Just looking for empathy: Cat with IBD + who knows what else

thelittlewraith

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Hi all,

I'm back again and I hope I'm not being too redundant as I know there are plenty of IBD articles and threads. But my Maggie is such an odd case, and while I mostly trust my vet, I really just want to get this off my chest. Any advice would be welcome and appreciated, but hopefully I'll feel better for having written it out.

A too-long history: Maggie is almost 3 years old. She's young and she's almost always had GI problems. She started throwing up frequently in March of this year, and after several blood tests that all came back negative we tried a hypoallergenic diet (RC dry food) that seemed to fix things for a month or two. You can see that in my post history.

Unfortunately, she began to vomit again, and in mid-July she had a massive health crisis. Stopped eating, vomited bile a dozen times - I took her to the emergency vet where she stayed for five days. Got a diagnoses of pancreatitis. She had IV fluids, xrays, an ultrasound, anti-nausea meds, appetite stimulants, painkillers, you name it. She still wouldn't eat. Eventually I brought her home with the hope that she would eat if she were more comfortable. I'll be honest, I was preparing myself to put her down. She had dropped almost a pound (and she only weighed 7lbs to start), she wasn't eating, drinking, she refused to be pilled... But she turned it around. Started eating, used the litter box. I was hopeful.

Well, long story short, she started getting unbelievably nauseous again just a few days later, and began vomiting. I won't go into too much detail, but even with anti-nausea shots from the vet, the nausea was unbearable. She would drool and gag and cry, pacing nonstop. I stayed up with her all night for days, until i finally decided to try surgery. In her xrays and ultrasound the emerg vet had noticed a small shadowing in her small intestine that seemed to be moving a little, and I wanted to try non-invasive options first. But without other options, we went for surgery. The vet removed a hairball about 5cm long. A normal size. They did a biopsy at the same time and later confirmed IBD. The vet was skeptical the hairball was the root cause, but Maggie improved as she recovered.

So here we are. Almost two months later. Maggie has put on weight and eats well, but she throws up roughly every two weeks, and we're going back to the vet on Tuesday because she started leaving the litter box without urinating. Guys, I'll be real with you. I love this cat more than anything in the world, but I've spent upwards of $6k on vet bills in the past two months alone. I can afford it without worrying right now, but I'm not a freaking millionaire. I'm young and trying to save. More importantly, I can't keep putting my cat through this. Those five days at the emergency vet were so hard on her. I couldn't visit because of COVID. The day I brought her home she crawled into my lap and fell dead asleep for almost 12 hours.

There's no crisis here. I just feel like I haven't gotten to the bottom of Maggie's health problems, and I'm so tired and scared of what her future might hold. She's so young. The past month has felt like a blessing, bonus time I didn't think we'd get, but I can't stay in this limbo forever. I haven't spent a single night away from her since this happened, but I'd like to live my life again at some point.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. It feels good to get this off my chest and into the world of caring cat people. Maggie is truly my baby and and watching her suffer rips my heart out of my chest.
 

SnugglesAnn

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Gosh, poor Maggie and poor you. I don't really have any good advice. Wish I did. But I wanted you to know that I admire your strength and your efforts in taking care of your baby. I have always taken for granted, many times, that my cats will be in good health until older. And when they have gotten sick, it does wear me down. The worry, the long nights, the will she/he eat today, etc. In my opinion, it's caregiver fatigue. It's physically and emotionally draining, but we do it because we love them so much. We keep hoping that next vet visit or test will pinpoint it. And then to not have answers just makes you feel so helpless. We want to be able to make them better. We keep hoping we'll get there eventually. I hope you will find answers soon. Just wanted you to know that. Praying for you. ❤❤
 

Talien

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I had similar problems with one of my Cats, the main difference is she was around 13 when she started vomiting pretty much on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day, often after eating, combined with occasional diarrhea. The diagnosis was IBD (which I later found out was not a specific diagnosis and encompassed a multitude of GI conditions) and nothing the vet prescribed helped aside from steroid injections, but that is not a long term solution, it just manages the symptoms and does nothing for the root cause and comes with it's own health risks like organ damage.

We tried many different prescription foods that did little to nothing, and even the ones that seemed to help didn't help for long and she would go back to constant vomiting. She went from 9 LB to a little under 7 LB and even when she kept her food down it wasn't enough to keep her going and my vet wanted to put her on regular steroid injections since that was the only thing that had any real effect.

I had heard about raw diet but never really thought about it until I stumbled on Feline Nutrition Foundation, and when I saw frozen raw food at a local pet store I decided to try it. She wasn't real enthused about it at first but after slowly transitioning her over a week she was eating it was vomiting less often. After a couple weeks of eating nothing but raw food she had almost completely stopped, she would occasionally vomit a hairball, but no more throwing up after eating and no more diarrhea. I started adding a few drops of first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil to her food in the morning after hearing it helps with hairballs and she went to throwing up maybe once a month, if that.

It sounds like you've tried just about everything else like I had. Maybe switching her to a raw or a good limited ingredient wet food diet (as in no plant based ingredients) would make a difference.
 

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I can empathize.

I cared for my Krista through IBD, pancreatitis, liver disease (yep, I called her Hat Trick for awhile), tooth resorption, recurring ear infections including a surgery, and finally lymphoma. About 200 pages worth of Krista’s Care.

Have you thought about homemade or raw food for her? Until her lymphoma, that and B-12 shots were a big difference-maker for Krista.

You can also get Cerenia, an anti-nausea drug, compounded into many different formulations. This will help you save time and money not having to do injectable every time.

Tiki Cat got and kept her eating during pancreatitis. But the fish flavors weren’t doing her favors.

Rawz is an expensive canned brand. But it also controlled her IBD and pancreatitis very well. First turkey pate. But then eventually rabbit was all she could eat. She didn’t throw up from IBD anymore.

But still the remission did not come. I was wrapping her prednisilone pill halves in fish flakes which kept irritating her IBD every night. When I had to switch her to a transdermal pred because of her ear surgery, we finally achieved remission. By that point, though, it was too little too late. She had lost weight all the way down to 3 lbs 4 oz. (She started her illness at a healthy 9 lbs.) In the end, a bladder infection proved too much for her. I take solace in that her last month was the first month in years that she wasn’t throwing up or having poop nonsense. Bittersweet.
 
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MissClouseau

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Hi there. So, a few things:

- Your timing is first shedding season (March), then flea/hot season when my cat at least sheds more hair, and now shedding season again. There is probably more than one problem but it sounds like hairballs are a trigger here.

- What does she eat currently? Even prescription food might contain irritants. For example, my own cat is intolerant to several different grains including wheat and even some prescription, "hypoallergenic" foods contain wheat. Try an elimination diet.

- Is she on hairball remedy? It sounds like regardless of what ELSE is going on, your kitty might get triggered to puke easily and in that case a hair amount that wouldn't necessarily disturb another cat might disturb Maggie. I would give hairball remedy daily, I use GimCat Extra Malt Paste Soft. Also brush as much as possible - every day at least during the shedding season.

- Small meals throughout the day instead of 2-3 big meals. What kind of food works depends, especially for IBD cat and their triggers but for example, my Hima doesn't do well on a wet-only diet, or a dry-only diet over different reasons. So she gets both with more wet than dry.

- I assume they checked for worms too?

- Have you tried probiotics? If she's getting constipated or not pass the stools as early as she feels comfortable with, that might contribute to nausea. The right probiotics can also increase nutrition absorption.

If she got a clean bill of health, the chances are the problem is her food, and/or meal sizes, and/or how long she goes without food, and/or hairballs.
 

LTS3

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Here are two good web sites for more info on IBD treatments:


How is the IBD being treated currently? Diet? Steroids? Something else? Have you considered getting an option from another vet, maybe an internal medicine vet?
 
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thelittlewraith

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Waking up this morning to so many thoughtful, informative replies nearly moved me to tears. SnugglesAnn SnugglesAnn thanks for your kind words, it means a lot.

Thank you so much everyone, and I'm sorry that others have gone through similar things. Talien Talien and daftcat75 daftcat75 I'm so sorry you went through that. I know first hand how stressful it is.

I'll admit my vet is a bit more laissez-faire than I would like. I was initially working with a different vet who was let go due to the pandemic, and he was much more invested in finding out the precise cause of Maggie's initial vomiting. But it's been tricky partly because I can't see any vet in person to raise concerns. Thanks COVID.

Treatment so far is basically diet, but I'm not convinced it's the right one for her. I've been working from home, so as MissClouseau MissClouseau suggested, I've been able to feed her basically every two to four hours. This isn't sustainable, but I'm doing it for now. I wouldn't say her current diet is perfect - it's a mix of sensitivity wet food and hypoallergenic dry - so I'm open to exploring other options. Especially ditching the hypo, it's honestly still here because a) she was willing to eat it and not much else, and b) I have a huge bag of it still. But I believe it does have wheat or grains in it, which may be irritating her. I don't think B12 is needed yet, but I'll ask just in case, thanks Talien Talien .

Your timing is first shedding season (March), then flea/hot season when my cat at least sheds more hair, and now shedding season again. There is probably more than one problem b
You're absolutely right; in fact, I initially thought her vomiting was due to a stubborn hairball. They do seem to be triggers for her, and she's quite fluffy. I would definitely like to look into more ongoing hairball treatments, that's a good idea. I'll ask the vet when we're in on Tuesday. Similarly, we had discussed probiotics, but as Maggie was doing ok at the time and tolerating one kind of food, my vet didn't want to rock the boat.

So, a raw diet. I've heard a lot about it and I admit I'm intimidated. I've heard it can help with IBD. I suppose I'll broach the subject with my vet and see if it's something she thinks I should try.

daftcat75 daftcat75 A bladder infection is what I'm worried about at the moment. I'm so sorry you lost your baby to it. At the emergency vet they told they saw some mineralization (?) in her kidneys that no one ever followed up on - I guess it wasn't the priority at the time, but in light of Maggie's new habit of digging, squatting, and leaving without peeing, I'm worried. She's still urinating what looks like normal amounts, but usually only on her second attempt. Back to the vet.

LTS3 LTS3 thank you for the links! I definitely think I want to consult other vets. The one I'm seeing on Tuesday is different from my usual, so maybe they'll have other ideas.
 

JC fka JClark

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I had an elderly cat which developed IBD while on a hydrolyzed diet for 2-3 yrs (At the time we had an older cat). After the older cat was euthanized we fed him Nature's Variety Instinct Wet, Dry food and occasional raw and probiotics. It's grain free and at the time was one of the suggested foods on the IBDKitties website. We still had to give him steroids however so I can't say everything was okay. We had to eventually euthanize him after 2 yrs (16?). TBH we probably went too long with him and probably should've done it sooner.

I now have a 7yr old cat who is probably IBD and we're trying to get a handle on what's going on with him. Yes it might be diet related but my current 7yr old cat was on a 50/50 wet/dry mix with occasional raw, fed grain-free novel proteins his entire life (Beef, Lamb, Rabbit, Salmon). The wet food was free of all the typical fillers (Carregeenan, Guar Gums, etc). Yet here I am back in the same boat. Some detractors may say "but you didn't feed him all RAW and cats are obligate carnivores". My reply is that while true, cats ARE obligate carnivores they also have an average lifespan of 2-3 years in the wild. While cats CAN live longer with outside help (ie, humans) they didn't evolve to live that way so there's no reason to believe that what we consider a middle-age or adult cat fed strictly a raw diet can't develop IBS/IBD.

I would visit the IBD Kitties website. Your feline is young enough where IMO it's worth trying a commercial raw with probiotics. Your cat isn't so large where a raw diet should break the bank and you could mix some grain-free wet to help balance the cost. Personally I think it's partly genetics. Some cats respond and some don't to a raw or grain-free diet.

In the end you as a cat owner must come to grips with the fact that you have an obligation to your cat to end his/her suffering. It is the hardest decision we make as pet owners.
 

Talien

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Treatment so far is basically diet, but I'm not convinced it's the right one for her. I've been working from home, so as MissClouseau MissClouseau suggested, I've been able to feed her basically every two to four hours. This isn't sustainable, but I'm doing it for now. I wouldn't say her current diet is perfect - it's a mix of sensitivity wet food and hypoallergenic dry - so I'm open to exploring other options. Especially ditching the hypo, it's honestly still here because a) she was willing to eat it and not much else, and b) I have a huge bag of it still. But I believe it does have wheat or grains in it, which may be irritating her. I don't think B12 is needed yet, but I'll ask just in case, thanks Talien Talien .
The plant based ingredients are a likely cause, even if not the sole cause, and just about every "prescription" diet has a lot of plant based filler. It's why they are prescribed alongside regular does of steroids to manage the inflammation.

Hairballs absolutely can aggravate GI issues but are not usually a root cause, but it never hurts to be more proactive with brushing or even having her professionally groomed if there is anywhere near you that is open and does Cat grooming.

I now have a 7yr old cat who is probably IBD and we're trying to get a handle on what's going on with him. Yes it might be diet related but my current 7yr old cat was on a 50/50 wet/dry mix with occasional raw, fed grain-free novel proteins his entire life (Beef, Lamb, Rabbit, Salmon). The wet food was free of all the typical fillers (Carregeenan, Guar Gums, etc). Yet here I am back in the same boat. Some detractors may say "but you didn't feed him all RAW and cats are obligate carnivores". My reply is that while true, cats ARE obligate carnivores they also have an average lifespan of 2-3 years in the wild. While cats CAN live longer with outside help (ie, humans) they didn't evolve to live that way so there's no reason to believe that what we consider a middle-age or adult cat fed strictly a raw diet can't develop IBS/IBD.
Novel protein doesn't necessarily mean better, it just means more expensive, and if you're mixing them then you don't know what is causing his IBD. It's entirely possible that he may have allergies to one or more of the novel proteins and would do fine on a more common (and more affordable) protein source like Chicken or Turkey.

It's usually best to NOT feed novel proteins unless GI issues crop up, then they can be used one by one to see if it makes any difference.
 
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JC fka JClark

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The plant based ingredients are a likely cause, even if not the sole cause, and just about every "prescription" diet has a lot of plant based filler. It's why they are prescribed alongside regular does of steroids to manage the inflammation.

Hairballs absolutely can aggravate GI issues but are not usually a root cause, but it never hurts to be more proactive with brushing or even having her professionally groomed if there is anywhere near you that is open and does Cat grooming.



Novel protein doesn't necessarily mean better, it just means more expensive, and if you're mixing them then you don't know what is causing his IBD. It's entirely possible that he may have allergies to one or more of the novel proteins and would do fine on a more common (and more affordable) protein source like Chicken or Turkey.

It's usually best to NOT feed novel proteins unless GI issues crop up, then they can be used one by one to see if it makes any difference.
I know this is OT from the OP but I wanted to respond. When people say feed them a "novel protein" what they mean is "uncommon". For example chicken isn't a novel protein by the fact it's the most common protein used to make dog/cat food. The theory behind IBS/IBD is that the animal develops, over time, an auto-immune response to a specific protein rather than having one which the owner was simply unaware of. This is why cats who have this issue were almost always fed one specific protein (i.e. chicken) their entire lives and the cat was fine up until it wasn't. Theoretically for my cats the protein chicken is novel because until I started having issue with both of them I never really fed it to them with any regularity. They since kittens were also served a rotation (in some cases daily) of (Wet: Beef, Rabbit, Duck, Pork, Salmon, Venison, Lamb) with (Dry: Rabbit, Salmon, or mixture of other proteins). They had no problems with this routine for almost 7 years. It wasn't until late early this year where my IBS cat had an issue with a new dry (Acana) which was comprised of a variety of proteins that the typical food I fed them became a problem. Reduced the proteins down to only Rabbit and Venison with occasional raw rabbit or pork.

What has changed over the past 9 yrs (I joined this site 9 yrs ago because I had a cat at the time who had IBS/IBD) is that almost all nutritionally balanced grain-free cat food (Wet or Dry) contains a combination of common (tuna, chicken, turkey) and what used to be uncommon proteins (Beef, Duck, Lamb, Bison, Quail, Herring, Salmon, Pork, etc). Even commercial raw foods can be a mix (ex, Instinct Raw Rabbit Signature is Rabbit with Pork heart and Pork liver) although brands like Primal have some raw which consist of only one protein.
 

Talien

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I know this is OT from the OP but I wanted to respond. When people say feed them a "novel protein" what they mean is "uncommon". For example chicken isn't a novel protein by the fact it's the most common protein used to make dog/cat food. The theory behind IBS/IBD is that the animal develops, over time, an auto-immune response to a specific protein rather than having one which the owner was simply unaware of. This is why cats who have this issue were almost always fed one specific protein (i.e. chicken) their entire lives and the cat was fine up until it wasn't. Theoretically for my cats the protein chicken is novel because until I started having issue with both of them I never really fed it to them with any regularity. They since kittens were also served a rotation (in some cases daily) of (Wet: Beef, Rabbit, Duck, Pork, Salmon, Venison, Lamb) with (Dry: Rabbit, Salmon, or mixture of other proteins). They had no problems with this routine for almost 7 years. It wasn't until late early this year where my IBS cat had an issue with a new dry (Acana) which was comprised of a variety of proteins that the typical food I fed them became a problem. Reduced the proteins down to only Rabbit and Venison with occasional raw rabbit or pork.

What has changed over the past 9 yrs (I joined this site 9 yrs ago because I had a cat at the time who had IBS/IBD) is that almost all nutritionally balanced grain-free cat food (Wet or Dry) contains a combination of common (tuna, chicken, turkey) and what used to be uncommon proteins (Beef, Duck, Lamb, Bison, Quail, Herring, Salmon, Pork, etc). Even commercial raw foods can be a mix (ex, Instinct Raw Rabbit Signature is Rabbit with Pork heart and Pork liver) although brands like Primal have some raw which consist of only one protein.
Yup, and that's what I meant. A lot of people think that the novel proteins are somehow better because they've gotten inaccurate information, or misunderstood information about switching to one or more novel sources if an animal develops an intolerance to what they are currently eating and took it to mean that switching to a novel source could prevent issues from cropping up.

It's also funny that some people will decry certain proteins like beef, pork, or venison because Cats don't hunt Cows, Pigs, or Deer, yet are fine feeding Chicken which is also not something that Cats normally hunt.
 
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