Monday, January 9, 2017

A Felix Update

Felix gets his own post because I tried adding it to my next post and it just got too long. If you don't do cats and their ailments, feel free to skip.

Ninja practice?

To recap the baby cat's December adventures:

December 3 or 4, Felix started vomiting blood. He went to the vet that week, who couldn't find anything on the x-rays to explain it other than he had a lot of gas in his intestines. He got an anti-nausea shot, a pepcid shot, dewormed, and fluids under the skin. He went back the next day for a repeat of the anti-nausea and pepcid shots and more fluids.

He was good until the next Sunday (December 11), when I took him to the emergency vet for vomiting a lot of blood about every hour. They did more of the same (no obstructions, just gas, more shots and a hefty bill), and on the way home the liquid diarrhea started. By this point, we had acquired a large dog crate from a neighbor friend and Felix was spending his time in there because it's hard to clean blood vomit and diarrhea out of the carpet. He went to the vet every day for the next 3 days for more fluids and shots, plus a few more x-rays. Work was a godsend that week- they let me work from home to properly medicate Felix who was on 3 different medicines that couldn't be given near each other and had to be given once a day, every 12 hours, and every 8 hours.

He doesn't hate it.

He was good for about a week and a half and we started letting him out of his crate unsupervised, and then the vomiting started again after he was free all Christmas weekend (we felt bad locking him up for 36 hours while we were gone). We noticed that he was eating his cat litter (World's Best Litter, corn based), before this vomiting blood episode. He went back to the vet, who took more x-rays (I swear, this cat is going to be radioactive), and found that his intestines all looked good, but his stomach wall had thickened to be about 4x thicker than it should be. They did what was now 'the usual', aka shots and things, and Felix came home with the order that if he throws up again, bring him back immediately for another x-ray to see if there is a moving blockage that keeps vanishing on the x-rays. They also recommended changing his food to something for sensitive stomachs. I decided at this point to give Felix a Pepcid pill (for the stomach), a vitamin (since he may have a mineral deficiency causing him to eat litter sporadically), and a probiotic (for his very sensitive gut), on a daily basis.

Around New Years, we got a cat fountain for all the cats because Sophie seemed to have a UTI, and all of the cats seem to enjoy drinking out of the tap (which is how this one flows). The TLDR version is that the cats' vet wasn't making it easy (or cheap) to get Sophie antibiotics, so I ended up getting them from Penn's vet after explaining everything my reasoning (don't forget that equine vets had small animal care too in their schooling!). We also started everyone on a dry food AM /wet food PM diet to help all of them (especially Sophie) get more fluids.

He's pretty good about not playing in it.

Felix started throwing up again on 1/2. By this point, Husband and I were very frustrated because we had been careful to not let him out of his crate unsupervised (so no eating funny things), and the vet never seemed to make any progress on the matter. We decided instead of taking him to the vet, since he's locked up and still looking frisky and hungry, we were going to keep throwing food at him in small doses, even if it comes back up. We were also going to try to keep food in front of him for as long as possible (so his stomach acid is always working on something and he doesn't bolt his food, and screw it if he gets too heavy). Throwing food at him seemed to work, the vomiting was done in one day.

Cue internet searching on the bus ride to work the next day. FYI, don't google chronic cat vomiting- it only pulls up IBD and lymphoma and is very negative. Cue being extremely upset in public, because both are only diagnosed by major surgery to take a full intestinal wall sample, and both are not easily treated since it takes powerful drugs to fix either of them and those can have disastrous side effects.

Luckily, still frisky.

I did some research on alternative treatments and found sensitive gut kitties seem to do well on a raw food diet (something I was not keen to take on because of the amount of work it takes to make it affordable). I decided to try RAD Raw Cat Food for Felix, available at a local but strange pet food store. Felix seemed to gobble it up no problem, so he's doing normal wet food in the AM, and raw food in the PM, with the goal of making the switch to all raw food. Apparently the meat sits longer in his stomach because it's more complex to break down than normal food (so his stomach acid is always working on something) and his poops should become less in volume, less in smell, and more pellet-like. Sure, let's give that a whirl.

I got two more containers of the Turkey for him on Saturday, and that's when I realized just how expensive it was. Felix should get 3-3.5oz twice a day of this food... I got 32oz of food in two 16oz containers to the tune of just under $22 from our local store (who I'm 99% sure has the best price even though I drive 40 min to get there- everywhere else charges about a $1 more with large surcharges for shipping frozen). It says that kittens may eat 3-4 times the normal adult amount (so let's just call it 4oz twice a day for Felix because he is positively ravenous these days and has been since this vomiting thing started), my $22 only buys food for 4 days. A month would cost me $165. Penn doesn't even get $165 worth of supplements monthly.

I feel like I should cook it and eat it myself for that price!

The store gave me a couple freeze dried samples of other brands they carry, one of which was Stella & Chewy's Freeze Dried Turkey Morsels. They're not raw per se, but they are the same 98% meat with zero grains and fillers (which is really what we need anyway). The package said I could feed them dry or wetted, so for shits and giggles, I fed them to him dry like a treat. Holy cow, he ripped them out of my fingers. I gave him a couple nuggets and gave the girls each a nugget. He gobbled his nuggets down, then stole each of the girl's since they were just playing with them. I fed him the rest of the sample bag (after which he went to the fountain and got a good long drink).

I ordered a bag of that ($30 for 18oz) and we'll see how far that goes in meals. It really bothers me that these bags will list the weight in ounces, and then tell you to serve cups, and won't tell you how many servings you get out of the bag or how many ounces a cup of their food weighs. Oh well, we're still experimenting in how to make this affordable. I'm wondering how easy a grocery purchased, homemade turkey raw diet would be? I want to stay away from beef and fish for sure (allergy reasons), and probably away from chicken, so that leaves not as common foods like goose, turkey, rabbit, venison, etc.

Or maybe I will try making raw food myself- this website makes it really easy, and gives a turkey substitute. I would just need a very expensive grinder... but I could freeze it immediately into ice cubes and then thaw them one meal at a time... Husband, start looking for that deep freezer!

Knock on wood, things seem to be going well for Felix. He's not crazy about his wet food, but he loves the raw food and licks the bowl clean every evening. He's a champ about taking his pepcid and vitamin every day (down the throat since he won't eat it in his food). Just want my little guy to feel better, and stay feeling better!

If it goes downhill again, I'm going to call a not-so-local holistic vet to get his opinion on what to do. Traditional couldn't fix the vomiting, and if he develops IBD (which can develop into lymphoma), we're going to be up a creek with a very young cat.

The "normal" cats.

Anybody ever do raw food for their cats (or dogs)? Did you make it yourself or buy premade?


  1. So when I got Cooper he had a whole slew of problems and I wanted to put him on a raw food diet. I even used the same website you listed haha. I started with wet food and he wouldn't touch it. Then I tried manufactured raw food - again, no dice. Then I tried making a little of my own. Nope. By that time I was so worried that he would start to have problems from not eating (apparently it's really bad for cats to not eat), that I just moved him back to dry food.

    I think raw works really well for the cats that care for it, so hopefully it works out for Felix!

    1. The not eating being bad thing is a huge reason why I just threw food at him the last time he was throwing up. I had read how they're supposed to have something in their stomachs all the time because of the acid... and well, Felix was an acid machine because his stomach was bleeding.

      Felix seems totally on board for it - I'm not sure if he'd like the chunks of meat in that homemade recipe, so maybe I'll try that next time I make steak or something- just cut him off a small chunk and see if he'll eat it. I'm certainly not going to spend all that money to find out he won't eat chunky meat! The Rad food seems to be closer to ground meat, and I'm looking at a place that raises animals for raw pet food, and they grind the meat themselves (since they are doing it for raw pet food I feel a little bit better about it than grocery butchers who assume you're going to cook it). They're more expensive than me grinding it myself (until you factor in a $600+ grinder), but much cheaper than Rad food.

  2. Poor Felix! I hope you can find a good and reasonably priced food solution.

  3. I had some friends who got really into raw feeding and at one point they had like 4 dogs, a cat and a ferret eating raw. They both hunted so a lot of their meat came from that, so I think that's how they kept it from being prohibitively expensive. They had a dog with severe skin issues really improve being fed raw. I find the concept really interesting, hopefully you find it helps with Felix!

    1. Ack, that's a lot of animals to feed! I know the girls are not going to get to eat raw... but they also won't touch it, they barely like wet food, and they don't have Felix's issues. I think it's really about eliminating all allergens from their diet, which means better health all around.

  4. Ugh what an ordeal, I'm so sorry!! The silver lining tho I guess is that Felix seems to be quite happy and frisky and hungry all throughout!! Good luck figuring out a permanent dietary solution that helps him feel better!!

    My cat is on prescription food and yea it costs an arm and a leg ugh. I also often mix hot water into the wet food tho, since my cats are often absolute gluttons and never seem satisfied with their recommended portion sizes. The water helps them feel more full, and ensures they're getting the hydration they need.

    1. Felix seems to be on the mend (I hope he is!) but he's still grounded from free roaming the house. I've been putting extra water (hot too) into his food to warm it up from the fridge and into the girls' wet food to give them extra water. They all seem to like it!