Blind Pica Cat, need more enrichment ideas - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-29-2018, 02:35 AM Thread Starter
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Blind Pica Cat, need more enrichment ideas

Our youngest cat, Arthur, is a little ginger sweetheart, just 18 months old. He had surgery last month to remove 6 hair elastics, the strap from a sleep mask that he had chewed off while it was on my wife's head and three shoelaces (we can't figure out where he got those as we aren't missing shoelaces) removed from his stomach. We've been trying our hardest to anticipate everything he might put in his mouth and keep it picked up, but yesterday he ate *fifteen* tiny pumpkin erasers off of my wife's desk after tearing open a bag to get at them. He threw them up and seems to be recovering nicely. Vet has tested for nutritional deficiencies and all the blood tests run have ruled out a biological cause for this pica.

He's blind, so he seems to investigate everything with his mouth. The vet suggested he could be bored (how, I don't know, because it seems like we never stop playing with him and he has multiple playmates who he plays with all the time), so we're trying to revamp our home to be more interesting to him. Medication and fibre additives are on the table longterm, but the vet wants us to try environmental enrichment first.

We're about to plant a whole bunch of indoor plants just for his amusement and ingestion. I spent hours going through the ASPCA lists to find only plants that are listed as wholly nontoxic or 'may cause digestive upset if ingested in excess' and where I was able to find more information saying that 'excess' was a dose he would be unable to ingest all at once, like in the case of mint where apparently it can make cats throw up if they eat a huge amount or cat grass where too much makes them puke. I've got about 20 different seed varieties coming with different safe plants, including oats, wheat, catnip, catmint, dill, thyme and parsley so we'll have a variety of interesting scents to scatter throughout the house. We intend to rotate the potted plants twice a week to make an interesting and engaging scent scape for him to explore.

I'm about to put up about 40-50 feet of cat shelving on our walls for cat-walks for everyone to walk on (five cats total in the home). We've brought home dozens of catnip scented toys and scattered them everywhere. There are rattly balls, crinkly balls, catnip-stuffed toys, plastic springs, balls with jingles in them, silvervine sticks and plain rubber catnip toys all over my house. We have puzzle feeders that we leave with treats in them (our cats are 100% wetfood fed and only get crunchies as treats) when we leave the house. We have some toys with dangles for him to play with any time he likes, but given he chewed a sleep mask off my wife's face and swallowed the strap, we have to be very careful with these for fear of him chewing them apart and swallowing them.

I'd offer him items like small nylabones for dogs but my dog would absolutely steal those and swallow them (she's 40 lbs, so much larger than a cat) and that puts her at risk. We've cleaned the house and cleaned the house and cleaned the house again to try and remove everything that could put Arthur at risk but he finds new things to eat (like opening a mostly-closed desk drawer and tearing open sealed bags of things that we didn't think he could get into).

We have scratchers and climbers in every major room of the house--some low to the ground for hiding in, some reaching up to the ceiling. There are windowsills to sunbathe on.

What are we missing? What other environmental enrichment can we offer him on top of what we're doing already? I don't know if anyone remembers my posts about little Janet who passed away about a year and a half ago, but my wife was really traumatized by losing her and is terrified of losing Arthut to this pica. I am willing to do just about anything to make his environment richer and better to see if we can get this under control. He does not enjoy going outside on a leash and appears to find it very disorienting rather than fun.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-29-2018, 02:31 PM
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Wow! don't think you're missing've done very well in having enrichment toys for Pica boy Arthur.....he is a busy body all right, sounds like my Devon Fitty Pisky, tho he's sighted and does get into everything! Tends to eat forbidden things too. Yes, the food puzzles are fun for them, the only thing I can think of is ping pong balls, which are light and easy to bat around and make a noise....he would have fun finding them. You might consider a pet stroller. My cats love to go for "walkies", and altho your boy wouldn't see the sights, he certainly will smell all the different scents there are out there. Some have larger wheels so that they can easily go over grass in a park. Because the stroller is enclosed with netting, the cat is safe and can't escape. (Amazon has good selection). Unfortunately in Canada I can only take my cats outside on days when temp is at least 70 degrees or more, so that means in mid-May to October. Hopefully you live in a warmer climate.

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-29-2018, 07:20 PM
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Wow sounds like you are doing a lot for Arthur. I have a ginger cat that just loves scotch tape, so we have to keep it in the drawers. We have a toy that our cats all,love and may work for a blind cat just perfect. It is a round mat with an arm with feathers on and it goes round at different speeds. You can hear it moving so he would be able to follow the sound. I got mine(on my 3rd one) at Walmart. Think it is called undercover mouse or something along those lines. It runs about $15.00 and worth every penny. You can also find it on amazon think it is called mystery motion, around the same price. There are similar ones that you see for $50 plus....crazy price. Check it out and maybe it will work for him.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-30-2018, 12:33 AM
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A friend’s cat loves ping pong balls in the bath tub. Neat sounds and pretty indestructible.

Does Mr Trouble only seem to do this when you’re away?
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-30-2018, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Nope. The eraser incident literally happened while we were ten feet away. I was cleaning the living room with my wife and we had the vacuum cleaner running while we vacuumed the ceiling fan. Arthur went quiet for a few minutes. We realized he wasn't in sight and went to look for him and my wife found him gulping down the erasers as fast as he could.

Pingpong balls is a good idea.

We're now looking into getting him a cat stroller thanks to that idea, thanks, catloverami (We live in Texas, so can take him out most of the year).

We looked at electronic toys, thanks to the suggestion from KRZ and found a rechargeable snake he seems really into.

Last edited by marie73; 01-03-2019 at 02:06 PM.
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