Help me get ideas on how to spoil my cat.
October 10, 2005 7:52 PM   Subscribe

My cat is dying, any ideas on how I can spoil the hell out of him in his last few months?

Took him to the vet today, and his lungs got x-rayed. Hes always had asthma (as a result of being the runt of the litter and a case of worms as a kitten), but the prednisone we've been giving him to keep the attacks away weakened his immune system. There are white spots in his lungs that the vet thinks is cancer. I don't want to put my cat through a biopsy surgery and cancer treatments, hes already lived longer than we thought he would due to his frailty. So I've decided to just let him ride it out, and will put him to sleep when I feel it's time.

But until then I want to spoil him, let him have some nice things and make the last few months of his life as nice and comfortable as possible. Anyone have ideas of nice things to buy cats? I've never really gone past what was availible at the local pet store.

posted by atom128 to Pets & Animals (37 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My sympathies for your cat's illness. You may want to check out Drs. Foster and Smith for unusual cat toys. If your cat has a desire for the outside, a Kittywalk product might be right up his alley.

Does he still get excited watching squirrels and birds through the window? If so, you might want to consider this completely insane product.

Does your cat have any favorite foods? If it were me, I might consider spoiling kitty with some really excellent quality meats and fish. Actually, there is a tech at the vet's office where I take my cats who has a cat in his 20s. She makes him scallops with garlic every Friday night because it's his favorite dish and, as she puts it, he's not going to be around forever.
posted by Sully6 at 8:03 PM on October 10, 2005

When a friend's cat got old, she would give her things like salmon mousse and fresh grilled tuna.
posted by slimslowslider at 8:04 PM on October 10, 2005

Have you thought about a nice polar fleece bed and a heating pad? THat's what we did for our 22 year old siamese.

There's a really crappy kind of cat food that cats love-- it's like kitty MacDonalds. I am blanking on the name but it comes in a square plastic dish, with a foil cover. I think you cat would appreciate it more than high quality stuff. I give it to my boys on Christmas and they love it. (they also really like turkey).

I wish your cat (and you) the best.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:20 PM on October 10, 2005

IMPORTANT PS If you do want to give your cat lavish treats, monitor how much he or she is drooling. THis happens when cats have an acid stomach, so if you see a lot of drool, back off.

We've also found that our infirm cats love turkey and chicken flavored babyfood. It's easy to digest and they seem to find it very tasty.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:27 PM on October 10, 2005

Nice warm special cat bed - they have them in pet stores.

Organic catnip.
posted by zadcat at 8:34 PM on October 10, 2005

posted by Rothko at 8:36 PM on October 10, 2005

There's a really crappy kind of cat food that cats love-- it's like kitty MacDonalds. I am blanking on the name but it comes in a square plastic dish, with a foil cover.

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:41 PM on October 10, 2005

My (previous) cat used to love chinese food. For her birthday, we'd always get her some chop suey.
posted by signal at 8:47 PM on October 10, 2005

Sorry about your sick kitty. Let him have the water from the tuna can, if you don't already give it to him. My cat loves tuna water so much that before the can opener has even punctured the lid, she senses a disturbance in The Force and comes running at full speed.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:48 PM on October 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

that's really sweet of you to think like this.

your mileage may vary, but my cat would want hours and hours and hours of (monitored) outdoor time in the grass, and then time by a fire with his people.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:55 PM on October 10, 2005

I'll second the baby food. When my kitty was dying, she was too tired to eat regular food and I spoonfed her the Gerber lamb stuff from the jar. Cat loved it.

Sorry to hear about your kitty.
posted by idiotfactory at 9:03 PM on October 10, 2005

Ratatouille made with fresh rats? Seriously, how about suppliers of zoo food, like Natural Balance? Fine flavors on their feline menu include salmon, paté, and venison with green pea.
posted by rob511 at 9:16 PM on October 10, 2005

One of my cats would gladly be rid of me if he could open the cabinet himself to get at the Whiskas Temptations cat treats (I think it's the seafood flavor). They're not extravagant or lavish, really, but he runs into the kitchen and stands on my feet every time he hears me open the cupboard.
If you really want to spoil your cat, give him some lox or any other smoked salmon. Whitefish salad is a good treat, too.
Really, whenever you cook meat, give him some scraps. He'll love a taste or two of what you're eating, or even just the fat that you've trimmed off before you cook it. I usually let my cats have a go at the ribs once I've picked them as clean as I can get them. I'll find the bones in the weirdest places, though.

You have my sympathies, by the way. Despite the fact that my cats are obnoxious, destructive bastards who cover absolutely everything in their fur, I'd be crushed if I lost one of them.
posted by Jon-o at 9:24 PM on October 10, 2005

This thread made me cry. (I have a 19 year old kitty.) As others have mentioned: a special heated cat bed on a perch (made easily accessible if the cat is having trouble getting around), combined with tons of kitty treats and the food he loves. Ours does love tuna water, and I think I'd give her the tuna itself if I knew she didn't have much time left.
posted by litlnemo at 9:26 PM on October 10, 2005

I'm sorry for your situation, but creating a loving atmosphere for your cat's last days will be comforting for both of you.

May I suggest:

Video Catnip - my cat loves watching and listening to the birds on the TV.

Memory Foam Orthopedic Pet Bed - I've never known a cat who doesn't love those memory foam mattress toppers. What's better than their own bed?

Snuggle Safe Heat Pad - if your cat likes his current bed, then adding some warmth will be a nice addition.

And of course, lots and lots of petting and love, which I'm sure you already have well covered...
posted by seymour.skinner at 9:27 PM on October 10, 2005

This may be a bit cliche but I think the most valuable thing you can give to your cat and to yourself is your time - just to hold and pet and cuddle and be with him. Make that extra effort to be with your cat and give him love. In the end cats aren't really materialists, and beyond tasty treats your contact and attention is the most valuable thing you have. (My wife and I had our long-time feline companion euthanized several months ago. You will know when it's time, but you never know if you will have months or weeks more... so focus on the time you have now).
posted by nanojath at 9:33 PM on October 10, 2005

We made the same decision as you, prior to our 21 year old cat being put to sleep a few months ago. As well as making sure she was comfortable and giving her treats, we bought all sorts of toys but a piece of newspaper rolled into a ball with a string attached was still her all-time favourite toy. Your cat sounds well-loved, you are already giving him what he needs most.
posted by Tarrama at 9:40 PM on October 10, 2005

How about getting one of those pet combs? Pet stores have those small very fine-toothed ones-- my cat really loved his. A leisurely/gentle combing might make your cat also feel great, really pampered.
posted by clon7 at 10:02 PM on October 10, 2005

I gave my cat all kinds of treat-food while he was still eating solid food, and then when he couldn't handle that anymore, baby food, and then cat-milk formula for kittens.

My cat got extremely dehydrated when he was close to death, and because one of the symptoms of his illness was fragile skin, he had to be rehydrated by IV instead of a bolus under the skin. I left him at the vet overnight for hydration and then took him home for a couple of days to let him get some distance from all the diagnosis visits we'd been on. The cat carrier was freaking him out, and he'd always been a mellow cat til then.

My vet actually came over to my apartment to put him down when he wouldn't take kitten formula anymore (the sign we agreed on). That was a horrible experience that I would never wish on anyone, but having her come over, so my cat could drift off in familiar surroundings with minimal strange smells, was an incredible gift. I'd definitely ask if your vet is willing to do a house call, if it comes to that.
posted by caitlinb at 10:13 PM on October 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

If your cat has cancer, spoiling the hell out of him by putting him on an all-meat diet might even prolong his life. Wysong makes supplements that, when added to fresh, raw meat, will provide your cat with the calcium and taurine he needs.

I think that raw meat is the ideal food for cats, but some prefer cooked. Google "BARF" (bones and raw food) for more info. Also feel free to contact me if you'd like more raw feeding tips.

My cats love it when I groom them with a warm washcloth. Wet the cloth, pop it in the microwave, test it for temperature on the inside of your wrist and clean his head and face in the same gentle but firm way that a mother cat does.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. It's heartbreaking to lose a cat that you love so much.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:34 PM on October 10, 2005

One more vote for spending as much time with him as you can. In my experience that's what makes a well-loved cat happiest.
posted by rhiannon at 10:44 PM on October 10, 2005

Petting and brushing and massaging and crawling and talking together. With catnip, if he likes that. My old kitty also takes his time getting really comfortable in my lap, so he really likes it when I commit to just sitting with him for a long time, stroking him and telling him how great a cat he is.

I'm really sorry to hear about your sick friend, and hope his passing is gentle.
posted by mediareport at 10:46 PM on October 10, 2005

the only thing i can add is to avoid bathing him. i have never heard a cat yowl so much as when wet!
posted by radioamy at 11:37 PM on October 10, 2005

Good for you for thinking like this. I really agree with finding the food he likes best and feeding him as much as he wants (Sheba is also my choice for this - I've met few cats, no matter how awful they felt, who could resist the delicious crap that is Sheba - it's the chocolate cake/McDonald's of cat foods). What I did when my last cat was dying was get an old comforter and fold it up, put a heat-reflective cat blanket on top, and place it on the middle seat of the couch. That way he could lie in style and get fussed over from two people at once while we watched TV. If there are medications involved, my personal rule is that (aside from painkillers), if the cat really objects it's okay to skip a day - quality of life is far more important than quantity of life with a pet who's dying. I also think that it's important to set rules for yourself about knowing when it's time, so that you don't have to second-guess yourself (much) when the time comes. My rule for this has always been when the bad days outnumber the good, when there's an obvious increase in discomfort, when you definitely "get the message" from the animal itself (and this happens more often than not), or if there's a refusal to eat which is not rectified by two or three days of force-feeding (refusals to eat compound themselves, so I generally think it's worthwhile in most cases to force-feed at least for a day or two to give the animal a chance to get over that hump of feeling gross from the lack of food - if they still won't eat after a day or three of force-feeding a reasonable amount, then they're just not going to and it's time to go - I would not do this with a dying cat which strongly objected). Your cat is lucky to have you.

If I could make a suggestion for YOUR mental health over this time: take lots of pictures and keep a journal if you don't already. The parts of my journal I wrote when my last cat was dying are some of the best things I've written, and they remind me of all kinds of things about my cat that I forget.
posted by biscotti at 5:35 AM on October 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'll just agree with everyone else - all good ideas, and now I too am in tears. We lost our cat a few years ago to cancer, and the last few months of her life she got to go outside whenever the sun was shining (she loved to bask - fenced-in yard, I was always right there with her), lots of good food (I've found that the tuna/salmon/shrimp that comes packaged in those nifty foil pouches was her favorite, that and Buddig meat!), and lots of loving from us. Do take pictures (my favorite photo of sweet Malibu was taken just a few weeks before she died), and just spend time with the little guy. He knows you, and your presence through this journey will help him stay relaxed and calm. Good luck, and my deepest sympathies.

Oh, and if it does come down to euthanasia, please do see if you can find a vet that will come to your house. It will help you and kitty deal with the loss and the leaving.
posted by tr33hggr at 6:44 AM on October 11, 2005

I'm very sorry to hear this, and I can certainly empathize as I just went through this myself.

Quality time is important for both you and your cat. Your attention and love are the most precious thing you can give your friend. Setting up a comfortable place for him to hang out is a must...a favorite pillow in a window (we moved a dresser to be near the window) was a particularly happy retreat. I also have to recommend baby food (turkey and chicken). It has become known as "kitty crack" at our house, as our other cat is now completely hooked.

Like others, I definitely recommend having a vet come to your house when the time comes; while it was still very difficult, it spared everyone the trauma of yet another visit to the vet. My wife and I both took the day off so that we could spend her last several hours with her, and I'm very thankful that we did.

I wish you both the best during a difficult time.
posted by malocchio at 7:13 AM on October 11, 2005

This thread is so terrible and so sweet (my cat is 16 and has a vet appt tomorrow...I'm not looking forward to it).

One recommendation I have is to grow a container of cat grass. When my cats have stopped liking catnip (it happens!) chewing on something that was still planted had an air of naughtiness that they enjoyed, esp. if they can't get outside much.

I think you're making the right decision; I hope it goes gently.
posted by artifarce at 7:36 AM on October 11, 2005

Great, now I have to deal with a week of insufferable cat-spoiling at the hands of my GF, who undoubtedly will be overcome with sorrow when she reads this thread.

I'm very sorry about your friend, atom128. I'd also recommend tons of tuna "juice" -- and be extra fastidious when cleaning out the cat box. Just one less frustration for him/her to deal with.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:37 AM on October 11, 2005

Venison, 2nded. We had some raw frozen from relatives and the cat went ape over it (reheated). If they could hunt in packs I think this is what they'd bring down.

You're a great kitty friend, condolences.
posted by Marnie at 8:11 AM on October 11, 2005

Someone mentioned a fine tooth kitty comb to groom/brush him with - I STRONGLY second this. I got one this past summer for my cat (who is younger and usually won't sit still for any amount of time - he'd rather play then be petted), but now when I whip out the brush, he jumps in front of me, plops down on his side, and starts purring before I even start brushing him. He ADORES it. Kitty massage! The damp, warm washcloth for kitty's face sounds nice too, as the comb is probably a bit too rough for the thin fur on his face.

Also, seconded (thirded? fourthed?) by me: tuna juice, Sheba, your time.
posted by AlisonM at 8:13 AM on October 11, 2005

I lost two cats to FIP a few years ago. When the first one died, I had no idea what do to, and took her body to the vet. Bad idea.

When the second one started to go, I asked my vet what I could do. She graciously agreed to come to my house to put my kitty down on the turf he knew best.

You should ask for this, and possibly shop for a vet who will do this. It was way, way better than taking him into the animal hospital.

Also: it's illegal to bury your pet in your yard in many cities. Don't let that stop you. Find a spot for a nice deep hole and get something heavy to put on top. I really, really regret taking kitty #1's body to the vet to have it rendered down into pet food...
posted by daver at 9:35 AM on October 11, 2005

Let me echo the suggestion that you take pictures. I did this sort of opportunistically, and it felt incredibly wrong at the moment. I was stunned by how deeply grateful I was to have them afterward. I wouldn't put them up on my website or anything like that, but they were a comfort on several levels after he was gone.
posted by caitlinb at 9:45 AM on October 11, 2005

Just to clarify (?) on the previous post, we took our cat's body to the animal shelter, where they cremate the body. (pet food??? uh...)
posted by artifarce at 9:45 AM on October 11, 2005

As my kitty approached her end I decided it was okay to give her something that you're not supposed to give kitties, but that the kitty loved, namely, milk. Not huge quantities. I'd just put my cereal bowl down on the ground and she'd take a couple of laps of it, give me a very satisfied look and trot off for her morning nap. She wasn't hardly eating anything at the time, but the once-forbidden milk seemed to make her happy.

I also concur about tuna water. A friend swears by little packets of dried squid that she gets at an Asian market when it comes to spoiling her cat, but I don't have a cat anymore, so haven't tried it.

Sorry about your cat. I hope that your remaining time with him is good.
posted by Sara Anne at 9:45 AM on October 11, 2005

I second the suggestions for a heating pad. Our cats LOVE them. We got special ones like these that won't over-heat your cat so they can stay on it for hours. The heating elements are very well protected and the cover is washable. I give them to anyone with cats.

I also second the suggestion of having a vet make a house call to euthanize your kitty when the time comes. It's what we've done to save them the trauma of a car ride, etc. Plus it meant I could cry all I wanted without having to walk through a waiting room full of people afterwards to get to my car.
posted by lobakgo at 10:00 AM on October 11, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Maybe tonight I'll cook some fish for me AND the cat. Last night he came and chilled on the bed with me a few times and that was nice, and it was one of the rare times where I didnt get all cranky waking up at 3 am cuz a fuzzball wanted attention. Eitherway I feel better, and have quite the feline centric shopping list now.
posted by atom128 at 11:44 AM on October 11, 2005

OMG!! I came accross this wonderful thread while I was desperately searching about what to feed my 16 y.o. cat, Coppy, who was just diagnosed with cancer (lymphoscarcoma). He's BEYOND thin. Prior to that, he was diagnosed with kidney disease, so that's why I thought he was so thin. He's getting pickier and picker about what he eats--I'm going crazy. I'm going to the grocery store right away to pick up some Sheba. What do you think about liverwurst and deviled ham? He really needs some super-fattening foods. I'm DESPERATE to get him to eat! Any other suggestions? Oh...if you're wondering why I don't do the "unselfish" thing and get him...uh, you know...euthanized, it's because here in Tampa they have a serious pet hospital and some of their board certified vets specialize in oncology. So, he's had his very first chemo treatment. This treatment will take six months to complete, but I'm committed. I was told cats tolerate chemo much better than humans--there should be no hair loss, but he might lose his whiskers--I saw this repeated on many sites while researching what to do. I MUST know that I did everything I possibly could to save my little cat. The vet said that we should know within 4-6 weeks whether Coppy is responding to treatment. In the meantime, I must not only keep him eating, but hopefully, I'll be able to get him to gain a little weight. I just wanted to thank all of you for sharing your tricks and tips. I am so very appreciative. And to atom128, I'm so sorry to hear about your companion and my heart goes out to you. This is my last ditch effort to save Coppy. It's in God's hands. Regardless, chemo isn't a cure, so eventually, I will be in the same sad club as you.
posted by jrae at 6:38 PM on June 4, 2006

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