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Advice: possible IBD or food allergy...

4621 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  reando
I posted on here about a year ago about my cat Levi when I came searching for some answers. Here's a quick background: He's about 8 yrs. old, indoor only cat. About 2 years ago, he started pooing outside his litter box. At first it was just right outside it, then in the same room, and it was in the basement that is unfinished so we just dealt with it, vet thought it was behavioral. Then it got worse and was happening upstairs on the carpet, on rugs. That's when we started looking for answers. He was checked for parasites last spring and had two different kinds. Did the treatment and got him rechecked and they were gone, but the problem persisted. Vet suggested an expensive line up of tests that we couldn't afford at the time, and also suggested Hills Prescription ID food. I was starting to look at better foods for both cats (they were previously just on Purina Indoor dry, which vet said was fine). I didn't like all the grain and junk in the Hills, so I tested out various other wet foods (gradual changes), and settled on By Nature, as the ingredients looked good, it was the most affordable, and the cats liked it. Then gradually switched over the dry to By Nature adult formula as well, which they eat but are not as big of a fan of. I give a little bit of wet in the morning and at night, and leave the dry out all day for munching as they are always bugging me for food if it isn't out.

The problem seemed to get better. Instead of daily accidents, it was only weekly or bi-weekly, and all near the littler box. Then, I was running out of the By Nature dry, and there was a good deal on Harmony Farms Indoor dry, so I thought I'd try that. Not sure if that aggravated things but now the problem is full blown again, daily messes all over the house. Sometimes its hard, other times its runny, and recently there has been drops of blood in it. He also was vomitting some, but that actually seemed to decrease after I weaned him off the Purina dry. Before it was actual chunks of dry food coming up, now its just little bits of clear liquid, maybe once every 2-3 weeks. He also yowls and cries when trying to poo sometimes, or he'll act like he's going in the litter box, but I don't see anything come out, then awhile later there is a mess somewhere else in the house. Oh, he has lost weight too, he's about 8 lbs. right now.

So, took him to a new vet because I felt like I was getting blown off by the old one. Scrounged up the money for a battery of bloodwork. All bloodwork and stool sample testing came back fine. New vet things its either food allergy, or IBD. He's leaning towards food allergy and wants to try new food, as well as metronidazole for a few months. He wanted to give him a prescription hydrolyzed food (not sure of brand), but said its OK if I want to try OTC foods first as they are a bit cheaper. I found that Natural Balance and Nature's Variety both carry limited ingredient foods. He said the best bet is rabbit, but he worries that makers are going to stop carrying rabbit in the future due to limited availability, anyone know of that? He said duck is too close to chicken, venison is too close to beef, and he would stay away from lamb because its not as easy to digest. So, if I'm looking at rabbit, that leaves me with the Nature's variety, both wet and dry come in rabbit, at least on the Petco site, which is where I'd be buying it in the store to try it out. But wowsa, this stuff is a lot more than the By Nature! I think my cat is going to make me go broke :( I love my cat but we're pretty much a one-income household and hubby isn't rolling in lots of money :(

So, any thoughts on the above suggested therapy? Is Nature's Variety good, or are there any cheaper options to try? And not sure if I should try wet or dry or both. I started using wet food to give him more water in his diet, thinking maybe the problems were constipation. He eats both, but seems to prefer the dry, but maybe he's having a harder time digesting the dry than the wet?

Any other ideas? I asked about cottage cheese as I saw it referenced a few places for runny stools, vet said it wouldn't hurt him if we tried it but he has no experience with it.
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I had a cat with ibd and she got constipated on occasion. Of course you probably already know wet food would be better than dry in helping with constipation!

Definately try out a few cans first, to see what he will eat. I would try the rabbit anyway - if you can't find it later, switch to duck. Duck is fowl, but it is different than chicken. My cat ate Evo 95% duck and Natural Balance Dry for a while. (she was very very picky and ended up on the 95% Evo chicken/turkey) Nature's Variety is an excellent food, and yes it is more expensive. But vet visits are also expensive, so if he will eat the Nature's Variety that might be cheaper in the long run. The Natural Balance LID is duck/pea (don't know if they have a rabbit version).

Cottage cheese? I don't think I would be giving him a dairy product...a little canned pumpkin would be better, if he'll eat it.
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I don't know much of IBD, but about rabbit food I might share some experiences as that's what I was looking for for these few weeks.

Natural's Variety is very good, but the price of their rabbit fomular is way off roof. It's $3 for 5.5oz in Toronto! No way I will buy that. However, NV Instinct has exactly the same fomular (both ingredient and amount) for cat and dog food, so you can buy the 13oz dog food version for your cats, which will save you some money.

The only other rabbit canned food I can find is a brand called Hound & Gatos. Their rabbit food has decent ingredients and the price is VERY affordable. See if you can find that in your local petstore :)

Hound & Gatos - Cat Products
Sometimes its hard, other times its runny, and recently there has been drops of blood in it. He also was vomitting some, but that actually seemed to decrease after I weaned him off the Purina dry. Before it was actual chunks of dry food coming up, now its just little bits of clear liquid, maybe once every 2-3 weeks. He also yowls and cries when trying to poo sometimes, or he'll act like he's going in the litter box, but I don't see anything come out, then awhile later there is a mess somewhere else in the house.

poor Levi! (and poor you, too, of course, having to try to figure out what's going on!) runny poop with blood in it sounds like more than an allergy to me. also yowling and crying when he tries to poop sounds like it's more, too.

i don't have enough experience with this or with vet recommendations yet, but i did want to 2nd the opinion to try canned pumpkin (like a teaspoon with each wet meal to start) and not cottage cheese. the canned pumpkin may help if he's constipated, but can also help if he's got diarrhea. the fiber AND the extra moisture in it will help both cases. it's like humans eating fiber. having too litte fiber or too MUCH can cause constipation depending on how much water you have with it. the extra value of the fiber may also help Levi feel more full during the day so he craves the dry food less. also want to encourage you to maybe switch over to more wet than dry. even if the dry is grain free, the wet will definitely give him more moisture which will help his insides, i think.

oh! also, did i miss something about fish flavors? if you want to stay away from chicken and the like, what about a little fish every once in a while?
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My two year old male had some massive diarhea issues that the vet similarly couldn't diagnose. I'm feeding merrick before grain with good success. They have multiple varities but I do believe all have chicken in them. I also had luck battling stomach issues with a product called Diggin Your Dog Firm Up - it is a pumpkin and cranberry supplement that you mix with water into a paste. At $10 for a bag of this supplement, I found it a much cheaper alternative to cans of organic pumpkin.
Well, we went without any poo accidents since last Tuesday without any changes to diet/meds. I picked up some Nature's Balance dry Duck/Pea food at Petco on Sat. to try out, as the only rabbit food was by Nature's Variety and was more expensive and DH looked like he might have a heart attack when he saw the prices! He thought we should start w/ dry, because that's what Levi seems to prefer. So we mixed a little into his food Sat. night and Sun. morning and he seemed to like it. Then we came home from church yesterday to find vomit all over one of my shoes :( It was brown, like mushed up food. Later that night a poo mess in the basement, more vomit and more poo this morning. Could this just be his stomach adjusting to the new food or is it a sign he can't handle the duck either? I was thinking about picking up some of the canned duck/pea to also try, but won't get out near that store til later this week. We haven't started the meds yet, as we wanted to do just one new thing at a time, but maybe those would help settle his stomach? Should I start those today and wait out on the dry for a bit to see if he gets used to it? Or try the wet? Or move on to a different meat like venison or rabbit?
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I don't like the ingredients in the gross vet foods BUT in light of what's going on, I would use it for now.

I would put him on that and see if it improves his symptoms. Once you get that under control you can begin adding foods slowly (say one a month) and see which one seems to set him off.

Crappy ingredients are crappy BUT great ingredients aren't doing your cat any good right now and all of you are miserable. Once you use the 'neutral' food to figure out what is wrong then you can be cautious about buying it.

As to Hubbie's heart.... wouldn't a small heart attack over a few dollars more been less stressful than finding pooh and vomit all over your belongings?
My little Mu has short bowel syndrome and I tried Natures Balance, Blue Basic and many others. After many trips to the ER and vets office a nutritionist from University of Pennsylvania suggested a hydrolyzed diet because she could not digest the complex proteins or absorb the necessary vitamins and nutrients. She has been on Royal Canin HP dry food and has gained weight and for the first time in a year has had a formed bowel movement. I also have Science Diet z/d which she gets once in a while. I know it is expensive but compared to the money I was paying for ER and vet visits it balances out, not to mention how much better it is for her. Sometimes trying to save money only costs us more.
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