Courses of Action

I’m exhausted from being worried about Nuala. I know you know what that is like: when you know something is not okay with your pet and she’s family, it wears you down. I’ve explained about months of bad litter behaviours. Of over-licking and biting her back toes and nails. Of chewing off the fur on the tip of her tail.

Before this all started she got a pretty bad dose of FHV (kitty-cold) from Cooper who brought it into our home. Two years before that, she caught a mild case of calicivirus from the Rascals foster kittens. A year before that she went through ringworm with her siblings at the age of 5 weeks.

She is a loving, sweet natured cat who is very people-focused and also emotional. She shows her love or dislike or worry. She is not a lap-sitter – never has been. I wish she would, but it’s just not her thing. She will however reach up to be picked up every single day and will snuggle into your shoulder and purr every time. That’s her thing.

So when she was ill, I really didn’t know what to do. Can’t spent a ton on a battery of tests. But I also won’t ‘let it slide’ just because there is no physical damage I can see. I KNEW something was wrong. But what? Was it behavioural? (A reaction to the new kitty Cooper?) Was it physical (an illness surfacing or re-surfacing?) Or was it a combination of multiple things? That’s the hard part. What if there were two separate physical ailments plus a behaviour originating from it or the stress of it? What if there was another factor – some unseen variable – that was creating part of the problem.

I’m exhausted from chasing my tail on this.

After switching to a vet who was actually listening to me (not just hearing the words), I’ve been working on this again:

  1. J bought an air-blow deterrent for the area she was soiling in the basement. I was not sure about this behavioural fix since it’s punitive. However, unlike the one we tried like this some time back, this one worked. No kitty is going into that area now. For any reason. I won’t remove this little egg-shaped machine, because cats love and respect routine and now this is part of the routine. I don’t want to change the rules (again) and it’s one hallway that they don’t need to use for any reason.
  2. We tried different litters, new litter containers, have 2 open and 2 closed litters. What I hadn’t tried was to put a litter in a new area of our home. I resisted this because there were no great logical places for it… and I didn’t want litter smells in the living room, kitchen or bedroom. In the end, the bedroom was the loser since we put a covered litter in the second little bathroom – beside our bedroom – the one we use when we give our big bathroom to the ‘fosters’. Immediately all three (I think!) cats wanted to use this convenient new spot. Great – they love this litter, and our bedroom sometimes smells.
  3. All three kitties went on Milbemax – a gentle and effective dewormer. I didn’t see any worms, but I had long suspected Cooper of some intestinal bug since his poop was eye-wateringly stinky and a little wet for his entire time with us. And if they share litters…. well you know. After the season of visiting the ‘Out’ was over, all three took milbemax (the vet listened and I appreciated her going with my plan despite not knowing me well, and not being fully convinced. Milbemax is gentle enough for young kittens – it would do no harm as a precautionary measure – I know because I’ve used it with every batch of foster kittens). It’s two weight-related doses… and there was no change after the first dose, but Cooper’s poop began to smell like regular cat poop just a couple of days after dose 2. Is this one of the variables?
  4. After the Milbemax, Nuala didn’t have any behavioural issues for a few days. I thought we were in the clear between the deworming and the new litter placement. Nope. She continued to bite her back toes and toe-nails. Dermatitis of some kind? Or infection (bladder, skin, or other residual secondary infection from her bout with FHV?). And she peed outside perfectly clean litters a couple of times.
  5. Next visit to the vet – the vet didn’t agree with me, but again she listened and understood why I wanted one round of precautionary antibiotics. I was trying to safely get rid of the ‘usual suspects’ before having to invest the considerable money in tests. Judge me for this frugality or not – there are limits to my budget.
  6. I don’t know how this will work. Nuala is on day 6 of 10 – using a 40mg dose of amoxicillin 2x each day. I am not looking forward to the common side effect of antibiotic-induced diarrhea, but it’s part of me being committed to helping Nuala. She’s still biting her toes and toe nails. She’s had no litter issues since day 2 of the antibiotic.

I will let you know how this goes – I wish I’d been able to do all this in June when I took her to our last vet. This course of action is my gut feeling – I feel good acting upon it. But I’m also learning as I go – for example I’d never considered cat’s sense of smell and cleanliness as an intervening variable – what if Nuala didn’t want to use the litters Cooper used since he was so darn stinky? What if she started holding her pee from not wanting to get into a stinky litter – and got a bladder infection? Behavior + medical linking variables.  This can be in any number – or permutations.

I’ll figure this out. At least Cooper has normal poop for the first time since we met him. That’s a step in the right direction – getting one thing fixed at a time. Please send good thoughts to our little orange kitty.

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In the middle of a slow-blink

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2 thoughts on “Courses of Action

  1. Maybe an anti anxiety medication next. We have had to resort to this before for weird behaviors that had no other explanations. And after a short course because the behavior changed we could stop the medication and the behavior did not reoccur. It seems to me that when physical causes have been resolved often the behavior is still occurring. We have had licking behavior that was related to allergies. But some also just related to anxiety. We foster kittens during kitten season and have 7 adults of our own.

  2. Bless wee Nuala, it is so hard to watch and know that they are not the same in some way. Even harder to solve the problems. I wish you all the best in this journey and hope that the sun shines soon on these issues. To be sure Cooper is happier now {smile}.

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