I have so much I can write about today with our new friend. I will need to break it out over the next few days for you.
Today, I wanted to talk about something I watch every time a cat comes to my home: eating and drinking. New cats need to be watched to make sure that liquids and solids are going in, and liquids and solids are coming out in good timing and form. (Are you grossed out? Sorry!)
When I got our foster, the lady from the rescue told me that one thing she had trouble with him was that he barely ate. She’d only had him a number of days since his operation, but there didn’t seem to be foods he liked. Okay… radar officially switched on.
He came in the early evening and is a sweet cat – I can’t believe how immediately friendly and people-centered he is. Once he arrived, I put out food for him… a selection of 3 dry foods. This is what my cats are currently eating… a mix of three (one tasty cheaper but good brand, one great shaped, great protein medium priced brand, and one they find less exciting but extremely good-for-them-brand). My cats eat all three and yes, they sometimes do pick through for their favourites. This is good for my new foster… if he’s picky he can eat the ones he wants.
I gave him the dry food and left him alone for a few hours to let him settle in. I returned and no food had been eaten. No problem: he’s still new to the room and home. So I offered some wet food and left him alone for some hours again. No eating.
By mid-day the next day, there was no change. I tried a different dry food. My spouse tried and he ate less than 10 pieces of kibble and stopped. I tried fresh (different) wet food. He looked interested and sniffed each food and walked away. Once or twice he licked the food and left. He might have had one mouthful of wet food – when again my spouse offered him some. Getting more concerned, I opened a bag of treats and gave him two. He licked one and then ignored it. I opened a second bag of (different fave junky) treats thinking any eating is better than no eating! Again nothing. 24 hrs with almost no food at all.
I was getting worried. Did he have a medical issue – ulcerated tongue or painful teeth? How a cat eats is one of the first things to watch in a new foster. Also, my cat became anorexic – something stressful happens and they stop eating. Unfortunately with cats, it’s like a switch in their brain that gets turned off and they will (if they get anorexia and there is no intervention) starve themselves to death. My cat who got this used to act this way … sniff food, maybe lick a kibble and then walk away. This got me jittery. Eat Dammit!
After petting and gentle brushing, we left him to sleep.
The next morning, most of the food was gone! He had eaten all the wet and most of the dry by early morning. I fed him again in the late morning (1/4 can of wet and 1.5 scoops of dry) and he ate all of this by evening. I was just so happy to see him eat! In the evening he got 1 scoop of the mixed dry and a little wet… he had cleaned the bowls and was eagerly anticipating breakfast. This was a pretty voracious appetite. I think he had been stressed and holding himself back from eating for days and days.
The second part of the equation is the litter box. Especially after stress, surgery, and being moved, litter-use is a good indicator of health. He pee’d right away and again the next day so I knew those pipes were fine and working. With not eating, he had not pooped. 48hrs – nothing. But sometime during the night – before 60hrs since his arrival, that food he ate was processed and the eagle landed.
I can breathe a big sigh of relief.