Does my cat have allergies?
April 29, 2011 10:07 PM   Subscribe

My new kitten gets congested at night. Is she allergic to something?

YANAV -- My kitten is approximately four and half months old. She is growing well and eating like crazy. However. She does two things which worry me somewhat (obviously not enough to go to the vet yet).

1. She gets congested, but only at night. One nostril clogs up with snot and she often sneezes several times in a row to clear it out. That happens maybe once a night (sometimes twice, but not usually).
2. Her poo stinks. I mean, it smells super bad. And it is not usually solid. Every now and then I find a drop of blood in it, which seems (seems) to be coming from a small tear on the outside of her anus. I assume that is from the not-solid poo irritating her.

I took her for shots about two weeks ago and vet didn't seem concerned about the sneezing or the blood. Would changing her food help? She eats Purina Kitten Chow right now. She's free of intestinal parasites and has been vaccinated for all major diseases. At the vet visit two weeks ago, she had no problems, no fever, no nothing. She's strictly an indoor cat right now. Her energy levels are what you'd expect for a kitten -- very playful, very sweet, spends about an hour or two playing hard every day with her sister and the dog. Is very alert and interested. No signs of any problems except the two mentioned above.
posted by mrfuga0 to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How new is this cat to you? Did you just get her two weeks ago? When I got our first kitten switching from whatever the shelter fed her to what we had made her poo smell awful. Horrible. Stink up the entire house bad. We switched foods and everything has been fine since.

I would ask your vet about it either way. Her stool should be firm and not liquidy at all. I would bet it's the food.
posted by sanka at 10:15 PM on April 29, 2011

Stinkypoo may be a sign of worms, as it was with HereticalKitten, but if you say she's free of that sort of thing I'd suggest adding some gooshyfood (canned food) to her diet. That will help her get a bit more water in her diet which can help with what might be some diarrhea going on, and ease digestion. She's also a kitten -- even after the worms, HK had some major stink-ass for a couple months.

... And get away from the Purina. Get a real cat food; most of the stuff you can get from grocery stores is the feline equivalent of McDonald's. Tastes okay, but so much crap filler that it's yuck. I've been feeding HereticalKitten Felidae dry food, with some Go! and Now! gooshy/dry stuff. I've used Wellness in the past; they've gone more mainstream lately and their quality's dropping, but it's a good transitional food from the junk to the good stuff and you can find it more easily in the bigger chain pet stores. Other options are:
Halo, which you may want to mash up the veggie bits with their gooshyfood.
Innova, which has several ranges of options from more or less 'normal' type to super duper fancy stuff.

I will also say the higher-quality foods are more expensive, but HK tends to eat less of it and her fur is super kitten-soft even though she's fully grown now. You can probably find the good stuff at local pet food places, and browsing the different options can give you ideas.
posted by Heretical at 10:23 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

We had very stinky and sometimes messy doodoo from our kitten when we first got him. Switching his dry food to Orijen really helped. He loves the food, and we've had no problems since. (The canned food we feed him is Tiki Cat and Weruva, both of which he also loves).
posted by sharding at 10:27 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, a change in food will almost definitely help alleviate your stinky poo problems. Basically, if you can buy it in a supermarket, it sucks. There are many, many cat food brands threads on ask.mefi, but I'm too lazy to search so I'll go ahead and say I'd get some Orijin dry or Wellness wet (there are better brands now, but Wellness is still better exponentially better than, say, Friskies). You want foods that are low in carbs and high in protein, essentially. If you must buy from a supermarket, Fancy Feast is the best of the worst, as far as my label reading skills go, and my vet agrees. But if you can get yourself to a real pet food store, go.
posted by cgg at 10:36 PM on April 29, 2011

Another easy diet-change option: It's perfectly fine to feed cats tinned tuna meant for humans, provided that's not ALL you feed them, because human-tuna lacks the amino acids that obligate carnivores like cats get from guts and gizzards in nature. Tuna-for-humans is often hilariously cheaper per gram than fancy cat food in tiny tins.

(Get tuna in "springwater", preferably. Cats really love tuna in brine, which isn't all THAT salty and so is also fine for occasional feeding. I've never tried tuna in vegetable oil; that's probably begging for even more digestive trouble.)

In theory, one big meal of human-tuna or any other taurine-free food can be Very Bad for a cat; this is the source of the rule of thumb that says you shouldn't worry if your dog eats cat food, but you should make sure your cat doesn't eat dog food. In practice, I've never seen the slightest trouble from giving cats a meal of tuna-for-humans flanked by any kind of dry food.
posted by dansdata at 11:51 PM on April 29, 2011

I second Heretical's advice to change the kitty's food. However, I am appalled at the lack of photos of the kitten because how can we possibly give you really good advice unless we see the object of discussion?
posted by cooker girl at 6:14 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

We adopted two kittens in the past year and they both came with a touch of an upper respiratory infection, which is very common in shelter cats. It's viral, and my vet only became concerned when the symptoms got bad enough that she assumed there was a secondary bacterial infection going on. If your kitty gets worse or doesn't get better in a couple of weeks, I'd take her back to the vet for some antibiotics.

As far as the stinky poo - our vet also told us that when kittens are weaned too early, sometimes they have problems transitioning to real food that can affect their digestive systems for a few months. I had this problem with one of my little guys but he grew out of it.
posted by something something at 6:57 AM on April 30, 2011

Excellent advice you guys, thank you! I'll switch the food immediately and keep an eye on the sneezing. And cooker girl, you are absolutely right. There should be photos, but I'm too technologically underadvanced to figure it out.
posted by mrfuga0 at 7:14 AM on April 30, 2011

Yes, changing her diet is a good idea, but do it slowly. Her little tummy is already upset and changing her food may make it worse before it gets better. We just adopted a kitten a few months ago and he had the same tummy troubles, but he would walk around the house leaking! Dear god that was awful. The vet had us switch to a high fiber prescription food for a few days which really helped. He's much better now.
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 7:31 AM on April 30, 2011

In addition to feeding better food (canned is preferable, but at least a grain-free dry if you must feed dry), try taking her into the bathroom with you and running the hot water in the shower, this will help clear some of the congestion. It sounds like she may have an upper respiratory infection and usually those just have to clear on their own - however, if her appetite decreases, if she starts acting listless or "not right", or if the snot turns green/yellow, she needs a trip to the vet.
posted by biscotti at 8:16 AM on April 30, 2011

Let us know how the kitten is doing, mrfuga0. Like others have said -- transition carefully. Mix a bit of wet in with the dry, don't go for a super high protein grain-free 100% whatever wet food. Get the more 'mainstream' stuff first, so the kitten's tummy can get used to it. By the time she's all full grown, she'll be eating trout and rabbit like my spoiled little HK.

For when she's older, I forgot to mention one other high-quality brand -- Nature's Variety. They sell dry, wet, and even raw food. If she'll eat it, raw is a great way to supplement her diet when she's older. Not every day, maybe, but once a week wouldn't hurt. (If you go for the raw, stick with rabbit, chicken, maybe venison.) If you can find a sample to have her try so you don't risk her not liking it and ending up with a bag of it in the freezer for all eternity, that might be best.
posted by Heretical at 12:39 PM on April 30, 2011

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