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Need Help With New Cat, Please (long)

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

I am a first time cat owner, and I just got a 2 year old female cat named Lily. She was my boyfriend's cat, but I am now taking care of her because his house burned down a couple of weeks ago. She escaped the fire and lived in a tree for 24 hours in the freezing rain before we could find her. We took her to the vet (of course!) and they said she was fine other than it looked like she bit her tongue really bad when she was scared. They had to stitch her tongue and she stayed at the vet's for a week (mostly because we had no place for her since my boyfriend is living in a hotel). I then kept her at my parent's house for a week since I was home from school on break. Last night I drove 3 1/2 hours with her to my apartment in the city where I go to college.

She seems to be having some digestive problems, though. She had major diarrhea on the way to my apartment last night. It was really bad, and I did my best to clean her up in her carrier and keep her comfortable. Do you think she was just scared in the car? We did a few long drives right after the fire and she didn't have any problems. Could her new food have made her sick? I'm giving her a dry food formulated for indoor cats and it says it has some sort of hairball control in it. I soak it in water so that it doesn't hurt her tongue so much. I haven't seen any more diarrhea since yesterday, so I think she's okay - I just want to prevent a repeat performance! Is one bout of diarrhea something I should worry about?

And then this morning she vomited on my carpet right after eating. Ack! I figured it was from a hairball. There was some hair in the vomit, but not a ton. If it was a hairball, what can I do to prevent them? Should I take her back to the vet? She did this from time to time when my boyfriend had her, and (being a boy) he didn't think much of it. But, honestly, I don't want her vomiting all over my apartment. Plus, it can't feel too great for her, I imagine.

So I'm kind of frustrated! I agreed to take the cat, and I want to provide the best care possible for her. But we seem to be getting off to a rocky start concerning various bodily functions. I would never even consider getting rid of her, but I do miss waking up in the morning and not cleaning up kitty vomit

Thanks for any advice you may be able to give me, and thank you for reading such a long post!
post #2 of 14
did you change the type or brand she was eating>>>??? that alone can cause digestive upset

hairball food is a good start ... do you have a pet sotre near you??

Welcome to TCS
post #3 of 14
I know you are doing the best you can to care for her properly, but a big part of it could be stress and trauma. Poor baby has had her whole world turned upside down and she does not understand why. Her poor little tongue probably hurts her, and she probably has a tummy ache most of the time. A vet visit might be in order if things do not get better by the time the vets open. I am not usually a big one for medicating cats with antidepressants, but this poor baby might need it for a little while. She probably senses that her people are stressed as well. It can't be easy for you and your bf right now, either.
I am sorry to hear about the fire, and all the things you and your bf are going through right now. I hope all of you are back to normal soon.
I also want to commend you for being so unselfish and trying so hard to help kitty during your own hard times. Please keep us posted about all of you and your progress.
post #4 of 14
After all she's been through recently, it's not surprising that she's having digestive problems. Instead of dry food mixed with water, would it be possible for you to give her some chicken breast (cooked in water, and chopped) and white rice for three or four days? That's so bland that it usually settles upset tummies.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys for your advice! Lily seems to be doing better. She ate some food earlier and it stayed down fine. I ran out and bought her a brush (and some pet cleaner stuff for my carpet!) to see if that would help with hairballs. I brushed her a few minutes ago and she LOVED it! She purred and rolled around. In fact, she is sitting on the bed with me and I can hear her still purring.

And I called the boyfriend to discover that Lily throws up on average once every week or two. Hmmm... He didn't think maybe he should look into it? She seems to always be shedding, so I figure she just gets hairballs.

But I will pay really close attention to her. I picked some stuff up at the store that is supposed to help with hairballs. It's some kind of paste. If the hairball remedy stuff I picked up doesn't help, I will definitely take her back to the vet.

And to answer some questions: She is eating the same brand of food as before, I just switched her to indoor formula (because it said it helps with hairballs and I suspected before that she might have a problem). And yes, I have pet stores nearby and would be happy to pick up something you think might help her. And if she has any more problems, I will go buy some chicken and rice for her.

I don't think she is super depressed, though. She purrs a lot and seems very interested in things going on around her (right now she is watching cars out the window). We found her last summer as a stray, so I think her life overall hasn't been very stable. So while I am sure the fire traumatized her, she has seemed to bounce back (psychologically) amazingly quickly.

I'll keep you posted on how she's doing.
post #6 of 14
Poor kitty! I can't imagine how scary a fire was for her, and then being stuck in a tree in the freezing rain. Poor poor kitty. Give her and extra hug just from me okay? And bless you for taking such good care of her right now.
post #7 of 14
I use vet basis for hairballs...found at most pet stores
post #8 of 14
Just wanted to say THANK YOU for taking such good care of this girl. I got tears in my eyes reading your post about getting the brush and her purring.

You two are going to do well together . Please do keep us posted and WELCOME to TCS.

PS. I am so glad that you all made it out of the fire safely. That is my worst nightmare!
post #9 of 14
I don't have anything more to add to what others have said - just wanted to say how wonderful it is that you are taking care of her She seems to like you, too. Sounds like you have an awesome new roommate. Please post photos of her when you can
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for your advice and kind words!

She seems to be doing great now. No more digestive problems as far as I can tell. She likes the hairball paste, and likes to lick it off my finger. I felt bad about rubbing it on her paws, so it's nice to see she actually enjoys the stuff.

Every now and then I see her shake her head or itch at her ear with her back foot, so I am wondering if she might have an ear problem? It doesn't seem to bother her if I scratch her ears, and she was on antibiotics through this past Sunday for sneezing associated with the fire. The sneezing has fortunately stopped. Could she have caught ear mites or something from the other cats while she was being boarded at the vet's last week?

After reading other posts, I realize that the food I am feeding her is not the best. Unfortunately, I am a medical student and can't afford the really good food for a couple more years. What would you recommend is the best food for the money? I looked at the Purina natural food tonight and might be able to afford it. I will have to check out my budget.

Or would it be okay to feed her basic Purina cat chow and supplement sometimes with chicken and tuna I eat for dinner? I know it wouldn't be perfect nutrition, but I only budget myself twenty dollars a week for food right now.

But Lily is overall doing much better. I bought her some cat nip tonight and she dug through my bags and found it. Then I dropped some on the carpet and she rolled around and made weird sounds for a long time. It was really funny.

What else could I do to spoil her right now? I decided not to go to class Mon through Wed this week to try to help her settle in and be comfortable in my apartment. I just feel really bad for her. The boyfriend was on speaker phone last night and he called her name and she perked up and looked for him.I felt really bad for her. Obviously she misses home. Thanks for any suggestions you may have.
post #11 of 14
Hello & welcome to the forum. You are doing a wonderful job caring for this kitty. Ear mites leave a black greasy substance in the ears & smells unpleasant. If she has them you'd need to see a vet. My 16 y/o cat had them when I 1st bought her & she needed about 3 vet visits to medicate & clean out her ears. I don't know what they do these days. I feed my cat Whiskas pouches, Purina One Adult cat, Optimum hairball dry food, & Purina Fancy Feast dry. I know its not the absolute best but they all have meat/meat by products as the 1st ingredient so they can't be as bad as the ones that have grains as the 1st ingred. If you change over her food again, take the advice on the pack & do it slowly to avoid anymore stomach upsets.
Keep up the good work.
post #12 of 14
Lily is a very lucky kitty to have you.

I doubt she picked up mites at the vets but she may have gotten some fleas while being outdoors. If you are where it is still warm this is more likely than if you live somewhere it has already froze.

But with her only being outdoors for 24 I don't think this is very likely either.

Another possibility is that she got some water in her ear and is developing an ear infection. Her ear would be stinky and look red and inflamed in there ( just like a person).

Cats do sometimes get something that bothers their ears temporarily and will itch at them. For now keep and eye on her and if she continues to be bother by it, have a vet look at it.

I have to applaud you for spending the extra time with her. That is exactly what she needs. A loving human to let her know everything is going to be O.K. If you can, get something of your boyfriends ( a sweatshirt or the like) that he has worn. Use this as a bed for her, or put it in a spot where she can lay and take a nap in a sunbeam. This will reassure her.

Try not to worry too much about her food. Feed her the best you can afford. Lots of older threads here about food. I remember being a poor student, my kitty and I didn't eat all that well either!

For other toys, try the little plastic things you pull off a milk jug or a rolled up wad of paper or tin foil. She may even learn to fetch for you.

Thanks for such a wonderful update. I have been wondering how things were going.
post #13 of 14
Just wanted to chime in. Thank you for taking care of that poor kitty. She seems to be in great hands.

I did want to add one important thing, you really should not soak dry food in water. It can create a great environment for bacterial growth. If she is having a hard time eating the crunchies, maybe there is a semi-moist food or a not too expensive canned food you can get for her in the meantime. But then again, I wouldn't want to change her food because of her situation.

Also, cats are REALLY good at hiding their pain. My little Merlynn ended up with cystitis a few months ago. I realized this after seeing a spot of pink in her urine. She was depressed because my fiancee had recently left for USMC boot camp and we had adopted a new kitten a few weeks before that. So the poor thing was all stressed out. I'm sure the brushing will have her at ease. Mine love getting brushed and roll around just like you said yours does. So cute, isn't it?
So I'd just watch her and make sure she's holding down food and overall ok.

And about the ears...if she was recently at the vet, I would imagine they'd be able to spot ear mites. They usually look in their ears. So perhaps the little baby did get some water in there or my kitties get a buildup of wax in their ears and this causes them to shake their heads and scratch their ears with their back paws. I know it's a wax buildup after several trips to the vet and the same diagnosis. So now I regularly clean them with Vitamin E and if I see them shaking/scratching, I soak a cotton ball with warm almond oil and squeeze it softly into their ears, then massage it in. They don't really like this all too much, but they stop the shaking.

Good luck with your kitty and welcome to TCS. Everyone's awesome here.
post #14 of 14
For cheap toys try shoestrings, wadded up paper balls (we use notebook paper), plastic rings from milk jugs - they like to chase these across a tiled floor. Also, paper bags and boxes are always fun.

For food, Chicken Soup for the Cat Lovers Soul cat food is supposed to be pretty good and is lower priced. I feed Evo now but that's because I found it works for both my cats. They really liked Natural Balance, too. With the premium foods they do cost more but the cats usually eat less so it balances out.

Have you posted photos of her yet? Would love to see her
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