Sunday, January 24, 2010

Feeding the Kitty

As you know if you're a regular here, I have a cat named Gatsby who recently suffered a life-threatening urinary blockage. The emergency room vet said diet was the cause, even though we already had him on a prescription diet for urinary issues. (Click here for the story so far.)

I wondered at the time why we don't feed cats raw meat instead of commercial foods, if even the best of those are bad. So when we went in for a followup visit at our own vet last week I asked.

She said that cats need a balanced diet and minerals. Meat is not a balanced diet. When a cat eats prey, it eats everything - meat, bones, entrails, and all. They will also eat grasses and some plants. They get enough water from all that, so they do not need to drink much.

Raw meat contains pathogens and parasites that can cause disease, which is why we cook it. However, there is a movement afoot among cat owners to include raw meat, so there are companies offering irradiated raw meat that can be added to a cat's diet. (I'm guessing this is pretty expensive.)

Canned food is the best choice. It has the meat and the fluid cats need. Dry food is sort of OK, but you have to trick the cat into drinking enough fluid if you use it. Offering tuna water and unsalted broth is helpful. And, she says, you really get what you pay for here. Cheap food can result in a sick cat and big vet bills.

Gatsby turns up his finicky nose at anything but dry kibble, including those tasty fluid treats. So for now he is on a temporary diet that causes thirst and dilutes the urine.

He was doing great until yesterday, when he began vomiting. He hasn't been able to keep anything down in the past 24 hours, and his urine output is not what is has been. I have a feeling we are heading back to the vet next week, if not the emergency room.

I'm really at wit's end on what to do now. Have any of you found a solution to recurring urinary problems with your cats?

23 comments:

A piece of news said...

Our family cat from years ago had the same problem. He lived quite awhile with the problem, but once he went downhill, he never got back to right. I know cheap food is a bad thing and I think people need to realize that. They also need to know that cats are not vegetarians. Good luck with Gatsby. I wish I had an anser.

Sallyacious said...

As strange as it sounds, I did. I had a male who was beginning to have those kinds of issues. He wasn't drinking enough and started getting UTIs. But then I noticed that he would happily drink from the water glass I put next to the bed every night for me.

So I got a bunch of highball glasses and filled them with water. He started drinking MUCH more. And then I discovered that he loved ice cubes. So I started dropping those into his water glasses. We never had another issue, and he was on dry food for all but the last few months of his life, when he was 14 and in the final stages of CRF.

With the Old Lady Cat I've started doing the same thing. She has a water glass on the bedside table and one on my desk, as well as the bowl in the kitchen. She prefers the glasses too, and since I've started doing that, she's drinking a lot more again.

Good luck. I hope you find a solution that works for Gatsby.

MyMaracas said...

News, thanks for your comment. I'm sorry you lost your cat to this. It's sad to see them decline.

MyMaracas said...

Sally, Excellent suggestion! I'm always waiving Gatsby's snoot out of my mugs and glasses here at the desk. I'll fill one with water and let him get away with mooching next time. Thanks!!

NicoleB said...

Best wishes for the poor thing!
I always have to do funny tricks to make our Labrador drink enough, oh well...
Hope it works out for you!

Chrissykat said...

Each of my female cats have had one bout with a urinary issue. After treatment, meds, etc. both have been fine with no reccurances (knock on wood). I do, however, have a "Drinkwell" water fountain that all of my cats (past & present)love. The running water is a huge draw both sight & sound. Good luck with Gatsby. Sending warm fuzzies his way.

MyMaracas said...

Thanks, Nicole. It seems strange to have to trick an animal into drinking, doesn't it.

MyMaracas said...

Chrissy, thanks for that tip! I researched the Drinkwell online and found that Petco has it. I called and reserved their last one - on sale for $49.95. Kinda pricey, but worth it if it keeps him healthy.

Celeste said...

It is scary enough hearing about all the health issues we are causing in the processing of human food but pet food production seems even worse.
I do hope your poor kitty makes a full and speedy recovery.

MyMaracas said...

Celeste, I agree. I keep wondering if maybe there wasn't some contaminant in the food, like the melamine that killed and sickened so many pets who ate food made in China. There's really no way to know or trust whether our pets' food is safe -- or our own, for that matter.

ramblingwoods.com said...

It isn't anything you did Vicki and he could have had the RX diet and still had some problems. I don't know why the vet said it was the cause as some cats have problems and some don't. I have only talked to my sister once since I read this and my mother was having a problem so I am so sorry I didn't remember to ask.

Interesting as my one male cat who has constipation and teeth problems will drink water out of any glass or cup, but not the water bowl. I leave a couple of wide mouth cups around and he drinks from them. The idea of the running water may help.

One thing I do remember is that cats can get very dehydrated pretty fast and have kidney problems sooner than dogs will so don't let him go with vomiting and not getting fluids for long.

And you are doing the best that you can. It isn't your fault.

I was thinking..is there an internist vet in your area? You could ask..of course then the regular vet will be insulted, but for a second opinion or are you comfortable with your vet? Does that vet also see dogs? Sometimes, a vet who just sees cats might have some other idea? Just thinking aloud....

ramblingwoods.com said...

It isn't anything you did Vicki and he could have had the RX diet and still had some problems. I don't know why the vet said it was the cause as some cats have problems and some don't. I have only talked to my sister once since I read this and my mother was having a problem so I am so sorry I didn't remember to ask.

Interesting as my one male cat who has constipation and teeth problems will drink water out of any glass or cup, but not the water bowl. I leave a couple of wide mouth cups around and he drinks from them. The idea of the running water may help.

One thing I do remember is that cats can get very dehydrated pretty fast and have kidney problems sooner than dogs will so don't let him go with vomiting and not getting fluids for long.

And you are doing the best that you can. It isn't your fault.

I was thinking..is there an internist vet in your area? You could ask..of course then the regular vet will be insulted, but for a second opinion or are you comfortable with your vet? Does that vet also see dogs? Sometimes, a vet who just sees cats might have some other idea? Just thinking aloud....

Jay said...

Popped over from your other blog, which I was visiting for Macro Monday.

I used to be an animal nurse (before I was married, which was over thirty years ago, so I'm well out of date) and I remember having cats brought in with urinary blockages. They were just SO miserable, poor things. It's dangerous too, as you know. The cause then was the new dried cat food and we urged people to stop using it. Of course, since then, the formula has improved, but some cats still can't take it, apparently.

I know your vet is dead against raw, but there is a big movement back to raw for dogs right now (I am allergic to cats, so I have greyhounds!) because of the health benefits. Yes, there are drawbacks, some of them serious. But freezing the meat and practising good hygiene goes a long way toward mitigating them. And you can add in the supplements necessary to give your cat a balanced diet, it's not too hard. You'd need a freezer, and you'd need to do a LOT of research among cat people to find the best approach, but it might possibly be the best thing for your kitty. And if the alternative is continuing illness and maybe losing him ... ?

Not trying to persuade you. I feed a mixture of commercial food (both dry and wet), home-cooked and raw to my dogs. Everyone needs to take their vet's advice and together with all other information, make their own minds up.

Good luck with Gatsby! Poor little fellow, I wish him luck.

Stine in Ontario said...

I hope you solve Gatsby's problem. It's really not all that strange that many cats don't drink enough water when you consider that most humans don't either.

All the best!

Stacie said...

Poor Kitty. I hope you figure out what to do....

MyMaracas said...

Michelle, thanks for the support. It does feel like it's my fault for not knowing about dry food. I inherited this cat from my older son, who isn't around enough to keep him. He always fed him Iams dry, so I did too. I do take him to a vet who treats only cats, and she also cares for the big cats at our local zoo, so I do trust her judgment. Still, I don't understand how this can happen so often to so many cats.

MyMaracas said...

Jay, my vet isn't totally against raw, just thinks it should be a supplemental part of the diet and should come from an irradiated meat source. She didn't seem to think it would make any difference in Gatsby's problem though. Given that he won't eat canned food, I'm not at all sure he would even try raw.

However, it makes perfect sense to me to try it. I'm looking into sources now. Thanks for the input! It's good to hear from a knowledgeable person who has used raw food.

MyMaracas said...

Stine and Stacie - thanks for the good thoughts! We can use all we can get.

Chrissykat said...

Yes, the waterer is pricey. Happy to hear you got one on sale! Sure hope it sparks curiosity in Gatsby & he is entertained by using it. Both my kitties actually look like they're totally enjoying themselves when using it. Good luck to you and Gatsby!

MyMaracas said...

Chrissy, I just picked up the Drinkwell yesterday. So far, Gatsby likes to lie nearby and watch it, and I've seen him sniff it, but I haven't caught him drinking from it yet. My guess is he thinks it's a no-no and waits til my back is turned. He's like that.
;-)

These Nine Acres said...

Oh no! I hope he is okay. We have one on dry urinary track specialty food (never had a problem). He too turns his nose up at wet food. He drinks a ton, though, so I maybe that is why it never is an issue for him.

Chrissykat said...

omg...how funny! Curiosity will win eventually! Too cute that he sits by it and watches! I've had a running fountain for years now but I do remember that it took each of them (6 at the time) any where from seconds to a few days to try it out. You go Gatsby!!!

Chrissykat said...

Any updates on Gatsby the Gorgeous?