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Old 05-25-2009, 08:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default My cat won't eat while we're away.

My cat won't eat or drink anything while my wife and I are away. We went away this weekend (left friday morning, returned 7:00ish monday night) and she didn't TOUCH her food or her water. She's shaking and crying, but now that we're home and walk near her food, she runs to it and eats and eats and eats and drinks and drinks and drinks. She did this once before when we were gone for 3 days, but we figured something was wrong with the food or something like that. but after thinking about it, it doesn't seem like she even eats while we're at work.

We don't know what to do. For the time being, we don't know if we should take her to a vet ER (which we're worried it'll cost an arm and a leg since it's after hours on a holiday), or if she'll be ok.

Any idea why she would do this or what we should do?
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat won't eat while we're away.

For being so curious, cats are creatures of habbit as i'm sure you're probably already aware. I find it strange that the cat didn't eat at all (not even a few pieces). You not being there could have affected her enough to cause her to freak out (specially if she demands attention like some of mine do.). Was she originally a stray cat? Traumatic incidents will also permanently scar a cat mentally.

One of my cats managed to open a window and was 'pushed' (as far as i can guess) by one of the more aggressive cats out of the window (because he wanted to look out of the window). To this day (almost 2 years later) she wont go near a door or a window.

Does she wait for you to come home from work, sitting there starring at the front door?

I might suggest, next time you leave for the weekend to leave a video camera running to see what she does. If this is the case, I would suggest weening her off of her addiction/problem slowly. Start with going out on friday nights, then maybe leave friday night and come home saturday morning, then go for 2 days, and then to 3. Once she gets used to the idea of being home alone I doubt you'll have any problems like this. Is your wife, or someone typically home with her all day long?

As far as your current emergency situation (her shaking), hopefully it'll correct itself since she started eating/drinking again. Are you 100% that she didn't drink any water at all? Typically cats (in the wild) are creatures that will stuff every possible ounce of food in their stomach then lounge about. As long as she drank some water during the time you were gone she should be fine. But if you're 100% she didn't drink any water at all, an IV may be required to replenish her fluids. Watch how much she drinks in one sitting as well, as learned in Auschwitz, a starved person will eat and drink themselves to death as their body cant handle it. But 2 days is a long cry from the malnourishment received by people kept at various nazi camps.

If it were my cat, as long as she didnt display any additional symptoms to those you've already seen, I'd hold off 12-24 hours to see how she does. If the condition worsens or you see additional symptoms, i'd take her to the vet immediately. Just make sure to keep a close eye on her.

(I'm not a vet, so take my advice for what its worth)
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat won't eat while we're away.

Thanks for the input!

It's been about an hour now since she has eaten and she's stopped crying, but she keeps making her way over and taking sips of water. But she's stopped shaking and is now cuddling with us.

She's 6 years old and we adopted her from a shelter about 1 year ago. We've had to move her three times: the shelter to my wife's (then fiance's) house, then from there to a temporary apartment, then to our first home. Each time she is very clingy for the first month or so and then starts warming up to us and the environment. Based on this we thought she had some sort of abandonment issues. Now the fact that she doesn't eat while we're away makes us a little more sure of it.

We're both at work all day long and as soon as we get home she is sitting at the door, and then will follow us to the kitchen (to her food bowl).

We have to go away again next weekend, so I think we'll have someone cover over each day and make sure she eats and gets some attention.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat won't eat while we're away.

As the earlier poster stated, cats are creatures of habit. They become very attached to their status quo and are easily upset when anything significant changes in their environment or daily routine. Your girl has been through at least four significant moves in the last year or so. That would be very unsettling to most cats, but it sounds like it's been downright traumatic for your girl. She sounds psychologically fragile and in desperate need of some stability in her life. The two of you have been the only constants in her life for the last year, and when you're gone, she loses even that one strand of stability. No wonder she's too upset to eat or drink.

This is a potentially very serious situation. Cats who don't eat for more than 24 hrs are at risk of developing a potentially fatal liver disease called hepatic lipidosis. You need to take steps to insure that she eats in your absence. Hiring a pet sitter or friend/relative to come to your home and spend time with her each day, making sure she eats and drinks, will hopefully be a successful strategy. If not, though, you might have to board her somewhere where she can be syringe fed, if necessary, to make sure she gets nourishment in your absence. It's much better, though, to let her stay in the familiar environment of your home while you're away so that she isn't further traumatized by a boarding facility.

Hopefully you have a friend or relative with whom your cat is both familiar and comfortable, and who will come spend time with her each day while you're away. Otherwise, perhaps you can hire a vet tech from a local vet clinic to come take care of her. At least the tech will know how to assist feed if it should become necessary.

I hope your girl overcomes her separation anxiety as she gains some sense of stability in your current home, and I hope you won't have to move again any time soon.

Laurie
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Old 05-28-2009, 06:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat won't eat while we're away.

Well it's been a few days now, and she still hasn't stopped crying. She's never done this before, but for some reason now she walks around all day and night constantly meowing. We've gotten very little sleep the past two nights. She's completely abandoned her normal routine. She's not eating her normal food, so we've been giving her wet food (which we usually would give to her as a weekly treat).

We've tried following her to see what she wants, but there's nothing. She literally just walks circles around the house crying.

She's been spayed, so it's not that.

Any ideas?

The next problem is that we have to go back to my in-laws home this weekend, where the cat spent the first 7 months we had her. Would it be smart to take her with us, or better to leave her at our place and have a friend check in on her for 2 days?
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Old 05-28-2009, 07:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat won't eat while we're away.

If I were you, I'd take her to the vet to have her checked out (including a full blood chemistry and thyroid test). Obviously she was badly stressed by your recent absence, but stress can bring on illness in any animal. If she is ill, and you leave her again or subject her to a long car ride, it will likely only exacerbate her problem. Get her checked out and see if you are dealing with a physical problem, then decide how you're going to handle your next trip.

BTW, how long a drive is it, and how does your cat typically respond to car travel?

Laurie
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Old 05-28-2009, 07:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat won't eat while we're away.

Thanks again for the feedback. We just got about 20 minutes of silence and it was glorious!

The trip is about 90 minutes, and from past experience she's fine in the car. She typically never makes a peep and sleeps most of the time... even on the 10 minute drive to the vet.

I think we're going to give it 1 more day and see how it goes. She's been going in spurts more and more lately. She just meowed from 4:30 (when my wife got home) until about 6:10, and then she stopped for about 20 minutes, and just started again. If she's not better tonight and tomorrow when we get home from work, we'll take her in to the vet (we don't exactly have tons of cash laying around, so we don't want to take her unless we have to [which is also how I treat myself when I get sick ])
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Old 05-28-2009, 11:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat won't eat while we're away.

Well after research and some friends coming over and giving their opinion, we think it's quite possible she's in heat... I guess it's possible for a spay not to be done correctly or fully, causing the cat to still go into heat. Or, since it was the shelter who told us she was spayed, it could be possible she was never spayed at all...

fun time to be a female cat owner.
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