08 February 2013

Tortie Tot's Not-So-Fun Adventure

For the last week, Clarissa, my miniature tortoiseshell Persian, has had quite an adventure.

It all started about a week ago, when she pooped a lot -- like 4 times.  The pooh was well formed but soft. One got caught in her butt fuzz and had to be cut out. She ate breakfast with a bit reluctance, but refused lunch and supper.  I was mildly concerned.

On Saturday, she ate breakfast and then threw up!  I tried a bit later and again she vomited.  I skipped lunch and wait until supper.  (Fasting a healthy animal which is vomiting is a good idea as it allows the digestive tract to relax.)  So I was hopeful at supper time.  No luck -- 20 minutes after eating, she threw up.  I tried another food and same results.

On Sunday morning, I found a hairball from another cat.  The 'hair' was not hair, but a synthetic fiber, such as the stuffing from a mouse.  So, I got wondering if Clarissa ate the other half and this was now lodged in her intestines.  Given that she threw up breakfast, I decided a trip to the emergency vet was needed, especially since I couldn't take Monday off to get her to my regular vet.

Off we went to Apple Valley, about an hour away.  Initially, they did bloodwork and x-rays, after giving her a mild sedative (as she objected to the vet techs!).  The bloodwork was fine -- a few values a bit close to the extremes of normal, but considering her not eating, it was okay.  The x-rays showed something in her stomach and intestines.  Since she had been throwing up, it couldn't be food.  Maybe hair?  Maybe mouse stuffing?  Maybe...???  They gave her some fluids and then did a series of barium x-rays.  The barium x-rays showed that the 'stuff' had moved.  The vet felt sure she would be fine and sent us home. (The techs, however, we a bit intimidated by her -- 5 lbs! -- so I had to get her out of the kennel.  One person said it took 3 techs and a pair of welding gloves to give her the barium.)

She wasn't given food that night, and I was so hopeful the next day, but she wouldn't eat at all.  She was also very tired and had a truly pathetic look to her.  Monday night, I stopped and got her baby food which she gobbled up!  Over the next few days, she went from baby food to cat food and from tired to full of tortitude!

When things like this happen, I always like to figure out why, ask what I should have done differently, and try to learn what I can.

The why is easy.  Clarissa weighs ~5 lbs.  She had recently been given more food, namely she was fed 1/3 can in the morning, 1/3 can at night, and then 1/2 a small can at noon.  This was too much for her to handle.  So she got soft poohs.  This led to the one in her bloomers which I cut off.  I didn't wash her butt so she groomed herself and gave herself a giant hairball.  This plugged her up so any food she ate had no place to go.  The barium moved it along, so she got rid of it and could eat.

The 'what I should have done differently' is harder.  I think at every step, I made the correct decision at the time.  I'm not sure the hairball would have dislodged on its own.

There are several things I did learn.

  1. Don't discount the problems associated with overfeeding a cat.
  2. When a cat has a poopy-butt, clip and then wash it.
  3. Keep baby food and chicken broth on hand.
  4. Try hairball remedy when a cat vomits 15-30 minutes after eating food.


Cynthia said...

Can I add a No 5. Tess was working up to vomiting a hairball the other day so I gave her some Lactulose(I think this is Miralax for you)
It worked through her system very quickly and must have got rid of her furball. As Monty gets this on a regular basis he has no such problems. I've found that the commercial cat laxatives aren't all that effective.

L.M. Hornberger said...

Lactulose and hairball remedy work in two different ways.

The OTC cat laxatives work by lubricating the intestines with petroleum jelly or mineral oil. Both are non-digestible, so they 'grease' the way. They usually need to be give several times and for 1-2 days to be most effective.

Lactulose pulls the water from the body to soften the stool, which makes it easier for the body to push it out. Hydration levels need to be monitored for long-term use.