Meet Bookshelf: A Dog-Like Cat with Chronic Stomach Issues

Watching Bookshelf walk politely on a leash and harness at his local Encinitas, California park, it’s difficult to imagine that this 17-pound orange beauty was once feral.

Five years ago, Toni Gallardo’s parents told her about a litter of four kittens they found in their backyard. Gallardo was intrigued by the orange kitten and sat near the litter waiting with a can of cat food for him to make an appearance. He finally did and they’ve been inseparable since.

“It was my first cat I’ve ever had, so I treated him like a dog,” says Gallardo, who has been a dog trainer for about a year now.

She immediately got him on a leash, taught him to use an outdoor litter box, and started teaching him dog-like commands like sit, stay and heel. And while it’s taken a few years to fine-tune the training—he can actually spend time in the outdoor patio by himself without running off.


Digestion Issues Started

Except for when he goes to eat some nearby grass, and then throws it up. He’ll also throw up when he drinks too much water at once.

“That has been an issue since he has been a kitten. That’s when I kind of started these concerns about his digestion,” says Gallardo. “Why is he eating so much grass? Whenever he can have a chance, he’ll go eat grass and then throw up.”

His improvement actually happened after a turn for the worse, when four months ago, Gallardo had to take Bookshelf to a pet ER because he was straining to urinate. After several tests, he was cleared but Gallardo was advised he needed to drink more water.

bookshelf before and after

Bookshelf: Before and After THK

About a month after that visit, he came down with a case of diarrhea. Once again, nothing seemed wrong with him according to the vet.

After $3,000 at the vet with no real answers and frequent vomiting, Gallardo knew something had to be done. Since about age 2, Bookshelf has been eating 8 to 10 very small meals throughout each day to help control the vomiting. While it helped lessen the episodes from daily to every other day or weekly, he was still throwing up fairly frequently.


Kibble Had to Go

Recalling some samples she’d received at a mom-and-pop pet store, she did some research on The Honest Kitchen. Impressed, she switched Bookshelf from the veterinary-prescribed cat kibble he was on and gave The Honest Kitchen a try.

“Everything has kind of been here or there until recently when I’ve been so strict on his food regimen. Just in these last few months, things have really started to work,” says Gallardo. “It has a lot to do with the pre—and probiotics, I think. He eats the Grain Free Chicken Recipe (Prowl), which he loves.”


Considering how picky Bookshelf can be with his food (he will literally walk out of the room if he even sees a canned cat food), The Grain Free Chicken Recipe (Prowl) was a major hit.

She also started giving him The Honest Kitchen’s Instant Goat’s Milk mixed with the Perfect Form digestive supplement and water—which she calls his smoothie. She gives Bookshelf his smoothie out of a dropper every morning when she has her coffee. “We both sit and watch the news together,” she says of their morning routine.


The Vomiting Stopped

As far as the vomiting, the results were immediate. If she feeds him his smoothie every day, Bookshelf does not throw up. Occasionally she has forgotten and he does throw up on those days.

She’s noticed other improvements, including a little slimming down (she’d noticed an increase in weight on the last food) and just a happier cat.

“I feel like he’s lost a little bit of weight in this last month or two because he feels a little bit slimmer,” she says. “You can definitely tell when he’s not feeling well. He gets some major attitude. And he pouts.”


His Attitude Improved Dramatically

On this bright and sunny Tuesday afternoon, there’s no pouting in sight. The easy-going feline lounges at the park while his mom talks and relaxes in her arms when she cuddles and kisses him. Even when Gallardo brings out Bookshelf’s wardrobe, he tolerates every outfit she puts on him—from lion costume to colorful beanie.

And he’s also a fan of other animals—whether it be an interested dog walking by or quail and chicken that Gallardo breeds at home.

“He’s actually very protective of all my chicks,” she says.

A typical day for Bookshelf involves waking up from where he is perched on the bookshelf above Gallardo’s sleeping head (yes, that’s how he got his name) and making sure his mom is up.

“He wakes me up at 5:15 every morning,” she says, adding that if she forgets to turn off her alarm on her days off, Bookshelf will still take it upon himself to wake her.


After his smoothie, when Gallardo goes to work, Bookshelf takes a cat nap or two, spending most of his day on the patio (under the supervision of Gallardo’s fiance). When Gallardo gets home, they all have dinner together—occasionally Bookshelf literally has his meal on the dinner table.

Gallardo will definitely keep up Bookshelf’s Honest Kitchen meals (he alternates between the Grain Free Chicken and Grain Free Turkey Recipe now) and smoothie.

“I will not stop giving him that smoothie. It has made life so much easier,” she says. “And seeing him not throw up makes me very happy.”


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Meet the Author: Jessica Peralta

Jessica Peralta has been a journalist for more than 15 years and an animal lover all her life. She has had dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, frogs, and rabbits. Her current children are a German shepherd named Guinness and a black kitten named Riot (and he lives up to that name). It’s because of her love for animals that she focused her journalistic career to the world of holistic animal care and pet nutrition. In between keeping Riot and Guinness out of mischief, she’s constantly learning about all the ways she can make them healthier and happier.

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