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Hi guys,

I have a 17-year-old who has a host of the typical elderly-cat issues (Stage 3 CRF, IBS, hyperT). She's been on a raw diet since she was 14, and canned for several years before that. She was a lifelong kibble grazer before that (to my eternal shame). Luckily, she was a breeze to transition from kibble to canned, and from canned to raw.

She's been on commercial ground raw meat-bone-organs (Hare Today) supplemented with taurine and Alnutrin. I vary her proteins quite a bit - I give her several types of fowl, rabbit, even goat and llama and some of the more exotic choices from Hare Today (though I give the fattier and more exotic proteins sparingly).

I've noticed in the last few weeks, she doesn't seem interested in raw any more. She has plenty of appetite, as she will yowl for food, and will run over to her dish as soon as it's filled, will sniff/take a bite or two, but then won't finish or eat any more.

I keep a stock of canned on hand for any time I'm away from home and can't feed her (my family refuses to give her raw, but will give her canned) and for the occasional day when her CRF seems to be giving her nausea and all she will eat is canned.

Now, when I see she hasn't touched the raw and when I subsequently offer her canned (Dave's, Weruva, Ziwipeak), she'll usually eat it. Sometimes she doesn't even seem to want the Dave's or Blue Buffalo, her usual favorites, but she'll still hork down every last molecule of Fancy Feast Classic if I offer it to her.

I know the hard rule for CRF cats is "feed them what they WILL eat, rather than having them not eat at all", but I'm a little baffled by her more-or-less sudden shift away from raw. I'm prepping it the same way, warming it and mixing it with water, and I try several different meats on her when she refuses to touch one type. I don't know if it's just feline pickiness, if it will pass, if it means her CRF or hyperT is getting worse, or if it's a reaction to winter (not that it gets that cold in SoCal, but cold enough). She has no other symptoms, no vomiting or diarrhea, no decrease in energy, no changes in behavior. She's otherwise as chipper as ever and in great shape for 17.

Has anyone had experiences with a cat that suddenly doesn't want to eat raw any more? Should I keep offering it to her, or just switch her to canned for a while?

(*She's due for a senior checkup/bloodwork/urinalysis in January - she's been on methimazole for the hyperT since August.)
 

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I've dealt with issues with Jitzu all her life, but the past 2 years her sensitivities have gotten LOTS worse. She can't eat beef, any game meats, heart, or much organ at all. (getting her to eat hasn't historically been a problem...unless she's sick in which case she goes from glutton to anorexic overnight. *sigh*)

Since she is still eating canned you could try adding a tsp or so of the canned food into her raw food. I do this for Jitzu (hoping to give her the nutrients she needs since she can't get enough organs without being ill...), and I'm also doing it for picky princess Torri since that's the only way to get her to eat chicken or turkey.

No matter what, as long as you're doing the best you can do, there's no need to feel guilty. At first I HATED supplementing Jitzu's raw with canned food, but I figure her being ill 2-3 times a week was going to be worse for her long term than adding in a bit of canned food here and there. Especially since I'm buying good canned.
 

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Could it be a dental problem? I'd guess that raw takes more chewing.
A 17 year old cat is roughly the equivalent of an 87 year old human and is much, much older than any cat would live in the wild, so perhaps she's simply outlived the normal age that a cat would be catching and eating prey.
 

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Ground raw, as Lakota is feeding, doesn't take any more chewing than canned food - and LESS than kibbles.

As far as age goes, I personally have known of at least 5 cats owned by people I know who lived into their 20s. It's not super common, but it does happen.

In any case, health issues can be managed and 'being old' isn't itself a medical issue. As long as she's otherwise healthy looking for a cause is the only way to go - IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Normally I would guess something dental, but she just had a dental cleaning a few months ago (September) and she's never had to have extractions, so she still has all her teeth and they are in remarkably good condition for her age.

I know she's definitely elderly and is well past what would be a "natural" lifespan for the wild version of small cats, but she's overall in great shape. She still runs after and pounces on toys (though I keep her play sessions short now), and she caught a lizard in the yard just a few months ago (I got it away from her before she killed it, at least!) She's a little slow to emerge from her cat-bed these days and takes a bit more time stretching, but otherwise you'd never guess she was 17 from looking at her/her normal behavior.

Librarychick, I will definitely try mixing the foods. That is a great idea, thank you! Maybe I kind of have to mini-transition Win back onto raw slowly... or narrow down and eliminate the types she doesn't want to eat any more. She used to go crazy for the mutton (I assume because it's fattier than the fowl/rabbit etc and probably delicious) but now it's one of the ones she won't touch.

Off to try a (hopefully) delicious mix of raw with a bit of canned for Win's lunch! ;}
 

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i have a 14.5 yr old whose had CRF/CKD for the last few years myself and she has gone through many phases when she won't eat certain foods as well as her raw, but then she goes back to it eventually. however, I'm afraid I've never really studied it too closely to figure out why exactly she goes through these phases. I'm just relieved and happy that she DOES keep eating. (she's got a healthy appetite like her mom - we both eat just about anything usually!)

some very general thoughts are that she just gets tired of certain flavors for a while and needs something new. case in point - the rad cat raw turkey will be her absolute favorite for a few months, then all of a sudden she starts turning her nose up at it but will gobble up the raw chicken when I put that in front of her instead. it goes back and forth all the time. I only do raw that doesn't have pieces of bone in it because I guess the extra calcium (or phosphorus) in the bone is not good for her kidneys AND she spits out anything hard anyway.

other times, I do know it's probably because her ulcers have flared up and she associates the food she was just eating with feeling horrible and throwing up. most of the time it's the raw for some reason when her ulcers flare up so I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe raw is actually somehow a little harder for her to digest then the canned wet.

I don't like to force her to eat anything if she really doesn't want it, but when she's just sorta "so-so" on it, I will start sprinkling some bad stuff on it to entice her again - like a couple of crushed friskies or some sardine juice. it works at least!
 
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