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17 yr old cat and eating problems

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi All –

I’ll try to keep this short. I have a 17 yr old cat (yes, 17 – that is not a typo ) who I started feeding canned food about 9 – 10 months ago when I noticed she was losing weight, I thought she may not be eating enough as dry food may have been hurting her teeth. At first she would eat the food – then she started just licking the gravy off. I also noticed she would drink a lot of water and drag her bowl around the kitchen.

About four or five months ago I took her to the vet just for a routine checkup – the vet gave her a clean bill of health – no thyroid problems – only slight problem was her kidney function level is just slightly down and the vet said at that age it was to be expected. The vet was very impressed with her health and age. We asked about food and he said at that age feed her whatever she wants.

I kept her on the canned food until a couple of weeks after the vet visit she got the runs really bad – I mean three to four times a day I was cleaning up what didn’t make the litter box. After doing some research online about elderly cats and diet I decided to try the raw food – except I cook the meat and mix it with brown rice.

At first she would eat it all and I thought problem solved. Now she’s at the point where she is interested in what I cook for a day or two then turns her nose up at it. I have tried chicken, turkey and beef – she eats really well for a day or two then quits. She will treat dry food the same – eat on that for a day or two then quit. All she wants now is NutriCal and water – and she is still dragging her water bowl all around the kitchen.

She will also fall asleep with her head resting on the side of the water bowl. She will spend the day there only moving to go to her food bowl. Also - I mix in Missing Link with her food for supplements.

Anyone have any suggestions – I’m really at a loss on what she will eat. Currently I have three different dry foods – of good quality – and she won’t eat any of them. My other two cats have no problem eating that so it’s not going to waste.

Thanks
SqrlGrl
post #2 of 16
try first stage baby food ... the meat and gravey only kind , read the label s to ensure no garlic or onion in them... Kitty Kavier sprinkled helps so does wildside salmon... I make little portions since my 17 yr old also is a I will eat only for one day type
post #3 of 16
Has your kitty returned to the Vet since her change in behavior and eating habits? I would strongly recommend that she be examined by a Felinie Specialist, and promptly. Has she been urinating more frequently? This would correlate with her increased water intake, both symptoms of crf.

I'm so sorry you're having to face this with your baby. I know it can feel so overwhelming. You may want to visit this site. It is a wealth of information that has helped me so much. This site also contains a great deal of very helpful information. This site lists the % of protein, phosphorus, sodium and fat in a variety of canned foods, and this site lists dry foods. Sierra eats Innova Lite Canned , and since changing her diet to this, her numbers have improved greatly! This is a support group you may want to consider joining. It really helps to know you and your baby are not alone in this situation. I could also offer links if you'd like with information on assist feeding if she continues to not want to eat.

Please feel free to pm any time at all.
post #4 of 16
I also have a 17 year old girl, with liver and kidney disease and recently, appetite problems. I have to say, that with all my girl's ailments, she's doing better than your kitty who, according to your vet, apparently has no major health issues. This makes me wonder if your vet isn't missing something. Did he do complete bloodwork? Liver enzymes and CBC? And what are her kidney values exactly? Did he test for diabetes? Excessive drinking can be a sign of either kidney disease or diabetes. Did he check her heart carefully? Sometimes heart murmurs are difficult to detect (I went to 4 vets for my youngest cat - only 1 heard a murmur, the following 2 didn't but a feline cardiologist verified that the first vet did indeed correctly diagnose a murmur).

Did he examine her teeth carefully? If they are in bad shape, she may have an underlying gum infection. These can be dangerous because the infection can spread to other organs of the body.

She could also have IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, or pancreatitis which are very difficult to diagnose but sometimes present the symptoms you're describing. Unfortunately, to definitively diagnose these problems, an ultrasound-guided biopsy needs to be done, and at her age I'm sure you don't want to put her through that.

I think you're on the right track with canned food. You might want to try a fairly bland variety - maybe Wellness plain turkey flavor, or chicken flavor. Beef can be hard to digest, so avoid that. California Natural also has a chicken and rice flavor that might work. In the meantime, you may want to just feed her plain cooked white meat chicken in an effort to give her system a rest, and supplement it with the Nutrical or Missing Link since she likes that.

Having the runs is dehydrating - no cat can afford that, least of all a 17 year old. The fact that she's so interested in water, to the point of sleeping on the water bowl troubles me as well.

If she were my kitty, I'd be getting a second opinion - and fast.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi All -

Thanks for your quick replies. Her weird eating habits started before I took her to the vet - her age and habits were the reason for her going.

The vet did all the tests for blood - thyroid - kidneys, etc. I saw the charts, he sat down and explained what everything meant. He is a new vet for me (he is in his 60's and had a demeaner I really respected) and I really like the attention he gave her - while we were waiting for test results he hung out in the room instead of disappearing and I was able to cover all my concerns. My previous vet would look at me like I had two heads whenever I asked him a question about my cats - he was new to me also as the place I was going to didn't seem to be able to keep any vets there long enough for me to develop a history.

Yes - he did look at her teeth - said they could stand being cleaned but at her age he was reluctant to put her under to clean them. They are not in real bad shape and none of them are going bad to where eating dry food would hurt. We had some dry treats with us and she ate them while the vet was there - she ate them fine.

I did research IBS in cats and that is how I found out about the raw food diet. As long as I can keep her eating whatever I cook or dry food she is fine - as soon as she goes back to canned that starts all over again. Actually MaxCat dry kitten food was recommended for clearing up IBS and it did work. She loved it - ate it for three days along with what I cooked and she was fine. Then she started being finicky.

I will certainly pick up some baby food tomorrow at the grocery store - that is actually recommened as part of the "raw" food diet - that is one thing I have not tried yet.

Thanks again!
Kecia
post #6 of 16
[color=Black]
Quote:
Originally Posted by SqrlGrl
Hi All -

Thanks for your quick replies. Her weird eating habits started before I took her to the vet - her age and habits were the reason for her going.

The vet did all the tests for blood - thyroid - kidneys, etc. I saw the charts, he sat down and explained what everything meant. He is a new vet for me (he is in his 60's and had a demeaner I really respected) and I really like the attention he gave her - while we were waiting for test results he hung out in the room instead of disappearing and I was able to cover all my concerns. My previous vet would look at me like I had two heads whenever I asked him a question about my cats - he was new to me also as the place I was going to didn't seem to be able to keep any vets there long enough for me to develop a history.

Yes - he did look at her teeth - said they could stand being cleaned but at her age he was reluctant to put her under to clean them. They are not in real bad shape and none of them are going bad to where eating dry food would hurt. We had some dry treats with us and she ate them while the vet was there - she ate them fine.

I did research IBS in cats and that is how I found out about the raw food diet. As long as I can keep her eating whatever I cook or dry food she is fine - as soon as she goes back to canned that starts all over again. Actually MaxCat dry kitten food was recommended for clearing up IBS and it did work. She loved it - ate it for three days along with what I cooked and she was fine. Then she started being finicky.

I will certainly pick up some baby food tomorrow at the grocery store - that is actually recommened as part of the "raw" food diet - that is one thing I have not tried yet.

Thanks again!
Kecia
I am glad I read the earlier post right... I would caution kitten food in any cat of that age let alone one that has slightly elevated kidney values.I personally recommend checking her values again, I do mines about every 12 weeks or so... I did for a time use max cat senior with my oldster ..
post #7 of 16
well i have been going thru something similar with all three of my cats, it started when the 18yr old wouldnt eat, and i was frantic to find her somethign she liked. well all three cats (actually one is my daughters but he visits so often it feels like he is mine) started getting fussy- cats are smart! if they think they can get a better tasting food by holding out, they will do it.

i am in the process of just putting the food out and if they dont eat it, well there is always the next meal. thankfully my old girl is eating again, so i dont freak out if she skips a meal (she is offered food at least six times a day because like many older cats, she prefers it that way- my old boy snoopy was like that too)

also, you could try sitting with her while she eats, some cats get this way when they are older, they like you to sit with them while they eat.

good luck, you know it seems feeding these guys is the hardest part???
althea
post #8 of 16
If you notice she's just sleeping by the water bowl and she's been having diarrhea, she might be getting dehydrated, as KTLynn suggested. Dehydration can aggravate kidney problems - the damaged kidneys need lots of water to help keep them flushed.

You can check for dehydration by picking up the skin at the base of her neck to form a sort of tent, and then letting go - if the skin snaps back quickly, she's hydrated, but if it goes down slowly or remains tented for a moment, it means she's dehydrated & needs to get back to the vet ASAP for fluids. A kitty of her age can go downhill very quickly, so if you notice she's not acting herself or seems dehydrated, don't delay in getting her back to the vet.

The links DawnofSierra provided are full of helpful information about cats & kidney problems - I wish I'd had access to all these resources when my RB girl was diagnosed with kidney failure.
post #9 of 16
If she has not seen the vet in four or five months and has had these changes in eating and drinking habits, then you need to take her in again. Even though things were fine a few months ago it doesn't necessarily mean there isn't a problem now. Keep in mind that cats age much faster than humans so 6 months in "human years" is more like 2-3 years in "cat years".

She is showing classic signs of renal disease (drinking gallons and not eating). If this is indeed what she has, then the sooner she starts treatment, the sooner she will start to feel better and the longer she will live.
post #10 of 16
Stephanie (dawnofsierra) gave you all the links I'd recomend, and KTLynn's post is also excellent, I can not add much except to say that if your vet said kidney values were changing, it requires followup testing to see if they have changed further - now that you have a baseline you want to follow how rapidly they change.

Please check out the sites - especially the felinecrf.org site. There are things that can be done to maintain what kidney function she has...you would want to monitor her potassium levels (excessive urination can help lead to a decreased postassium level) her phosphorus levels (these tend to be too high and if you can keep them down in the normal range, she will have a better appetite, and it is better for her kidney function).

You need to get a copy of her lab results and check that phos level..it might be appropriate to be feeding her lower phosphorus foods and/or using a phos binder in her food. Diet plays an important roll in maintaining kidney function - so please especially read over the sections dealing with that on the felinecrf.org site. Nausea from increased stomach acid is also common with kitties with chronic renal failure (which comes in stages, I assume your vet feels she is early) and affects their appetite - it can be treated.

I would consider getting a second opinion, or at the least, go get repeat labs after you've read up on CRF, so you can have a good talk with this vet about managing this in your kitty.

Yes, crf is common in older cats, but cats can and many do, live with this for a number of years after diagnosis, if appropriate treatment is begun. If your vet was saying it's to be expected in older kitties w/out proposing any treatments, I frankly do not understand it.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by SqrlGrl
At first she would eat it all and I thought problem solved. Now she’s at the point where she is interested in what I cook for a day or two then turns her nose up at it. I have tried chicken, turkey and beef – she eats really well for a day or two then quits. She will treat dry food the same – eat on that for a day or two then quit. All she wants now is NutriCal and water – and she is still dragging her water bowl all around the kitchen.
I would run another senior panel to see if any of the values have changed. CRF, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism all cause excessive thirst and urination, so a blood test is the only way to rule them out. Spot, my hyperthyroid kitty, is very picky at times. What he likes today he turns his nose up at tomorrow. The one thing that I've found he will consistently consume is CatSip. If he turns his nose up at his food, I can put CatSip on it and he'll eat most of it. It works for him on both wet and dry food. He refuses Nutrical though (he doesn't like the malt flavor and dislikes Petromalt too). You might try the CatSip or perhaps sodium free chicken broth. Do you serve her food warm? The warm food is better at releasing enticing odors. I would at least talk to your vet again and see if he has any recommendations. When Spot gets especially picky, we give him cyproheptadine (an appetite stimulant) and that usually helps get him eating again.
post #12 of 16
Cloud Shade, what dose of cyproheptadine do you use for your cat? I have seen it OTC and thought about getting some but I haven't looked up how to dose it.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your great replies -

Here is an update. I went to the grocery store - got chicken and some 1st Stage baby food. I cooked the chicken - ground it up in the food processor and I use the baby food to "gravy it up". When I first got home from the store I gave her a small amount of the baby food and she scarfed it up and wanted more.

What she will do is - lick all the "gravy" off the chicken and then keep going back to the bowl over a couple of hours and eventually eat it all. Very glad to see that but wonder if she is going to get finicky on me again.

She only gets diarrhea when she eats canned food - and she holds out for the canned food. I think this is more a finicky issue than her just plain not eating. I would rather she eat a lot of food I cook than commerical canned foods.

And it's not that she is drinking a lot - it's just that she is hanging out around the water bowl. It's probably just weird old age behavior. I work out of the home so I am able to monitor how much she is eating and drinking. So far - the chicken and baby combo is working.

Thanks again!
SqrlGrl
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by semiferal
Cloud Shade, what dose of cyproheptadine do you use for your cat? I have seen it OTC and thought about getting some but I haven't looked up how to dose it.
I've never seen it OTC. I would start with the lowest possible effective dose (I know some people use 1/8 of a tablet). The tablets I have are 4mg. Usually when he stops eating, I'll give Spot 1/2 a tablet every 36 hours or so, and that works for him. I wouldn't use more than one tablet every 24 hours without talking to your vet. I would check with your vet before you use them at all, so that he/she can make sure it doesn't interfere with anything else your kitty may be taking.
post #15 of 16
Have you tried canned pumpkin with her? If she starts holding out for the canned food again, giving her some with canned pumpkin, or perhaps Benefiber, may allow her to eat what she wants without getting diarrhea.
post #16 of 16
I agree with ktlynn please take her for another opinion. My ChiChi is 16+ ( i was a little girl when i got her so her age isnt exact at least 16 though) She has gotten alittle more lethargic through the years but as far as the behavior you described I consider it wierd and would definatly get another opinion.Good luck,ChiChi and I are praying for you both and sending much Kitty love.
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