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My cat got locked in a neighbor's attic for at least two weeks--advice please on care

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
One of our outdoor kitties managed to get herself into our neighbor's attic, and we finally discovered her after at least two weeks of her being locked in there. We had heard meowing from the house and had the neighbor let us go in looking for her, but there was a side to the attic shut off by a door that we didn't know about, and of course that's where she was. We don't know exactly how long she was in there since she doesn't always come home every day, but she has lost weight for sure, we estimate about 3 lbs based on her last vet visit records. She was purring immediately upon being brought home and she ate some (although not an insane amount) and she drank some water, and was soon running around the house. She seems to have a lot of energy but I imagine she might be in shock or just really excited to be out of that attic.

Anyway, I'm writing to ask what we should generally do nurse her back to health. I couldn't find a cat starvation recovery guide online, but did find one for dogs that emphasized the need not to overfeed. Is there anything we can give her, like vitamins or anything, that she might need? We also wondered if she might have sores in her mouth that make it uncomfortable to eat--is that a common consequence of starvation? We would also like to know if there is anything we should look for that would be a sign she developed a serious health problem as a result of being without food and water for so long. Is a trip to the vet necessary?

Thanks for any advice in advance, I understand of course that I'm not getting professional advice here but I figure some other people on this forum might have experience dealing with recovering strays.

Thanks!

mp413
post #2 of 11
Oh poor kitty.. I am sure someone will have some helpfull suggestions on what you can do for her.. Were the neighbors away on vacation or did they just not know she was up there?
post #3 of 11
When I was still living with my parents, we had a cat (still alive actually) that would get locked in all sorts of places for long periods of time (cars, motor homes, garages etc.). Sometimes it would be a few days to over a week he'd be missing.

Luckily he was always found but was always dehydrated.

Yes, don't overfeed them. To encourage drinking water, you could mix some tuna juice from a can to add that tasty tuna smell, with their water. Make sure it's a can that was sealed in water and not oil (I had a cat throw up cause I hadn't realized it was oil).

Your cat is more than likely dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to many bad things and can damage their kidneys. Crystals can also begin to form in their bladder and can be painful.

I'd say that there's no harm in a vet check up. They may give it some fluids there and may have a better suggestion besides just tuna water.
post #4 of 11
I can't really offer any real advice since I haven't had this happen, but I would think that dehydration would be an issue. I believe that you can use plain Pedialite for cats and there's something called Rebound that's used for rehydration too.

Maybe you can call a local shelter and ask for advice? They are bound to be experienced with dealing with all kinds of cat health issues.
post #5 of 11
You are at a critical junction. Starvation in cats runs the unique risk of them developing Hepatic Lipidosis, aka fatty liver disease. If you search this forum you will find several thread about this topic. It is serious illness and takes long term, intensive effort to get a cat over this. Your kitty may be heading in this direction, however not showing signs yet. If she was overweight prior to getting stuck she is at higher risk of developing HL.

I know this probably isn't what you want to hear, but you should really get a blood chemistry done. This will at least tell you where her liver and kidney functions are at and what preventative measures you should or should not take to ward off future problems.

Being stuck, she most likely ate/drank anything she could get and that brings the risk of ingesting toxins. Are you positive that there were no rat poisons in the attic? Ingesting small amounts can cause a long term slow destruction of the kidneys.

The absolute minimum basics if she is not examined by a vet. ( which I highly don't recommend)

Make sure she is adequately hydrated, give sub Q fluids if necessary.

Make sure she is eating, drinking , peeing, pooping. This will need to be monitored for at least a week because liver problems may not be manifested yet. No outside for her for awhile at least. This is critical if you are going to catch any problems early. If she starts to go off her food or seems to have a diminished appetite these are warning signs of liver failure and warrant an emergency vet visit.

Again, simple kidney/liver function blood test will tell you where you stand without needing to guess.

The plus side is, if her liver and kidneys are not damages she has an excellent chance of recovering without any long term problems.

When I was in high school, my brothers cat got stuck in a vacant house for a month. He did get constipated and had to have an enema, but other than that he recovered completely. Not sure if he suffered some kind of brain damage, but he had a short fuse after that and was not as nice as he was before. He did live a long life though, was 19 when he passed.
post #6 of 11
Maybe get her some Nutracal paste vitamins and just give her frequent small meals for a few days. Be sure she is drinking water. While a cat can go longer without food, its the water that is important.

And even tho she's kinda acting normal, I'd make a vet appointment this week and have check her over (tell them what happened). She could be dehydrated.
post #7 of 11
Please take her to the vet and get her looked at.

She was starved and deprived of water and her body used fat resources to live on, and because of the lack of water she is dehydrated for sure. All of that can cause horrible things in an animal even though it may not be readily visible. There are all sorts of things happening below the surface that we can't see from the outside.

She really needs to be looked at by the vet even if you think she "looks" ok.
post #8 of 11
She definitely needs to see a vet. My in-law's previous cat was left outside on his leash for several days (since then we check on the kitty). When they got back and found he was in critical condition he went to the vet and spent a couple days there. He needed fluids and tests run. He was very dehydrated.
post #9 of 11
I agree with everyone else that she should be seen by a vet. The vet may also want to see her more than once to compare her levels now, to what they may be after a few days of food and water since they change constantly. This may sound a little bit backwards, but do no over feed her to compensate for her losing weight. Feed small amounts spaced out. Feeding her a lot right now will put her system through further shock. Also, you may want to feed wet food instead of dry, and obviously provide cool, clean water at all times to ensure that she is well hydrated. Good luck!
post #10 of 11
As long as she's eating and drinking normally (and, as you say, has a lot of energy), sounds like she's fine. Dehydration won't persist if the cat is drinking normal amounts.

She may not have gone totally without food... considering that she was up there three weeks and she's acting normally, it could be that she was living off of rodents in the attic.
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by emmylou View Post
As long as she's eating and drinking normally (and, as you say, has a lot of energy), sounds like she's fine. Dehydration won't persist if the cat is drinking normal amounts.

She may not have gone totally without food... considering that she was up there three weeks and she's acting normally, it could be that she was living off of rodents in the attic.
This is exactly what I was thinking.

I think everyone here has some good advice.
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