Frustrated. Food Trial Not Going Well

Irisinatl

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I adopted two brothers about 3 years ago - Hank and Dean.

Dean is seeming to be my problem child. I’m going to give a brief history on Dean.
Dean had loose stools (occasionally with red blood) for a year and half. We tried all kinds of food. I finally got him poops completely perfect rotating pro plan, tiki cat, Royal Canin (various flavors) with Weurva Paw Lickin’ Chicken. Out of the blue, he will occasionally have loose stools about every 4-6 months. Sometimes both of the cats will have it and sometimes just Dean. Which has always made me think we got a bad batch of food or something.

This last round, Hank had diarrhea which cleared up and then Dean started with it - with very loose stools with red blood - only once per day so it wasn’t true diarrhea in the fact that he wasn’t going multiple times per day.

Off the to vet, again. Doc now think it’s either a sensitivity to chicken or IBD. Is that just something they say when they don’t know? We’re going to schedule an ultrasound. Parasites have been ruled out. He’s acting fine. Because the vet thinks it may be chicken, he switched him to rabbit - Royal Canin Selected PR. He hates it with a passion. He’s refuses the canned and will eat some of the dry but not enough to meet basic caloric needs.

He’s overweight because he’s the laziest cat on the planet. Love is all he needs - laying on your lap for hours, LOL. He plays also, though.

So my problem, he hates the food. I’ve tried other rabbit foods - Instinct, Ziwi, Koha. I think he just hates rabbit. So I bought some Ziwi Venison. No go. Today I buckled and mixed his Selected PR Dry with some Tiki Cat Tuna - he ate - finally.

This isn’t worth the stress to him or me. If he doesn’t have IBS he will from the stress of being fed food he hates and being hungry! Do you agree? I have read thread after thread of finicky cats (which aren’t they all?) and the IBS threads. I guess my question boils down to - is it just better to eat or suffer through starvation with the theory that if he’s hungry enough, he’ll eat (I don’t really like that plan). In addition, I do not like him only being on dry.

If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading such a long post.
 

daftcat75

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It's better to feast at McDonald's than starve at Whole Foods. I would let him eat what he was going to eat. And I would proceed with an ultrasound to know if the diet change is really necessary. If he does have inflammation in his gut, the vet will prescribe steroids to help with the inflammation. A side effect of the steroids is that he'll be hungrier, and probably less picky.

If you wanted to try one more food...

A lot of rabbit formulas aren't all rabbit. They are rabbit with another protein like pea protein or they have odd add-ins like green lipped mussels. I suggest trying Rawz. Try it in the rabbit, rabbit with pumpkin (if he likes pumpkin), duck, or turkey pates.

Incredible Pets sells by the can. You can order a can of each flavor to run past Hank and Dean without having to go all-in on a case.
Search: 28 results found for "rawz cat"

Mouser is another interesting option. It is cat food made with mouse protein plus one other protein (since mice can be expensive to make a whole can's worth of single protein.) Incredible Pets also sells these by the can in various other proteins like duck, turkey, rabbit, and chicken.
Search: 8 results found for "mouser"

With my picky girl, Betty, I've been having more success with a naked food transition. I offer her a snack portion of a new food like we were doing an old to new conversion. But I simply leave the old off the plate. So if she's expected to get 1/4 new to 3/4 old, I would give her a quarter portion of new food on a plate by itself at a separate meal time. Then I would wait a poop before deciding whether to proceed with the transition and offer her more at the next meal. If that poop didn't go well, if she threw up, or if the food transition in general isn't going to plan, I can simply remove that extra snack and her old meals remain just the way they were. I do these now because I've been left in a situation where I tried to shift all her meals with an old to new and we got a certain percentage in before she didn't want the mix or either food by itself. If it's easier for him to do an old-to-new transition (mixing the foods together) than a naked transition like I described, then I would still recommend adding a meal to his schedule specifically for this purpose. If it doesn't work out, that's only one meal that is affected. It should be easy and quick enough to withdraw that failed mix and go back to where he was before.
 

FeebysOwner

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I do tend to think IBD is becoming a 'default diagnosis' for vets, but one of the causes can be from food allergies. Chicken or any of a number of fillers used in cat food could be the 'allergy culprit'. If there is any chance you've kept a food diary that correlates to Dean's loose/bloody stools, then you might be able to pinpoint a few 'suspicious' ingredients.

Short of a biopsy (invasive) or an endoscopy (less invasive) to collect tissue, IBD itself is next to impossible to actually diagnose, and in many cases the cause is not identifiable. So, the conundrum becomes how to treat the inflammation - through dietary changes, or steroids, or a combination of both. Might be a discussion you would want to have with the vet prior to an ultrasound.

However, if you proceed with the ultrasound, and there any other signs of issues, such as enlarged lymph nodes, please ask the vet about doing a fine needle aspiration (FNA) cytology on tissue from one of them during the ultrasound to see if that could help shed light on anything.

I would imagine you might have already seen this article on IBD, but in case you haven't -
IBD in Cats: Complete Guide to Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats | PetMD
 
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Irisinatl

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Thank you both for the information. I will be following up with the vet with all of the questions you have suggested. In the meantime, he just isn’t eating rabbit or venison. I’d rather he eat than not at all. I’m going back to his regular diet until we see if there are any issues. I’m just skeptical of it all right now.
 

mrsgreenjeens

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Just as an aside, it is definitely NOT better to starve a cat into eating something they don't like. That can have serious health repercussions, especially if the cat is overweight, as you have stated Dean is.

Many cats have chicken allergies, so if possible, try a different protein (turkey, duck, lamb, anything but chicken) from Weruva and see if he likes it. Also, try to steer clear of it in the other foods and see what happens. Be sure to read the ingredients because often manufacturers will use chicken liver or chicken broth in turkey or duck foods.

When he (or they) have the loose stools, does it last long? You can try giving them a little bit of plain greek yogurt. Works for my guys every time!
 

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Any protein other than chicken is worth a try. If your cat doesn't like rabbit or venison, try turkey or duck instead. Some cats are sensitive to all poultry so if there isn't much improvement after 13 weeks or so of poultry protein, try beef or lamb or pork instead. There are a few really novel proteins like kangaroo and boar but whether your cat will eat those is another story. Seafood may seem like a good idea but cats tend to get addicted to eating it and may refuse to eat anything else. Limit seafood to occasional meals.

Have you tried toppers to entice the cat to at least try rabbit and venison? Many cats turn up their noses at a new food but if you keep offering small amounts of the new food with toppers, they'll eventually give it a try.

You can also try giving digestive enzymes and a probiotic with every meal.
 

daftcat75

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The diarrhea may not be related to the protein at all. I would keep a food journal and note which foods are fed when, and when their stools run loose. Perhaps you can see a pattern with which food they eat. On a separate page in the food journal, you can list all the non-animal ingredients. You don't have to track the vitamin and minerals added. Those are generally the same in every food and rarely the cause of GI issues. But any grains, starches, nuts, seeds, oils, clay, mussels, pea protein, and the gums and thickeners: all of that is fair game for causing GI disturbances. Some cats are sensitive to xanthan gum which is in a lot of smooth foods and lick treats. It makes smooth foods smooth. And for those cats (and people) who are sensitive to xanthan gum, it makes their poops smooth too. Mousse in, mousse out.
 
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Irisinatl

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Just as an aside, it is definitely NOT better to starve a cat into eating something they don't like. That can have serious health repercussions, especially if the cat is overweight, as you have stated Dean is.

Many cats have chicken allergies, so if possible, try a different protein (turkey, duck, lamb, anything but chicken) from Weruva and see if he likes it. Also, try to steer clear of it in the other foods and see what happens. Be sure to read the ingredients because often manufacturers will use chicken liver or chicken broth in turkey or duck foods.

When he (or they) have the loose stools, does it last long? You can try giving them a little bit of plain greek yogurt. Works for my guys every time!
You’ve sure got that right. Chicken something or another seems to be in everything. It’s really hard to find food that doesn’t. In addition, I forgot to mention, he really doesn’t like pate food either - he likes shreds or minced mostly. I’ve done my best to get some Turkey and duck. I have some fish too because I just didn’t have many other options.

Typically it doesn’t last long, a couple of days usually. I will try the plain Greek yogurt next time. If it goes the way it usually has, he’ll be okay for another 4-6 months. During that time he’s been eating chicken all along which is why I wonder why it just pops up.
 
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Irisinatl

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The diarrhea may not be related to the protein at all. I would keep a food journal and note which foods are fed when, and when their stools run loose. Perhaps you can see a pattern with which food they eat. On a separate page in the food journal, you can list all the non-animal ingredients. You don't have to track the vitamin and minerals added. Those are generally the same in every food and rarely the cause of GI issues. But any grains, starches, nuts, seeds, oils, clay, mussels, pea protein, and the gums and thickeners: all of that is fair game for causing GI disturbances. Some cats are sensitive to xanthan gum which is in a lot of smooth foods and lick treats. It makes smooth foods smooth. And for those cats (and people) who are sensitive to xanthan gum, it makes their poops smooth too. Mousse in, mousse out.
I’ve thought about that on - it could be all the other crap they put in food. I’ve gone with grain free for now and I’m keeping track going forward of everything I’m feeding him.
 

Furballsmom

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I finally got him poops completely perfect rotating pro plan, tiki cat, Royal Canin (various flavors) with Weurva Paw Lickin’ Chicken.
I’m keeping track going forward of everything I’m feeding him.
I was thinking the same thing -- to keep a log, since this is quite a menu or even if you don't feed all of these foods this time around, so that if there's something specific that's setting off their digestive systems, a brand, a variety, an ingredient, then you can start to see what's going on :vibes::crossfingers::heartshape:

If he's really heavy, start slowly by placing his food a couple steps up if you have stairs and/or in a different room so that he has to start walking more.

If possible eventually maybe you can get him/them harness trained and can go for walks outdoors :)

Playing With Your Cat: 10 Things You Need To Know – TheCatSite Articles
 
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Irisinatl

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I was thinking the same thing -- to keep a log, since this is quite a menu or even if you don't feed all of these foods this time around, so that if there's something specific that's setting off their digestive systems, a brand, a variety, an ingredient, then you can start to see what's going on :vibes::crossfingers::heartshape:

If he's really heavy, start slowly by placing his food a couple steps up if you have stairs and/or in a different room so that he has to start walking more.

If possible eventually maybe you can get him/them harness trained and can go for walks outdoors :)

Playing With Your Cat: 10 Things You Need To Know – TheCatSite Articles
I really know how to live it up on a Saturday night. I built the spreadsheet, LOL, of all the foods and their ingredients.

Good idea about moving his food to make him walk more.
 
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Irisinatl

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Any protein other than chicken is worth a try. If your cat doesn't like rabbit or venison, try turkey or duck instead. Some cats are sensitive to all poultry so if there isn't much improvement after 13 weeks or so of poultry protein, try beef or lamb or pork instead. There are a few really novel proteins like kangaroo and boar but whether your cat will eat those is another story. Seafood may seem like a good idea but cats tend to get addicted to eating it and may refuse to eat anything else. Limit seafood to occasional meals.

Have you tried toppers to entice the cat to at least try rabbit and venison? Many cats turn up their noses at a new food but if you keep offering small amounts of the new food with toppers, they'll eventually give it a try.

You can also try giving digestive enzymes and a probiotic with every meal.
I tried the toppers - he tried getting just those off - and then walk away. Which is the best digestive enzyme to give him and probiotic?
 

daftcat75

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I used to walk around the apartment with her meal plate with a hungry Krista in tow. I’d walk her from one end to the other and in and out of rooms before I finally put her meal down. She didn’t have the patience for much of that. But it kept her more active than simply eating and sleeping.

For digestive enzymes, I like Optagest.

For probiotics, there’s only two I really recommend these days: sacchromyces boulardii, a yeast based probiotic that’s helpful for spot treatment of diarrhea as well as reducing certain harmful gut strains. You would know if they had these because those infections tend to be persistent diarrhea over weeks or months.
My Cat Has Diarrhea - What Do I Do?

The link above has a couple brand recommendations (Jarrow) or you can get the Gut Maintenance Pills from this next link at the end.

The other probiotic I recommend is the Gut Restore Supplement from AnimalBiome. Instead of just a handful of bacteria strains that have been found helpful over mice and sometimes human studies, these capsules are samples of carefully screened healthy donor cat microbiome. These are FMT capsules aka poop pills. If you cannot get him to take a capsule, then these aren’t appropriate for him. He will not appreciate these opened and mixed with food. And they won’t be active that way anyway. They need that capsule coating to protect them until past the stomach. But if you can get him to take a capsule a day, the difference it made with Betty’s appetite, nausea reduction, and decreased hairball frequency (her only IBD symptom) was dramatic! The advantage of FMT over probiotics is that there’s more than just a handful of strains and they are in the right amounts and proportions to really move the needle and help the gut microbiome rebalance. Plus with AnimalBiome, you can track his progress with their Gut Health Tests and the very detailed, informative, instructive, and enlightening reports that come with the Tests. They have suggestions on what you can feed or supplement to help correct imbalances. And I love their customer support. Not an employee or paid rep here. Just a big fan!
Our Science
 

LTS3

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You have to finely crush up toppers like freeze dried meat treats to prevent the cat from picking them off the "yucky" food :) I just put treats into a baggie and smash away with a can of soup. You could also use FortiFlora but only very sparingly and occasionally because some cats get addicted to that.

Some probiotic info:

 
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