Monday, August 27, 2012


Nothing says frustration more than opening three different cans of food and having your cat stare at you with an expression of “and just what the heck is this? This is not what I ordered!”. It’s great to feel like a rejected chef isn’t it? Today they love what I gave them. Tonight may be a different story with no good reason whatsoever. It would be so much easier if they could just raise their paw, put it on the can they want and say “this one”. Gone are the days of kitten-hood when they eagerly chowed down on anything and everything I put in front of them. I miss those days so much.

Now they will not longer eat out of a 5.5 oz can. It has to be a 3 oz. can so there is nothing left over and it’s fresh. What they loved yesterday, they may stick their tongue out at today and walk away. When that happens, I usually take some Purebites dehydrated treats and crumble them up on top of their food, the love it. Or I’ll sprinkle a little of the Eaglepack Holistic Transitions probiotics on their food. It’s chicken flavored and as long as I don’t overdo it, they can use a little healthy bacterial flora now and then. I keep that in the refrigerator for freshness as instructed on the bottle.

There are times when they may not like a new food I’m trying out and no food topper in the world will work. They love the Soulistic brand food but unless it’s fed first thing in the morning when they’re starving, they’ll leave too many strands of chicken in the plate. I refuse to throw it away so I mix it with something else like Nature’s Variety venison or even some grain free Fancy Feast chicken or beef. They are getting pickier as they get older and I’ve had to make certain concessions and improvise. Food toppers are a great way of dealing with pickiness and I’ve found it works more often than not. Even using freeze dried foods are a great topper when crumbled! They did like Stella & Chewy’s freeze-dried for about a month. I bought it again and it was a no go. 

Lacey is more adventurous than Finney so she usually tries new things whereas he turns his nose up at a lot and walks away. Other times I don’t necessarily change what I feed them but when I feed it. Why they will suddenly decide they don’t want a particular food in the morning but its fine at night is beyond me. But again, it would be easier if they could just point to which food they want. I’d even give them a menu to read if I thought it would help, LOL. They both also know how to get my attention when they’re hungry and to say they are demanding is putting it mildly. Lacey has a big mouth and will meow at the top of her lungs over by her food dish until I stop what I’m doing and feed her; mostly out of sheer aggravation. Finnegan likes to tease me by coming over to the computer and clawing my furniture until I yell “stop it!” and chase him into the kitchen. It’s a fun game for him; for me it’s funny but sickening after two or three times. But again, they know how to get my attention. This does not mean however that I feed them whenever they want.  I don't need another obese cat and will never have one as far as I'm concerned.

I’m often asked how to tell the difference between when a cat is just being picky or if it’s really sick. Being picky is a normal cat trait and you get used to it; what choice do we have? Pickiness from being sick is a whole other ball game and when that happens, pay attention because there is a reason. Could be digestive issues, could be a toothache, could be an infection, it could be anything. When a pet is being beyond picky, there are other signs besides them burning a hole through your head with glare; Lethargy, depression, vomiting, feverish, lying in the meatloaf position (paws in, eyes puffy and closed, and back hunched up). Instead of sitting at the food dish demanding you open another can, kitty will be in the corner or somewhere else, with no interest whatsoever. There are certainly days when they could just have an upset stomach, sometimes a hairball can cause this. But keep an eye on this, if it goes on longer than 24 hours, call the vet. You don’t want to risk hepatic lipidosis so don’t let them go longer than that without eating, it’s dangerous:

As for my two healthy but picky connoisseurs, they leave me no choice but to be their slave, at their beck and call, wracking my brains figuring out new and improved ways of getting them to eat every last drop of whatever I put in front of them. Apparently that’s what I’m here for, as I am only the mom.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

House of Horrors

Twice this week I’ve had friends write to me referring to their multi-pet households as a “house of horror”. Both houses have an IBD kitty so the stress already exists but on top of that there is a lot of fighting between pets going on, causing IBD to up the ante. A multi-pet household is not always a happy one and usually there are one or two trouble makers causing a ruckus. Depending on how many pets are present in the home, someone is going to get picked on.

Pets can sense when another one is sick and if they get along, they may stick to them like glue and take on the role of nurse maid. But if they don’t get along, the sick one could be in for it; hence the house of horrors. When a kitty is sick, even the smallest change can stress them out and set IBD recovery backsliding. Add to that one or more household pets picking on them and IBD or any other illness becomes a raging fire.

Unfortunately IBD is extremely stress sensitive and calming that fire can be tremendously challenging. Integrating households is rough on the people involved but it will always be harder on your pets. They’ve got to get used to a new home in addition to new pets inhabiting a territory they aren’t familiar with. Scents have not yet been established in this new home and this can lead to confusion and being scared.

Although I don’t have all the answers I do have some suggestions that might work:

1.   Separation is usually the only way to start things off. Putting up a gate might work but of course cats can easily scale those. Find an area of the home that you can segregate for your kitty and let them get used to the place before having to get used to any new pets. I know someone who actually installed a screen door inside their house to keep several cats separated. They’re able to see what’s going on and not feel closed in by a solid door. It’s extreme, I know. But it seems to have worked well and it can always be easily removed later on.

2. Get a couple of calming collars, the ones I have in my gift shop: It literally saved my relationship with my kitty Finnegan this past winter. I accidentally poked him in the eye and he wouldn't come near me after that. He looked terrified if I even glanced at him. I thought I’d never have him back, but that thing saved us! It’s really amazing, works instantly and better than a Feliway. It’s completely handmade and the quality is MUCH better than the calming collars you get in the stores. She also makes calming sachets you hang on the doorknobs, which may work well if you have them separated by just a gate. You can add a couple of Feliway plug-ins to the mix anyway. They certainly won’t hurt and do work to an extent.

3.  When I had brought Finney to the vet a couple of years ago, Lacey growled and hissed like mad because he smelled like the vet when I brought him back. First I gave Finney a bath with some kitty wipes, and then Lacey. Then I took a towel and rubbed it all over Lacey and then on Finney and then on her again, so they got each other’s smells. It took a couple of days but I didn't have the collar then so I had to improvise. I’m smarter now and bring them both when they have to go, even if one isn't being seen.

4. Give one kitty on one side of a gated area a treat with the others watching, then give some to them with that one kitty watching and do it closer and closer to each other. Bribe them into thinking that being together is a good thing. Start putting their food dishes up close to that gate and let them see each other eating. They’ll hopefully pay more attention to eating than to each other. Keep doing positive reinforcement things close to each other and let them know whenever they've been good by rewarding them.

5. Try using harnesses as a way to have them in the same room. If one starts to growl or hiss you’re able to control any contact. Again use the reward system. If they are able to be close or sniff each other without any mishaps, reward with a treat and high praise! If you can walk them outside a little on their harnesses as a means of getting out some of that energy and facing different territories, this may redirect some of that nervous energy.

6. Establish some high areas for them to climb so any kitty that feels they are the alpha kitty can use that as a means to dominate instead of picking on the others or the one. Use cat trees or even shelves mounted on the walls if you can do it securely. If you have a large yard, try getting an outdoor kitty enclosure or even building one if you’re handy or have someone who can do it for you. The more healthy things for them to focus on the better. Lots of scratching posts and scratching beds as well. Use tools you’d have for them anyway as a means for them to redirect their aggression. Maybe just add extra ones.

7. Realize that the sick kitty takes precedence over the others. Especially if your kitty has IBD, be prepared for the possibility that they may have to go a little while with increased medication. If they’re experiencing a flair up, precautions should be taken immediately. A vet visit, maybe a short time of increased meds to calm things down, and plenty of quiet time as well.

8. Call an animal behaviorist. They can’t always help but it’s worth a try and many times they do make a huge difference.

9. Extreme measures should be a last resort such as behavioral medications for the other kitty if it’s just one who’s the culprit or maybe even for your IBD kitty if they are the ones that stress is taking over. If all else fails you may have to come to a decision such a re-homing an aggressor if nothing whatsoever has worked. They may be better off in a single-kitty home.

10. Last but not least make sure to take care of yourself! Do what you can to keep the peace but do not let it take over your life. The stress will not do anyone any good and can cause problems between the humans in the home as well. No one wants that so sit down together and discuss all options calmly, and don’t take it out on each other. Patience and perseverance may be the key to all of this so take your time, go for a walk every day for ten minutes, listen to some soft music and meditate. Do whatever you have to do for yourself to keep your own nerves from getting the best of you. Stress has a nasty way of spreading from kitty to kitty, and person to person. And stress makes any illness and situation worse, no matter what the cause.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Stressful Times

I recently had a couple of people write to me and tell me how stressed and overwhelmed they are with their sick kitties. This made me revisit that feeling; not that I’d ever forgotten it. I really never had much of a break after Alex died. I ended up caring for my one of my sister’s cats, Moufasa. He’s passed now and I care for the other one, Midnight. She’s elderly and has her own health issues that make it difficult and different to deal with from one day to the next. We’re pretty sure she’s got a form of IBD, along with kidney and bladder issues. Moufasa was also thought to have IBD but his was much easier controlled with diet than Midnight’s is.

It’s not easy guessing all the time what’s going on; what exactly sets them off or how to stop it. We love these creatures with all of our hearts but let’s face it; it’s daunting caring for them when they’re sick. They can’t tell us what hurts and how badly, they can only give us signs. Too often I see people in forums ignoring those signs. When you’ve cared for them long enough you get used to it. And what might seem like a small thing to the untrained eye, is really an alarm going off telling us to pay attention.

It’s a roller coaster and the truth is that you want the ride to stop. You just want things to be good for awhile, to stay on an even keel. Which means you can’t go on vacation or leave for any extended period of time. You have to be there at specific times every single day to give them structure with their medications and food or it will all hit the fan. In short, you have to make more of a commitment then you ever imagined you would. And it’s not that you mind that, you don’t; because your love for this baby is so deep and pure. But you’re exhausted, throwing out food, running out of money, losing sleep and forgetting about you. This is now the new normal and you feel guilty if you leave the house and something happens that makes you run late. You need to rush back and feed them knowing if they go too long without food, you’ll return home to vomit.

You know that awful sound, the sound of your pet vomiting. The second you hear it you jump out of bed and rush to them as if you weren’t ever asleep in the first place. The worry starts all over again and you feel like pulling all of your hair out. I can’t tell you how many times I sat on the floor crying, begging Alex to “please just eat!” Taking care of her was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever had to do. When she passed away I slept for a week and did hardly anything else. I was so distraught and exhausted my family and boyfriend had to make sure I ate at every mealtime. At the time, I didn’t care. After everything I went through with her I felt cheated and robbed. Then I felt guilty and panicked, like it must have been something I did and that’s why she died. Those feelings were there from the time she got sick and some of those feelings have never really gone away completely, not even now. It was a nightmare and one that I know so many people share right now or have shared. You feel like there has to be a reason your baby got sick and it must be something you did or didn’t do right. Blame is all you have that you can control, but blame isn’t going to change anything. They are still sick and need you to do it all.

I don’t have any new words of wisdom other than what I’ve already written on two of my pages from my site:, But I felt I needed to write a little something in addition to let others know that you are not alone in how you feel. Don’t be ashamed or feel guilty because you are tired of what’s happening. It’s a normal feeling, it really is. This is something all consuming and for however many years you have your baby with you, (hopefully many more than I did), things will never be the same. This is not meant to be doom and gloom, just that the words “I get it” can make all the difference. Remember that a little vomit sometimes is just that…a little vomit. Those setbacks can most often times be small ones and you can get through it, both of you. And when there are good days, oh those wonderful good days, cherish those and enjoy them! Try and let those good days be more important than the bad ones. Try and take care of you. Work it in the best that you can whenever you can and seize the opportunities. You’re in it for the long haul and knowing that ahead of time may help you understand how important those times for yourself can really be.