I grew up with cats in our home as a kid, and we have had two in recent years. Both long haired beauties, the first a 9 year old Norwegian cross named Perry and now Marley, a cross between a Maine Coon and something else. Perry passed away in 2009 due to CRF.
Marley was 3 when we adopted him in 2011. He was neutered when we got him. His weigh was recorded as 19.5 lbs at his adoption and topped at 21.5 lbs about two years ago. We figure he reached his full maturity at that point. On his recent visit to the Vet 6 weeks ago he had dropped to 19.2 lbs a noticeably 1.3 lbs drop from his previous check up the year before. The Vet noted that he did not appear to have any health issues, but asked us to keep track of his weight to see if it continued to deteriorate. Last week he weighed in at 19.2, even though he was on and off his food and hacking up hairballs more than we would like. He is also less active, but does still enjoy playing with us and his toys.
I'll try to zero in on my concern.
What's 'normal' for Marley
About once every six to eight weeks he would hack up a hairball and then he would be fine. We could always tell when he was working on one because he would become a little less active and off and on his food. And usually about 4 in the morning you could hear this 'vacuum cleaner' running in reverse as he hoovered up a hairball.
We groom him as much as possible, but he only allows us to groom for a short period before getting charged up by the experience and then he starts swatting with his paws. He goes to the groomer once a month for nail trimming and deep grooming to remove the undercoat. As a matter of fact he goes the day after Labor Day for a day at the 'spa'. We have him bathed once a year usually around Christmas time.
He enjoys the Royal Canin Maine Coon dry food which also helps to keep his teeth clean and probably helps with hairball removal. We give him Hairball treats and Indoor Hairball treats as well as Dental, and a combination of Turkey and Chicken treats too from a name brand. He probably takes in 350 calories from his food and about 40 to 50 calories just from the treats during the day! He litter box is still 'normal' he passes stool regularly and usually has two or three golf ball sized urine drops during a 24 hour period.
He has two water sources at his food station, one a fountain with continuous water flow and the other a bowl. I clean the bowl daily, and the fountain about once a week (he likes to stick his paws in the fountain which contributes to dirtying the water).
OK, you get the routine.
Recently, in the passed two weeks he has begun to groom excessively. Not just one place, but all over for 40 or 50 minutes at a time. Consequently he has had about 6 or 7 hairballs in the passed two weeks, each time about the size of a cigar. This would be manageable, if it weren't for the fact that he went on and off his food twice in the last 3 or 4 weeks necessitating a change in food to get him eating again. We have slowly switched back to his normal food.
I don't think he has stuffed himself with cat hair, I see no evidence of bloating or discomfort if I touch his lower abdomen. The fact that he is still eating (although reduced) and using the litter box suggests that he is processing his food properly. The treats have a petroleum lubricant in them, and so far we have not seen any diarrhea.
This new 'phase' in his life has us watching him more closely. The hairballs are not my concern and for the most part they clean up easily. It's the frequency and the fact that his eating habits are off from what I would call normal that have me most concerned. Watching his weight is something we hadn't anticipated this early in his little life.
It would be great if he could talk and tell us what is going on, but that isn't about to happen (although he can ask to go 'out' with us and ask for treats too). No, I'm not kidding either.
Does this sound normal to anyone, or do I take him in for blood work and another general exam to see if the Vet can identify anything?