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Dying for treats?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Over the last months, I have been domesticating a feral cat into the household. Innocently, as part of our group training I started giving my three cats a small handful of Friskies Party Mix on a nightly basis thrown on the carpet. They all went wild for them and seemed to look forward to our little nightly "party". I thought the group activity seemed harmless enough.

Over the course of the last few weeks, I started to notice that appetites for regular food was dwindling. I am not sure if it is related or not, but my one y.o. Kinney abruptly stopped eating all canned food about a month ago - then was only eating kibble. I figured that was his choice and as long as he was eating, well OK:

Then, quite suddenly all three of my cats have stopped eating kibble at all. I have since limited the quantity of Friskies Party Mix down to a few pieces or none nightly, but I am now having real issues with ALL THREE of my cats not eating.

Coby, the feral basically stopped eating almost everything but the treats. He is now at death's door, refusing to eat anything.

Kinney, the one year old is at least hungry but is subsisting on baby food only (at least he has an appetite for that). Kevin, the 17 yo senior has a pretty robust appetite and is polishing off whole cans of canned food where he used to eat 1/4-1/2 can supplemented by the kibble (same brand he has eaten his whole life). Nobody will touch the kibble (we have three types) - where formerly it was a mainstay of their diets and was perfectly acceptable until recently.

I was telling the vet my story of Party Mix yesterday, while I had Coby in for an exam. Coby is an absolute Party Mix junkie and could show up for treats even in his illness. He is basically refusing to eat nothing else.

The vet thought that healthy cats should revert back to original eating patterns once the treats are withdrawn, but it is now about five days with very minimal treats (one-three pieces each nightly) and no go. As I said in my post relating to Coby's health, he is on death's door at this point and did have a positive urine test for infection so there may or may not be other issues there. He has gotten two injections of Cefovecin, and I told the doctor that I thought that either the Party Mix was the culprit or they were all sick with something contagious. The vet seemed to favor the idea of Coby being the only sick one, and the other two were just "holding out".

So, I have Coby not eating at all, Kinney deciding that he will live off of baby food, and Kevin gobbling down canned food trying to compensate for the kibble missing from his diet. Previously, the kibble I was serving was eagerly accepted by all three. Now, it just sits there. I do at least cycle it around twice a day so it is not deemed "stale" by the troops, but I'm just as confounded as I can be about this whole thing.

All three are indoor cats who had been healthy - kibble is taken from large bags, so it is not a bad batch or something - yes, I have tried mixing the Party Mix into the kibble bowls. What do you think Purina puts in this stuff, crack cocaine?
post #2 of 16
artificial flavors are in there .. sprayed on fats ...
post #3 of 16
^They all have sprayed on fats, that's what helps preserve dry foods. I don't think there's a single dry without a powder coating either, and that's added for flavor and scent to entice animals to eat it.

Do you think you can fool them or increase the wet? Instead of tossing the junky treats out, try tossing a few pieces of the dry food you have.
Or who knows, maybe they're just tired of that dry food now? I have one cat that doesn't like to eat the same flavor of can food in a row - he'll complain (loudly, and I don't want to know what he's saying in kitty language - it sounds bad) and refuse to eat it.
post #4 of 16
Could it possibly be something in the food making their bellies sick and they wont eat it because they feel icky. Maybe they need a different type of food. When I switched to TOTW all three cats started eating more and 2 with icky poo seemed a lot happier because their poo went back to normal. Its just an idea but who knows cats are finicky so they may just be "over" their current food.
post #5 of 16
Have you tried offering a completely new (to them) food? Whatever the issue is, the novelty might tempt them to eat.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
I did try just throwing down regular kibble tonight in place of the treats and I had Kinney as my one taker. I guess my litmus test is my 17yo, Kevin who has been eating the same kind of kibble his entire life (it can't be that bad, he is 17). The other two were perfectly happy with what I was serving until recently.

My very sick feral, who is now so skinny and weak that he is being force-fed baby food can remarkably still pull it together and show up when he thinks treats are being served. I'm serious he's like some crack junkie or something holding out for a diet of treats only. I calculated the price of the treats at around $10 a pound, so it is not economically feasible even if I would give in to him - plus I showed the vet the package and he said it was not nutritionally balanced as a replacement for chow, more like potato chips.

I actually tasted the various kibble they eat regularly myself vs. the Friskies Party Mix and I have to admit the Party Mix are pretty tasty flavors.
post #7 of 16
does the package have a AFFCO statement ... it may say for supplemental feeding or adult maintence
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
I don't see an AFFCO statement, but there are some vitamins etc. in them:
post #9 of 16
do you have the bag?? it will be likely below the ingrediants
post #10 of 16
Have you tried substituting a different kind of treat? My cats both go nuts for greenies, and they also snarf down Taste of the Wild or Innova, which is what I give them for treats. I do the same thing you do with your friskies, put down a small bit of TOTW or Innova. Swanie is totally addicted to the point where if I'm upstairs he will be there showing me where the treats are kept (closet). However, it hasn't stopped him from eating his regular wet food or his dry kibble.
post #11 of 16
Could you try sprinkling a few on the wet food? That's what I do when Nabu snubs wet food. Then he'll eat the treats AND the wet food. He also likes tuna flakes sprinkled on his food.

Nabu was down to eating pretty much just treats in the spring, but he had some health issues that took a while to diagnose. I was using treats that say they are complete nutrition and I used dry foods like Fancy Feast Gourmet Gold. Once he was diagnosed & properly medicated we were able to go back to normal feeding.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
All good comments, especially Misty8723's comment about it doesn't stop them from eating their regular food. This is what I would think and it wasn't a problem until recently.

I am just baffled at all three of my cats diminished appetites. I am wondering if this is related to the Party Mix or is there something catagious between them? The feral Coby (now very sick) did come up positive for a UTI urine test and was treated via two Cefovecin injections, but we have been unable to do any further testing due to his weakened state and his feral-ness. Can something like that be contagious?

Little Kinney (1 yo) usually scarfs down anything, even steals stuff off the counters - now eating barely anything either. The two others aren't showing any definite signs of illness yet, but I am worried that they might if they don't pull it together soon. I just suspected the treats vs. kibble, but maybe its something else. They all three had pretty severe cat flu last spring that they caught from Kinney's arrival, but no one is sneezing or runny eyes or anything right now.
post #13 of 16
Odd thought, here. Have you considered getting them all in for blood tests? It would be pricey to do all three, but maybe something is actually making them all ill.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
My other two responded to a totally new brand of kibble, so the heat is off there. Seems strange as the THREE types of kibble I was formerly serving were chosen by them in the first place. I never had picky cats before - my theory is the more choices you offer, the more chances you give them to reject.

That just leaves me force-feeding baby food to my original treat addict, the feral Coby. He is now so sick that the Party Mix issue has dimmed, as he isn't eating anything at all. Last night was the first night that he didn't even show up for the nightly "party", although none of us felt much like partying with him in sick bay.
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
As mentioned in my other post, Coby the treat addict passed away last week from severe symptoms of a UTI, even with antibiotic medication. A urine culture was performed which revealed (after his death) that the antibiotic shoud have worked.

I called Purina and told them of my trials. They dutifully took everything down, supposedly to report it to their authorities (Nestle). I have stopped doling out any of the Party Mix treats at all.

Meanwhile, while I was mourning the loss of my poor Cobyco - my elderly Kevin was getting noticeably weak and "tippy". Yes, he is 17 and has hyperthyroidism (treated with Methimazole), but he just had bloodwork done in June and all his numbers were perfect. Not wanting to risk another catastrophe, I rushed Kev in to the vet for bloodwork which came back with highly elevated kidney numbers and a sour prognosis. The doctor also said he detected a heart murmer and sent me home with the dreaded Ringer's IV (I've been this route before).

Kevin has perked up over the last few days, giving him the Ringer's and supplementing with Nutrical - he is at least eating but sleepy. I just keep thinking this is too close together - and related in the way that two otherwise healthy cats suddenly both develop urinary related issues within weeks of each other. I have resorted to witchcraft and am even boiling their drinking water, lest I find out that my well has gone bad or something.
post #16 of 16
Colby seems to have had the odds stacked against him. Poor boy, at least he had some good time with you.

It could all be coincidence or it could have been the treats. You discussed this with your vet? What was their feelings on the matter? Do update if you get any information back from Purina and/or your vet.
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