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Change in cat's behaviour (quiet, less social)

May 10th, 2008, 11:01 AM
I've noticed a change in the behaviour of one of my cats lately, and it's got me sad and worried. Last week everytime I'd feed her, (which is twice per day)she would vomit a tiny amount of liquid within a minute or so of starting to eat. Although she would end up eating all her food, I knew the vomiting wasn't normal, and that coupled with the change in behaviour, prompted me to take her to the vet.

This whole year has been a real saga with my cats, Storm and Target (10 and 11 yrs respectively). In Feb, both got some type of gastroenteritis, which occurred coincidentally around the time I was trying to change them to raw food. I think I left the food out too long, causing bacteria. It was the only change that had taken place with them, so I have to assume that was the cause. After the massive vet bill and they both seemed on the mend, I switched them both to Evolve wet food exclusively, which they seemed to really like.

Anyway, in mid-April, Target started to become more withdrawn, less social, and not eating much of her meals. I took her into the vet, where she was diagnosed with mild kidney disease. Bleh! I can't help but wonder if it had anything to do with the failed raw food experiment, and the vet can't tell me for certain. Fine, I've come to terms with her illness, and have had her eating the vet recommended Medical Mature formula, and giving subQ fluids weekly. She seems to be feeling much better, which is great to see.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago, my other cat, Storm, starts acting "off". Normally I refer to her as my schmoozy cat. She's very friendly and loving, chirps a lot when I talk to her, and is always jumping on my lap for a purr and cuddle. I started to notice that she wasn't jumping up for a cuddle much, preferring to sit off to the other side of the room, kind of "hunkered down". I was able to entice her to play by flicking some danglies on a stick, so that was encouraging at least, and as I said initially, she continued to eat, so I knew she wasn't *ILL*. She just didn't seem to be as happy as usual. I had also noticed that she seemed to be itchy (doing a lot of licking, like she was scratching an itch), and swallowing more than normal. When I noticed the vomiting, I finally caved in and took her to the vet.

I told the vet I was scared that Storm might also have some kidney issues, as the excessive swallowing was something I had noticed in Target before her diagnosis, and have now read is a sign of nausea. An x-ray and bloodwork was done. The x-ray didn't show much other than a large gas bubble in her colon, and small amount of thickening if the intestine. The vet I saw the day I took her in, thought there might have been something in the stomach, as there was a tiny artifact on the film. She said it showed up kind of like bone. I have no idea what that could have been, since Storm only eats wet food, and has never been one to randomly eat things she might find in the house (except plants, and that is why I don't keep any in my house). The vet suggested it could be a bowel obstruction (ie: hairball), inflammatory bowel disease, food allergy, etc..

Funnily enough, the evening after I brought Storm home after the vet, she was acting more like her normal self, without having had any treatments.

When my regular vet called me the next morning with the bloodwork results, she said it showed nothing unusual except for slight low white cell count. She didn't think it was significant because the value was 'one number' outside the normal range. She was more concerned about the x-ray, thinking Storm had a hairball obstructing her gut. She recommended I dose her with Laxatone twice daily to ensure she was still having bowel movements.

Well, I did that and confirmed her bowels were working properly. She seemed back to her usual kitty self for a few days, but as of yesterday has been back into that same withdrawn kind of behaviour.

I thought I'd try to post my experiences here, in case some of you have ideas about what could be the issue. After all the vet bills so far this year, I can't really afford to keep taking her back to the vet for myriad of tests, when those tests may show nothing at all. Besides, my vet doesn't seem to "get" the big picture, and is very conventional when it comes to food recommendations, medications. I'd rather feed them quality food and supplements if I can.

Storm is currently sitting on my lap, which is the first time she's crawled up for a purr in quite a while. I'll enjoy it while it lasts, as I'm not sure how long before she withdraws again.

Right now I wonder if she could have some sort of allergy to the food I've been feeding her, or a reaction to the Feline Pine scoopable I've changed them to in the last couple months. Those are really the only changes I've made with them since taking them off dry food. The continuous itching makes me suspicious. Could something like this make her feel "off" and want to withdraw?

Sorry for the long and drawn out story. I welcome any insight others might have.


May 10th, 2008, 01:19 PM
I'm not a vet, but the itching, vomiting, and thickened intestines could very well be diet related. Is Storm still eating Evolve or does she also eat Medi-cal Mature? Either way, and considering other tests haven't been conclusive, I'd be inclined to try her on a different food. It wouldn't hurt at this point. A novel protein with limited ingredients, something like Innova EVO 95% Duck or Venison. By Nature Organics Turkey might be another option because it's grain-free and has only one protein source. They also make a chicken flavour but because chicken is such a common ingredient in cat food, you might want to stay away from it for now. Good luck and I hope Storm returns to her normal spunky self.

May 10th, 2008, 01:55 PM
I don't have anything to add but just wanted to say that Sugarcatmom is our cat guru :angel: and all the advice she gives is the best. :thumbs up

Good luck with your kitties. :fingerscr :goodvibes:

May 10th, 2008, 06:47 PM
Yes, Storm has still been eating the Evolve, but today I thought I'd try to find a different food that she might like better. I gave her some Natural Balance venison/green pea (which is labelled as an allergen food and grain-free) for tonight's dinner, and she wolfed it down. She also stayed at her dish and continued to eat much longer than what she would have done with Evolve. Ideally, I'd like to find a food that I could feed both Storm and Target, but I'm having a harder time finding a low phos canned food from the stores I normally frequent.

Anyone have any knowledge of Natural Balance? Any other brands that I could try that both cats could eat? I tried Wellness and Merrick in the past, but neither cat was really jazzed about them.

Jim Hall
May 10th, 2008, 07:14 PM
Just an observation both storm and target are getting to that age where I find cat's behavior changes They become less active and maybe a little with drawn. I liken it to what happens with humans, good days, bad days
little aches and pains amd maybe cranky . Pain scares animals. but unlike humans, they cannot conquer that fear by reasoning

It sounds like you a very observant, diligint keeper :thumbs up

May 11th, 2008, 10:50 AM
Anyone have any knowledge of Natural Balance? Any other brands that I could try that both cats could eat?

Unfortunately Natural Balance isn't very forthcoming with their "as fed" nutritional analysis, so I have no idea how much phosphorus is in the Venison & Pea formula and whether it would be appropriate for a kidney cat. I can tell you that the Innova 95% Venison is good in that regard (146mg/100kcal - you want to keep phosphorus below about 200-240mg), as well as the 95% Beef (171mg). Other low phosphorus options could be Wysong Chicken Gourmet (123mg) or Liver Gourmet (116mg), but their info isn't very current and may no longer be accurate. They also contain grains, so I'd be cautious feeding it to Storm. Wysong also makes some All Meat varieties that are low phosphorus, but they're not nutritionally complete and so should only be fed intermittently or with their "Call of the Wild" supplement.

Precise Chicken, Turkey, Triple Delight and Deluxe Medley, or Felidae Chicken & Rice are all good in the phosphorus department, but again, maybe not so good for allergies. You're in a tough spot and may have to feed your 2 each a different food unless you can pinpoint what's causing Storm's issues. Hopefully some of the ones I've mentioned can give you a place to start.

May 11th, 2008, 07:08 PM
Thanks for your info SugarCatMom. You are a wealth of info! :thumbs up I'll keep researching and emailing pet food companies and make up my mind about the choice of food. I guess there are worse things than feeding different foods to each of them.

Storm does seem perkier yesterday and today, but is still itching. If she truly does have a food allergy/intolerance, how long would it take before I would notice a change since the food switch?

May 12th, 2008, 07:08 AM
Sugarcatmom is a cat guru and her advice is always right on. If your kitty may have any intestinal issues, I would definitely keep her off any grains.

I don't have anything to add, but keeping my fingers crossed :fingerscr

May 12th, 2008, 11:27 AM
I am no cat guru, but I have heard of problems with the pine litter for some cats. Since you said you switched a couple of months ago....just a consideration.

May 12th, 2008, 08:51 PM
If she truly does have a food allergy/intolerance, how long would it take before I would notice a change since the food switch?

I think the veterinary community currently tends to go with about 8-10 weeks before deciding on the results of an elimination diet. That's not to say that you wouldn't notice improvement before then. In my case, there's no way I could get away with feeding my cat the same food day in day out for that long. He thrives on variety and would go on a hunger strike if I tried that. If Storm is anything like Aztec, perhaps you could try something less severe.

What I would do is start by eliminating all the most common allergens from the diet, so stuff like fish, grains, yeast, dairy, eggs, and maybe even chicken or beef. You have to thoroughly read ingredient labels. I would find a few different flavours and brands of canned or raw food that fit the bill and rotate between them so that he doesn't get bored with one thing. Hopefully that would be enough, but if not, I'd seriously consider making my own raw diet (probably a "whole prey model" type thing). But that's just me for my situation, you might figure out a better plan.

May 22nd, 2008, 05:57 PM
Hi there, I just wanted to give an update. Storm seems to be back to her usual schmoozy self since switching her to "allergen" food. She spent most of the day on holiday Monday in my lap for a purr and cuddle. What a relief! She and Target are frolicking with each other again too, so that's nice to see as well.

As for Target, I just switched her over to Wellness grain-free canned food. I was somewhat hesitant, because she's turned her nose up at the grain-free in the past, but I guess it was less of an evil to her now than the Medical.

Thanks for all your input and advice with my original question.