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Old 11-04-2012, 11:09 PM
~Tucker&Me~ ~Tucker&Me~ is offline
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Unhappy Please Help

We are at the end of our rope and need help.

My grandma received a cat through one of those senior people and animal match-up programs. Basically, the idea was that she would care for and house the animal and the program would pay for his medical expenses (and I think food too, but she buys it anyway). There are several issues going on and we are desperate for any help you can offer.

The cat has attacked her, quite viciously and without any obvious triggers. It attacked her for the 4th time two days ago and left her with bite and scratch marks all on her arm. She didn't need stitches but it left my grandmother shaking and scared, to the point that she called my mother crying. My grandma thinks the attacks happen because the cat wants something and she isn't giving him it but she admits that she can't seem to figure out when it will happen and he seems to attack her at random.

The cat has eating issues that have never been resolved. He frequently throws up 5-10 minutes after a meal, and has chronic diarrhea. She has tried slowing him down while he is eating (and he does seem to gobble a little but nothing that extreme), and at one point the vet prescribed him antibiotics for a gut infection. He has also been fed a variety of different foods with no luck. My grandma now feels obligated to feed him very small amounts multiple times throughout the day, and is still frequently cleaning up vomit and occasionally diarrhea (keep in mind her apartment is virtually all carpet).

This cat also has hygiene issues. He doesn't bathe himself very much and seems to always have crusty gross bits (I am assuming litter and fecal matter/urine) stuck to his hindquarters and tail. He is a long-haired cat (though not of the super bushy variety, if that makes sense).

His hygiene issues in conjunction with his chronic vomiting and diarrhea is now making me concerned for my grandmother's health. She is getting older and her eyesight isn't as good, it's difficult for her to clean up his messes so frequently and he lays all over her bed and couches with the crusty bits stuck to him. I am at the point where I feel like it is quite unsanitary and yet nothing we do seems to curb the upset stomach or initiate some self cleaning routines.

My grandmother is quite certain that the program will not pay for any more vet visits to diagnose these problems but she is miserable. She loves the cat but lives in constant fear of the next time he gets 'upset' and attacks her, and he really is an unhygienic animal. We are in a really awkward situation where we don't really own or have rights over the animal (as he technically belongs to the program) but we are living with him and I feel that the challenges with this cat are really wearing on my grandmother. I am posting this in the hopes that someone may have experienced similar symptoms or have lived with some of these issues and can offer insight. I know my grandmother loves him but the work and fear is overwhelming her. If there is some medical tests we can do to figure this out I may be able to scrounge the money together to do it but they have already done quite a bit of diagnostics on him in regards to his tummy issues and nothing changed for the better. She has had him for 3 or 4 years now and while she loves him dearly, she is getting really tired of the work and the attacks.

Help?
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Old 11-04-2012, 11:46 PM
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The vomiting and diarrhea has me leaning towards IBD. To definitively diagnose it I believe at least an ultrasound would be needed, but in my cat's case we diagnosed it based on the absence of any other disease. Basically, urinalysis/fecal/and blood work were all perfectly normal, so IBD was pretty much the only other logical explanation and I opted to just treat him as such, instead of doing any more extensive and expensive testing.

He is being wonderfully managed on a raw diet but I understand that is probably in no way feasible for your grandma! Wonder if she could do freeze-dried, or a dehydrated like The Honest Kitchen? Guess I don't know what all has been tried but maybe even a good, grain-free canned diet? Has the vet ever suggested a prescription diet (no they're not the best but sometimes you just need something that works, and I think this is one of those times)?

Is he overweight? Can't imagine a cat letting themselves get that dirty unless they are physically incapable of grooming. It would help if the diarrhea were under control. How often are you able to see the cat? Would it help if he were shaved a bit back there, so that there wasn't hair for feces and whatnot to get stuck to?

No idea about the biting
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Old 11-04-2012, 11:51 PM
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I would contact the program. I know your grandma must love him but this isn't a good situation for either of them Between the health AND temperament issues that would be a lot for a young person to deal with let alone an elderly person.. these pets are supposed to alleviate stress not create more!

I would contact the program.. if they refuse to pay for any more vet visits or more testing on what could be causing all this.. I would really consider talking to them about euthanizing the cat or taking the cat back and seeing for themselves.
Nobody should be afraid of their own pet and with the extra health issues i'd be worried that the cat will continue to decline health wise if something major isn't done to fix the problems.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Fran101 View Post
I would contact the program. I know your grandma must love him but this isn't a good situation for either of them Between the health AND temperament issues that would be a lot for a young person to deal with let alone an elderly person.. these pets are supposed to alleviate stress not create more!

I would contact the program.. if they refuse to pay for any more vet visits or more testing on what could be causing all this.. I would really consider talking to them about euthanizing the cat or taking the cat back and seeing for themselves.
Nobody should be afraid of their own pet and with the extra health issues i'd be worried that the cat will continue to decline health wise if something major isn't done to fix the problems.
This. What a sad situation Your poor grandma.
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Old 11-05-2012, 04:56 PM
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I wonder if the cat wasn't originally more feral than the rescue thought? Does he go outside or is he an indoor only kitty? If he spent most of his life outdoors and is now confined to the house, and isn't super trusting of people, then lack of exercise/stimulation combined with fear could explain the biting. The digestive issues could be caused by stress. Although after 3 years you'd think he would have adjusted at least some.

Sorry that probably isn't very helpful But that was my first thought, that the cat isn't 100% tame.
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:04 PM
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send it back. no qualms , it is a match progam that did freaking horrid , your grandmother does not need this and should NEVER fear an animal she is feeding. She may not be hard enough to do it herself , but if I was you I would so defiantly take him back.

The cat is not happy and she is not happy why prolong the misery and possible hurt your grandma and the cat?
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:38 PM
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What Fran said. This is not something your grandma can or should deal with. If it was her cat, I would suggest euthanasia, but the cat has a rescue to fall back on, so a second chance is possible. But that second chance needs to be with someone who can handle him. There are tons of clean, compliant, sweet cats in rescue - she needs one of those.
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:40 PM
~Tucker&Me~ ~Tucker&Me~ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Southpaw View Post
The vomiting and diarrhea has me leaning towards IBD. To definitively diagnose it I believe at least an ultrasound would be needed, but in my cat's case we diagnosed it based on the absence of any other disease. Basically, urinalysis/fecal/and blood work were all perfectly normal, so IBD was pretty much the only other logical explanation and I opted to just treat him as such, instead of doing any more extensive and expensive testing.

He is being wonderfully managed on a raw diet but I understand that is probably in no way feasible for your grandma! Wonder if she could do freeze-dried, or a dehydrated like The Honest Kitchen? Guess I don't know what all has been tried but maybe even a good, grain-free canned diet? Has the vet ever suggested a prescription diet (no they're not the best but sometimes you just need something that works, and I think this is one of those times)?

Is he overweight? Can't imagine a cat letting themselves get that dirty unless they are physically incapable of grooming. It would help if the diarrhea were under control. How often are you able to see the cat? Would it help if he were shaved a bit back there, so that there wasn't hair for feces and whatnot to get stuck to?

No idea about the biting
As far as I remember, the diagnostics didn't produce anything conclusive. I could take him in for an ultrasound but I have a feeling that would cost me a lot... I could look into it though. At least if we had proof there was something definitive the rescue may take his issues more seriously and assist with the cost of medications.

My grandma cannot afford the high quality stuff, and unfortunately I think freeze-dried would be far too expensive for her. I am hesitant to suggest raw because the last thing I want is her handling a lot of raw meat and him throwing it up in her house... I bought the high quality food for her for a while (only stopped a few weeks ago as I no longer get a staff discount after I left my job) and she did mention that she thinks he has been acting more aggressively now that he is on the crappy food. I will probably pay to put him back on good quality stuff but he has been on it before and still had the upset tummy issues. He also won't eat anything without fish and that isn't pate

He used to be overweight but has since slimmed down to a good size. I have thought about getting him shaved, I guess I could look into that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fran101 View Post
I would contact the program. I know your grandma must love him but this isn't a good situation for either of them Between the health AND temperament issues that would be a lot for a young person to deal with let alone an elderly person.. these pets are supposed to alleviate stress not create more!

I would contact the program.. if they refuse to pay for any more vet visits or more testing on what could be causing all this.. I would really consider talking to them about euthanizing the cat or taking the cat back and seeing for themselves.
Nobody should be afraid of their own pet and with the extra health issues i'd be worried that the cat will continue to decline health wise if something major isn't done to fix the problems.
She is very torn. She worries about what will happen to the cat if she returns it. Tbh I think she would almost rather put him down than send him back because it will be upsetting for him to get uprooted again, the rescue still won't pay for his medical expenses (keep in mind this program is designed for low-income seniors so the recipient likely won't be able to afford it either), and she will just put some other poor old lady in her position. She also doesn't think the rescue will allow her to put him down. Frustrating all around

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Originally Posted by misfitz View Post
I wonder if the cat wasn't originally more feral than the rescue thought? Does he go outside or is he an indoor only kitty? If he spent most of his life outdoors and is now confined to the house, and isn't super trusting of people, then lack of exercise/stimulation combined with fear could explain the biting. The digestive issues could be caused by stress. Although after 3 years you'd think he would have adjusted at least some.

Sorry that probably isn't very helpful But that was my first thought, that the cat isn't 100% tame.
We don't know much at all about his background, and I don't think they gave us any info really. He is an indoor only cat that lives in her apartment, which is small. She plays with him with toys but other than that he doesn't get a whole lot of exercise. I would be surprised if he was feral though because he is a very pushy and affectionate cat the other 90% of the time. Like he comes running to the door to greet guests and jumps right in their laps for petting... He's actually very sweet and outgoing. I think that's why the aggression is so confusing, he is genuinely SUCH a nice cat the rest of the time

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Originally Posted by -bogart- View Post
send it back. no qualms , it is a match progam that did freaking horrid , your grandmother does not need this and should NEVER fear an animal she is feeding. She may not be hard enough to do it herself , but if I was you I would so defiantly take him back.

The cat is not happy and she is not happy why prolong the misery and possible hurt your grandma and the cat?
I get what you are saying but I just don't think it's that simple. My grandma is lonely and this cat is the light of her life lol. I am really unhappy with the program (there are a few other factors in play that I don't want to post publicly) and the last thing she wants to do is send him back to the coordinator. I think she would prefer to actually put the animal to sleep first, which she isn't authorized to do. She doesn't want to give him up because she loves him so I am desperately hoping to find some solutions before we have to make a final decision like that.

Thanks for the feedback everyone, it is much appreciated
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  #9  
Old 11-05-2012, 06:43 PM
~Tucker&Me~ ~Tucker&Me~ is offline
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What Fran said. This is not something your grandma can or should deal with. If it was her cat, I would suggest euthanasia, but the cat has a rescue to fall back on, so a second chance is possible. But that second chance needs to be with someone who can handle him. There are tons of clean, compliant, sweet cats in rescue - she needs one of those.
The rescue will not pay for more treatment and they match up low income seniors to senior cats, so his chances of getting more medical treatment is pretty low. She actually has said that once this cat passes away or something happens she doesn't think she can deal with having another. This makes me very, very sad because I know she is quite lonely
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  #10  
Old 11-05-2012, 08:54 PM
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When cats attack "at random" I almost always think of displaced aggression first. That is, something else is making him pissed off but your grandma happens to be in his way. It may be impossible to figure out exactly what's setting him off as it could be a sound, a sight out the windows, or god only knows what going on.

For short term emergency management, I would get him a "sanitary" clip - just shave off all his butt/pantaloon hair so at least he's not crusty. And get a Feliway diffuser to help him chill out a little bit. Those things should at least help a little until you can get a more permanent solution figured out with the rescue/vet situation.
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