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New cats, big problems

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
OK this is my first post on here, and I have a long and complicated story with some problems I'd love some help with if anyone is able.

About a week ago my fiance and I acquired (through shelter adoption) two young male cats: Macbeth, a long-haired orange and white kitty, and Othello, a DSH mostly-black guy. They'd JUST been dropped off (surrendered) at the shelter a few hours prior by their former owner, and old lady who apparently couldn't take very good care of them. Seeing as how they were just what we'd been searching for, my fiance and I adopted them on the spot--they seemed so scared in a cage near all those big barking dogs, and they were obviously used to a peaceful home.

Shortly after we got them home, the problems started. Othello has quite a healthy appetite. Not knowing what they'd been fed previously, we got them Whiskas dry food (the lady at the shelter said that the old owner had fed them dry food). Like I said, Othello's appetite has been just fine--he seems to eat a normal amount and until recently hasn't had trouble keeping it down. Macbeth, on the other hand, has not touched his dry food. The day after we got him we tried to give him some tuna just because we were concerned that he wasn't eating anything at all, and he had a few bites of that then lost interest. He continued to not eat. A couple of days after that, we tried to give him some expensive canned cat food, and again he had a couple of bites then lost interest. That was the last time we saw him eat anything.

We can't really tell if he's been eating at night when we've been asleep, but we dont' think that is the case since we also haven't really seen him use the box (not that he's going elsewhere--he's just not going). This morning when I woke up there was a puddle of something bright yellow and very liquid o the floor, with some decorative greenery (from the vase of flowers on the table) and a few pieces of chewed cat food in it. We don't know who it came from, but I now suspect that it was Othello (the cat who has a healthy appetite), as about half an hour ago he ran under the bed and vomited--just a few minutes after having had a snack. Currently he's back at the food dish eating, and I hope that he'll keep this bit down.

So in summary for part I: Macbeth hasn't really eaten ANYTHING much in the 6 days we've had him, and Othello seemed to be doing OK but just vomited earlier today.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there:

It seems that the cats weren't cared for very well at their old home. On the 3rd day that we had them we noticed that they both have fleas, Macbeth seemingly worse than Othello. Macbeth is missing quite a bit of hair around the base of the tail, and while I later learned that this is a symptom of a flea allergy, at first I thought that it had been shaved. Anyway...

We live in a small town with no major pet stores, so the only flea remedy available was Hartz Flea ad Tick Spray at our town's only grocery store. We went and got the spray, then sprayed it on both cats. They didn't like that at ALL, obviously. When Othello began drooling and lurking around, I hopped onlline and saw that Hartz is apparently bad news. Macbeth started drooling and hiding as well, and by that time Othello had more or less stopped reacting to the gunk. So we tried to give Macbeth a cursory rinse, and called a vet.

Yesterday morning we took the kitties to the vet, and he told us that they would luckily NOT die from the Hartz, but we were to shampoo all the rest of the gunk off of them, and he gave Macbeth a cortisone shot for his flea allergy. He also discovered that both cats have ear mites.

We got home and washed both cats using Dawn dish detergent (we figured since it's safe to use on ducks and otters in oil spills, it's safe for cats covered in bad flea "medicine") and both seem to have improved since then. We also got Advantage for cats to put on them after they've got the Hartz out of their systems, and earmite medicine. The vet suggested that perhaps Macbeth's lack of appetite was due to his fleas and mites, or the trauma of going from his old home, to a shelter, to his new home, all in one day.

So in summary: Two new cats, one won't eat and has a huge flea allergy, both exposed to Hartz (and removed as quickly as possible), the other eats OK but throws up on occasion.

The problem is, with two cats, a tiny apartment (we have a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom), it's really difficult to tell if Macbeth is eating anything, and we can't even isolate him in a room.

Sorry this is so long, but I'd really appreciate any advice about how to get Macbeth to eat, how to help them recover from their horrible Hartz experience, when I should take them back to the vet, etc.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you.
post #2 of 17
You certainly have been going through a crash course in cat care! The vet visit was the 1st step in getting your cats healthy and adjusted to their new home.
I'm sorry you have had to go through the Hartz Horror. Its not your fault not knowoing how bad this product is! We expect these type of things to be regulated and safe. Which it is defiently NOT! As sadly you and your kittes had to find out the hard way. Why these type of products are still being allowed to be sold is just beyond me. Hartz flea producst have killed many cats.
Flea infestation can make cats ill. Numerous fleas feeding on them will cause them to be anemic. Did the vet do any blood work? If not he should. Clearing up the fleas and ear mites will be another step in the road to getting these two cats back on track. Which you are doing.
The one cat thatisn't appearing to eat much does need alot of encouragment to eat. Offering dry and wet food often will help. Maybe giving kitty his food off in a quiet area will help. You will have to experiment with different types and flavors to see what he likes. If hes eating some but not much at one time thats a plus. If he has no other health issues. Then I 'm pretty confident this this lack of eating. Is more then likley due to many factors. A new home missing his old home. Being put in a shelter spells out major STRESS for these two cats. They both need time to adjust. Make sure though he is eating and drinking some. If he isn't at all them you maybe need to force feed for a day or so.
If the other cat vomited up some of his dry food along with plants he ate? House plants are dangerous to cats many are deadly. Put up the house plants where kitty can not eat them! Often cats vomit for no reason. Not all the time but that is normal to on occasion. especially dry food. They eat it to quickly and to much at one time. Probabley eating the plant caused this.
The flea allergy can be handled by keeping them flea free. Using any product purchased at your vets. I prefer Frontline Plus myself.
Give them time to adjust and settle in. Get them in good health.Which you are trying to do. Quiet and love and food . And proper vet care. Sounds like your doing the right things.

How are the cats acting? Are they hiding from you? Or do the seem ok around you. Allowing you to pet them?
Don't try to force them to come near you at first if they are scared of you. patience and letting them get used to you in their own terms is for the best in the long run.
Congrats on becoming a new cat owner. Your in for a wonderfull time with two cats in your life. Its so nice to hear a about a good adoption from a shelter. I always thought shelters didn't adopt animals out untill they had been throughly checked out.
Let us know how things are going. And thanks for giving two cats a new home.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your reply! And yeah, it's been a lot of learning, really quickly. :-) But we're doing what we can.

No, the vet didn't do any blood work. He told us there was a 99% chance that the Hartz was the cause of their difficulties, but we washed it off soon enough that they should both recover. He did give Macbeth a cortisone shot to help with his flea allergy, and said Othello shoud be OK w/o that.

The flowers were up on the counter, but we moved them higher up. The kitties do have cat grass available for their consumption, but they haven't shown any interest in that.

Othello has now vomited twice this morning, and either he or Macbeth vomited last night (the one with a flower leaf in it). Both times it's been right after he ate, so I'm going to try grinding up his Whiskas into smaller pieces--is this a good plan of action?

Othello doesn't hide very much--he likes to hide in our closet someteims but spends tons of time on the couch and on our laps. Macbeth spends most of the time out of sight, under a chair or in the closet. He does come out most evenings, though, and enjoys lap-time as well. He seems to be more nocturnal on the whole. Both are very sociable with us--they love to cuddle, but aren't much for playing (batting things around, chasing a laser point, etc).

We're getting tired of our kitties being sick and really wish we knew what to do to make them better!
post #4 of 17
Welcome to you on TCS! A shame that you are having so many difficulties, but congratulations on adopting these two boys. Somehow, you must get them to eat (you don't mention if they are drinking?). Cats, unlike dogs, can very quickly go downhill permanently with liver damage if they don't eat. At this stage I would try anything - tuna, chicken, babyfood - all without salt. Get some catnip and sprinkle that on their food as it can work wonders. The other thing I have found helpful with sick kitties who won't eat is egg yolk (not the whites - they are bad for cats) beaten into some goat milk or special cat milk, obtainable at the petstore. Cows' milk, in case you do not know, is high in lactose and often causes stomach upset in cats. Keep in contact with your vet, and take them in if they still won't eat - he may need to give them injections of fluid under the skin to keep them hydrated. I do hope you sort the problems quickly and enjoy many years of companionship together.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
I suppose baby food will be the next thing to try...as I said, Othello is eating OK but Macbeth isn't, or else is doing it so slyly we don't notice (and with such a tiny place, it'd pretty much have to be the middle of the night that he's eating).

I'm beginning to wonder if we should force-feed him--how would we go about doing this?

Another problem is our very limited resources: we live in a small town and there's no pet store where we can get cat-formula'd milk. I'll be going to my parents' city tomorrow and coming back on Wednesday--that's 4 days from now--would it be worthwhile getting some of this stuff at a pet store there? I can at least bring back some catnip to put on the food. Would it be worthwhile to make a concoction of baby food or tuna, ground-up dry food, and catnip? I really want Macbeth to eat!!!

Also: Othello seems to be drinking ok (in addition to eating), but I haven't seen Macbeth drink much of anything--adding dehydration to the mix.

It's been at least 6 days since I think he's had a decent meal--could this be attributed just to the upset of the new home, the fleas, and the mites?
post #6 of 17
If your cats have fleas, they probably have tapeworms. Did your vet give you a dewormer? The worms may be causing stomach upset, vomiting, and lack of appetite. Get your cats dewormed and then try out a few different foods to see what your cat prefers. To check for dehydration, pull back the skin on the back of their neck, if the skin snaps back immediately, they are ok.
post #7 of 17
A good vet will not deworm these cats for tapes until they are healthier. They have enough chemicals in their system right now, that unless they have roundworms, the worming can wait.

Here is an article that will show you how to get a reluctant cat to eat. When cats don't eat for an extended period of time, they fall into the same type of category as anorexic people do. They don't eat because they aren't hungry because their body is deceiving them into thinking they are full. The body is essentially feeding on itself inside.

post #8 of 17
Welcome to TCS and the joys of cat-owner-owned-ship. I'm sorry you're having so many problems.

I would suggest feeding your kitties at specified times of the day, and not free feeding. That way you can tell if Macbeth is eating at all. You might try a different kind of dry food for him as well (I'd buy just a small bag until you figure out if he likes it or not.) I suggest this because one of my cats refused to eat the food we were feeding the other cat and went hungry for three days before we figured it out. Once we offered an alternative, he fell to. I know this sounds crazy, but most cats I've met are crazy about Friskies Chicken 'n' Gravy wet food. It probably isn't the best nutritionally, but at least he'd be eating something.

To calm your kitties down, you might try Feliway. You can get it as a spray or a plug in diffuser. It is a bit expensive, but it calms cats down by duplicating the pheremone they mark their territories with.

Hope this helps and good luck. And your kitties are lucky to have found you.
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
OK we ran to the store and got Turkey baby food, as well as a small pouch of some Friskies wet food. I sprinkled some catnip on the wet food and found Macbeth sitting on our bed. I dipped my finger in the food "juice" and he eagerly licked about 10 fingers-full. I also got him to eat a few tiny chunks off my finger. Then, he took a couple small licks and nibbles from the bowl I'd set by him. We closed him up in the bedroom and left him alone for a while; as far as I can tell he hasn't eaten any more. I just tried to finger-feed him again and he wasn't interested in it.

I suppose we'll try that baby food later, maybe put some egg yolk in it.

Poor baby seems really weak.

Because he's long-haired it's hard to tell if his neck skin "snaps" back (dehydration test), but it seems to go back fairly quickly.

I am afraid to stop having food available at all times; I feel like at this point anything he eats any time is better than nothing.

Thanks for your welcomes and advice, guys...I hope we're figuring out what's wrong with my poor babies.
post #10 of 17
At this stage, if it were me, (and this is just a personal opinion), I would get a 20ml syringe from a pharmacist (without needle of course) and start force feeding him nutritious liquid by syringe, a very little at a time in to the side of the mouth, but a syringe full every hour. I had to do this with Dushka as a kitten and again with Persil and if I had not they both would have died. Try egg yolk (diluted with water if you can't get low-lactose milk), baby food diluted and beaten in the blender, home made chicken broth, tuna juice, kitten glop (the recipe is on the kitten thread). If he is really weak as you say he probably has no energy to eat, and he could go into liver failure. If he vomits then stop and call the vet. I do hope things get better.
post #11 of 17
Good Luck with your kitties.

Lactaid is a milk that is lactose free and can be found at most grocery stores. I have given it to my kitties and they like it.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Wow I never thought I'd be doing this for an animal but...

Last night I warmed up a can of turkey baby food (with no salt in the ingredients list) and sprinkled on some parmesan cheese. Macbeth initially didn't want to lick it off my finger, and certianly not eat it from the dish, but after I rubbed my finger on his lips a bit he opened up and licked it off my finger. We did this several times, and he seems to have kept it down.

This morning when I woke up the catgrass container had "mysteriously fallen" from the windowsill (lol) and he was going nuts chowing down on it...so it seems again that he has an appetite but just doesn't like what we've offered so far.

This morning he's like a whole different cat. He's not slouching around, he even ran a bit a second ago. I havne't seen him retreat under the chair at all today--he just seems to be in better spirits altogether.

But the best news is, the people at hte shelter finally managed to get ahold of the woman who surrendered the boys, and apparently they were eating Iams dry before coming to us. So as soon as Jeff (my sleepyhead fiance) gets up we'll go buy our...5th variety of cat food (lol) and see if he'll eat that. If he won't, I will definitely be buying some Lactaid--I saw that stuff at the grocery store when we were looking for the goats' milk yesterday and didn't get it.

Thanks everyone for your continued help!!! I'm really encouraged about poor Macbeth and am sure he'l pull through! :-)
post #13 of 17
Sounds good! As you say, you never know what you will do for your cats till you have to do it!
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
An update for those interested:

After a bit of a rocky start on the food (it seemed like he didn't have much of an appetite, despite having not eaten for 6 days), and some gentle persuading at first, Macbeth is eating like any normal cat should! He has is own dish separate from Othello and so far neither boy has tried to eat from the other's dish, so it seems that that, too, was what they were used to. Macbeth has also been eating a lot of cat grass, so I think that has helped. So now he's eating and drinking normally!

We're still giving the ear mite medicine and I've noticed they're both scratchign at their heads a lot less; just three doses to go and they should be all caught up and healthy!

Considering it was several days ago that we had the Hartz incident, and both cats are very much recovered from it, how much longer should we wait before administering the Advantage that we got from the vet??? I don't want to hurt them by loading up on the medicine, but at the same time, it's not healthy to have fleas!

Thanks everyone for beingso great and supportive--this board is INCREDIBLE for a novice like me and I look forward to a time when I'll know enough to contribute and not just ask questions! :-P
post #15 of 17
Can't answer about the flea meds - I am sure someone can, but I am so glad that things are looking up!
post #16 of 17
I'd probably just call the vet and ask him about the flea medication and when you can do it.
post #17 of 17
I've been reading the thread over the last few days and I'm so happy that things are going well now! Its an aweful feeling when your pets are sick. So congratulations on your two new cats!
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