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Old 10-21-2009, 01:32 PM
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My grandmother died last Wednesday and I inherited her cat. He is supposed to be 11 or 12, is missing lots of teeth, and is skinny. I picked him up Monday. He's living in my finished attic with some pillows and towels from my grandmother's apartment, a litter box, a scratch pad, a few cheap toys and his food and water. I hang out with him a few times a day when I feed him.

He is definitely too skinny. My sister had visited last, and said he is actually better looking than he was the last time she saw him, but you can still feel his hip bones, his ribs and most of the bones in his tail. When you pick him up your first though is pointy. He was/is being fed fancy feast, and I bought some more of that just so I would have something I knew he would eat. He doesn't appear picky of flavors, so I'm hoping I can switch him to a food that at least doesn't have meat by-products as an ingredient. I expect to never have him eat dry food with the sucking licking way he eats wet. I haven't chanced looking in his mouth yet, but he is definitely missing at least some of his canines. With the way he eats he might be missing a number of back teeth as well.

I've been feeding him as much as he's willing to eat. He eats very enthusiastically, so I'm hoping his skinniness was just caused by my grandmother's failing health. I'm planning on a vet visit some time next week when he's settled down a bit and I can observe him more. He's due for shots, but at this point in his life I'm not sure they would be a good idea. It is extremely unlikely he will ever be getting outside, and the other cat is vaccinated, as are the dogs. I might see about having a blood panel done.

I have another cat and two dogs so introductions are going to be in at least a week from now to get him settled and vet checked, and I expect introductions to take at least a few more weeks. My current cat has lived with other cats before, so I'm hoping there won't be much of an issue. If for some reason he can't handle living with the others I'll be reorganizing my reptile/critter room for him to live in there. Basically he isn't going anywhere.

So far he doesn't appear confused or needy, so hopefully no dementia. He does have a head tilt from an inner ear problem a few months ago though. He gets around fine, just looks painfully skinny. He absolutely loves people and attention, but just about every time I go upstairs he's napping, or eating. He's also been using the litter box without a problem. He's keeping himself clean, and seems to be grooming fine.

So any opinions about living with a senior cat? The last time I did I was a teenager, and my other cat is just around 7 or 8 in very good if slightly pudgy health.

Any food recommendations? I'll be keeping him on canned, I'm just not that good at picking them.

Any specifics about vet care? How likely is it his skinniness is lack of food related, esp since he eats like crazy?

If anyone is interested his pic can be seen on my blog. Licorice

--Mia
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:58 PM
JessLough JessLough is online now
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hmm, if he is eating alot and just not gaining the weight, I'd get him checked at the vets for parasites. I'd ask for them to do a full workup (fecal flotation, urine analysis and sedimentation, possibly even ask about Baerrman technique).
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:08 PM
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I've only had him since this Monday, and I have no idea how much other people were feeding him. It could be they never read the cans, though I don't see how anyone could pet him and not think 'I should feed him more'.

I know I'm giving him about 3 (3 oz) cans a day, and he is licking the plate. Of course it's fancy feast, so I'm not very impressed by it. It says 1 can per 3 lbs of body weight, but I'm not sure home much he weighs. It is definitely not 9 lbs though, as my other cat is 11, and he is no where near that.

I will remember to bring a sample though. I'm normally very lazy about having critters checked for worms, but his weight could certainly be that, though he never went outside at my grandmother's.
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:26 PM
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If you have him at the vet, do have them do a senior panel and thyroid check. Hyperthyroidism is very common in older cats and is very easy (and not overly costly) to treat. Common symptoms are being underweight.

It's very possible he wasn't being fed enough, as well, but good to know if there is a health issue.

On the teeth issue, cats do very well with few or no teeth. An all canned diet won't hurt, and is actually quite good for them. Most of my cats wn't eat more than a few bites of canned, so not enough to sustain them, so they eat a grain free dry and then wet food as extras. But, they seem to enjoy the Wellness Core canned and the Natural Balance canned.

I do not vaccinate my older cats as they are all indoors.

If the health checks out ok and you can get some weight on him, you shouldn't have to do too much extra. He should have the same care, otherwise, as your other cat.
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:53 PM
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Congrats on the new cat but I'm very sorry about your grandmother

For the record, 11 or 12 is not all that old for a cat anymore, it's up there but it's not right at the end like with most dogs. Many cats are living into their 20's or late teens now. of course the care and nutrition they have had throughout their life obviously has a large impact on that figure.

Fancy Feast is known to many as "kitty crack", some additive they put all over it is quite yummy and many cats love the food and will not touch anything else. Hopefully this will not be the case for this cat, it's just something to be aware of.
Great wet foods are of course high protein, low carb. I love the EVO 95% meat foods and wellness CORE, I think felidae is coming out with a grain free one soon. I suggest rotating foods so that the cat does not become bored, or at least find a food with a lot of flavors. If you rotate you can use the really high quality ones like EVO and also ones with more grains that may be a bit cheaper, like regular felidae. Right now I am rotating EVO, Innova, Cal Natural, Evangers (the flavor without menadione), By Nature, Wellness (grain free ones and Core) and felidae. Wet food is better for cats than dry anyway so the wet should keep kitty nice and healthy. Raw feeding would probably do wonders for putting weight on her but without teeth that would be tough. When she goes to the vet you'll have to find out how many teeth she's really got in there if she won't let you look.

I agree with having a senior panel done to check for the common old cat diseases, there are quite a few, although diet is a big factor in preventing them. Dry food is a contributing factor in many of the diseases so if she's been on wet for a long while she may have dodged the diseases caused by diet.

Just remember to keep her active so that her muscles, and mind, don't atrophy. You want to keep her not just alive but happy in her old age. She should feel strong, not weak and tired when she moves. Physical exercise will help that. Clicker training or other mind games can help to keep her sharp.

I hope everything works out with her and she becomes a much loved member of your family
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:57 PM
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I would certainly have a senior blood panel done first and foremost so that you know what you are dealing with and also attempt to get her on a better food.

Like someone else said 11 isnt that old... I just lost an 18 year old and have a 17 year old who is doing fine.

Good Luck with the new addition!
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Old 10-21-2009, 05:37 PM
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I'd check for worms etc first ,,,, any fleas ?
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Old 10-21-2009, 07:01 PM
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If he's been an indoor cat, which it sounds like he has, worms likely aren't the issue.
Thinness in an older cat usually points to a health issue. If the bloodwork is clear, it was probably an underfeeding issue. His continuing to groom himself is a good sign. When cats don't feel well they'll often slack off on grooming.
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:04 PM
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So far no fleas or any really noticeable parasites. He is keeping himself and my attic clean, and was more animated today. He even bopped around the toys a bit. overall he's a very nice lap type cat. Wants you petting and will just sit there trying to purr. He sort of snorts purrs.

I expect he's been eating wet food for the last few years, at least the time my grandmother owned him. I also expect he hasn't gone outside except to a vet for the same number of years. I obviously can't ask if he was ever fed anything else though. She always had a cat, and seemed to feed wet more often than dry. All I had to go on was the one can left when I picked him up. I do doubt she ever went above grocery store standards though she may have moved back and forth with sales. I have a few Cal Nat Chicken and Rice cans from the resident cat I'll try using one for breakfast tomorrow to see how picky he is.

I can totally believe fancy feast is kitty crack. The dogs are practically drooling at the door every time I open a can, and the resident cat has been pursuing the empty cans like they're full of tuna. Just reading the label made me wince.

Well, he's definitely missing 3 of his canines, and appears to be missing at least some of the back ones. I bugged him a few times and that's as specific as I can see.

--Mia
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