I don't think I can care for my 10 year old girl anymore

louisstools

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Not sure if this is the right forum for this topic. I'm writing this because my tank is nearly empty and I'm just at a loss for what to do.

For the past twelve years I had two cats: a boy Muggs, and a girl Missy. They were pretty much my life and gave me so much joy and happiness. In Sept of 2021 Muggs was diagnosed with terminal oral cancer. The cancer bore a hole in the roof of his mouth to his nasal passage and so he was unable to eat on his own or groom b/c he'd get stuff up in there. From Sept until he was put to sleep in Dec of 2021 my life became basically taking care of him. He was unable to eat on his own but otherwise healthy and I had to hand feed him six to eight times a day. He was still in pretty good health when I put him to sleep on Dec 3, 2021. My reasoning was he was terminal, he was starting to show some decline, getting vet care was extremely difficult, and the risk of an accident was always there and we had already had two accidents related to hole in his mouth.

I will point out for 11.5 of these years the cats were zero fuss. Three scoops of food a day, litter boxes cleaned every 2 days, and yearly check-ups. That was it. That's what I'm used to.

Because of the changes for Muggs, Missy got out of schedule too. After Muggs passed, I tried to get her back on schedule but she was refusing to eat. Vet check-up showed she had some dental issues. We fixed that and she would eat but was still fussy about food and I couldn't really find anything she would eat. Vet said she needed 5-6oz of wet food a day but that meant me giving her 5-6 meals a day b/c she just won't eat much in a sitting -- never has. It's been 6 months and I still don't have a food that she will reliably eat and I've tried everything Petco has. Most she will flat out refuse but others she'll eat for a time before deciding "no" -- and the food she will eat requires me to have pureed it to loosen it up for her.

This lasted a month before the stress of feeding got to me and I made a vet appointment for her diet. It coincided with her having UTI symptoms as well. I remember being at the vet's office and so stressed out I couldn't handle the vet tech asking me about annual vaccinations. I remember I kept saying "Just do whatever, I don't care, I can't handle this right now, I'm too stress with the cat."

Vet check-up showed nothing was preventing her from eating and that perhaps a diet of normal wet food would give her enough moisture to keep her UTI issues from returning. The vet also said she should eat about 5-6oz of food a day but to do that I had to feed her roughly 4-5 times a day. She has no teeth and only licks the food so it needs to be loose but not too loose. To date, I've found one brand/flavor she loves and a few that she seems to tolerate provided I puree them for her. After a month, we found a flavor and texture she could eat. But her UTI problems came back. That vet check-up with urinalysis showed it was a UTI and crystals were there. She got an antibiotic shot and was sent home.

A week later and her pee problems seemed to be ok but then I noticed she wasn't going poop as much. Another vet check-up and she had a bit of stool in her but xray didn't show megacolon or that she was obstructed. So we tried catlax brand hairball gel for a few weeks. It took a week to figure out how to get her to take it as she wouldn't just eat it and putting it on her paw freaked her out. She tolerated it mixed in her food though. The catlax hairball gel didn't give us the results we wanted so vet suggested adding some fiber as well. After two weeks of that she was pooping less so vet suggested to stop the fiber, keep the catlax hairball gel, and prescribed some lactulose. We're two weeks in with lactulose and she's pooping more in volume than ever. She's going mostly every day with a random day here and there that she skips for some reason. Her pee seems to be ok.

However she's now suddenly more picky about eating and I have no clue what to do. She is overweight and probably has arthritis but seems healthy otherwise. It's meal times that are killing me though. I can't figure out what she wants to eat. I'll put down something she ate the week before or even the meal before and she'll just turn her nose up at it. I have several variety packs of Fancy Feast and Friskies and she's turning her nose up at them now when she used to love them.

I'm at a point where I've not been sleeping well for 5 months and I'm not eating due to the stress. I'll wake up several times a night to check the wifi-security camera on the litterbox to see how she did to see if she's ok. I love her to pieces but I'm not functioning and I know I can't keep going on like this. I don't know what to do. She is a very sweet cat but has always been extremely skittish. I couldn't just give her up to someone else. Between the risk of them hurting her or her being paralyzed with fear (she hid for a 5 days when my ex wife moved out) I couldn't bear that. My mom offered to take her off my hands for awhile but frankly I wouldn't trust my mom to take care of her properly. That only leaves one option and I'm just so beside myself I don't know what to do. Other than a vet visit for a full workup to see if the source of all these problems is medical in nature.

Sorry for the rant, I'm just at a loss for what to do and needed a place to vent and the internet was all I have.
 

Robyn5678

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I’m so sorry to hear you’re having so much stress. Animals should be a source of joy for us. Will she eat dry food? If so, can you maybe try to soften it by adding some water

yes wet food is better for cats, but if she won’t eat it, she needs something. I have a cat that wouldn’t eat wet food for 16 years and only ate dry. All of a sudden she wants wet.
Good luck 💕
 
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louisstools

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I’m so sorry to hear you’re having so much stress. Animals should be a source of joy for us. Will she eat dry food? If so, can you maybe try to soften it by adding some water

yes wet food is better for cats, but if she won’t eat it, she needs something. I have a cat that wouldn’t eat wet food for 16 years and only ate dry. All of a sudden she wants wet.
Good luck 💕
She'll eat kibble if I sit with her. I don't mind doing it but it's time consuming and not a long term solution.

I guess part of my situation is I'm so stressed I'm just not interested in more cat problem solving. Tired of fighting a cat to stay healthy.
 

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I would strongly suggest letting your mom take over for you with her.

How far away does your mom live from you? Is she close enough you could visit once or twice a week or something like that to see how they're doing, or at some schedule that works for all of you. Whichever, but seriously, your cat needs a break away from your stress, and you need a break from all of it. If she's not close enough to visit, ask her to send photos and videos.

Take a look at this, or send it to your mom. There are two articles, and loads of following posts from members.

Any Good Tips To Get Your Cats To Eat? Share Them Here!
 

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Hi. For sure, a full exam/blood work up should be done, as you said, to see if there is a medical issue behind all of this. There are tons of food toppers and other enticers to help get her to eat. Many of which are mentioned in the above article. Baby food meat (Gerber Stage 2 or Beechnut) is a great additive to help with calories as well They are not 'cat nutritionally complete', but they can help if not the sole source of food. Most cats tend to like them. There is also (probably mentioned in the article) Hill's A/D Recovery food that most vets sell in their offices, that are chock full of calories to help round out her diet - most cats seem to like too. Both of these options are more of a pate style food - coming close but not totally to the form of puree. Fancy Feast pates are another option (Feeby's most common go-to food), and Tiki Cat sells mousse - again close to puree.

Let me tell you a (kind of) brief story - I have a cat, Feeby who is 17+yo, she has a few ailments, and is also picky as heck when it comes to food. I have a rotation of at least 15-20 different foods that I try to give her - she will eat them sometimes and other times not. I throw food away constantly. She sometimes seems to need me to sit with her to eat as well, and I do it - as hard as it is sometimes to do so. I totally know how hard it can be, and it is a daily obsession with me to get her to eat and keep her going. Right now, she absorbs most of my life, but I can't do anything else because it is not her fault for whatever is causing her issues, so I have to be mindful of that. And she deserves no less than a human family member of mine that would need (and, has needed) the extra care.

Once you can get a thorough exam done, and see what comes from that, I do agree considering things like a detailed plan with your mom to see if you can find some respite for periods of time.

There is so much more I would like to offer, but you are already overwhelmed, so for now, I will let it go with what I have said, and ask that you continue to 'lean on us' for help/guidance/support.
 
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louisstools

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I would strongly suggest letting your mom take over for you with her.

How far away does your mom live from you? Is she close enough you could visit once or twice a week or something like that to see how they're doing, or at some schedule that works for all of you. Whichever, but seriously, your cat needs a break away from your stress, and you need a break from all of it. If she's not close enough to visit, ask her to send photos and videos.

Take a look at this, or send it to your mom. There are two articles, and loads of following posts from members.

Any Good Tips To Get Your Cats To Eat? Share Them Here!
I agree we both need a break but I can't trust my mom. She's a dog person who dog sits for a friend. Missy is too skittish to even think about that; she hides from all other humans. I think in the 10+ years I've had Missy my mom has seen Missy one time and that was when I was on a vacation for a week and on day four she poked her head out while my mom had come over to feed the cats.
 
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louisstools

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Hi. For sure, a full exam/blood work up should be done, as you said, to see if there is a medical issue behind all of this. There are tons of food toppers and other enticers to help get her to eat. Many of which are mentioned in the above article. Baby food meat (Gerber Stage 2 or Beechnut) is a great additive to help with calories as well They are not 'cat nutritionally complete', but they can help if not the sole source of food. Most cats tend to like them. There is also (probably mentioned in the article) Hill's A/D Recovery food that most vets sell in their offices, that are chock full of calories to help round out her diet - most cats seem to like too. Both of these options are more of a pate style food - coming close but not totally to the form of puree. Fancy Feast pates are another option (Feeby's most common go-to food), and Tiki Cat sells mousse - again close to puree.

Let me tell you a (kind of) brief story - I have a cat, Feeby who is 17+yo, she has a few ailments, and is also picky as heck when it comes to food. I have a rotation of at least 15-20 different foods that I try to give her - she will eat them sometimes and other times not. I throw food away constantly. She sometimes seems to need me to sit with her to eat as well, and I do it - as hard as it is sometimes to do so. I totally know how hard it can be, and it is a daily obsession with me to get her to eat and keep her going. Right now, she absorbs most of my life, but I can't do anything else because it is not her fault for whatever is causing her issues, so I have to be mindful of that. And she deserves no less than a human family member of mine that would need (and, has needed) the extra care.

Once you can get a thorough exam done, and see what comes from that, I do agree considering things like a detailed plan with your mom to see if you can find some respite for periods of time.

There is so much more I would like to offer, but you are already overwhelmed, so for now, I will let it go with what I have said, and ask that you continue to 'lean on us' for help/guidance/support.
Your kindness is overwhelming. I would love to know more about your situation since it has some parallels with mine. Maybe in a day or two I'll have the capacity for more. I'm not good at "letting go" or dealing with stress. I wish I could just not stress out about the cat and just enjoy her.

Yeah, I'll make the vet appointment tomorrow for as soon as I can to rule out any medical things and perhaps the vet will have some suggestions if its more of a behavior problem. I posted a reply to another person but I don't think my mom is an option for a variety of reasons listed and a few unlisted. My vet offers cat boarding for $25 a night and maybe that's something to consider for a few weeks. Frankly I earn a good living and haven't spent anything on me for the past 9 months due to cat stress so I can afford a few weeks of boarding. Might also work with them to get her on a food schedule that is easier too or something.
 

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I posted a reply to another person but I don't think my mom is an option for a variety of reasons listed and a few unlisted.
Its ok, no worries. I think the boarding at your vets is a grand thought. Hang in there with this, and I'm so glad FeebysOwner FeebysOwner has been able to lift that weight you've been carrying a bit.
 

FeebysOwner

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Yeah, I'll make the vet appointment tomorrow for as soon as I can to rule out any medical things and perhaps the vet will have some suggestions if its more of a behavior problem. I posted a reply to another person but I don't think my mom is an option for a variety of reasons listed and a few unlisted. My vet offers cat boarding for $25 a night and maybe that's something to consider for a few weeks. Frankly I earn a good living and haven't spent anything on me for the past 9 months due to cat stress so I can afford a few weeks of boarding. Might also work with them to get her on a food schedule that is easier too or something.
Total advocate of a CBC, Super Chemistry, and T4 for blood work, not to mention a urinalysis if they can get it (preferably drawn through a needle straight from her bladder - not harmful/hurtful at all).

Since you appear you can afford it, if you don't have neighbors/family/friends to come spend some time with your cat (and you), there are also contacts outside of those realms that could offer some respite support - also inside your home. Next Door Neighbor is a good source to check out close-by neighbors that might be willing to 'baby-sit', as well as care.com. The latter of which you can interview, receive references - both of which you can do 'test' visits to see what happens.

We're here...
 

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Any chance your mom could come stay with you a few days after the vet check? I have a lot of kitties here and lost two to cancer in the last half of 2021. One had complete tooth removal and the other had been best friends with my daughter, who I lost some years back. Now I am dealing with a new cat health challenge. I do understand. I know from raising a daughter who required 24/7 care that even a brief time away from caregiving can really help us. We return to caregiving with fresh perspective and renewed energy. My heart is totally with you snd I hope you find the answers you need to continue. I’m glad you came here to vent. Keep ranting and we’ll all send :vibes::heartshape:. We have all been in similar situations.
 

neely

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L louisstools I'm so sorry for the stress and lack of functioning as you described it. My heart hurts for you. :hugs: I think at some point we have all experienced a similar situation. Our present cat has had several dental surgeries and only one tooth remaining. Like you, I've struggled with finding a wet (canned) food he will eat consistently. Just when I've found a food he enjoys he either stops eating it or it's been discontinued. Right now he is eating a new wet food which fingers crossed he savors. I realized he likes wet food in a broth so that's what I've been feeding him. If he stops eating it I will be on the lookout for a new food once again. I've accepted this is his behavior pattern when it comes to food and the one consolation is that he will eat dry food but I only give it to him as a snack.

FeebysOwner FeebysOwner gave you some good suggestions regarding respite support. Personally I would not recommend boarding Missy because this may stress her out more especially since you said she is skittish. Cats are territorial and prefer to be in their home surroundings as it gives them a sense of security. You could also consider what Jcatbird Jcatbird posted regarding having your mom stay with you for a few days a week. Or perhaps you can talk this over with your vet and if you both agree boarding would be best for everyone then by all means do what is in Missy's and your best interest.

Please keep us posted after your vet visit. We will be thinking of you and sending special thoughts. :vibes::vibes:
 
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louisstools

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I do appreciate all the wisdom and kindness yall have shown me. This is a great forum!

The mom thing just isn't an option. I think in the 10+ years I've had Missy my mom has seen her once. So to Missy she is a total stranger; the vet's staff is actually more familiar. Not to mention the vet's cat boarding area is cat proof whereas my mom's house isn't.

I was able to get a vet appointment tomorrow with our preferred/usual vet. I explained the current situation and also mentioned I'm at a point where I feel I'm unable to care for the cat. This practice is super understanding and kind and they'll do their best for my little Missy and for me. I'll post with any updates as I get them.
 
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louisstools

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I wonder if she's just nauseated or something from the medicine or has a tummy problem. Looking back on the data I have for her BM's, she was really regular until March of this year. That's when I would see tracks in the litter box but nothing produced -- had no camera. I did see her strain to pee but never caught her pooping so I don't know if she was straining -- before camera.

But since she's been on lactulose her stools have been larger and softer but she's still sometimes going down and not trying to go. She's also not quite going every day still but most every day. I wonder if it's possible we jumped the gun on this. Or if it's just side effects from the lactulose.

I hope we can fix this, she is a really good and loving cat.
 

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Have you tried restoralax for the poops? It’s a powder for humans but an ER doc told me about it a few years ago when my guy was constipated/straining to poop. I sprinkle a little bit on my guys wet food every other day and it helps keep things moving. He also likes variety so I try to rotate different wet foods that support gastrointestinal care mixed with some water. I also give him churu (liquid treat) mixed with some water when his appetite seems to be off.
I really hope things improve for your fur baby and you! I know how hard it is to not be able to sleep/eat and live in constant fear/anxiety. Wishing you both the best 😻
 
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louisstools

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Have you tried restoralax for the poops? It’s a powder for humans but an ER doc told me about it a few years ago when my guy was constipated/straining to poop. I sprinkle a little bit on my guys wet food every other day and it helps keep things moving. He also likes variety so I try to rotate different wet foods that support gastrointestinal care mixed with some water. I also give him churu (liquid treat) mixed with some water when his appetite seems to be off.
I really hope things improve for your fur baby and you! I know how hard it is to not be able to sleep/eat and live in constant fear/anxiety. Wishing you both the best 😻
We've only tried catlax brand hairball gel and lactulose. I'm really hoping she's just having side effects from the lactulose...
 
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louisstools

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Even looking at the "cat diary" I missed the data right in front of me. She started being picky and refusing food after 24 hours of being on lactulose. Previous two weeks she did not show any behavior like that. She had been in this mode where she wanted to eat in multiple places but she always finished her food and didn't run and hide from it like she started after lactulose. ... the story is developing.
 
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louisstools

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vet update for yall.
As far as the vet could tell the cat is perfectly healthy and after some conversation suggested we hold off on any more tests because she could not really see a need for it at this time. She mentioned that what was normal before her brother passed isn't as relevant now considering she's now a single cat, is getting less exercise, and is on a different diet than before. It might have just taken awhile for her to adjust to a new normal and for me to observe it. It might be normal for her to go poop not quite every day as long as she's not straining and she's not producing rocks. If she wasn't going every day on the laxatone and lactulose she probably doesn't have it in her to go every day. She said its certainly possible the lactulose in her food caused some tummy issues and might have turned her off to the wet food a bit. It also might be normal for her to not eat the whole wet food meal at once for breakfast/dinner.

  1. Suggested to stop with the lactulose and see if that makes the wet food eating easier. Since the cat tolerates the laxatone mixed in food I can continue with that especially since that did improve her stools.
  2. We might also try adding some pumpkin if she'll eat that too; not every meal or every day but maybe every few days as a treat to start.
  3. Vet also said that the bowl chasing we've been doing might have been stressing her which caused her to hide. She suggested to just let her eat what she wants and if it's not the whole meal so be it as she has kibble available that she seems to like. I could try leaving it out a bit and see if she comes back to it (though this might take some time for the cat to figure out).
  4. She also recommended that I try not to stress out as much :)
I was at a point where I was considering putting the cat down so these suggestions seem reasonable to me.
 
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