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I am hoping to get some help and ideas here because my Nemo is not doing well :( Here is some info, hold on to your seats because it is going to be long!

He is a neutered 10 years old cat who has always lived indoors. 4 years ago we got him a little sister and things went well between them. He is a gentle but anxious and easily scared cat. He would throw up on a regular basis pretty much from the start. We were always told (by vets) some cats throw up, that's just the way it is. Last year the vomiting became more regular up to several times a week. I have food allergies that went undiagnosed for a long time because everyone thought "that is just the way it is"; so I thought what if it is the food that makes him throw up? I researched online and found the raw diet. Over the next few months, patiently and gently we made the transition from dry food to canned food to raw food. Nemo wasn't thrilled at first on the canned food but once on board he loved the raw food. Guess what? The vomiting completely stopped! He lost the extra weight he was carrying, he was super lovey dovey, he had great energy and played a lot. That was in February.

Little by little I noticed that sometimes he would act as if pricked by something on his side, sometimes he would strain a little in the little box. I decreased the amount of bone content in the food but no change. The other cat wasn't constipated or having issues. In July one day he started running around the house like crazy, crying and squatting here and there trying to poop. I took him to the vet where they did ultrasound, x-rays, blood test and urine analysis. Everything came back fine except for a little mass in his intestines that the vet flushed out with an enema. It was a mass of hair that was stuck but did not block the transit. We decided to remove even more bone from the food and see what would happen.
When we came back home Amber did not recognize him and was mean to him for several days. She followed him around and stared at him non stop; she would hiss if he came near her. So he hid and stayed in his hidden spot all the time. We thought they were going to snap out of it and just let it be and after 4-5 days she left him alone.
A week later, Nemo was having this full blown episode of peeing as he was walking around and pooping in several spots around the house in the middle of the night. I cornered him in my guest bathroom, gave him a litter box, food and water. Next day we went to see the vet again. More x-rays showed that his colon was full of air or gassy. We had seen that on previous x-rays but had not investigated this. We changed his food to Science Diet ID canned food which thankfully he loves. The vet sent us to a specialist: We first saw a neurologist as no one could find anything wrong with him. The neurologist did not find neurological issues but another ultrasound led to a diagnosis of megacolon (enlarged colon). So she referred us to the internal medicine specialist and told me to add 1 teaspoon of psyllium powder to his 2 daily meals. The psyllium bulked up the stool and it is now moving easier through his system. The IM specialist is running another GI blood panel before we decide whether to do endoscopy/colonoscopy. All this time he has been living in the guest bathroom, separated from Amber. He is consistently peeing in the 2 litter boxes he has in there but almost always poops outside of the boxes. This past weekend we hit a home run 3 times in a row in the box so I was elated but since yesterday we are back outside of the box. We gave him a second litter box several weeks ago but last week we changed the litter in the second one to Cat Attract to see if it would make a difference (he goes in the 2 boxes with various brands in them so no issue there). The boxes are all low to the ground so he doesn't have to climb in them, they are uncovered, etc.... He has happy to live in "his" room and we go visit and spend time with him there several times a day (good thing we work from home). However he can't live in my guest bathroom forever and the pooping needs to take place in the box. My husband is starting to lose patience and it breaks my heart to see my Nemo like this :cry:.

The IM specialist and I think there is a behavior component in this equation. He had a valid medical issue but Amber's behavior made it worse and created other problems. He got scared of going into the litter box because she was always following him around so it made his gut issues worse and he got truly miserable. She wants to send us to a behavior specialist but doesn't know one around here as she is new in the San Antonio area so she is researching.

In the meantime, does anyone have any other ideas? Anyone knows a behavior specialist in the Austin/San Antonio area? Thank you in advance for your help!
 

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Hi have you taken him to the vet lately. Some of the systems you describe happened to my older cat and it was a medical problem. he is on prescribed food now and can not eat regular cat food. It s really a pain in the butt because the special feeding is hard to do with 4 other cats, but hes is doing well without any problems.
 

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Have you tried the feliway plug ins for all the extra stress? It might help relax both of your cats..... Im not sure, just a thought.
 

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I'd try Feliway and Rescue Remedy and perhaps even an anti-anxiety med to see if that will help calm Nemo both psychologically and physically. Also, take a towel and wipe down both cats with it several times a day every day (and do NOT wash the towel). Swapping scents like that will help remove any lingering vet clinic scent on Nemo and replace it with Amber's own scent so that she will "recognize" him again.

Laurie
 

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Discussion Starter #6
He has seen his regular vet and 2 specialists in the past 2 months.

I bought some pheromone calming collars yesterday and put them on both cats last night. They are not used to having a collar on so there is a little adjusting going on but they are not trying to rip them off.

Laurief, I am going to try your idea with the towel.

I really don't want to discuss the merits of the various cat diets as this is not the goal of this thread. Just as in humans you have to find what works for you and your animal. I used this website's recipe, information and tips:
Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition :: healthy cat diet, making cat food, litter box, cat food, cat nutrition, cat urinary tract health
 

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I really don't want to discuss the merits of the various cat diets as this is not the goal of this thread.
Man have you ever come to the wrong place.

Cheekiness aside, I wish I could offer any useful advice. Since I can't, I'll just say "Poor Nemo :(" and wish you luck. 10 seems much too young for this kitty to have what seems like old-man problems.

Could you maybe switch Nemo and Amber's rooms for a little bit? Let Nemo explore the house (supervised, so no accidents on the floor) and put Amber in the room? It could be like a scent-swapping/reintroduction and may help them get along a bit easier.
 

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I read an article (somewhere - can't remember where exactly) about litter box aversion and that some cats like their litter boxes super clean. Can you reconstruct when you "hit a home run three times in a row"? Had the litter box just been cleaned? Was there just one litter box in there at the time or two? Was he calm that day? Maybe you could analyse what was going on and reconstruct it.

Best of luck.
 

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Amber thought he smelled funny so she didn't recognize him. That didn't help his stress because she was the same Amber. You've got medical problems and now you have to reintroduce the cats to each other. Poor Nemo!
 

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He has seen his regular vet and 2 specialists in the past 2 months.

I bought some pheromone calming collars yesterday and put them on both cats last night. They are not used to having a collar on so there is a little adjusting going on but they are not trying to rip them off.

Laurief, I am going to try your idea with the towel.

I really don't want to discuss the merits of the various cat diets as this is not the goal of this thread. Just as in humans you have to find what works for you and your animal. I used this website's recipe, information and tips:
Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition :: healthy cat diet, making cat food, litter box, cat food, cat nutrition, cat urinary tract health
To be honest this doesn't sound behavioral to me. It sounds like there's still some reason he's not wanting to use the box. It could be that while he was having medical issues he learned to associate the box with pain and is now avoiding it, but IMO that isn't behavioral.

I would also try reintroducing your two. The other posters who suggested that her sudden dislike of him was because of the vet-smell are probably right. If you do the towel thing you might just find that issue resolves itself. I didn't see if Laurie suggested it, but if you put a drop of vanilla on the towel I've found that helps as well.

About your litterbox thing. How low are the boxes? Does he have to lift his paws quite high to get in or is the side quite low? How deep is the litter?

At his age (which I hate saying since my oldest is pretty close to that herself) it's possible that arthritis is beginning. It's pretty common for cats with arthritis to dislike using the box because they find it hard to balance in shifting litter while they're moving their bowels. Maybe try adding a second box with very low sides and much less litter and see if that helps.
I'm leaning towards some sort of joint issue particularly because he's still peeing in the box. If it were behavioral frequently as the behavior worsens they do both outside of the box.

Anyways, it's worth a try.

I know this is a bit outside the scope, but I'd also try and discuss this with your SO. My BF gets frustrated with our cats sometimes too, but that attitude is something cats do pick up on, and your poor boy doesn't need any more stress than he's got!

...A second sidenote. I also think a raw diet with less bone might be a good idea, but if you are set on sticking with science diet (which is NOT a good food)...that's your choice I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I appreciate all the ideas and help. My comment about the food was not me being ungrateful but wanting to focus on other topics since we are already working on that.

I have reduced the bone content to 25% (meaning I grind the bones on only 1/4 of the thighs) but it didn't help the problem. We have been working on this for several months now; first trying to change the raw food, then the vet wanted to change to the canned food to see if something in the raw food was the problem. She did not switch him right away and let me tinker with the recipe. Then the specialist recommended we add psyllium to his food. To keep doing the same thing and expect the results to be different is not actually helping the diagnosis. He was on dry food for 9 years so I think he can survive on canned food for a few months. He is not constipated on the canned food and the psyllium adds the bulk he needed to get things moving along.

The boxes are all flat low storage boxes that are not difficult to climb into. I have tried very little to more litter in them to the same results. I clean the boxes as soon as there is something in it. I work from home so I can easily do that. He has had 2 boxes in his room for as long as he has been in there. My husband is aggravated but is still very nice to Nemo and goes spend time with him and play in his room. He associated pain with going in the box but he is still going in there to pee and sometimes to poop so why?

For the past couple of weeks we have switched the cats, putting Amber in his room and letting him roam the house for several hours in the evenings, I have been using the towels on them for the past 2 days. We are also playing on each side of the door where they can smell each other.

Yesterday we let the 2 cats roam the house together. Amber approached him and he hissed so she walked away and has been minding her own business all day. She is not stalking him or hissing. As a matter of fact she spent the afternoon sleeping in her basket under my desk with her back turned to the door. She is not worried about him. Nemo on the other hand is acting weird and scared even when we try to play with him. He finally settled under the sofa and even came up on my bed when I was reading last night but would not stay. In the middle of the night he pooped in the middle of the living room at equal distance from all 4 litter boxes in the house!

We will continue the re-introduction program and wait for the appointment with the behavior specialist. The GI specific blood panel results are pretty much normal except for slightly elevated PLI which hints to pancreatitis but the specialist does not think that would cause the pooping outside the box and the other results show that he is absorbing nutrients properly so no other type of bowel disease. Next step would be to scope him but the specialist is reticent as the risks outweigh the pros at this time.
 

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25% is a lot of bone! I'd cut him down to 10% or less, I bet that has something to do with the constipation for sure!

As far as the outside of the box business goes, I'd go back to retraining. If you can't directly supervise him (by which I mean follow him around the house, for right now) keep him confined to one room with a box. When that's gone well for a minimum of two weeks is when I'd start letting him spend more time out.

It means more dedicated play sessions to get him tired out, and he won't like being confined...but it sounds like the best bet all thins considered.

I'm glad their reintroduction is going well. Hopefully it keeps improving, and it sounds to me like it will :)
 
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