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Help! My Cat is a Fur Covered Skeleton!

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Can someone please help my cat, Jafar? She is a 10.5 year-old Maine Coon cat, spayed and is a lovely red (orange) color with a small white bib. Well, what's left of her fur is still orange anyway. It's falling out, you see. And it's GREASY. I actually have to water bathe her 2 to 3 times a week with the special shampoo from the vet: Keratolux (made by Virbac Animal Health). Some of her bare skin looks slightly reddish or pinkish.

But let me start at the beginning.

Several years ago Jafar had a bad reaction to the t/d. She was vomiting and had the runs. The vet put her on the Low Residue and the problem went away. The last few months she has been loosing weight and having the runs again (huge loose stools). I took her to the vet and she saw a new doctor as her old doctor left my area to start his own practice. The new doctor is young, probably a few years out of medical school. He ran blood tests and didn't find anything. He tested her thyroid and that came back negative. By the time he took blood for the thyroid test she was having the runs 8 times a day!!!

I got desperate and switched her food. I put her on canned Natural Balance Chicken and Liver. A lot of her problems went away. I'm sure she is allergic to all grains and most carbohydrates, including the Sweet Potatoe. You see, her mother - Cattie-Brie - is on the Wellness (which contains sweet potatoe) and it makes Jafar sick.

That was back in September. Since then she hasn't gained any weight. She is constantly hungry!! She screams for food every 2 to 3 hours. It grew so bad she was eating 6 to 8 cans of Natural Balance a day. So I started giving her boiled chicken. I thought it would help her gain her weight back. But it didn't. And she's been eating a TON of cooked chicken drumsticks PLUS the canned food! With the chicken added to her meals, she's down to only 3 cans of Natural Balance a day. She can easily eat 10 chicken drumsticks ... or more within 24 hours. Only the chicken, mind you: not the skins or bones.

So I took her back to the vet. She saw her mother's doctor (who has been practicing meds a long time) and he noticed her intestines were swollen. He said either she has IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) or Cancer of the Intestines. I doubt if she has cancer due to her huge appetite!

The doctor gave Prednisolone (5 mg) that she takes once a day.

I read a bit about IBD and noticed that sometimes food allergies can lead to it. It fits her better than cancer does.

My question is, how can I get her to gain weight? What should I feed her? The Natural Balance and the boiled chicken doesn't seem to be helping her very much. She ate it for over a month and hasn't gained any weight. I can feel her backbone, her ribs, her hip bones. Her hip bones are VERY prominent and easily visible. Her stomach and back legs are bare. Her heels are sore and raw. Some of her long fur is in mats - I'm unsure how to remove them. I'll have to have the vet do it.

When she eats chicken her stools are normal: snake-like and pile up like pretzels. They are usually big. She eats so much that her stomach bulges way out (the younger doctor thought she had a giant tumor in her belly and was amazed when it was gone a week later when I brought her in with an empty stomach).

I tried giving her a bit of salmon oil to help with her skin and fur: it seems to give her the runs. I think it also contributes to the greasy fur? Not sure... I only gave a few drops a few times in the canned food.

I tried the digestive enzyme powder reccomended by the natural pet store. It's plant based. I'm not sure if it helps any... The women who recomended it is familar with cat nutrition and has nursed a sick dog back to health.

The other day Jafar ate a few of my other cat's dry kibble - c/d - and she puked it right out. She can't tolerate grain at all.

I guess it's too early to tell if the pills are doing anything. She takes them easily enough, hidden in a small bit of cream cheese. The cheese doesn't seem to bother her and the doctor said that was OK.

I tried the hypoallergermic (sp?) using boiled goat meat but the meat gave her the runs. She didn't seem to like the meat, either.

Her stools are usually very smelly.

So, any ideas on how I can get her to gain weight? Before she was 9.8 pounds. Now she is 6.4 pounds. She can still jump up onto low furniture, she grooms, she looks out the windows, she is alert. Yet it seems the doctor expects her to die soon from cancer. I had a cat that died from kidney failure a few years ago and Jafar is not that sick yet. Plus she has an incredibly good appetite.

I'm also willing to try the BARF diet. I gave her some raw chicken and she ate it. Ick! So she is apparently willing to go that route. It won't make her sick, will it?

So, does anyone have any ideas? I really need help as I'm out of ideas on how to help her gain weight!!
post #2 of 22
Thread Starter 
Oh, I forgot to say the doctor doesn't want to do the surgery thing to get an intestine sample. He thinks it would make her sicker and that she is not strong enough for that procedure. So you can rule that out.
post #3 of 22
Has your vet checked Jafar's thyroid? Excessive appetite, weight loss, and greasy fur are all common signs of a hyperthroid. Poor little girl; I hope the vet can give you a diagnosis soon. Have you considered a second opinion?
post #4 of 22
When was blood last analyzed? If this were my cat, I would want an organ function panel with thyroid test to rule out thyroid disease, diabetes and kidney issues.
post #5 of 22
I'm certainly not an expert, but I have heard of adult cats being fed kitten food to gain weight and get more nutrients. Can someone chime in on whether or not this might help?
post #6 of 22
I have put older cats on kitten food for them to put on wieght but with so many problems that this cat has had not sure i would try with out a vet approval.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Her Blood panel was on Sept 7. The Thyroid test was done a few days later. Her thyroid is normal. Her kidneys are normal - although her urine was a bit concentrated (but that was before I put her on the Natural Balance).

Are there kitten foods that are free of grain and carbohydrates? Because she is allergic to those. They will either make her puke or get the runs.

She does not vomit unless she eats grains or carbs.

Greasy foods - such as the salmon oil - seems to give her the runs.

When she walks she shakes her back feet, as if they were wet.

Sometimes a yellow liquid - grease? - drips out her butt. That seems to go with the salmon oil... Once I gave her some boiled chicken skins and the same happened.

Does her problem sound like cancer to you? The few websites I looked at said that cats with cancer eat very little. She is always hungry!
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
The Thyroid test was Sept 9 with the results 1 week later. They were negative. The only thing the doctor found recently was that her intestines were thickened.
post #9 of 22
with all the symptoms i might seem to think cancer. Only a vet could say for sure and if they dont want to look for it cause of health thats got to be really hard for you. Please keep us posted and hang in there.
post #10 of 22
Originally Posted by kirkstribble View Post
Her Blood panel was on Sept 7. The Thyroid test was done a few days later. Her thyroid is normal. Her kidneys are normal - although her urine was a bit concentrated (but that was before I put her on the Natural Balance).
Thyroid test results aren't positive or negative. Do you know what the value was? I would strongly recommend getting copies of her bloodwork for your records. Also, has the vet ruled out parasites?
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, when the doctor called me on the phone he said the results from the thyroid test was negative. Those were his words. He didn't say anything about numbers, as what the exact number was.

He also collected a poop sample and tested it for worms. Anyway, I presume it was for worms. They had the poop results while I was still at the vet, so they got the results very quickly - maybe a half hour? They insist on testing my cats yearly for worms even thought they never go outside. They are 100% Indoor cats.

Are there other things besides worms to test for?

The older doctor told me this: He said because her intestines are swollen she is not absorbing the food very well. She is absorbing SOME of it as she is still alive - but not all that she needs. And because she's not absorbing it, that has resulted in bad skin. And bad skin means bad hair. The greasy fur is related to her not absorbing food very well.

Here is an update on Jafar:

She seems to be doing a bit better today. I think the combination of raw chicken and the steroid pill are working on her. I shampood her last on Saturday and so far her fur is not greasy yet, except for a small area on her tail and there it's not too bad. When I wipe the tail with a piece of white toilet tissue it only turns a very, very faint yellow which you can hardly see - that is a big improvement! She has stopped dripping the yellow greasy stuff from her butt. Nor is she screaming for food as she used to do. I think she's eating a bit less and farther apart. Her poops are smaller in size, so I hope that means she's getting some food in her body! They do seem a tad softer though.

This morning I actually saw her RUN as I carried her plate of raw chicken into the other room where she eats! She hasn't done that in a long time. The type of running I mean is the fast trot cats can do, not the all-out gallop. My boys love to gallop around the house. I have 2 boys and 2 girls.

By the way, she's still eating the Natural Balance Chicken and Liver. I'm not dumb enough to feed her just the raw chicken by itself. Maybe the raw stuff is helping the inflammation in her guts go down as it's more "natural"? I'm also giving her a little raw chicken liver and chicken hearts once per day with the raw meat. It seems to be helping her...

Do cats always puke or get the runs from food allergies? Because I'm wondering if she could be allergic to another ingrediant in the food - maybe even chicken (as crazy as that sounds!). Yet the raw seems to agree with her so far...

OK, I will try to get a copy of her bloodwork. But I can't do it today. A repairman is going to come by. I just had a lot of plumbing work done (mainly in the basement) but they knocked out part of the bathroom wall for repiping. The man is supposed to fix the wall. I have the area blocked securely with some bits of carpet (that stiff, smooth kind - not fuzzy rug-type) and heavy objects to hold it in place. I certainly dont want my 4 furry friends getting trapped between the walls!!

What other parasites should they test for? Can parasites make her intestines swollen?

Thanks for everyone's advice, comments and ideas. I will try to pursue them. I'll also keep you updated.
post #12 of 22
The poor baby; I honestly don't have any advice at this point, but wanted to send loads of (((healing vibes))) to Jafar.
post #13 of 22
You poor baby!!! And your poor kitty!!!!

I don't even know where to begin, I think you have pretty much covered all the bases that you could. The yellow discharge bothers me......I can't remember if that could mean a pancreas problem or a gall bladder..(I think the gall bladder would be green), but surely that should have showed up in all the testing that was done.

If she is eating cream cheese and raw chicken and a few other things, then I would stick to what works. Make the most of these. Don't forget to hug and love her, she doesn't understand what is going on.

Loving, soothing headbuts and God, I wish we could help licks from KittenKiya's Clan.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
I did a google search for yellow discharge last night and found that it may be the anal sacs. Apparently on each side of the anus there are tiny sacs that store a greasy yellow liquid. It's supposed to help a cat poop more easily. But if a cat has a lot of runs - like Jafar did - then the sacs don't empty. Sometimes they can also get clogged and inflamed. The websites I looked at said the anal sac liquid is a "creamy yellow". The stuff that comes out of Jafar is a bright yellow, similar to an egg yolk. So what exactly is a "creamy yellow"? Does anyone know?

Oh, the yellow discharge that Jafar has does not smell. Because when I wiped it up before with toilet tissue I sniffed it and didn't really smell anything.

I couldn't find anything else cat related with a yellow discharge...

Yesterday evening I saw her standing on her back legs and sharpening her claws on the cat tree (the sisal part). She did not do it for very long but she did it. She also jumped up much easier onto the sofa this morning. Then later she climbed up onto the cat tree using her claws (the carpet-covered shelf on the cat tree is much higher than the sofa) and went to sit in the window. She trotted after her food again this morning, too.

I noticed she is eating more raw chicken than the Natural Balance canned food. I think she just sucks up all the "soup" from the canned food, as a water source. I recently got new plumbing pipes in the basement and she has not been drinking very much water from the water bowls (I have 4 of them). Normally she drinks a TON. But I think the water might smell different now because of the new pipes. I know when the pipes were first put in the bathroom water did have an odd smell but now I don't smell anything.

So far her fur is not greasy looking. I hope that's a good sign?

Oh, I should explain her fur doesn't get greasy all over her body: mainly just on her tail, butt area, belly and the area of her back near the tail. The grease travels in a straight line that runs across her back. When I first took her to the doctor I didn't wash her (as I didn't want to wash away an important clue) but he said he never saw anything like it before. The greasy line is so straight you'd swear someone used a ruler! The fur was actually pasted down and looked wet. Has anyone ever heard of this before? The fur directly above the "wet" greasy area was fluffly and soft!! Could the anal sacs be causing this odd grease? The young doctor did say there was two odd swellings on her butt, but he thought it was tumors. Remember, he thought the huge lump in her stomach was a tumor, too! Yet that stomach tumor was the cooked chicken she ate!! Could it be possible she had an anal sac disorder and the doctor never heard of this condition? Yet the website I looked at said it was common.... ??

Perhaps Jafar has TWO sepetare problems: IBD and Anal sac disorder? And the two things combined confuse the doctors as they are looking for only ONE problem that has all the symptoms?

I will try to spot wash her tail later, to get the fur clean. I also removed some of the matts off her yesterday while I was watching Pirates of the Carribean. She's very patient and was purring while I slowly got them off. I'll try to remove more later today. The repairman is supposed to come back today, too.

Oh and I noticed some tiny black specks on her back feet, on the skin under the fur. They are very tiny. Any ideas what they might be? I will try to wash them off with the shampoo! I hope its nothing contagious... And NO, they are NOT fleas! Much smaller...
post #15 of 22
Oh dear, she does sound like she's in trouble. I would recommend that you investigate raw food diets, I've met many a cat that thrive on raw food only. I personally give all my cats BARF every two days or so as a treat ( I buy it pre-packaged). Check your pm, I've sent you one!
post #16 of 22
Oh, the yellow discharge that Jafar has does not smell. Because when I wiped it up before with toilet tissue I sniffed it and didn't really smell anything.
In my experience, anything that comes out of an anal gland stinks to high heaven.
I'm so sorry I have no advice at this point; this must be frustrating for you. Hope dear Jafar feels better.
post #17 of 22
I am so sorry to hear that your cat isn't well, but reading your posts brought back memories of my old cat Lucy.

She was 12 years old, and started to lose weight, and her fur turned very greasy, I took her to the vets and he felt her tummy and said that her intestines were enlarged they did an xray and it showed that this was the case, the vet took a biopsy and it turned out she had lymphoma (cancer) she was given a course of steroids which can be very effective at killing off the lymphomas, but she wasn't getting quick enough, she couldn't keep her food down and it wasn't being absorbed by her body. The vet advised that the best course of action would be to operate on her (basically cut her open) and see what was going on, which he did and it turns out she had loads of lymphomas all inside her, on her liver, kidneys, bowel, spleen. The vet said that the best course of action would be chemotherapy, which we decided to do, we were told that he had a 5% chance of a full recovery and even if she didn't recover she would have a good quality of life for around 6 months, unfortunately the operation really took it out on her and although her wounds from the surgery healed very well, it was at the cost that it hindered her body fighting the cancer, very quickly (within a week of the operation) we had to have her put to sleep.

If the vet thinks it is cancer I think you really need to get some treatment for it as soon as possible and get her eating and absorbing the best possible food for her.

Good luck and I hope it is just a food allergy.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
My vet told me there is no treatment for cancer in cats. He said it was fatal and that was that. The only reason he gave drugs was to see if it was the IBD and not cancer. He is trying to use the pills as a ... desease indintifier (sp?). I guess he expects her to die soon. Its like he is giving up or maybe he is more concerned with healthier pets that come in. He doesn't even beleive she has food allergies. He told me that her runs was caused by the cancer. He ignored the fact that they stopped when I switched her food, taking her off grains and carbs. Nor did he look at her back feet when I asked him to, to find out why she kicks her feet.

Well, I washed Jafar today. Boy, was her bath water DIRTY! It looked muddy but there was no mud. She must have been a lot dirtier than she looked!! I think most of the dirt came off her back legs and tail.

Some of the matted clumps of fur just fell off her while I was rubbing the shampoo into her skin. I KNOW they were solidly attached to her body yesterday and now they just fell off! Jeez, what do they PUT in that shampoo to make matted fur just FALL OFF?!! Is the Keratolux supposed to DO that? Does anyone know?? Because it sounds weird to me ... and a bit scary. Will the shampoo take ALL of her fur off? The bottle even goes as far as to say the stuff is GENTLE!

Most of the black specks washed off but some are still on her toes. I have no idea what they are. I know for a fact there are no fleas in the house or on my cats, so its not flea dirt. And its only on her back feet, not anywhere else.

I hope its not cancer, too. And if it is, then why the huge appetite? The appetite bit doesn't seem to fit. There are too many weird things with this case!

OK, so it's not an anal discharge. Hmm.... Maybe just plain old undigested grease? I read that IBD is made worst by oily food, that grease disturbs the intestines and makes it worst - something along those lines. Maybe I'm not saying it exactly right, but that's the general idea. Who knows, maybe its possible...

Thanks for the pm. I will do as you said. Hopefully it will help!
post #19 of 22
One of my kitties, Boomer who was 16yrs. old, was having major skin problems and some weight loss. I was thinking diabetes or thyroid was the cause because he was eating like a pig. I put off taking him to the vet because I frankly didn't have the time because I was taking care of my Mom who was dying of cancer. I picked him up one day and he was nothing but skin and bones. This happened very fast. Had my brother take him to the vet for me and the vet felt a huge mass in his abdomen...cancer. He recommended putting him to sleep right then. I was shocked and wanted to keep him for the weekend and prepare myself. Well I kept him with me for two more weeks and all he did was eat and sleep. It shocked me how good his appetite was. Finally the last two days of his life he quit eating so I knew it was time. It was a rough time. I lost Boomer one week, my Mom the next and my pekingese the week after Mom.... all to cancer. I'm not trying to scare you but just because your kitty is eating doesn't mean it's not cancer. Hopefully it's not though and it's just the IBS. I hope everything works out okay for your kitty and it's not anything too serious.
post #20 of 22
I think the next thing I'd do would be to get a second opinion. It sounds as if you're not happy with the way your vet is handling Jafar's problems. You know her better than anyone, and it really doesn't sound as if your vet is listening to your concerns.

Some of the matted clumps of fur just fell off her while I was rubbing the shampoo into her skin. I KNOW they were solidly attached to her body yesterday and now they just fell off! Jeez, what do they PUT in that shampoo to make matted fur just FALL OFF?!! Is the Keratolux supposed to DO that? Does anyone know?? Because it sounds weird to me ... and a bit scary. Will the shampoo take ALL of her fur off? The bottle even goes as far as to say the stuff is GENTLE!
Have you ever thought of using a dry shampoo on Jafar? Her hair coming out this way would scare me, too. I'd probably hold off washing her for awhile. I've used hypo-allergenic baby wipes on my kitties in the past, and they don't mind it (much).

Wish I had some constructive advice. Good luck.
post #21 of 22
Originally Posted by april31 View Post
I have put older cats on kitten food for them to put on wieght but with so many problems that this cat has had not sure i would try with out a vet approval.
It's always best to check with a vet. Kitten food is higher in protein and if a cat is having kidney problems, high protein will speed up the disease process. From what I understand. So it's always best to check first just to be sure. And cats with kidney problems do lose weight and tend to look scrawny
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
That must have been utterly horrible, loosing two pets plus your mother within such a close time period - and all to cancer to boot. My condolences on your loss. I'm hoping it's not cancer - just IBD. But I guess I'll only know if she starts to gain some weight. I figure if it's IBD and she gains a bit of weight from the raw meat diet, well, then it must be IBD. Right? And if she doesn't, well, .... then I guess it's cancer. And thanks for the info. I didn't realize some animals with cancer would have a good appetite.

I bought a 3 pound bag of a prepared raw food for her yesterday. I think its called Nature's Variety. The flavor: chicken and turkey. I gave her and her mother (who is dealing with a liver infection at the moment and needs to gain weight) some and they ate it. Both seemed to like it well enough. Jafar has stopped eating the canned Natural Balance, so I figure something in it might be bothering her intestines: perhaps more allergies? So now she can get her vitamins from the prepared food. So far she did not puke it out or have the runs. Hopefully she won't and it'll agree with her!

Yes, I tried dry shampoo on her. I had a partly used bottle of Vitasheen powder upstairs that I used in the past a few times on my other cat. It didn't work very well on Jafar. It cleaned the clean areas of her coat or those that were only very slightly oily. But the areas that really needed the cleaning - the dry shampoo was useless there. It just stuck and sort of gummed it all up. I think that's how she got the matts (just realized that now...).

I have a bottle of oatmeal shampoo for cats. Perhaps I'll try that on her next time. But maybe the oily skin is making the fur fall out, not the shampoo? But then, it was solidly attached or so it seemed... ??

I noticed today she has dandruff flakes. But her fur looks more healthy. It looks a bit shiny. I'm not sure if that's because I washed her yesterday or are some nutrients getting into her system? On a brighter note, I finally got all of the matts off her!

She also had some sticky gooey stuff by her eyes, in the corners (near the nose). I removed it with a bit of wet toilet tissue. Why do cats get that stuff by the eyes, anyway? About 2 weeks ago when I had one of my boy cats in for his shots the doctor looked at his eyes and mentioned that they were "draining good". So, what's the deal with that sticky eye goo?

I must say Jafar is looking better, especially with freshly shampooed fur and mattless. Let's hope the trend continues!

I don't think there's another near by vet, not one that I know of. I'd have to look in the phone book. And what of the rabies shot? I read somewhere (on these forums I think) that the new vet will need proof of her Rabies shot. Her shot expired in October. The doctor said she didn't need any shots because he thought she'd be dead within a month (he thought chicken was a huge tumor). So she never got the shots...

Oh, she's drinking water again. I saw her drink several times today. And last night I fed her lots of water using a little plastic thingy .. siringe? Not sure the proper word... eyedropper? I just squirted it in her mouth and she drank it; kept refilling and giving more. I guess she got the idea and started drinking again on her own!
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