18 January 2013

Cats: A Health Survey of the Herd

Continuing on what I was saying about my cats and their health...

About every 6 months, I sit down and think about how my cats are doing individually and as a member of the herd.  It's a time to put my prejudices away and really think carefully about them.  I do this in part so I can adjust supplements, including herbs and nutricals.  There's no sense in using something on a cat for years just because it is a routine -- it wastes money, it may lose it's effectiveness, or it may actually harm the cat from long-term use.  But with herbs and nutritional supplements, I can't see the effectiveness of something in 2 or 3 weeks -- usually these products are slow to work.  So, each 6 months is a good time to reassess things.

So let's look at a couple of the cats:

Isabel taking a nap
Isabel -- She's my silver chinchilla Persian and about 4.5 years old.  To most people and vets, she's perfectly healthy.  I have a slightly less rosy opinion.

I did have to shave her this fall because her coat got terribly matted.  The reason it was matted was in the Spring of last year, she had a UTI and/or a large bladder stone.  The vet tried to get a urine sample by flipping her upside down, holding her down, and sticking a needle in her bladder.  It didn't work (and one vet tech has scares to prove it).  It did make her impossible to groom, especially on her tummy.  Eventually, she was so matted, I shaved her.  Since then, I have been working patiently with her to get her to trust me to groom her tummy and back legs.  That has gone very well, and she's back to trusting me.

On the down side, I know she has nose problems.  My vet says "It's just a Persian thing" but I disagree.  when she was antibiotics for the UTI, her nose improved.  I also know that with high doses of lysine, her nose and eyes improve.  (Her eyes water and stain her pretty face.)  So, it is a problem that can be fixed.  Lysine alone helps, but I have been giving her echinacea extract, off and on, for a couple of months, and this seems to hold it at bay.  But I'd like something more permanent, so I'm considering Chinese herbs, Immunoplex, and/or goldenseal nasal drops.  The last one may stain her fur yellow and is a fix for her nose, but not her immune system.  It would work to knock any infection down and then build the immune system to prevent it from coming back.

Her ears also have a lot of brown wax.  I'm not sure why, as she shows no sign of mites or food issues.  I'll thoroughly clean them this week and see what happens over a couple of weeks.  I do wonder if it's from the treats or the commercial food which hubby slips her when he feeds Clarissa lunch.

Psychologically, she's quiet and likes to be left alone.  Unfortunately, she's in the bedroom with Clarissa, the Tortie Monster.  While she has made great strides in trust since I've had her (she had spent the first 6 months under the bed), I'm wondering about trying some Bach flower essences.

I know I need to keep the lysine in her food (and at 150% the recommended level when she is have problems).  I'm going to try the Immunoplex for long-term immune building, the echinacea for another cycle, and maybe try just plain saline nose drops, which she will love (or not).

And then there is:

Robbie -- He's a 10-12 year old Maine Coon/Persian cross.  He nearly died of liver failure when I got him ~6 years ago but has been basically healthy since then.  He did develop an intolerance to poultry products, so he get beef, rabbit, lamb, pork, and venison, plus some fish occasionally   When we got ringworm and ear mites, he did get both pretty bad and he got an allergic reaction to both.

Physically, I worry about him.  He has seemed 'off' for a year or so, but blood-work shows nothing and I can't point directly to anything.  He is thinner than he had been, and he has itchy skin in spots.  There is also a tendency towards constipation followed by a drop or two of blood.  But I can't say, "Look at this."  So to most vets, this would just be an over-anxious owner.  To my homeopathic vet, ... she does take what I say seriously, but can't figure out anything.

Psychologically, he's more timid, more likely to strike out in fear-aggression, and less snugly   I'm not looking the combination because it says to me he feels vulnerable.

I really think with him the problem is his immune system being overactive.  The allergies and skin sensitivity all indicate that.  I have tried various things, with minimal improvement.  He has eaten more enthusiastically since I have been adding commercial raw food to his diet, which is where the venison, rabbit, and lamb come from.  I feel kind of lost as to what to do.  If I knew more about acupressure, I would try it.  I know there are a couple of Chinese herbal combinations with mushrooms that might help, so I'll poke around the Internet and see what I can find.

So, two cats looked, more to go....

But my whole point is I don't wait for clinical problems to appear before I tweak their care.  There is what is ideal health for a cat in general and then there is normal for a cat.  My goal is to move my cats' 'normal' closer to the ideal.


Puffy and Chunk. said...

How interesting about Isabel's ears and nose. Chunk is also my one with nose problems and he has the grossest ears. I have to clean them at least once a week if not twice.

Love the pictures of your babies!

L.M. Hornberger said...

And boy do cats love their ears cleaning! LOL!

Puffy and Chunk. said...

Oh gah. If you have any tips on how to clean them, I would LOVE them. Mine HATE it. They are such stinkers...

L.M. Hornberger said...

I mainly just use a make-up pad saturated with DocRoy's Ear Cleanser from Revival. It doesn't leave a greasy mess.