In "Tired" I talked about one or both of my cats that was pooping intermittently outside of the litter box. Since that post, we have discovered the culprit: Bennett.
Despite the name, Bennett is a girl. I suppose I should have added an 'e' at the end to get the French feminine spelling, but I don't like it spelled that way. Bennett is my "mental health" cat. I've talked about her previously, how we found her as a stray outside of our home one cold October night and invited her in until we found a suitable home for her. Which became our home.
Our mental health cat was diagnosed with anxiety two years ago by a veterinarian. She over grooms, which I am told is fairly common in cats. Ever since we had her spayed (spay or neuter all of your pets!) she has kept her belly scrupulously clean of fur. She also overdoes her hind feet a little, but it's more patchy. Her belly, on the other hand, is pristine pink skin with a little bit of shading where her stripes would grow. She's a brownish gray tabby.
We had her on anti-anxiety pills for about a week. By the end of the week, she was turning her nose up at tuna (TUNA!) and would run when she heard/saw me take down her pill bottle. They seemed to be causing more problems than they were solving, so we stopped giving her them. As an indoor cat, she doesn't HAVE to have all of her fur. So she over grooms and we all get along.
She is also a frequent vomiter. On average, she vomits about once a week- also a possible side effect of her anxiety. It's always partially digested food, never hairballs- which, you'd think it would be hair by the way she over grooms, but whatever. It's not.
Then came the pooping. For about the last two weeks she has been pooping in our bedroom, on the rug that used to be my Grandma's. She also pooped in our living room several times. It's runny and essentially kitty diarrhea. After looking at our finances, I made her an appointment with the vet for a Friday- gotta love paydays. The cash comes in and is swiftly gone. Anyway.
I was able to bring in a fresh poop sample, clean of all litter, even. The rug has a white fringe on two sides, and this round of diarrhea was right on the fringe...
We (Bennett and I) were almost to the vet's office when she began to cry in earnest. She had been meowing plaintively before, but now she sounded like a small child. I continued to try to talk to her, to reassure her that she'd be okay, but the small-child wailing kept on. Until she vomited. Mental health cat, indeed.
The vet looked her over and she felt okay under his probing fingers. She let him take her temperature (up her hiney) and it was normal. They checked her stool sample and found it clean (haha), or at least clear of any worms or other possibly bad things. I had them take a blood sample to make sure that her kidneys, liver and blood count were all normal, which they were.
Bennett has Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and/or allergies. Essentially, her digestive tract is very unhappy and needs to be soothed. Treatment? Right now she is on steroids, in pill form. (My little 8 lb cat is going to be BUFF!) We're doing a 15 day "trial run" with the steroids to see how she handles it and what level of steroids she may need to be on for the rest of her life- or if the 15 day trial will be enough to soothe her system. 5 days of pills twice a day, then 5 days of pills once a day, then 5 days of pills every other day.
Think steroids was enough? Think again! She also needs to eat hypo allergenic cat food- available only from your veterinarian! The wet food cans cost $2.50 each, and the dry food? $25 for 10 lbs. Just SLIGHTLY more costly than the bulk bags of dry food from Petco, at roughly $19 for 25 pounds.
If at the end of our trial steroid pill taking (which, by the way, she happily eats when it is in $2.50 wet hypo allergenic cat food) she can maintain on just the food, then we won't need to continue the steroids.
The good news? So far, she has been on this new diet since Friday night, and no pooping outside of the litter box has occurred! Also, the vet thinks that this new diet may stop her vomiting, as well, which could have been a sign of her delicate internal system.
The down side? Apart from the cost of the new food and steroids, the steroids will make her hungrier and thirstier than before. So she'll want to eat more, and will then poop and pee more frequently. Also, if she eats ANY of the regular cat food, her system may not accept it and it could start another round of the cat who squirts from both ends. So we need to (carefully!) feed the cats separately. We could make it easier on ourselves by feeding both cats the hypo allergenic stuff- but Fox is an almost 13 pound CHUNK and would likely eat the expensive stuff at an alarming rate.
For now, we are trying to save our screaming wallets as much as possible, and will give Bennett the food she needs to be comfortable while saving my Grandma's rug. And feed the chunk, aka Fox, separately.