots of recipes that are really easy to make instead of the bottled version!)
  4. Make my recipe for this month –raw egg mayonnaise!thumb_img_0698_1024It’s pretty easy and very yummy. It ticks all the boxes for this month’s article – fresh ingredients, includes raw ingredients, and has the added bonus of creating good gut bacteria through the fermentation process with the inclusion of optional whey!

Questions or comments?

If you have any further questions or comments about this study, feel free to respond in the space below, or reply to the email attached to the newsletter. You can also read the published book “Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition”, or read this article from the Weston A price Foundation. The content of my article has been drawn through my research and from my book “Eat … Think …Heal”. You can purchase a copy of the book through a link on my website.

My next article we move from Pottenger’s Cats to Agouti Mice. Until next time, remember “Let nature be the doctor”.