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help please re: my cat...thanks

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Darkness Falls posted 9/11/2013 10:03 AM

OK, cat people. Help me here.

I have 3 cats---9 years, 5 years, and 2 years. The 5- and 2-year-olds get along. The 9-year-old doesn't get along with either of them, and hisses/growls if they come too close. This is normal for her and how she's always been. I should have left her as an only cat, but I didn't know she'd be like this at the time. Anyway...

The issue is about food. Since I moved into this apartment (a year and a half ago) I've had one large bowl of food and one large bowl of water for the three of them to share. 5 and 2 have always eaten normally and get enough to eat. 9 started feeling very thin to me---she's a smallish cat and didn't look skeletal, but I was concerned because I could start to feel all of her vertebrae when I pet her, and she just felt very thin at her waist and around her sides. She doesn't act sick, plays normally, is affectionate, etc.

I know that she feels intimidated to eat sometimes, because if 5 and 2 approach the communal bowl while she's eating, she will leave the bowl rather than have a confrontation---even if they're not going over there to attack her; she just doesn't want them anywhere near her. I worried that she wasn't getting enough to eat. Placing a different set of food and water bowls elsewhere in the apartment didn't help, because if she went to those, the other cats would just follow her in there and the cycle would repeat. They (5 and 2) just enjoy bothering her.

So what I've done is gotten a smaller bowl and mixed some soft food and some hard food together and fed 9-year-old privately in the closed bedroom every night. I wanted her to be able to eat in peace and get some calories on her without being disturbed/intimidated by the others. It's worked out great, she loves it, and she eats it up every night.

Except...she wants it all day long. She cries in the early mornings wanting her special food, waking me up. She paces around the apartment and cries (not continuously, but off and on if I'm home) looking for her special food. I was recently away for a few days, and XH stayed here while I was gone---he said that she didn't do that while I was gone. He says she's just being a spoiled brat because she has me wrapped around her paw. It's distressing to me, partly because, frankly, it's annoying, and also it scares me that something might be wrong with her---she will be 10 next March and I worry that she has a tumor or something blocking the effective absorption of nutrients, making her hungry all the time. Again, XH says she's just being spoiled. She was at the vet last summer and was fine; I haven't taken her yet this year. Pretty much because I can't face it if there IS a problem. Any thoughts?

inhishands55 posted 9/11/2013 10:16 AM

If she is wanting to eat all the time and isn't gaining any weight she needs her thyroid checked...If she has a tumor she needs to be checked too..She could just be wormy also..

I have had cats all my life..The other cats know who they can beat up...When you take her to the vet be sure and mention all these things to them..

Separating them when feeding them was a good move on your part, but please take #9 to the vet and rest your mind..If there is something wrong, catching it early will be a blessing...

They can't tell us what is wrong and that is why we have to trust in your vet..

Your kitty isn't that old..I had one who lived to be 18..He was on thyroid meds for about 3 or 4 yrs before I lost him...He was losing weight and ate all the time...

The testing for the kitty won't be cheap, but it will help to rest your mind in what is going on with her...

I hope I have helped you a little...Hope you find out your answers soon...

tushnurse posted 9/11/2013 10:29 AM

How long have you been separating them for feeding? If it's been more than a couple of weeks, and have not noted weight gain then yes time to go to the vet.
She is carrying on my guess is because you break down, and give her food eventually when she is doing that. IF you do not reward her bad behavior it will stop. I had a Maine Coon mut that was a giant, and a talker. He got in me in habit of feeding him in the morning. Bad move on my part, because he just kept pushing his feeding time up and up. I eventually got him switched back to afternoons when I got home from work.

With her if she is thin and seems hungry, you should probably give her more food. If she does not gain at that point it's time to go to the vet for sure.

InnerLight posted 9/11/2013 10:33 AM

I agree with inhishands.

I also know that my cat like me to play with her, that sometimes she just wants attention not related to food. She loves the laser light and hunting games. This is especially true at natural hunting times - pre-dawn/early morning. Also dusk.

Try playing with her for 10 minutes in the am and pm. See how she responds to that.

Darkness Falls posted 9/11/2013 10:48 AM

Thanks ladies.

I do need to take her to the vet this year, just for peace of mind and to make sure.

I just weighed her and she is 8 pounds. She has gained a little since I've started the extra food (which has been a few weeks). I think it's her body type changing that makes me nervous. 2-year-old is 9 pounds, but she feels completely different---sleek and solid, like a young cat should. 9-year-old just feels so delicate. XH says she's sneaky...the other day he said "She has you thinking she's like a little old lady cat but when you're not looking, she's climbing around and jumping and swatting the others...she's got you fooled!"

I think she probably does want more attention. I'm off work today because of a doctor's appointment, but usually both XH and I are at work from 8am-at least 8pm, and the evening is full of showers and chores and eating dinner...not much time left for the kitties.

metamorphisis posted 9/11/2013 11:02 AM

With regard to the following you around yelling for wet food.. yep that can just be begging. I used to feed the cats their wet food at night, so they bugged me from supper time on. So I switched that to morning and the younger one would wake me at daybreak rattling the door to my room and yelling. Every single morning at 5am.

I finally split it up, and it's 7:30 a.m. and 7:00 pm like clockwork. I ignored the yelling and finally they got the picture that it wasn't going to work

I think that it helps that it's very predictable as well so they trust that it's coming.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 11:02 AM, September 11th (Wednesday)]

Lucky2HaveMe posted 9/11/2013 11:10 AM

Are you saying you only feed 1x day? My cats free feed (2 cats/2 bowls). I fill the bowls every am and it lasts them all day. Sometimes the bigger one will yowl for food but she has learned no more until a.m.

All that to say 1x day isn't good for kitty.

Spirit13 posted 9/11/2013 11:14 AM

Well, she could easily have a thyroid problem. One of my cats did and this is a pretty simple fix if she does. Feeling her vertebra when you pet her? That's not good, don't wait until she gets really weak. Thyroid can take so much out of them. Just get the blood test!

If she really is just thin because she didn't get enough to eat then you will know soon enough because she should start gaining.

Darkness Falls posted 9/11/2013 11:15 AM


The large bowls of dry food and water are filled all day and are accessible to all 3 cats at any time for free feeding. I feed the 9-year-old the small bowl of wet and dry food mix once per evening in the closed room by herself so the others can't bother her while she eats it.

Meta, that's a great idea---I will try to split it up morning before work and evening when I come home and see if that helps. I really do think it's begging, but I couldn't tell whether it was just spoiled-begging or starving-begging.

Crescita posted 9/11/2013 12:08 PM

I couldn't tell whether it was just spoiled-begging or starving-begging.

It could be a combination. Older cat's prefer wet food. Their sense of smell is going, and their gums and teeth aren't as strong as they used to be, so dry food is just not terribly appealing. They lose their appetite for it. It might be spoiled to only eat wet food but if the alternative is that she starves herself, I'd give her what she wants.

A Woman Scorned posted 9/11/2013 12:25 PM

what's her poops and pees like? and her water intake? you may want to separate her for a day or two, entirely with box and measured food and water so that you can see how often she's peeing/pooping & how much plus all the lovely descriptors for quality of poop(oh fun) and how much actual food and water she's intaking without any anxiety from other 2

it can be really hard to tell who's doing what in community boxes, ykwim?

yes, it sucks to separate, but in a multi cat home, it's almost impossible to know what's happening on the basic level; eating, drinking, peeing, pooping

and that info is extremely helpful for you and/or your vet

Darkness Falls posted 10/10/2013 17:15 PM

Wanted to update: 9-year-old cat has settled into a routine now with her nightly private feeding. She expects it and starts her meowing at around the same time every night. She is quiet for the entire day (on those rare days when I am at home) and while XH is home if I'm not.

I weighed her last weekend and she hasn't gained anything, but she hasn't lost weight either and her back and ribcage feel a little fuller. She continues to use the litterbox regularly (nothing unusual in there and she goes at a regular frequency) and she continues to be happy and affectionate.

I will be taking her to the vet for a routine checkup within the month. I will also be agreeing, this time, to the recommended "senior cat" blood work to check how things are on the inside.

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