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Lethargic cat and strange smell?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
This is my first time posting to this or ANY forum. I'm so high-tech, hopefully I can figure out how to reply later. I think, but am not sure, that I have a problem.

History: I have a 9.5 month old cat, Neko, who I adopted at 8 weeks from a foster group that holds pet adoption days at local Petco stores. He's always been an exceptionally hyper kitten, quite the handful, but I love him!

I realized over time that he is not meant to be an only cat, so a week and a half ago (? it seems longer) I adopted Mikey, a two-year-old from a different foster group (they seemed really nice, and I don't really KNOW about either, but maybe the Petco-approved one was better? I liked the lady I got Mikey from a lot, though).

Mikey has a chronic upper-respiratory problem that they said shouldn't lead to major problems and that he may grow out of. He seems a lot better already -- I got him a humidifier, yadda yadda -- the problem isn't with Mikey, he seems fine. BUT I've now been reading more about cat herpes and am a little nervous. This agency said they'd taken him to a vet, had him tested for everything, etc.

Well, it took the boys a few days to get used to each other, but as of Wednesday I've been leaving them together when I go to work (instead of in separate rooms until I get home -- I live in essentially a two-room apartment -- yes, not the best for cats, but should only rich people with large houses get to love and nurture pets? Not to be overley defensive I only meant to get one, until I realized two crowded kitties are better than one loney one.) Neko was pretty aggressive toward Mikey at first, but now that they've established Neko is the boss, they seem OK.

I've been staying home pretty much all weekend, but I don't ever see Neko during the day when I'm at work, so I don't know when I realized this, but Neko has slept almost all weekend. I know he sleeps a lot more during the day than when I'm home, but he hasn't gotten any more active in the evenings, when he's usually a little monkey. He gets up to eat and doesn't look sick, but he doesn't really want to play and goes back to bed. Also, I don't know how to describe this, but he smells weird. It's just an animal-y smell. Somewhere between urine and spit (like after they've been vigorously grooming)? This is probably me, but I was wondering at first if there's any kind of stress hormone in cats that people could smell? And his fur seems matty/greasy like he hasn't been grooming (and I haven't noticed him doing it since I started paying attention yesterday).

Does this sound weird to anyone? Could Mikey have made Neko sick? I was happy to adopt a "not perfect" cat in Mikey, but Neko truly is perfect -- never been sick a moment, just a beautiful, big, healthy boy. I hope I didn't bring him disease in sweet little Mikey... I want them both to be healthy and happy!

Sorry this is so long. I can't find ANY mention of a cat himself smelling funny (just a lot of info cat urine odors -- I don't think he peed himself, either, btw), and lethargy symptoms seem to always be listed with other things he doesn't have (loss of appetite, fever, etc). Does anyone know anything? I hate to go to the vet with vague sort-of symptoms and just be charged to say, shrug, he looks OK to them...
post #2 of 22
You did a great thing adopting two kitties who needed a home. Don't worry about your small apartment, i have a two bedroom also and I have 8 cats. One doesn't leave my bedroom, by her choice.

Anyways, where does the smell seem to be coming from? The back end? The mouth? From the back end, it could be anal glands, from the front, it could be teeth/mouth sores which would mean he probably isn't eating normally. How are his eating habits?

As far as the fur being greasy, if he isn't ill then that is usually related to food quality. What do you feed them? That can sometimes make all the difference. Again though, if the cat is ill, the eating habits will change and coat will lost it's quality and as result. Maybe pick up some Nutrical or something for a little boost.
post #3 of 22
Welcome to TCS...
you have come to the right place for feedback and some fun too.
I have a small place with 2 kitties & with lots of love and toys they do fine.

If I were you I would get my cat to a vet.
Oily fur may be a sign that your kitty is not feeling well.
I always say....
"better safe than sorry."

I know that this will be an unexpected expense but if there is an illness it is better to catch it early.
I am sending lots of healthy vibes....
keep us updated please.
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, I think maybe that's why something made me think the smell was glandular -- now that I sniff him (he's wondering what I'm up to), it smells most strongly around his neck. I would be willing to entertain the idea that it's from his mouth, though.

He eats Iams indoor cat, which my mom feels is actually better for their coats than Science Diet after experimentation (which she feeds her cat because she throws up a lot -- but she's got weird fur and seems to get mats with anything but Iams). Neko's a medium to long hair and has always been a little more negligent than I'd like with his bib area (and he's a tuxedo). More in a kitten way than a problem, though (just hasn't learned quite how to get his tongue down there all the time). Right now he doesn't look filthy, just like he could use a lick-down, which he isn't giving himself. Which for those of us who know cats is unusual.

PS, thanks for replying! And my apartment is two ROOMS, not two bedrooms -- main living/sleeping room and kitchen (bathroom not worth counting). But I keep as much room to run around as humanly possible (it's not that bad, I've had bigger apartments with less running space).
post #5 of 22
Whatever it is, a little garlic can't hurt. If it's some kind of sickness or really anything, garlic is really good for getting rid of nasty stuff, just chop some up really finely and put it in wet food, hopefully he'll eat that. It might help, if its nothing too serious.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the vibes, XO, we sort of overlapped there.

I HEART my cats, so even in health, I think I'll start hanging around here when I can!

I agree that it's better to catch things early (and go to a reg. vet before you have to end up at an emergency vet -- yikes!). You would be correct in thinking I don't have a ton of money, based on my giant abode, but I can definitely afford to take him in if he needs to. I just feel that often with both cat and human doctors, if you aren't prepared to tell THEM what's wrong, they just charge you money for not finding anything! I have been frustrated a few times in the past... I found a new vet when I moved here and got Neko that seems like a good one, so I think I will take him in ASAP.

I'll let you know what happens!
post #7 of 22
I would not recommend garlic or anything in the onion family for a cat...
this is a controversial issue because of that....I avoid it.

Here is a link with some of the garlic debate.

You have very valid concerns about your cats health.
Trust your gut about this...
Never feel embarrassed about taking your kitty to be checked, after all...
they can't talk & tell us how they are feeling.
You will be in my thoughts.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
It's been, what, an hour or less since I posted this? About 15 minutes ago Neko got up and wandered to the food dish and looked like he wasn't going to eat. I gave him a couple of treats that are squishy, which he chowed... And suddenly he started playing! Chasing a toy I offered, going in and out his climbey/scratchy thing, and picking play fights with Mikey. He's suddenly acting... NORMAL!

I'm definitely going to keep a close eye on him anyway, but... Jeez. This is why I love cats -- they always do the very thing you least expect! When I brought home Mikey he was supposed to be so scared of people he might not come to me for a month. It took him two hours to acclimate and he's been all over me ever since!

I feel kind of like an overprotective mother now... But I haven't seen him play in almost two days, and normally I'm lucky if he sleeps for two hours!

I'm wondering now if, much like his mom, he had a really stressful week and just needed not to get out of bed for a weekend!
post #9 of 22
Our kitties are a never ending suprise...
My boy Dexter has scent sacs that plug.
This has gone on for years.

One time....when I thought that his scent sacs were plugged,
I tossed him into his carrier, called our vet and breathlessly said that I was on the way in with an emergency.

They were waiting at the door when we arrived...
He was checked over carefully,
it turned out that Dexter was ready to take a poo and I grabbed him.
I took him home, he immediately pooed and was just fine.

Watch your baby closely and keep us updated.
post #10 of 22
Don't rule out that he has been injured. The oil on his fur could be from a bite wound, he licking the wound and spreading the yuck on his fur. You may not be able to find the wound- they aren't easy to find even if you know where to look. If he does have a wound he could get an abscess which you don't want.
post #11 of 22
That's a good point whisper2me.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I am definitely keeping an eye on him. He's been weird about playing since the new guy moved in, but after his initial energy spurt, now he's alert and awake, but mostly lying around watching Mikey play with toys. He does often do that this time of night (before Mikey he just enjoyed watching me dance around like an idiot trying to get him to play with me), but not when he sleeps this much (not that I've ever seen him sleep this much...)

He could be hurt. I can't see anything, but due to his monkey nature he likes to (play) attack when I touch him unless he's very sleepy and relaxed on my lap. Although Mikey is pretty gentle, Neko plays/asserts his dominance pretty roughly sometimes, so Mikey could have gotten rough back.

On that note, does anyone know a good way to a) tell if Neko is play fighting or actually fighting with Mikey, and b) if it is play, get him to stop playing so roughly? Even though Mikey is older, Neko is a very large cat and is bigger already. Poor Mikey.
post #13 of 22
I've heard lots of opinions about fighting versus play. The one that sticks with me the most is that unless someone is getting hurt (i.e. bitten to the point of breaking skin, scratched, etc), let them work it out. I've found that Willow won't play if Odo's in the room. Odo is oblivious, and he'll play at the drop of a hat. I try to create some play time for Willow where I ban Odo from the bedroom--that way, she still has opportunities for one-on-one playtime, despite the intruder. Odo's been with me for six months now, but they still have their moments where he thinks he needs to assert dominance over her--usually by mounting and grabbing her by the back of the neck. He's 5 pounds heavier than she is, but nothing is ever injured, except maybe her pride.

Hopefully Neko was just worn out from playing with Mikey when you're not home. Keep an eye on Neko's eating and drinking to be sure it stays normal.
post #14 of 22
How are things this morning?
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
He seemed totally normal this morning. The boys had a busy day tearing my apartment apart -- one of the most active days I've seen from them yet (dishes on the floor, food out of the garbage, stuff knocked over) Some people's kids.

Anyway, right now he's scrunched on my lap in front of my laptop, but that's not abnormal. He's just been bathing while I made dinner. He SEEMS fine as of now. But I'm waiting to see how he spends the rest of the evening. It does seem weird to be abnormally inactive for two days and then just be completely normal, but I guess I've done it myself.

post #16 of 22
Hopefully it was just a passing thing. Fighting off a cold or something might make him sleepy. I'm glad he seems normal again.
post #17 of 22
Originally Posted by sweetRoco View Post
Whatever it is, a little garlic can't hurt. If it's some kind of sickness or really anything, garlic is really good for getting rid of nasty stuff, just chop some up really finely and put it in wet food, hopefully he'll eat that. It might help, if its nothing too serious.
Garlic is related to onions which are poisonous for is not recommended by some vets and many folks, to feed garlic as a cats sensitivity to it can vary, what won't hurt a cat re amount, may kill another (it causes Heinz Body anemia). Yes, some of this is anecdotal, and there is a toxicology study from August 2005 that recommends garlic not be fed to dogs or cats.

It does not matter what kind of garlic or what form, please, do not use this.
If you do a search on this forum on garlic, it will bring up posts where I give the link for this toxicology report.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
New development (sort of).

I have no idea how to describe this in writing... OK, you know the tongue smacking thing you might do to show a little kid how good something is or to pretend that you're eating fake toy food? Sort of a "num num" thing with your tongue ticking off the top of your mouth? (Sheesh, isn't there a word for this?!?)

Well, if that makes any sense, Neko is doing that. Sort of what they do after eating a nummy meal only it's more... jerky, I guess I'd say -- not like he's savoring the flavor of Iams fatboy food. I sort of noticed it once in a while when he finally woke up from his long winter's nap last weekend, but it barely registered as worth mentioning, especially since it was so hard to describe. He's seemed fine all week, back to his usual crazy self. He's still eating a lot, as usual. But tonight he's doing this "num num" thing almost constantly.

However, as I may have mentioned, while I can afford to take my cat to the vet, I'm not rich -- put it this way, I don't want to waste money taking him for something unnecessary and not be able to afford it later if something worse happens. So I just want to have some sense if it really could be a big deal (obviously, waiting if it is a big deal would be worse financially too -- not to mention I don't want my buhbuh to be in pain!).

So if you were me, what would you do? Could he still be getting his adult teeth? He's about 9.5 months, and I thought that was at like 6-7 mos?
post #19 of 22
Phantom chewing is often one of the spasmic things that accompanies a siezure, I think I would now err on the side of caution and get him seen very soon.

First though, check his mouth thoroughly, he may just have something stuck to the roof of it.
post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm having trouble getting in there to see his mouth, but that would be a good description -- like what a dog does when you put peanut butter on the roof its mouth. Anyway, he's not big on being poked and prodded by me, and he's a tuxedo, so his mouth is black and pink, so it's hard to see much in there. I'll try next time he gets sleepy/cuddly.

But my god, I hope it's not seizures. I lived with a cat at one time who had them and it was horrible watching them happen to the littly guy. I'm not sure I'd call this biting, but it does seem like it's becoming compulsive (I reenacted it for my mom on the phone and the first thing she thought was a weird nervous reaction to the new cat).

Sigh. Here's hoping he got into the peanut butter, but I'll call the vet first thing in the morning.
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
Went to the vet today, turns out he has an ulcer on his tongue (probably something viral he caught from the new boy). I couldn't see it because every time he opened his mouth, he curled up his tongue (like when they yawn) and I couldn't see the top. I was too busy looking at his teeth and gums (in the short glances I got in there)! Of course, the vet just pulls his mouth right open and points to the big red spot on his tongue :P

Anyway, it's good news because he just needs some antibiotics for a couple weeks and he should be good as new. Vet said not to worry about the new cat unless he has symptoms.

What's also weird is I think my cat is exhibiting the placebo effect! I gave him one dose of amoxicillin, and he already stopped his lip smacking thing and is playing like a kitten -- I didn't realize how much he'd slowed down until now. He just LOOKS happy! Is it possible he understands he got medicine and thinks it made him all better already?

Anyway, thanks for supporting my overprotective-mom-self Oh, and my big giant baby boy weighs 12.5 lbs already. At less than 10 months! I knew from those monster lion paws he was gonna be a giant, but JEEZ! I'm going to have to get a bigger apartment!
post #22 of 22
You are not an over protective kitty Mom...
You are a loving Mom who is taking good care of your boy.
Feel better real soon sweetie pie.
Keep us updated.
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