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5 month old obsessed with poop, and other 'oddities'

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

So...... I'm normally the one dispensing advice on beahviour, but this one has me completely confused. 




2-3 month old kitten gets dropped at the shelter. She's shy and reclusive and wasn't doing so well being fostered in the staff offices, so my husband brings her home to me. I take one look at her and I know she's dying. (It's a thing. I'm never wrong.) So I make her take him back so she can be under vet-supervised care. I'm right, and 12 hours later she starts vomiting and passing large amounts of tin foil. She miraculously makes it through that ordeal thanks to the vets being right there, but couldn't keep hard food down afterwards (they think from damage to her throat) and she wouldn't eat soft food. So the staff spends the next month or so force feeding her until she's doing better. 


Problem is, she had "no personality". That's what the staff called it. She wasn't exactly scared, but she wasn't friendly. She'd just sit someplace all day long when there was people in the room. You could pick her up or touch her, but she would give no reaction. She would play with the other kittens when no one was around (they could see her through the windows), but never with a human being present. When there was, she was listless. Staff wasn't sure if it was health or behavioural, but seeing as how she wasn't adoptable and not showing signs of improvement they talked about putting her to sleep. I talked hubby into bringing her home again. (What's one more? sigh.) 


First impression - she was feral. Her behavioual cues were all over the map. I was certain she was going to bite/attack by the way she held herself, and her ear and eye language. But she never did. In fact, she would look like she was about to attack (ears constantly plastered to the side of her head) when she was perfectly happy and content being petted. It was bizarre. For the first week I thought I was the one that was crazy. 


She's gotten a LOT better with interpersonal communication. Ears forward and alert, working her paws, butt up in the air when she wants attention. She finally started coming to me for attention 2 weeks ago. (Prior to that the only way I could pet her and make her purr/work paws was to drag her out of hiding and give her attention. It wasn't exactly forced because she really liked it.) Two days ago she started coming to my husband, so we're making improvements. She wags her tail along the ground like a dog the entire time we're giving her attention. She's also become very mouthy (bite/lick/gum) with me when I pay her attention.


She's also really desperate to play with the other cats. She runs up to them and ducks under their chin and really wants them to pay attention to her. We spend as much time as we can watching her and leaving the door open so she can interact with them, but we can't risk leaving her out without supervision right now because of the - 




The first week I had her home I caught her in the clumping litter eating mouthfuls of it. I couldn't believe what I saw at first, but when I went to remove her from the box, she growled (the only time I've heard her do that) and grabbed a giant mouthful of litter before I could get her away. It reminded me of a cat guarding really good canned food.


The vets are now thinking that the foil wasn't an accident (starved cat being fed on tin foil) but instead that she ate it on purpose. We have her sequestered in a bathroom with plain clay litter until we can get to the bottom of the problem since if she does have anemia or other nutrient deficiencies we don't want her to get a hold of something that could kill her in the main house. She had blood drawn two weeks ago, but they "can't find the results". (Don't get me started...) 


And it's not just cat litter she's eating but also -




So the 'real' issue we're dealing with is her obsession with poop. She chews on it, and possibly eats it. (Probably related to the pica, I hope.) She plays with it, even though we have a bajillion toys for her when we're not able to play with her. In fact, it's her favorite toy ever! She carries pieces - they have teeth marks, so I know she's picking them up! - and puts them next to her food and water dishes. She also hides nearly an entire "sitting" in her bed so she can sleep on it. 


She's not using the bathroom in her bed or anywhere else - these pieces are caked in litter so it's obvious she using her boxes and then removing them after. We try to clean them up as we find them but she's going at least 5 times a day so she gets to it before we can. The only saving grace is that they're nice normal formed poops so they're not making a mess everywhere. 


Pica and poop obsession in cats is rare as it is. I know I can't really do much until I find out blood-wise what's going on, but I'm really to the point where I'm worried about her sanity. Cats sleeping on their own waste is so unheard of!!! I don't even know what to do to help her get over it. She waits until she's alone to do all this, so it's not even like distracting her or pulling the ole switcheroo with treats or toys would work.



And finally:


She's becoming a short-haired cat. When she came, she was a long, curly haired Persian mix. It's been about a month now, and she's now a short-hair tabby with extra long hair running down her spine. It started under her chin - not hair loss, not hair thinning, it's true hair shortening. She was a short-haired kitten under her chin with super long Persian fur everywhere else, and it's spread outward from there. I've heard of short-haired kittens going long, but not the other way around! And she's not showing any signs of deficiency that would be attributed to coat problems - it's thick and beautiful and there's no bare or bald spots. It's just... short hair now. 



If anyone can offer any advice about any of this, I would appreciate it. She leaves me completely bamboozled! 

post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 

Oh! And I forgot to mention the drooling. When she gets happy (when she's getting petted or groomed), she drools. Buckets of drool. Vet says there's nothing wrong with her mouth. She drips when she gets really excited. Never encountered that in a cat before either! 

post #3 of 11

Her behavior does seem to be becoming more friendly and normal with lots of patience from you, so that's great. It does sound like she had a definite mistrust of humans. The drooling is somewhat common. Some cats do drool when being petted or just happy, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.


The PICA behavior is definitely concerning. My understanding is that it is most commonly caused by diet deficiencies or medical reasons, but behavioral reasons can't be ruled out either. Until you get some blood test results back, I would hate to guess. You could take a look at her diet. What is she eating now?

post #4 of 11

Of course you want to get to the root of the problem- but until then maybe an automatic litterbox will help keep her away from the poop? I think they rake it up within minutes. Hopefully the bloodwork will give you some answers.


One of my cats drools when he's very content too. It's behavioral because he only does it in the morning when I hold him on his favorite pillow and he purrs like crazy.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

The did a packed blood cell count to look for anemia, and they finally found the results today and told me they were normal. I'm pushing for a CBC/Chem panel to check for nutrient deficiencies, but I'm not so sure they'll go for it because of the cost. 


With her being just a foster cat I'm not really in a position to spend our cash on testing or extras like a automatic litterbox. :( We've had a lot of emergencies this year with our own cats and our rainy fund needs built up again for the next one. I wish we could do more! I've got a ton of time, but that's about all I can offer her. 

post #6 of 11
Can you scoop multiple times a day to prevent her from getting the poop? Also can you address her diet because pooping 5 times a day is not normal. www.catinfo.org has a lot of great info on feline nutrition written by a vet.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

She's on Taste of the Wild and also has a little bowl of Royal Canin kitten that she picks at so I'm not sure what more I can be offering her diet wise. I know that 5 times a day is not normal, but she's eating like a horse and because of her age and activity level I don't want to restrict her diet any and the vets said not to either since she's still technically recovering from the tin foil incident. She's been under close veterinary care up until the last month and she's been in three times since then, and they keep telling me she's physically healthy. 


I am cleaning the litterbox 6 times a day, but by the time I find out she's gone she's already been chewing on it and has it in her bed! (Thankfully she and her box is in the bathroom, so it's easy to keep up with.) And then overnight is just a nightmare come the next morning as she's had 9 hours to really have fun. 

post #8 of 11

TOTW dry or canned? Both actually contain a lot of potatoes and peas. The RC Kitten contains a lot of grains. I'm wondering if you cut out all grains/starches from her diet, if she would poop less since there would be fewer fillers.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Dry on both. She won't eat wet food. 


What would you suggest food wise? I've been told by many professionals that both of these are top brands already. 

post #10 of 11

I guess it depends on the "professionals." Most vets get very little nutritional training (one semester), and most of that is done/paid for by the big pet food companies such Hill's and Royal Canin. Here are 3 vets' take on species-appropriate food for obligate carnivores who MUST get their nutrition from animal sources.






A lot of us have been where you are, told by vets and others about what is the best food for cats. However, common sense would dictate that cats need meat not grains. Cats in the wild only raid our grain fields and vegetable gardens for the small rodents and other animals that eat the grains and veggies.


Here are the ingredients of the TOTW Rocky Mountain dry:


Chicken meal, peas, sweet potatoes, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pea protein, potato protein, roasted venison, smoked salmon, natural flavor, ocean fish meal, DL-methionine, potassium chloride, taurine, choline chloride, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, yucca schidigera extract, dried fermentation products of Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, niacin, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin A supplement, biotin, potassium iodide, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, manganous oxide, sodium selenite, vitamin D supplement, folic acid.


I highlighted 4 out of the top 6 ingredients that really have no business being in an obligate carnivore's food.


Here are the ingredients of Royal Canin Kitten dry:


Brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, wheat gluten, chicken fat, corn, egg product, natural flavors, dried plain beet pulp, powdered cellulose, fish oil, vegetable oil, sodium silico aluminate, grain distillers dried yeast, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, psyllium seed husk, salt, fructooligosaccharides, taurine, hydrolyzed yeast, L-lysine, choline chloride, magnesium oxide, vitamins (DL-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E), L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), niacin supplement, biotin, riboflavin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), marigold extract (Tagetes erecta L.), trace minerals (zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, copper proteinate), L-carnitine, rosemary extract, preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid


The quality of ingredients of this product are even more inappropriate for cats. Where's the meat?

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for that Vball! :)




If there was a nutritional deficiency that was making her eat the litter, it finally cleared up with the food we've been giving her. I haven't caught her trying to eat clay in several weeks and she's back to using clumping litter without a problem.


I also think that the poop playing was pure boredom. I have NEVER seen a cat this active! She's nuts! I had some work to do upstairs last week so I kept the bathroom door open the entire time so she could visit with the other cats while I supervised, and after a few days she came out and hasn't been back in. She's playing with everyone, passes out cold on the couch when she's finally done, sprawls across our laps for attention, follows me around the house - normal kitty things. All in all one of the best fosters we've ever had. But - and it's a little hard since the boxes are in the basement - I haven't caught her playing with anything other than other kitties and cat toys. :) 


She's still not mentally right. She still doesn't behave properly with the other cats or with us. She's incredibly hyper - she's got two fosters to play with, one her age and one that's half her age, and then also a litter of four yearlings and a smattering of three year olds, and she exhausts them all to the point where they are no longer interested in play with her and she's still going for hours afterwards. And then she tires out the adults in the house. I've never seen a cat this hyper before. She's also incredibly athletic and quick. And given her build (huge hind legs, short front legs) and her coloration (classic thick-striped black and caramel tabby) she looks completely exotic. 


The other weird thing is the hair coat. She started as a long-haired Persian, and she's now a thick-coated short-hair. That one still floors me and I can't understand it. The best explanation I have right now is that it goes hand in hand with the pica and it's diet related. Maybe now that she's on a good diet she'll grow her coat back out? Gonna have to wait a year to find out, probably!


And she chews. A lot. She wants you to pet her, and she wants your hand in her mouth during most of that time. She does not bite (thankfully!), but she definitely wants to have her teeth/tongue/lips on ya. Not even sure what that's about, but she so reminds me of a puppy! (Her tail wags perpendicular to the ground like crazy the whole time too....)


Gut instinct is that we'll end up keeping her. Unless I can break her mouth habit to make her safe around people who aren't familiar with cats, and/or find her a house with a ton of other playmates to keep her from going insane with boredom and/or find her a barn home (not something I really want to do), I don't see her being a good adoption candidate. (Not really complaining. I lost my feral almost two years ago to cancer and Sarah is a very much a spiritual successor to her when it comes to the way she is with the other cats. There's been a hole in the house without a "cat's cat" around and the vibe is already changing for the better. :) ) 

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