Relocated Post about Digestive Problems in Multi-Cat Home
I am re-posting this here, since I believe that I posted it in the wrong forum at first!
I am seeing digestive problems with two of my three cats, and I cannot bear the thought of them eating three different foods! My specific questions are summarized at the end... apologies for such a long post.
Two facts up front that limit the solutions available:
I was feeding frozen commercially prepared raw until about a month ago, but I have moved, run out of the bags I brought with me, and there is no prepared, frozen raw available for 200 miles now. I also have very very limited financial resources right now. When I have sufficient funds, I plan to drive the 200 miles to buy the raw food (and visit friends).
My three cats were introduced in the Introductions Forum recently.
Tigo, age 2-- is overweight and I have been feeding him a grain free dry food. Dry only because I simply cannot afford premium canned food. I prefer high quality dry food over low-quality canned. He has mostly been doing fine, is losing weight and has huge amounts of energy, becoming playful again and stronger and more athletic all the time. I am thrilled, to be honest. This last week, when switched to grain free Instinct Chicken meal from Felidae pure elements, he vomited a couple of times but that is not worsening or continuing. He eats grass every day and I am not too worried about a couple vomits after a new bag of food. He is the picture of excellent health, with a gloss on his coat that has carried over since we ran out of the last bag of frozen raw. He is the least of my worries.
Persephone, age 3.5 months -- When switched from Pure Elements grain free (but with potato) to Nature's Variety Instinct chicken meal dry, has consistently and suddenly developed cow-patty poops, not more often than usual, but the slop has continued with every poop for at least a week and is not improving. She has alot of gas as well. She is not happy with this food, obviously. I have started adding in Opti-Gest, with prebiotics, 5 enzymes and 4 probiotics, just a day ago.
Minnow, age 1.5 -- likely IBS. I have only had him since March. For many months, he and Tigo were fed Instinct chicken meal with few problems. What I recall is that Minnow would have diarrhea every time I opened a new bag of food (shocking! and I am very curious about that!) but would quickly resolve... in July, it suddenly happened with a new bag of food again, and it did not quickly resolve. He went off food, he had a lot of diarrhea, there was blood in the stool. This launched a continuing saga in which he has never quite gotten 100% but has not become significantly ill.
He was diagnosed and treated with coccidiosis, but has had a negative fecal following treatment. However, the bloody stool did not go away, so he was put on Metronidazole for 10 days... which I am told would cure giardia, etc.
When he is under tx, he improves (significantly but never completely) and when the meds end, the bloody stool returns.
Timeline of Foods he has eaten with results:
Instinct dry alone (first 5 months in my home): sporadic diarrhea when new bag was opened. Sudden worsening in July.
Precise Holistic grain-free dry with Stella and Chewy's Surf and Turf raw frozen patties (each meal was split in half between these two foods): bloody stool, on and off, and getting worse with time.
Felidae Pure Elements dry with Stella and chewy's chicken raw frozen: worsening bloody stool, treated for coccidia and Metronidazole/ no change in bloody stool following either tx
Based on vet I am working with: w/d prescription diet: massive decrease in blood in stool. Now, however, he is fed meals in a separate room, and seems to be hungry all the time. The cats are not quite happy, because they would prefer to nibble all day rather than sit down to a large meal. I am adding Opti-Gest to his dry food as well.
Just to complicate things, in a rare but not unheard-of twist, the OptiGest causes Tigo to vomit (this product has absolutely no fillers, it is white powder).
To summarize my questions, which are many:
1) Any theories as to why an animal might have a reaction to the opening of a fresh new bag of Instinct grain-free chicken meal dry food? Would there be a volatile compound in dry food that releases from the bag after several days?
2) Any concern that a 3.5 month old kitten might be intolerant of Instinct for real, or do you all think she just needs some time to adjust to the change from Pure Elements? (I was trying to get away from the potato in the Felidae Pure Elements once I caught my error)
3) The big one... it seems that Minnow needs more fiber in his diet. My understanding is that the feature of w/d that is beneficial for IBS is that it has more fiber. I am guessing it would have more than the dry grain free foods or the Stella and Chewy's. I still need to compare details of the composition to understand this further. Has anyone else run into an IBS cat who needs more fiber? I certainly don't want to keep Minnow on w/d. This was an experiment. Now I need to find a long-term solution. I might try him back on Instinct but add a separate fiber source in addition to that. Any suggestions for that? Apple pectin perhaps?
4) His better tolerance of the Instinct for several months may be due to Instinct working better for him, or may be due to a worsening condition that is independent of food product (except that the w/d - staggeringly-- is finally helping)
5) Has anyone assessed the cost comparison of the sorts of food I am already buying compared to making a home-prepared raw/ almost raw diet, and what the heck, even compared to a premium canned diet which i know I cannot afford? I feed each cat the equivalent of 1/4 cup of dry food twice a day.
I hope to feed them all the same food, even if I have to add OptiGest and fiber to Minnow's.
Thank you in advance for any and all thoughts!