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Help on smelly, skinny cat

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I picked up a new cat at the shelter yesterday.

It's a male, the shelter estimated him to be 3 years old.
He's not responding to any sound and will only notice you in the room when he sees you or when you stomp the floor (vibration), so we're also pretty sure
that he's completely deaf.

He was brought in about a week ago, along with 15 other cats from the same home (some older lady who could barely take care of them). I was told that the conditions in that house were so bad, that while removing the cats, the fire department told everybody to stay out because the ammonia-levels (from the cat-urine) in the house were so high that it was actually dangerous to humans.

He's used to cats (too bad my resident cat isn't too fond of him yet, but that will probably come along, she hisses at him, but she's still curious) but not used to humans at all. A lot of the cats that came from the same home were very hostile and growling and hissing, but he's doing pretty okay. We put him in the bathroom, alone. He's got his own food, water basket and litterbox. He hides from us, but he'll eat chicken and treats from our hands and he'll let us pet him on the head and on his neck, and he actually seems to like that, since he starts purring.
Still, it's gonna be some time till he gets used to us.
I've got two questions:

1) He's very skinny. What can I best feed him to gain some weight in a healthy way? We're feeding him Dr. Hill's Science Plan for Neutered Cats now (same as the resident cat), all he can eat. He's been licking his lips quite often and makes a loud smacking noise while doing so. He threw up today as well, but he is eating though.

2) He's terribly smelly. At the shelter they already cut some pieces of fur because they were all messed up, and today I cut a lot of fur from his tail, which had turned blackish and felt terribly oily and sticky with dirt and grease, not even ten bottles of soap wouldn't have cleared that up. I gave him two consecutive shampoo-showers, I have the wounds to proof it (note to self: before even washing kitty again, cut nails). The smell is less and the fur looks a bit better, but he still smells of urine. Is there anything I can do?

Any tips on taking care of this cat would be very welcome!

Proud owner of Tohru and Bailey.
post #2 of 15

Try some Goop and/or Dawn dish detergent for shampooing. It will help cut the grease/oil in the coat. Then in a day or two, get some high quality human shampoo (Nexxus, Pantane) or high quality pet shampoo (order from online - not the pet shop/store) and rewash him. Also I'd use a hight quality conditioner in the coat.

Comb the coat every other day.

Since its likely the cat was in the house with a lot of urine smell, it may take several washing to get it all out. Your resident cat is reacting more to that then anything else. I'd still keep them apart for awhile till he smells normal.


IMO I'd use a better cat food then SD. Try Natural's Balance, Royal Canin or Max Cat. And maybe get a few cans of kitten food to put on weight. You don't want him to gain too fast so monitor the food. Cats do better on a canned and dry diet, so think about adding canned food for both cats.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
What I used today was some cat shampoo I bought at the pet-store.
I'm in the Netherlands, so unfortunately I've never heard of Goop and Dawn. Is that a normal kind of dish detergent? I'm using a good shampoo and conditioner for myself, so I guess I could use that on him as well.

I was already thinking about feeding him canned food as well, I would have never thought of giving him kitten food though, thanks! I'll get some tomorrow right away (store's closed now )

What's wrong with Dr. Hill's? I'm using it now because my resident cat had some trouble with her bladder some time ago (the pH of her urine was off), so the vet advised me to give her special food, which became Dr. Hill's for neutered cats. It's a pain though, 'cause they only sell it at the vet and I have to order it each time (it's never in stock).
Is is better to switch to Royal Canin for neutered cats? I don't think they sell Max Cat in the Netherlands at all.

What would be a good canned food to feed my resident cat? She's spayed, almost 2 years old and in perfect health (as far as I know); good weight, great healthy fur, smells like a spring morning.

Thanks for your advice!
post #4 of 15
Sorry, didn't realize you were not USA.

Few people I know use the Hill's Science Diet. Yes, Royal Canin should be better. Maybe some others in your area (UK) would have some other brand suggestions.

Look for a higher quality canned food for both. The kitten food is just temporary for a few months to get him to proper weight - then switch to adult foods.

Look for a grease-cutting dish detergent in your area. And try the shampoo/conditioner you use yourself
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your advise, Bailey will get a nice bath again tomorrow, AFTER I cut his nails, since I look like a scratch post right now.

I will probably follow your advise and switch to Royal Canin for neutered cats. I will probably use canned food of the same brand in that case. I don't mind spending more money than the average person on catfood, as long as I know that I have quality stuff and as long as I don't have travel half-way across the country or order online to get it.
How much canned and how much dry food should I be giving them (what ratio)?
post #6 of 15
He sounds to me like he has "stud tail." (At least that's what I thought from your description of the situation.) :

Symptoms of stud tail include;

Hair at the base of the tail becomes matted & greasy

Hair at the base of the tail may thin or fall out

Hair at the base of the tail may develop a rancid odour

Comedones (blackheads)

Yellow to black, waxy debris on the skin & hairs of the tail base [1]

Secondary bacterial folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles) may be present

How is stud tail diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your cat. Diagnosis is based on physical examination.

How is stud tail treated?

Treatment of stud tail involves washing twice a day with an antiseborrheic shampoo. Your veterinarian may clip the hair to permit better penetration of the shampoo

Bless you for taking the poor baby!!!!
post #7 of 15
He should be able to handle about 1/2 of a 6 ounce can of food and maybe 1/2 - 3/4 cup of dry...if you leave the dry out.

I feed mine dry in the morning and canned at night. They nibble on the dry and by lunchtime its gone. They don't get more till the next day.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
I don't think it's stud tail.
The icky stuff starts pretty much at the top of the tail and runs to about an inch from the tip. I think it has more to do with him being in a filthy house and doing his business in litter boxes which hadn't been cleaned in over a year.
He's in for a bath today, and I will examine the tail more closely when he's cleaned up and keep an eye on it for the next couple of days, to see if it really is just extremely filthy, or if it is indeed a medical problem.
He's supposed to be checked by the vet at the shelter before we picked him up, he also got his shots and was neutered and chipped at the same time. But then again, they didn't notice he was deaf...
I will see how he fares in the next week now that he's getting decent meals and is all clean again, when I notice any reasons to worry (and I worry easily) I'll take him to the vet for a check-up.
post #9 of 15
Yes, Goop handcleaner (plain, thick handcleaner. No orange or gritty stuff) and dawn (strong, degreasing dish washing liquid)works well on greasy cats. I'm sure you have equivalents in your area. At this point, I wouldn't bother with the shampoo part until he's a little more settled in. Rub down with goop (some say leave on for 10-15 minutes but I've never done that), rinse, lather up well with dawn dishwashing liquid (the more you use the better it works), rinse with vinegar and water. For his condition, I would use 1/2 cup vinegar to a gallon of water. Then rinse again with plain water.

For putting on weight, in addition to his regular food, I'd get some beef baby food. Feed him frequently. I would avoid changing his food at this point because of the weight issue. Cats are very prone to irritable bowel and him more so because of his condition. You can switch to a better food, if you want, after he is healthier.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
I gave him a bath just now (before reading the message above), this time with protective coat to protect myself, lol. He's not a mean cat, but he will use his claws to try to climb over me out of the sink.

Anyway, I used the dish detergent, shampoo and conditioner. He smells a bit better now, still a bit stinky though. Tonight when he's dried up I'll brush him and determine how smelly he still is and assess if he needs another bath. His tail does look a lot better now, it doesn't look filthy anymore, and I clipped off some more bad hair.

I clipped his nails, which he didn't like, and cleaned out his folded ears (he's a scottish fold half-blood), which he didn't really mind (I suspect that he even liked it a bit). Afterwards I gave him a nice pet, which he did like. My other cat kept a close eye on him, and wasn't hostile at all today. Maybe she felt sorry as he was getting a bath, lol.

I also noticed that his 'thumb' nails are in a bad condition. All the other nails are fine, but on his 'thumbs' he doesn't really seem to have nails, and the area where the nails should be is red and doesn't look healthy. I suspect that this is caused by the filthy floors he used to walk on.
post #11 of 15
Bless his HEART! You are doing just great with him. Keep an eye on those "thumbs" and if you have some antibiotic ointment around, you may want to put a bit on them, altho he'll likely lick it right off again.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
He's so cute really. I just spent 15 minutes with him, petting him on the head and in his neck. He starts purring like crazy, and when you start, you can almost hear him thinking "I do think she's really scary, but damn that felt good". He'll start moving around under the cupboard (cause that's where he's hiding) and move slightly closed to my hand, but not too close.

I just called the vet and made an appointment for later this afternoon, to give him a full check-over and maybe do something about his fur, like shaving. It's his back part that smells, his head is all fluffy now, lol. I'm suggested a vet visit yesterday to my fiancee, but he thought that it might be too stressful for Bailey. Anyway, now that I have also noticed Bailey's bad thumbs, I called the vet anyway, partly because I'll feel much more at ease after having him checked by our vet, and not only by the vet at the shelter.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Just came back from the vet
They said that the smell was probably due to him being a male that was only neutered recently, so the smell might go away. Maybe I'll give him another bath in a week or two weeks or so, if the smell hasn't gone away by then.

She was a bit concerned with how the neutering scars looked, and his temperature was a tiny bit high, so he got some antibiotics just to be sure. This should also heal up his thumbs, if not, I'll be back, lol. He also got an injection of something that will make his tummy feel better, and I got some free bags of easy digestive food, since he threw up today and yesterday. The vet did say that if he wasn't doing any better in a week or so, that we should have his blood tested then. He's been living in a house with lots of cats, so he might have some weird disease. Changes are small though I think, since none of the cats ever went outside and I think that the previous owner started out with just two or three of them (another example of why spaying and neutering is important).

He made his first meow today too! As I was walking home from the vet he made all kinds of noises, including a few meows; he was extremely pissed off after getting medicine shots and getting his temperature measured.

Anyway, it costs me 120 euros, but I do feel a little more at ease now.
post #14 of 15
Sounds like you had a productive visit. My most recently acquired kitten (male) had a terrible "bad greasy smell" coming from his anus. A course of antibiotics given for his eye infection had the secondary effect of curing his "grease." Who knows, maybe that will fix up your boy, too.

It's only money, huh? Hope he's feeling better SOON.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
He has already forgiven me the visit to the vet. He did throw up again, but it was some hair and fluid/slime. He's been washing himself a lot the past few days (I guess he was so filthy that even he wouldn't touch himself). Anyway, he's enjoying the attention and is slowly starting to be less scared. He's still sitting on the bathroom sink, but in a relaxed way somewhere halfway the space underneath the sink, and not pushing himself up against the wall anymore. So yay! Anyway, thanks to everyone who gave me advise!
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