Help! Senior Cat with dandruff/shedding/possible arthritis
My cat is almost 15.5 years old, the best way to describe her is very elegant and lady-like. She walks very softly and I can tell has always taken pride in her appearance. Even though she is a senior now she still plays, but doesn't like people to see her play, or eat (she will stop if she notices you watching). Ever since a kitten - I got her when she was 8 weeks old, she's been afraid of strangers. If there was a knock at the door she would run and hide under the blanket on my bed, but if people were over enough she would come out and investigate and eventually cuddle with them. She used to be able to jump to the high shelves in a closet from the floor, about 6 feet and always loved being up high.
She never had any health problems until 2.5 years ago she scratched her ear and caused an aural hematoma. I had to take her to the vet three times, they drained it, and it kept coming back, eventually had to put 3 holes in the skin tissue and suture plastic tubing around the edge of her ear to keep it's form while healing and I had to drain the holes a few times a day. It cleared up and her ear kept it's shape, just a bit crumpled to the touch. When she was at the vet they said she was in excellent health, especially for her age.
In February of this year I took her to the vet as she was vomiting more than normal (she would usually vomit food or hairballs once a month or so). She was vomiting everday for three days. They checked her out, did blood work for geriatric w/urinalysis and tested for FIV at the same time (was negative). I believe at the time I was told it could just be an infection, looking at the vet bill (I unfortunatley do not have a copy of the blood work) she was given Microlax 5ml and Lactulose 667mg and I was feeding her the Science Diet Senior cat food at the time. I was also told at this time that she has Cardiac Arrhythmia, so she should not be put under anesthesia. She was still throwing up everyday even on this medication so I took her back a couple days later and they gave her an ultrasound. They said all her organs looked healthy and her kidney and liver were functioning normally but that she had slight inflammation in her intestines and said that IBD fits with her symptoms. She was given Metronidazole 100mg/ml and Prednisolone 10mg/ml. I remember giving her one of these for a week or so, and another for about a month. She was started on Royal Canin Fibre Response cat food and after a couple weeks she did completely stop vomiting. Her stool is still very dry but she hasn't been having problems going as far as I know, I clean the box everyday and she does go, and I don't hear her meowing in there.
[B]Now for the problems currently:[/B]
I have a vet appointment scheduled for this coming Saturday, but I just want to see if anyone has any opinions or had similar instances so I could know what to ask when I'm there.
I didn't really notice it before, because I wasn't looking for it but the more I think about it I realized theses subtle changes.
--She no longer jumps up high (used to sit in the window all the time bird watching and such. Now she always sleeps in her cat bed or another lower place).
--She sleeps a lot more now, probably about 20 hours a day.
--I don't think she's cleaning herself very much if at all (her fur is covered in dandruff, and when I pet her she sheds like crazy. I've been brushing her with a wire brush, which she loves and it has been helping with the shedding as the brush fills up with fur after about 3 times around her, I usually get about 5 clumps before I stop). Her fur feels a bit oily, and when I think about it I don't see her cleaning herself all the time, like she used to. She's not overweight though and I've checked her genital area and it's clean so no worries there, she must be cleaning herself there I just don't see it.
--She has peed just outside the litter box a couple of times, it used to have a sort of higher enclosure that attatched to it with an inward edge to keep litter in, I've since taken that off and she's been peeing in the box since then, that was about 6 weeks ago.
--I don't see her eat very much, I'm not home all day and she has food out all the time, but when I do see her (and she doesn't notice me) it looks like she only eats a few pieces then leaves. She doesn't seem to have lost weight though.
--Today I heard her meowing (like a deep howling meow) and checked where it was coming from and she was under the couch up in the lining (had to cut it open at one point to find a remote). I took her out and checked her and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, I pet her and she stopped meowing, but I have since had to block off the couch because I don't want her going in there again. This worries me as I've always heard that cats hide when they are sick.
--She doesn't use her scratch post anymore, I cut her nails now as she doesn't shed them herself.
A lot of this seems like it could be due to arthritis, and the vet told me when I called for an appointment and described what was going on that any cat over 13 probably has arthritis. They said they'll check her, and if that is the case that there is a shot she will have to get once a week for a month, then once every month going forward. They asked if I would be comfortable doing it myself and I said no, has anyone else experienced this? Are you okay giving your cat the shot? If your cat has had similar issues what was the diagnosis and treatments?
[B]First picture[/B] is up close of her fur now, it's a bit hard to see but literally all of her fur is covered in dandruff. I feel so bad because I know she's embarassed of it.
[B]Second picture[/B] is how her fur was before, always so soft and clean. You can also see her crumpled ear in this picture.
Thanks in advance for any advice/information.
-Worried kitty owner :confused:
There could quite likely be some arthritis. You're vet is right that the majority of senior cats do develop it to some degree. Sounds like he wants to start her on Adequan injections, which can be quite helpful. My own cat has been on it for years (I give the injections myself and it really isn't hard after a little practice). Some other things you could try are Cosequin or Dasaquin, green lipped mussel, omega3 oils (I've heard krill works best, but the capsules can be tough to open), acupuncture and/or osteopathy.....
I'm a bit more concerned about her dandruff, to be honest. Make sure to get another senior blood panel done (a lot can change in a few months) and a urinalysis.
Any chance you could try to slowly change her diet to something better? Dry food isn't great for any cat, but especially a senior, and dry food from the vet clinic is particularly poor quality. If it doesn't cause her too much stress, try introducing some high protein, low carb canned food and gradually phase out the kibble. [url]www.catinfo.org[/url]
Thanks for the reply! I'll see what the vet says as I was able to move her appointment to today. I've tried to get her to switch to wet food as the vet says that's better for her IBD but she won't even go near it, even after hours. All I could wait is 8 hours then I had to put dry food out because I was scared of liver damage. The problem is she's VERY picky about her food and she won't eat food if I try to put her on scheduled meals. She's always had food out for her so it's hard to switch. I tried a couple times to switch to meal times since my younger cat eats all the time and is getting a bit overweight. Not really sure what to do at this point because the older one is set in her ways, she's been eating like this for 15 years.
Also funny you mention that site as that's the site that I read about switching food to meal times for my overweight kitty. The cage method won't work as the older one is 'bigger' than the younger one, so the younger one would still go in and eat all the food. I've tried putting the younger one in one room with food and leaving the older one out, and vice versa, it never worked as my older cat still wouldn't touch the food no matter how long she was left with it. She has quite a personality on her, and it's as if she knows what I'm trying to do and she's saying 'no, that's not going to work'.
What sort of foods would you recommend that I could purchase knowing my cat has IBD? I know the catinfo site says to make your own, and call me a bad pet owner but I just don't have the time or patience for that. My vet said the Fibre Response is good for her IBD but also safe for my younger cat to eat as I mentioned the younger one will just eat anything that's out.
Update: Ebenee was all checked out at the vet, she's up about a pound and seems healthy otherwise. The vet said looking at her previous bloodwork and ultrasound she was in exceptional health especially considering her age. Her teeth and gums looked really healthy, she couldn't feel any abnormalities in her stomach, intestines, etc. All in all she seems to be in tip top shape except for her coat and possible joint pain. She said it's possible her coat is due to the food she's on, and I could switch her to a diet more rich in fatty acids to help but it might not mesh with her gastro problem as her feces is still very dry. So she suggested Cartrophen injections as they have had good results in the past with senior cats that have arthritis. She said it's a safe route to go as it's not an NSAID and has low side effects if any at all. Ebenee has to get one injection a week for a month, then once every month from then on. I should start to see results of her being more active anywhere from 2-4 injections. She got the first one today. I did read some articles online that have scared me a bit about Cartrophen but also some wonderful articles and studies with the medication used on cats with great results. She has no prior issues with her liver as she just had bloodwork and an ultrasound in February. I said I'll try her on the 4 injections and see how she is, if there isn't much change I'll pay for an X-Ray so we can at least confirm or rule out arthritis. Does anyone have any information via experience with Cartrophen?
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