Cat not eating as much, afraid of non-recognition aggression with vet visit

cleoandsuki87

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Just looking for some advice. This past Christmas, I went out of town and when I came back, one of my cats wasn't eating. She previously had scarfed down every meal as soon as I gave it to her. I'd had her and her sister for about 8 months at that point and they are 2 years old. I freaked out because I'd never had a cat who stopped eating for any reason other than being gravely ill. Since I'd been out of town, I also didn't know how long it had been since she hadn't been eating, so I took her to the vet. Got an exam and bloodwork done, there was nothing wrong with her. They said it was likely a behavioral response to me going out of town. They sent me home with an appetite stimulant and a few different kinds of wet food. The little brat started eating immediately as soon as we got home from the vet. I was mad about wasting the money, but figured I'd much rather have that happen than something really be wrong! I thought all was well, and then the non-recognition aggression started with the other cat.

I'd never had 2 cats before and had never heard of this. The vet didn't warn me. It was 3.5 weeks of absolute hell dealing with this. Thankfully, they did rebond, but I was miserable in the process and so were they. After this experience, I am TERRIFIED of taking anyone to the vet again. I will do anything to avoid that experience, and I'm also afraid that they won't rebond if it happens a second time.

The same cat has been "more fussy" with her food ever since then, but has always eaten. Because her sister still eats her full meal immediately, I started feeding her separately in my bedroom/closing the door inbetween so that her sister couldn't go eat her leftovers. She doesn't always eat much when I give breakfast in the morning, but until recently, on the days when that happens, as soon as I get home from work and let her back into the bedroom with the food, she eats the full meal or most of it.

Strangely enough, BOTH cats stopped eating their wet food several months ago. I read a few posts here and wondered if it was a recipe issue- it was Wellness brand and it seems I'm not the only one who had that issue. They both continued to eat their dry food (purina pro plan) and I figured it wasn't a huge deal. I just upped the amount of dry food I was giving.

In the past several days, the same one I originally took to the vet has gotten REALLY fussy with eating. She is still eating daily, but not nearly the amount she used to. No behavior changes and no issue with the litter box. She is still cuddling, playing with me and her sister, etc. Around meal times, she will act excited that I'm getting out the food, and then not eat it. Several times per day, I am taking her into my bedroom where her food is and just praying she starts eating. Probably every 5-6 hours or so, she will eat from her bowl for like 2 minutes. I have tried getting the wet food back out, feeding 3 different bowls, feeding on a plate, warming the wet food up for 5 seconds in the microwave. None of that worked. Other cat is eating the food as normal.

I have thought about giving the appetite stimulant, but it's a topical thing that goes in her ear. If the other cat smells meds on her, am I going to be dealing with non-recognition aggression again? I cannot stress enough how much I want to avoid that at all costs. Every time I start to get really worried and think that I'm going to have to suck it up and do another vet visit, then she starts eating. But it's still not the same amount that she was eating before. Should I go try to buy other brands and see if she'll eat those? Buy treats? She's always preferred dry (even when she was eating the wet, she'd only eat a little) so it's not like I can just go buy 1 can of a bunch of different stuff. From reading some of the other posts here it seems it IS common for cats just to be fussy. None of my cats nor any of the cats my extended family members have had have ever been like that. They've always scarfed down food immediately unless they were sick. If it weren't for the non-recognition aggression I'd make a vet appointment just to be sure, but there was nothing wrong with her last time and I want to avoid that scenario at all costs.
 

verna davies

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On the vets visit issue, its the different smell on the cat after being to the vets that causes non recognition aggression which is quite normal. Try wiping the cat that hasnt been with a cloth or towel then wipe the cat that has been with the same towel to transfer the smell, or wipe them both with something you have worn ( not worn to the vets). The behavior should pass fairly quickly.
On the food issue there are a few things to try.
Mix some wet with the dry.
Sprinkle some crushed treats on the wet
Mix in some of the yoghurt treats that come in a tube.
Pour a little tuna juice on the food.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07N1P2N5D/?tag=
 

rubysmama

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My Ruby tends to have digestive issues from time to time, and at one vet visit, the vet suggested FortiFlora. It's a pro-biotic, not a prescription, and you can get it at Pet Smart. I didn't really find it helped with Ruby's tummy troubles, but she did seem to like the flavour, so now I keep it on hand to use as an appetite stimulant when she's having a fussy eating day, and sprinkle a little bit on top of her wet food.


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Purina® Pro Plan® Veterinary Supplements FortiFlora Cat Supplement - 30 Count | cat Vitamins & Supplements | PetSmart

As for non-recognition aggression after a vet visit, some members will take both cats to the vet when one needs to go. That way they both come home smelling the same. So that might work for you, if your vet was ok with it.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. If she eats/likes dry food, you can also try to add water to it to make a version of wet food in and of itself, just for another change of pace. This would increase the calories and still give her the moisture that comes with wet food.

As, noted above (and in the article provided, Forti Flora does help with my cat when she starts to wane on her food. I don't use a whole packet in a single serving of food, nor do I use it every day as I have found Feeby to not be as enthralled with it if it is served with every meal.
I have thought about giving the appetite stimulant, but it's a topical thing that goes in her ear.
There are appetite stimulants in pill form that can be smashed up and added to food rather than worrying about if the smell of the transdermal form would bother your other cat.
 

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We also had a lengthy non-recognition aggression problem last year -- it was several weeks and very stressful for cats and people. It really is Hell. I'd rubbed both cats with towels (multiple times) and all that but it just didn't work. (The cat who had gone to the vet had a couple teeth extracted so probably had lots of medical/chemical smells on her.) Our vet will take both cats in situations like these (we jokingly call it "the companion program").

As for the eating issues, our cats are both eating a little less eagerly now that it's summer -- I think the warm weather decreases their appetite. And they've gotten a little fussier with age. That may be partly because cats' motility starts to decrease with age and cats can get a little constipated, which stresses them and makes them a bit less hungry. Speaking of stress, our cats hate lots of summer yard noises and there's been a lot of it in the neighborhood lately: mowers, leaf blowers, trees getting cut down, stumps getting ground, cats fighting, and so many other things.

But back to food: since our cats really need lots of variety, I'd definitely suggest trying some other brands. We also crumble freeze-dried chicken treats on the cats' meals. Pure Bites or the Chewy.com version of them will get them to eat just about anything.

Good luck, these problems can be so frustrating and the non-recognition situation makes them all the worse.
 
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cleoandsuki87

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On the vets visit issue, its the different smell on the cat after being to the vets that causes non recognition aggression which is quite normal. Try wiping the cat that hasnt been with a cloth or towel then wipe the cat that has been with the same towel to transfer the smell, or wipe them both with something you have worn ( not worn to the vets).
I tried this repeatedly last time and it did nothing. Tried the "vanilla trick" as well and it also did nothing. It did not pass quickly. It was 3.5 weeks of hell. I had to basically reintroduce them as if they were new cats- I don't think the "staying" cat ever recognized that it was her sister that I brought back. I have heard taking them both is not guaranteed, as they will still smell the "bad smells" on the other one, without recognizing that they too smell like that. I read where a couple of people were saying they'd start fighting in the car on the way back from a vet visit.

To this day, if they've been out of the same room for even an hour or so and the other one comes in, they will immediately approach each other, with body language on "high alert" and sniff all over. Then they relax. It seems as if they are being like, "Is it still you? Oh okay, it is, all good."

Thankfully, she ate almost all of her breafkast this morning, so I am really hoping that this is passing. I will get the Forti Flora stuff and also will look into some treats to up her calorie intake. When I first adopted her she was obsessed with those churu things, so maybe some of those. Her foster mom had given me a few of them, I didn't continue buying because every other cat I've had has been obsessed with food and it's been a struggle to keep them from getting overweight.
 

lisahe

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To this day, if they've been out of the same room for even an hour or so and the other one comes in, they will immediately approach each other, with body language on "high alert" and sniff all over. Then they relax. It seems as if they are being like, "Is it still you? Oh okay, it is, all good."
This is familiar... our cats used to curl up together a lot but that's much rarer now and there are more skirmishes. They also had to be completely reintroduced. It was a very painstaking process with lots of yowling, growling, hissing, chasing, and swatting.

We still haven't tried the companion program (they're due for rabies shots soon, though, so I can't postpone their annual exams much more!) and I'm just crossing my fingers that it will work for them. I've also heard that it doesn't work for all cats.

The mention of using vanilla on the cats reminds me that I used tuna juice! It didn't help much in terms of getting rid of the non-recognition but it was a great distraction because it really confused the cats. The laser pointer toy was also crucial.
 
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cleoandsuki87

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This is familiar... our cats used to curl up together a lot but that's much rarer now and there are more skirmishes. They also had to be completely reintroduced. It was a very painstaking process with lots of yowling, growling, hissing, chasing, and swatting.

We still haven't tried the companion program (they're due for rabies shots soon, though, so I can't postpone their annual exams much more!) and I'm just crossing my fingers that it will work for them. I've also heard that it doesn't work for all cats.

The mention of using vanilla on the cats reminds me that I used tuna juice! It didn't help much in terms of getting rid of the non-recognition but it was a great distraction because it really confused the cats. The laser pointer toy was also crucial.
I am thinking about contacting a vet that does house calls for their vaccinations. I'm sure it's ungodly expensive, but I'd pay through the nose to avoid under non-recognition issue.

If an issue arises where I feel like a vet visit is unavoidable, I think I'm going to try separating them into their own rooms immediately for 24 hours- where they don't even have the ability to make contact under the door. I don't know that it will work but it seems logical to me- surely the smell would dissipate by 24 hours, right? I think it's also a fine line with how long you wait, because if it's too long, then they forget each other anyway, even if they smell "normal."
 

lisahe

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I am thinking about contacting a vet that does house calls for their vaccinations. I'm sure it's ungodly expensive, but I'd pay through the nose to avoid under non-recognition issue.

If an issue arises where I feel like a vet visit is unavoidable, I think I'm going to try separating them into their own rooms immediately for 24 hours- where they don't even have the ability to make contact under the door. I don't know that it will work but it seems logical to me- surely the smell would dissipate by 24 hours, right? I think it's also a fine line with how long you wait, because if it's too long, then they forget each other anyway, even if they smell "normal."
Our vet's house call rates are higher than office rates but they're not outrageous so it's definitely worth checking. We had our vet come to our house a few times. The downside is that it can feel like an invasion of the cat's home territory. (We stopped having house calls because of that.)

Given how sensitive cats' noses are, I would definitely ask the vet what they think about 24 hours of separation! After what happened with our cats, I don't think it would make a difference, though of course Edwina was very scented with vet office smells after having dental surgery.
 
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cleoandsuki87

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She ate most of her dinner too. Phew! She is still acting differently around the food though. When I get it out, she acts very excited, just like she used to. When I put it in her bowl, she carries on "begging" (her version of this is repeatedly rubbing up against me) and occasionally even meowing. She sniffs the food and walks away a few times. After about 20-30 minutes she'll finally start eating. Thankfully she did eat very close to her normal amount today.

Does this behavior mean that she doesn't like the food, but then begrudingly eating it because she sees nothing else is coming? Should I try a different kind? Of course I want her to be happy with it, but I also don't want to create a situation where she's refusing to eat at all thinking something "better" is always going to be coming. Or a situation where I buy a $30-40 bag of food, she decides she doesn't like that either, rinse, repeat, and I'm wasting a whole bunch of money.

This is all very new territory to me. Any other cat that I've owned or a family member has owned has been a voracious eater. I thought my vet was nuts when she told me "cats are always fussy with their food" (in regards to a previous cat). I'd NEVER had that experience, but I guess it's typical with all of the posts here!
 

verna davies

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It could be just her being a typical cat "I'll eat it when I'm ready". As long as she is eating thats fine.
 

lisahe

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She ate most of her dinner too. Phew! She is still acting differently around the food though. When I get it out, she acts very excited, just like she used to. When I put it in her bowl, she carries on "begging" (her version of this is repeatedly rubbing up against me) and occasionally even meowing. She sniffs the food and walks away a few times. After about 20-30 minutes she'll finally start eating. Thankfully she did eat very close to her normal amount today.
This fits lots of things... One of our cats does this when she is constipated and either cat will do it when she wants to eat somewhere else. Or just isn't quite hungry enough to eat yet.

Crumbled treats of various types on the food and letting the cats eat where they want alleviates most of the behavioral problems but they can still be infuriating! Fiber and/or egg yolk (starting with very small amounts) can help constipation.
 

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I am thinking about contacting a vet that does house calls for their vaccinations. I'm sure it's ungodly expensive, but I'd pay through the nose to avoid under non-recognition issue.

If an issue arises where I feel like a vet visit is unavoidable, I think I'm going to try separating them into their own rooms immediately for 24 hours- where they don't even have the ability to make contact under the door. I don't know that it will work but it seems logical to me- surely the smell would dissipate by 24 hours, right? I think it's also a fine line with how long you wait, because if it's too long, then they forget each other anyway, even if they smell "normal."
I have a house call vet for the cats, and it has taken SO much stress out of getting them vetted. The house call is more expensive than an office call, but with 7 cats (3 who would shred my face if I dared try to get them in a carrier) it's worth it. The mobile clinics house call is just about the same as I would pay for an exam for a pet with a medical problem, so I figure it works itself out. Hopefully you can find a solution!
 
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cleoandsuki87

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She is eating normally now. Not sure what the original issue was, but I am so, so, so glad I didn't take her to the vet.
 
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