Unwanted Stuff On My Cat
November 19, 2013 3:51 AM   Subscribe

My cat had something on his fur, near his left rear thigh, that looked like a slug. It was about an inch long and 3-5mm wide, black, and shiny. He is a fraidy cat who will not tolerate being touched. He only just tolerates playing chases with a piece of string, so I spent some time with him this morning doing just that and trying to take a picture. I was not able to get a picture that was clear enough. He actually washed around whatever it was, but only once, and he didn't dislodge it in the process. We tried to catch him and failed. He got outside. Since he has so many hangups it is possible that he won't come back and likely that he won't trust us for another six months if he does. He only knows a few words, but "vet" is one of them and he has a very strong reaction to that one, so the effects of stuffing him into a pet carrier can only be imagined, even if we had any hope of accomplishing that now. So: what external feline parasite looks like a slug, is about an inch long and lurks on the fur near the thigh, and what do we do about it in the unlikely event that we get the chance?
posted by tel3path to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like a leech.
posted by Grunyon at 3:54 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Large, blood-engorged dog tick. Very common this time of year and appears shiny and tear-shaped when full of blood. Probably will fall off and you'll find it on the rug. Not really harmful just gross as hell.
posted by beckster at 3:59 AM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Sounds like a leech. If you let it be, it'll seal the wound and fall off on its own when it's full. If you want it off sooner, you can cover it in table salt, but be prepared for a bit of bleeding. Leeches are gross but they don't cause any long term harm.
posted by embrangled at 4:00 AM on November 19, 2013

I was thinking "leech" and "salt" too, but checking Wikipedia I see this: "Common, but medically inadvisable, techniques to remove a leech are to apply a flame, a lit cigarette, salt, soap, or a chemical such as alcohol, vinegar, lemon juice, insect repellent, heat rub, or certain carbonated drinks. These will cause the leech to quickly detach; however, it will also regurgitate its stomach contents into the wound. The vomit may carry disease, and thus increase the risk of infection." As embrangled says, if it's a leech it should fall off on it's own... so maybe next time you see kitty, it may be sans unwanted companion. *fingers crossed*
posted by taz at 4:05 AM on November 19, 2013

Best answer: I think it's unlikely to be a leech, in Oxford, on a cat, or a tick based on the description; for both they'd be buried into the fur, not sitting on top of it. It might well have been just a rather tenacious slug, or perhaps something inanimate like a blob of paint or tar that he's somehow come into contact with.
posted by Flashman at 5:17 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: An inch long is too big to be a tick, and if you are sure it is on the fur and not in it, I agree with Flashman -- not a parasite at all.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:19 AM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My cat on his brief escapes out onto the porch and the bushes around them, is prone to pick up slugs. Just icky, not harmful.
Hope he comes back safe & sound!
posted by pointystick at 5:24 AM on November 19, 2013

Best answer: When we lived in England, the furrier of my two cats would often have small stow-away slugs that I had to free from her fur. If it looks like a slug, it probably is. The location also sounds like prime slug territory on my cat (near the belly also was a common place to find them). Maybe some wet food would entice your cat to stand still enough so that you can get a firm confirmation of the slugness?
posted by brambory at 5:52 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Unlikely to a leech in England. The leeches we do have tend to hide in ponds and pools of water, not in wet grass. It would also have to be a massive tick. I'm also voting for a tenacious slug, or bird shit, or some other inanimate gunk.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:17 AM on November 19, 2013

Best answer: Hi. Crazy cat lady here. Let kitty be. Whatever it is, it'll likely fall off on it's own or with kitty's help.
posted by dchrssyr at 6:55 AM on November 19, 2013

Best answer: Slugs kind of...bond with skin and fiber. Be warned that if you grab that slug barehanded, it'll take a ridiculous amount of time and effort to scrub the slime off of your hands. Speaking from experience. Wear a pair of gardening gloves.
posted by desuetude at 6:57 AM on November 19, 2013

Best answer: Tangent, and more long-term than short-term, but: do you already know about Feliway? If not, do a search. That and "Sentry calming collar" (assuming a collar is an option).

Also: the little book Clicker Training for Cats.

All good for nervous cats.
posted by amtho at 9:42 AM on November 19, 2013

Response by poster: I've heard of Feliway, I think I might need to order some STAT because he was all like O GOD WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS I TRUSTED YOU

I got the feeling that he really liked me this morning, he even asked to keep playing after I put his toys away. Now he'll probably associate play with threat.

We've never had a cat move out on us before, maybe this is going to be a new experience.
posted by tel3path at 9:57 AM on November 19, 2013

Best answer: Try not to beat yourself up. You didn't do anything wrong; you were trying to help. There's a good chance he'll come back after a while. If you want, you can put a warm box outside just in case.

Virtual hug to you. I know how this feels, having had skittish foster cats. It's got to be harder when the cat gets outside, but try not to worry too much.
posted by amtho at 10:31 AM on November 19, 2013

Best answer: It might be worthwhile to inform your neighbors, so they know that he can be allowed inside if he shows up (i.e., he's not a stray, you'll come get him [using some clever method], etc.). Cats will often freak out, be upset for a while, then give you another (and another, and another) chance.
posted by amtho at 10:33 AM on November 19, 2013

Response by poster: He is allowed out. As far as I know at this point, he hasn't run away. We are probably the least of all possible evils.

I saw him lounging on the fence near a window this afternoon, so he's still comfortable within a few feet of the house. He still had that thing on him, whatever it is.
posted by tel3path at 10:36 AM on November 19, 2013

Best answer: You're good, then. He hasn't moved out :) If he likes treats, you can place some treats (or some food he likes) where he will see it, so he knows you will give him stuff without trying to trap him. Eventually you should be able to lure him inside, or he'll ask to come inside when he's cold enough.

You probably know all that already (this wasn't your question), but you seemed really worried so I figured I'd throw this out there.

As for the black thing? I guess you'll have to think of it as tribal cat jewelry or something. At least he's not trying to eat it.
posted by amtho at 10:42 AM on November 19, 2013

Top tip for a bit of Pavlovian training. Keep some cheapo frozen supermarket prawns in the freezer.

When you want your cat to come to you or to pick them up, take a couple of prawns out of the freezer, briefly defrost them in the microwave. Make sure they are not too hot. Then whistle your cat in.

Eventually your cat will relate being whistled in with getting prawns, and after that will likely want to get closer to you if you have the prawns. Once you have established the trust and the connection, if you need to pick the cat up, do it before it gets the prawns.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:43 AM on November 20, 2013

Response by poster: He hasn't come in yet today.

It's been a good eight months since he started spending the night in the house, and he still expresses outrage at the very idea of being touched, let alone picked up.
posted by tel3path at 5:18 AM on November 20, 2013

Response by poster: He came in!

The thing, whatever it was, is no longer there. We've had quite a few slugs around lately so that's my best guess as to what it was.

I honestly thought he'd moved out. We established that he was eating at his family home, and after three days we thought he would never come back except, at most, to sneak through the cat flap in the dead of night. Instead, he saw the Telemum in the front doorway and came in that way even though he had to approach her and pass close by her in order to do so. He's acting just the same as before, except that the Senior Cat has commandeered his blankie so he can't take his usual spot on the sofa. (He thought about jumping on there with her but decided, on balance, no.)

Going to order some Feliway now. I don't know what we'll do if he ever needs urgent veterinary care, but we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.
posted by tel3path at 3:16 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

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