Battle of the wills


Alaska, my 17 year old cat, greeted me at the window as I walked up the stairway to the house. I could see him him meowing at me, though I couldn’t hear him. “Ah, the old boy must be feeling good” I thought to myself. It made me feel good too.

On his good days, when he hears my car he’ll come up and wait for me by the window. Until the last year that was just part of our routine. He is a bit like a dog in that way – vocalizing with excitement at the sight of me, and greeting me at the door when I walk in. But, these days, he’s not always at the window. And when he’s not, I worry. Usually, my fears are allayed when I walk in and he’s making his way to the door to greet me. And now, sometimes, I have to go roust him from his favorite sleeping spot, my office chair. I fear the day when I come home and I can’t roust him. And that’s if I’m lucky and he goes naturally.

OK, I’m getting morbid. Stop that. He’s having a good day. He’s got energy, and there are no tell tale signs of the horrendous diarrhea that’s he’s been having for a while now. The vet has ruled out other causes, and arrived at his best guess – IBS (or IBD) Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, or Disease. The first line treatment of that is strict dietary management with a single protein food that the animal hasn’t been exposed to before. They make special (i.e. very expensive) food to rule out or in the cause being food allergies. I tried it before, I really did. We tried the duck and after a few days, he stopped eating it. Then we tried the venison, and he didn’t like it at all. And I simply refused to try the rabbit, as my rabbit tends to snack on the cats’ crunchies, and that would be just all kinds of wrong. Besides, once you have a particular kind of animal as a pet, they get crossed out as an food option for both people and pets (except for chickens . . . but the story of Cluck Cluck is for another post).

Anyway . . . after I gave up on the diet option, I avoided my vet for a while as my old boy was doing OK. But, when he got the squirts again, I had to put my tail between my legs and see my vet, who put Alaska on Prednisone. The first week seemed really promising and then, ugg, it wasn’t. So, back to the vet we go.

Basically, my vet told me that I had to try the dietary management thing before we really knew what the problem was. And I told him I tried, but Alaska would have none of it. He then basically called me an over-indulgent push-over of a mother and who needed to grow a spine and to practice some tough love with him. So, he gave me some drugs to help with the symptoms for now until the diet change had a chance to take effect. And I went out and dropped $60 on catfood (each small can being $2.20 and a large bag of dry was $35). That was Saturday. I guess it was new enough that it was still interesting, so he ate it without complaint.

But now it is Monday and when I got home he was acting as if I had left him for a week without food. Yet, there was food, both dry and wet still in the dish. Such drama. First the meowing was somewhat plaintive, then he got downright pitiful. He jumped up to the spot where I usually give him treats and just sat there looking sad. Finally, when he recognized I wasn’t going to give in he got demanding. Now he is doing his keyboard dance hoping that if he annoys me enough I’ll relent.

It’s hard, but he’s not a stupid cat. He’ll eat when he gets hungry enough. Or he’ll eat when I’m not looking. Yet, I look at his little skinny body and my inner Jewish grandmother comes out and I just want to break out the Fancy Feast and tell him to “eat, eat.”

Ah, geeze. I gotta go get the rabbit out of cat crunchy bowl. At least someone here likes that shit.


9 responses »

  1. mr cluck cluck says yetis make good eatin?

    speaking of die ettes = did you know that a bath matt has less caloric value than a roll of toilet paper?

  2. Sounds like you need another vet. I went through similar drama with my Darius, who I lost in 2006. He had kidney disease, which is a bit different than what you’re describing… but same end result. He was hospitalized a few times for fluids and such, and during the last 6 months, I was giving him fluids at home through an IV. We tried a special diet, but he would not eat it. I think it’s partially because those single-source protein foods don’t have much aroma. Cats like the Fancy Feast, etc, because it is stinky!

    Basically, my vet told me to get him to eat, no matter what. As long as he was doing his kitty things and enjoying life, that was the important thing.

    Have you tried a bland diet when he gets the runs? I baked or boiled chicken and mixed it with rice. There is also the baby food option. Then, when the symptoms disappear, he can have his stinky food again.

    Just my 2 cents. I had two wonderful kitties leave me in 2006 after nearly 20 wonderful years. You’ll do anything for your family, you know?

  3. NM – I’m sorry to hear about your kitties. I lost a beloved kitty last summer, and worried that Alaska was not far behind.

    Yes, I have thought about changing vets because mine has the bedside manner of a disgruntled toll taker. But, I appreciate him because he usually takes a pretty common sensible approach, and doesn’t go nuts with the tests and such. A lot of IBD symptoms arise because of food allergies, so you have to eliminate all the stuff they’ve known before – hence feeding them venison, duck or rabbit to figure out if that is the cause. The IBD goes beyond mere diarrhea – it makes him feel pretty yucky in general.

    And yes, I also know about the kidney thing – as of his last blood test, he finally crossed the line into kidney failure. I’ve been giving him fluids for a while since the diarrhea was dehyrating him too. Oy, it’s always something.

    Don’t worry, if he starts to act weak or really sickly b/c he’s completely refusing the food, I’ll go a different route. And I’m thinking of broiling a duck breast for him as a treat.

    I wish there were just a magic pill that I could give him that would make him happy and comfortable the rest of his days. I’d be willing to pay a lot for that. As it is, I’m doing the best I can, trying to balance total indulgence in his every whim with what is best for him healthwise.

  4. I sympathise – its so hard to watch them and not relent when they are sooooooooo good at manipulating us pathetic bipeds!

    Have you tried making the new food stinkier somehow, so he’ll eat it? I have no idea how – its like you need a ‘fishy’ scent spray or something…

  5. I’ve been dealing with my boss kitty having chronic diarrhea for over 2 years with no indicator of what is causing it (6 vets at 4 clinics in 2 towns and countless tests proved nothing). I tried the prednisone with her, too, and it helped a tiny bit and then didn’t help plus caused some other problems. As I watched her go from 15+ pounds (she’s not very tall or long, but she was round) to 8 or 9, and all her zest and energy and ability to emit love seeped away, I was sadly thinking she was coming to a time she wouldn’t improve from. Came across the reference to the frozen raw diets, gave it a try, and she immediately began to improve in every respect. We started with chicken/turkey mix but now all 4 are eating the straight chicken, and feeling so good, frisky, shiny. Don’t know it that is part of what you’ve tried, but I’d feel remiss if I didn’t share what helped us (we call them “noms” — brand is Nature’s Variety, in the freezer at the pet food store.

    I do hope Alaska is able to feel better. Having your energy seep out through the rear debilitates anyone!


  6. Hi Truce, Hi Shu —

    Fortunately, he’s not completely rejecting the food. In fact, the bowl was empty when I got home, and when I put down some fresh,he had some of that too. But, I do rue the day when he refuses to play along.

    I have been doing a little bit of research on the web about IBD raw food diets today. I joined the IBD yahoo group and I feel like I’ve jumped down the rabbit hole. Boy, oh boy. But, you say it available prepared in the freezer section of the pet food store? That I can do. But, they had all these recipes that involved grinding up little rabbits and organ meats and . . . ugggg. I certainly would never inflict my vegetarianism on my cats, but I would hope they would cut me some slack and not make me grind up raw meat for their sake.

    Alaska is feeling pretty good today. For the first time in a very long time he produced a very solid substantial poop. And I cheered! And then I caught myself and said “oh my god, I have become one of those women who cheers about a good poop.”

    Thanks for the well wishes. 🙂

  7. When Puddy, a seven and a half pound 1.0 version of my 15-pound Daniel, was alive, she would have periodic bad spells (feline leukemia) which I used to coax her out of with egg and plain yoghurt–sometimes even just the whey. I don’t know if that would be of any use, I have no experience with IBD–but I thought I ought to mention it. And usually I didn’t cook the egg.

    {{{LB}}} {{{Alaska}}} I memed you yesterday, but you don’t have to if you don’t want. My people endorse that. 🙂

  8. Sounds a lot like what we went through with Ubu. We did a lot of sub-q fluids, and about a months worth of hand feeding, and a lot of medications. It turned out to be inflamed bowels for him as well. It was a long effor, but I guess it was worth it in the end.

    Now, if only I could convince the cat to get a job… I think he owes me some money.

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