Cat experts please help my cat now
February 19, 2017 11:46 PM   Subscribe

I am asking about my cat. The vet and I think he has IBS. He is eating very little the last few days. I am very scared.

I feel very panicked writing this. I panic easily. I may not look at the answers if I cannot face it. I need advice, but I will be overwhelmed and feel sick if I see many answers. I don't have the ability to consider differing answers and viewpoints. I will feel really confused and scared. Please try to write simply and not confuse me. Thank you.

My cat has been an extremely picky eater always. He will go off a certain food and refuse to eat until I give him something else. Then he will go off that and like something I gave him in the past. Some days he eats too little. But usually only a day or two at most. But most of the time he has a very healthy appetite and asks for food a lot. He is a perfect weight.

But he often throws up. It's always between the hours of about 4 am and 10 am. It is very consistent. He might throw up twice one week, and then go two weeks not throwing up at all. He never has diareaha. Only vomit. He throws up stomach acid, after he digests his food in the morning ( I wake up at noon so he goes long between dinner and breakfast). I told vet about stomach acid vomit and she thinks that ibs too.

About 4 years ago he was not eating much for days I got so scared and took him to a vet. They did blood tests, everything normal. They gave him nausea med and fluid. He came home same day and started eating like nothing happened!!!

Early this week he started eating little. On Thursday I finally took him to the vet. More blood tests, everything normal. She examined his stomach, bladder, and kidneys with her hands. She said they all feel very healthy. She said probably IBS, so change diet. He got fluid and naseua shot.

I am aware how dangerous it is for a cat not to eat. Please be aware I know and don't scare me. I know because my cat died 7 years ago when he swallowed string and dindnt eat.

****I think my cat is stressed and has ibs major flare up, I think I have to be patient with him, not stress him, but what if I'm wrong?

On Tuesday many men came in my apartment within 30 minutes. I rarely have visitors. They were all management people looking at different aspects of my apartment, He hid under the couch the whole time but I don't think he felt safe enough. But he came out right away after they left.

On Thursday when we got home from the vet he when straight under the couch (he did not do this when we went vet four years ago!). From 8pm thuersday till 3pm Friday he never came out from under the couch for more than two minutes. I guess he felt unsafe. I would feed him a half teaspoon of baby food and stick my arm under.

Since Friday I found he will eat temptations treats I got at store but no other foods or treats. He is eating about 45 temptations a day. They are very small. He drinks water at least twice a day.

I am scared bc he is eating so little still. Can he still be stressed? And that is why he won't eat. I will describe how he eats later. It was a very long ride to and from vet on Thursday bc I was going to a cheaper vet bc no money. He was SO stressed and was also meowing so much during the exam itself which was long (when we went 4 years ago he was relaxed in the exam).

The vet thinks he is feeling active nausea and that's why he won't eat. I feel this too. It's my sense.
This is why I think maybe he's getting better??
1. when I fed him Thursday and Friday he would eat a little, then suddenly look at me offended like I tricked him into eating and he felt ill, and go back under the couch or on top of the couch.
But sat and today (sunday) he will eat little and stay on the bed with me after instead of running away (we stay in bed all day). Maybe he feels less sick from eating even if he won't actually eat more yet??
2. When I open bag of temptations, he looks over like he's interested now. But I stil have to put them under his nose, and he eats only 7-12 at a time.
3. Each day he's more affectionate and seems like himself (mostly)

Why I am worried I am being too patient and he is not getting better like I think---
1. He did not eat more today (sunday) than yesterday. (but by a maybe negligible 2 temptations).
2. He won't ever initiate eating himself.
3. He won't eat any wet food only temptations.
4. All Saturday evening he stopped leaving the bed after I fed him BUT just now, at midnight on sunday night, I fed him only 3 temptations, he looked offended and went to sit on top of the couch again. (usually he only stays with me in the bedroom).BUT ALSO I had fed him an hour before and usually I feed him only every 2.5 hours. Maybe I pushed it???

HIs eyes aren't yellowed and he's not acting lethargic (but not playing at all either).

This is my question. Do I give him more time to be less stressed, nausea, and eat like he used to? Also, if I take him to the vet for a ultrasound and xray what can they find and how will they treat it/what does it cost to treat what they find? Please answer cost too. I have no money . I am terrified. He is my best friend and only friend aside from the guy who drove us to the vet and I only known for 3 months, we are not close. I am so scared both that I can't save him bc I have no money at all, and that I will make the wrong decision and cause his death that way. I feel I stressed him by taking him to the vet on Thursday. I am so scared every minute I am waiting to see if he improves. I don't want to take him to the vet again and give him more stress and not let him heal. But I am so scared watching him every miuate and not understaning why he won't eat. I just want him to eat a little more each day. Just a little. Maybe tomorrow (Monday) he will eat just a little more. I am scared about what's coming. Please help me understand more clearly. I am confused. Thank you.
posted by Blitz to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Also he purrs a lot still, especially today, and everytime I lay back on the bed he wants to lay on top of me, or give me a massage and purr.
posted by Blitz at 11:52 PM on February 19, 2017

I'm so sorry, you sound very stressed.

The good news is your cat is drinking water. Beyond that, have you tried high-value/desirable food? What about stinky food? Some cats react positively to stinky high-value foods. You could try gently warming some sardines in the microwave to tempt him.

Wait until tomorrow morning and call the vet you took your cat to last week. Ask if the cat needs to be seen again, and tell the vet's office about your financial situation. Many times vet practices have access to some options for a payment plan, at least.

Finally - see if you can reduce your stress levels. I know my cats are highly sensitized to me acting stressed, and it can prompt stress reactions in them. Could you make yourself a cup of tea/cocoa, take a nice shower, pet your purring sweet cat and find a book to curl up with until tomorrow?
posted by arnicae at 12:25 AM on February 20, 2017 [14 favorites]

I also know how stressful it can be when a much loved cat decides they are going to be finicky about their food. What I have heard is that a cat not eating is more potentially serious if that cat is overweight to begin with.

Bear in mind that your cat is not refusing to eat at all, it's just that he has decided that for now Temptations are his preferred food. If you can afford some cheap chicken or a tin of tuna, you could try tempting him with that - seeing him eating that might make you feel better.

Is your cat long- or even semi-longhaired? Have you spoken to the vet's about hairball if that is the case? We've had cats with longish coats throw up and go off their food when they've had a hairball, which will either pass naturally or with the aid of some paste you can buy over the counter in a pet shop.

And yes, absolutely cats can be stressed by people coming to the house or trips to the vet's, especially if those things are rare, but he's coming out from his hiding places so he isn't feeling too bad now.

All his other behaviours currently seem to suggest he isn't feeling too bad, in my non expert experience, but is just being a typical fussy cat. Remember the vet said to change his diet but that was only a couple of days ago and it'll take a while to work.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 12:58 AM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I understand how worried you must be. But it sounds like he is just being fussy and has decided he likes the temptations for now. To me it sounds like he is getting enough. They seem small but treats are usually fairly high in calories. His other behaviours are reassuring to me, but do give your vet a call. They'll want to reassure you without the stress of making him visit.

My kitties will sometimes shun crunchy food in the bowl but if I line the crunchies up (say, on the arm rest of the sofa) then they gobble them up. Cats can be weird!

It's lovely he wants to lay on you. He's probably trying to calm you. Being like that with him will be restful for you both. Best wishes to you both.
posted by kitten magic at 2:15 AM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've been a cat owner for over 30 years and one of my kids works in the veterinary field.

I ran this by my kid who said your cat seems to be acting pretty normally. He's eating plenty of treats and drinking water and he's at a healthy weight. But here are a few suggestions that may alleviate your anxiety:

1. If you actually are feeding the cat every 2.5 hours, stop doing that because he needs a chance to get hungry. One of the first things vets will recommend when a cat is doing some type of catlike hunger strike is to feed them only twice a day. Don't leave out a bowl of dry food for grazing. Let the cat get good and hungry.

2. Go for stinky wet food like sardines or mushy canned food. Sprinkle Forti-Flora -- many cats love it.

3. Like kitten magic suggests, make a game of eating. There are cat treat dispensers that may engage your boy more.

4. You didn't mention play. Does your cat have a catnip toy or other toys? Does it have anything it likes to chase or bat around? If not, you may want to stuff a sock with catnip or try a few toys to increase his prey drive.

5. More about you and not the kitty and I say this with all compassion, you seem disproportionately anxious, and your cat may be picking up on that. Even if he's not, you really don't sound okay. In your question you sound anxious and terrified, you're questioning a vet and looking here for better answers, you're constantly checking on him, watching him every minute and trying to get him to eat, and you're catastrophizing your cat is close to a danger zone where he's going to die yet you have zero reason to think this is true. I'm also a bit concerned that you say you spend the day in bed -- is that typical for you? I implore you to please talk to someone about this -- the stress in your question is palpable and I think you would benefit from talking to a professional.

Your cat seems fine. Lots of luck and keep us updated, please. Also, a picture always helps.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:10 AM on February 20, 2017 [13 favorites]

i too get super worried about my cat, and I'm sure the trauma and sadness from your previous cat's death makes it so much worse.

Crunchy treats are high-calorie for their volume, that's one thing to remember. So your cat is getting more calories than if he were eating a similar volume of other food.

My cat also really likes bonito flakes - you can get Kitty Kaviar brand or just a big bag of plain ones from a grocery store with a good selection of Japanese ingredients.

She also throws up a lot sometimes and goes on hunger strike every so often, once to the point of a vet visit at $300-worth of blood work.

One thing I've noticed with her: when she gets worked up and then eats, she throws up. Does your cat work himself up at all? Is he bored or else ultra playful right around when he eats? I notice with our cat that if she's been galloping around the house either playfully or because she's impatient for her food, that makes her more likely to be sick. When she's had a day or so of that, sometimes what I do is feed her her dinner a tablespoon at a time and sit with her while she eats - that usually chills her out and makes her slow down.

I think if your cat is drinking water and eating crunchy treats, he is stable, even if things aren't ideal.
posted by Frowner at 5:17 AM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Your cat is drinking water, and eating things even if they are not the ideal things, and he is possibly a bit stressed out by people and car rides but doesn't seem to be seriously distressed or in pain. So, most important thing: You've got the basics covered! You are taking good care of him! If you can, please do something nice for yourself and try to let yourself relax even a tiny bit - it will be good for him as well as for you.

In your shoes, I would keep doing exactly what you are doing, and also keep offering some other kind of food or treats once a day to see if you can find other things he will eat too. I'd look for stinky things. Usually I recommend baby food, but I see that you are already on this, maybe keep up with that. Maybe Halo Liv-A-Little treats? Those are pure crack to my cat flock; the fish ones are stinkier but the fish seem to be their absolute favorites.

If things don't improve in another week or so, I'd probably call the vet and ask for advice on whether he needs to come back. If possible, I'd suggest you try to leave aside the money worries until then. If you hit that point, you can ask your vet about payment plans, or start a YouCaring fundraiser to ask for help from friends, but it might not come to that, so that's trouble you can try to leave for Future You.

For now, keep doing what you're doing, and give his stomach some more time to settle.
posted by Stacey at 5:34 AM on February 20, 2017

I agree that you seem to be doing everything right, and stinky food may be worth a try after giving him a chance to get hungry.

Some additional thoughts based on my family's experience with cats (who are all healthy)

My sister's cats (~ 14 years old and still going strong) are life-long finicky eaters. The vet has her keep an eye on the litter box. As long as they're still drinking water and using the box, everything is fine to wait a week or so. If the litter box usage changes, that's when she wants her to call to have a chat with the vet about what to do next.

One of my own cats (~8 years old) has a funky digestive system from parasites as a kitten (no diagnosis, vet just said she's going to be prone to stomach problems). I've noticed that when we have grass for her, she keeps her food down much better. I'm not sure if IBS would make that problematic, but it may be worth an ask next time you chat with the vet (if you don't already keep grass around). She'll upchuck grass, but not as often, and food stays in her tummy.
posted by ghost phoneme at 6:19 AM on February 20, 2017

I had a similar problem recently - he barely ate but all his blood work came back fine. I agree with yes I said yes I will Yes. You are WAY too stressed out and the cat knows this. I bet you are not eating well either. I solved my problem by trying different cat foods until I found one he would eat (dry IAMS grain free). I pet him and talk to him softly while he eats. I only feed him twice a day, always the same amount at the same time, and if he doesn't eat it all I put it away.

Your cat is very likely to be just fine. Trust the vet, trust the bloodwork, trust that your cat does have an appetite, if only for treats right now. The best thing you can do is calm down.
posted by AFABulous at 6:31 AM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

(Missed the edit window there but revision on the above statement re: Liv-a-Littles: the fish are stinkiest but the CHICKEN are the ones my cats will do anything for.)
posted by Stacey at 6:58 AM on February 20, 2017

Your kitty just sounds like he has a sensitive stomach. Our cat does, too. He throws up a lot and we worried he wasn't getting enough calories. Our vet told us to buy high calorie paste from the pet store. One brand we bought was Nutrical. Sometimes he licks it off our fingers, other times we need to smear it on his nose so he licks it off.

It is expensive ($15/tube) but it may be worth it for your peace of mind to give him some when you think he isn't eating enough.
posted by tippy at 6:59 AM on February 20, 2017

You could be describing my cat. She has major anxiety. For three days this week, her food/water bowls and litter boxes terrified her. I had to hand-feed her and spent a lot of time tightly cuddling her so she felt safe. (She might need a Thundershirt.)

When I got her a pheromone calming diffuser and spray, she got much, much better and started eating on her own again. It might work on your cat, if you think his anxiety is interfering with his ability to eat. This is what I use, it lasts for 30 days.
posted by Wossname at 7:37 AM on February 20, 2017

Feliway is a great suggestion.

My cat had IBS, so I will tell you the treatment my vet suggested for him, that we followed.

1. Prednisone, which are steroids. Cats tolerate steroids very well and the medicine relieved his stomach inflammation. He did a bunch of rounds of prednisone, tolerated them well, and felt better.

2. A one-time dose of thorazine, when he was throwing up pretty constantly and seemed to have triggered himself into a chain reaction of throwing up -- this basically knocked him out cold for a while and when he woke up, his nervous system had reset and he stopped with the triggery vomiting.

3. Filtered water. No idea if this made a difference but it coincided with his flares going away. We just used a filtering water fountain.

Agree also that high value, stinky food may help the appetite come back if your cat is off his food. Fancy Feast always worked a trick for my cat (smells terrible, but he loved it even when he wasn't feeling well).
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:53 AM on February 20, 2017

If it's any consolation, my 15yo kitty has thrown up often her whole life. Usually from eating too fast (I find unchewed kibble), or eating too much. Other times she pukes up liquid or bile or a hairball. It's just Her Thing. Some cats just have sensitive tummies.

Your boy sounds pretty healthy despite the puking. I would get a supply of several foods he likes, and rotate them around so he doesn't get bored. Do you leave dry kibble out so he can self-feed? I leave dry food out all the time (and water) and feed gooshy food twice a day. Hope he feels better soon!
posted by jhope71 at 9:24 AM on February 20, 2017

Usually from eating too fast (I find unchewed kibble)

The fix for this is to spread the food out in an empty egg carton or muffin tin. It slows them down and makes them work a little harder (usually they have to scoop it out with their paw).
posted by AFABulous at 9:43 AM on February 20, 2017

My happy, healthy 17 year old male cat has been doing this since he was a kitten. I find it gets much better when he only eats grain-free wet food. We feed him Wellness Core. It helps a LOT. Dry food always irritates his stomach and starts a cycle of throwing up the clear stomach acid.

It probably is IBS. The treatment is exactly what your vet is doing. Fluid and anti-nausea meds. You can also give your cat a quarter of a human pepcid pill (the tiny square pink ones, not the chewable ones) to help when his stomach is upset.

Even with all of this I still end up taking him to the vet every few months for fluid and an anti-nausea shot - because he loves crunchy food and I give him some as treats. Sometimes I give him too many - and back to the vet we go.

I am sure your vet is doing what is best for your cat. It sounds like exactly what my vet does for mine. You may just have to accept that this is part of life with a cat with a delicate tummy.
posted by invincible summer at 2:37 PM on February 20, 2017

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