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Old 02-10-2013, 06:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How long to give a new food?

I have a cat with a history of loose stool. She's gotten worse recently and I'm trying new foods. How long should I give each change to have an effect? Here's some more info...

A couple years ago I switched to Blue Buffalo and she did really poorly, so I switched to Natural Balance and she's done great, until the last bag I bought was a different color.

She was crying out one day (she's never done that before, even with diarrhea) so I took her to the vet and they didn't find anything, though they didn't do more than a physical exam and test her urine. They told me to bring her back if she continued to have trouble the next day, and indeed she got better a couple hours later. At this point her stools were her normal loose but usually not diarrhea.

Two weeks later, she's crying out again, but not nearly as bad. I drop fish (Weruva canned) from her diet, now giving her only the Natural Balance wet food that matches her dry (green pea and duck). At this point I wasn't suspecting the NB. A few days later she has another episode, this time worse. I changed her to Merrick Before Grain Chicken, dry and wet. She likes the dry but only samples the wet. As before, she stopped complaining after a half day, but now she has diarrhea.

That was a day and a half ago and she's cried out a couple times today. Not bad, but she'd running from litter box to litter box, so she's not feeling well.

She's playing right now, after having pooped three times, and that's a good sign. When she's really feeling bad she doesn't play.

So, it's been a day and a half on the new food, and she's had minor pain just now. Is that enough time to tell if the new food is okay? How long should I give each change to have an effect? I don't like to switch quickly, but I figured with the trouble she was having Friday I couldn't do worse than nothing.

She'll go to the vet tomorrow with a stool sample. Today if she gets worse, but I don't know how well staffed they are for emergency hours.
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Old 02-10-2013, 08:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I bought some Homeo Pet from Petco. I swear by it! Relieves diarrhea, gas and vomiting. It's much cheaper from Amazon, but if you need it in a hurry, go to Petco. There was another thread recently about Natural Balance and the changed formula not agreeing with their cat. What I like is it is fast acting and only takes 5 drops. I used a small liquid syringe to give it to my Lacey but you could mix it with a teeny bit of something yummy to lap up like tuna water.
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Old 02-10-2013, 09:43 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Putting aside major Gastrointestinal medical issues (you may not to look for another vet if your vet is only doing a physical exam with no blood work, no stool sample and no xrays and this has gone on a long time) Part of the problem can be that you are changing food so fast. If the original source messed up her belly and then she gets her food changed every few days; grain no grain, poultry, fish, venison, her stomach maybe going crazy trying to get caught up with the changes you are making. Some animals have more sensitive stomachs then others, some have pretty rock solid stomachs. I can switch Google's food faster than I can switch Lil Noname's food. Also, if she likes the dry kibble and eats a tasting of the wet, let her do that for awhile. She may need the higher fiber in the kibble to help firm up those stools. I know a lot of people say that you should only feed wet food, but with the research that I have done and talking to my own vet AND having foster kittens that had crazy diarrhea on an only formula/wet food diet as well as working with people who take care of the medical needs of exotic animals, the dry food can help firm those stools up. She may be liking that kibble because instinctually she knows that this is what is going to help her get better. Animals are quite resourceful. I had a severly ill kitten that started licking our terra cotta pots and our red rock stones from Sedona. Taking him in I told my vet about how we was licking these items. She said that these items have iron in them and that if the cat is iron deficient (for whatever the reason) they will seek it out in other forms. She did a blood panel on him and sure enough, he had an iron deficiency due to kidney disfunction. Point is, he knew what he needed and sought it out. So, slow down, allow your kitty to see if this is something that can be handled. A day and a half is not long enough to determine if a new food is helping. Now if you are seeing an EXTREME difference, then yeah, it may not be good to keep kitty on it. My old vet gave me a probiotic to give my Lil NoName and immediately she had an allergic reaction to it, in that case, yes, stop the food.
If it is a parasite issue, stopping the diarrhea is not good because it's the bodiest natural defense of protection to rid it's of parasites, poisons and other yuckies. You have to get that cleared up and then the diarrhea stops and then you can find a food that you both like.
If it's an issue with the gut, your vet needs to work with you on this (well, actually, all of these- your vet is your partner in ensuring the health of your kitty- if your vet isn't working with you, find a new vet). There are major medical issues that present like this.

What to do for now? If your kitty likes the dry kibble, let kitty eat it. Be concerned about dehydration, not just because kibble has less hydration then wet food, but because kitty has been having diarrhea for awhile and this means that vitamins, minerals, nutrients, protein and electrolytes are not getting absorbed by the colon. A good suppliment is important right now- I use Supplical but there are many other forms (Nutracal, VitalCal I think are some others). This can be squeezed on top of food or you can put some on your finger and offer it, you can let kitty lick the top as you squeeze or if kitty wont take it, get a pea size amount and wipe it on her paw, kitty will lick it off to remain clean and get the important vitamins, minerals and nutrients. The other thing you can do to replace the electrolytes is to buy liquid electrolyte. I go into the children's section and buy the plain kind, the flavors are full of sugar (if it's a bacterial infection the bacteria will go crazy for getting more food source-thrive on sugar) and some of the flavors are harmful to kitties. Pour a little in her water dish, or on her kibble if you prefer (I poured on kibble, helps to moisten the kibble and they still get their fiber to form bulk stools).

I hope this helps. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Three days on the new food and kitty still has runny poop but not the explosive gas she was having, and she doesn't seem to be in pain. She "got better" before, so I'm still nervous, and I still want to get her poop normalized. But I'm happy she's not in distress.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It's a good start. Glad at least she's not feeling pain. I hope you find the right combination for her. Keep us posted on how she is and what you find that works for her, that's one thing that I like about this forum, what works for one cat might not work for another and sharing those experiences can help!
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Old 02-12-2013, 04:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Kitty is in distress again this morning and is going to the vet as soon as they open.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:42 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Diagnosis: flareup of IBD, the pain being gas. There was normal bacteria in her stool but there was lots of it, so she'll be on a chewable antibiotic/antiinflamatory treat for two weeks. No parasites. Next step would be x-rays, but it's highly unlikely to be a blockage, even a partial blockage, with no sensitivity to touch, or vomiting. The vet told me to stick with the new food for a month.
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Glad it was diagnosed and being treated. I hope your baby feels better soon!

P.s. good to know there are antibiotics and anti-inflammatory in the form of treats! Smart!
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Update: the anti-inflamatory/anti-biotic didn't work, so they did bloodwork and an ultrasound. She's apparently got lymphosarcoma and the walls of her colon are very thick. The pain is difficulty getting stuff from the small to the large intestine. She's now on 5mg prednisolone per day, and a diet of low-residue Iams, and after just three days she had her most firm poop ever and doesn't seem to be in pain.
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