Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Advice Needed

First, my apologies for the lateness of today's post. Between the daily presence of the bathroom contractor (and a week worth of experiments to figure out the source of the "rain" in the laundry room), spring break plans which have been planned and re-planned twice, needing to find a new pet sitter so I could actually leave on spring break, internet connectivity issues, a school band concert, a sick kitty, and an inconvenient stomach bug... well, I'm exhausted. Vacation cannot come soon enough.

Ruby offers you a hug to make up for our punctuality problems.

Ruby hugs make everything better.

Well... almost everything is better. We have identified the source of the leak in the upstairs bathroom. Although we are waiting for the repair, at least we know what NOT to do to avoid puddles downstairs. Our vacation plans are finalized and our back-up pet sitter (who is now our new primary pet sitter) has been engaged to wrangle the cats while we are gone. I can finally keep down a meal and comment on Facebook again. We're getting there.


Someone (ahem) is still having health issues. Old man Norman has lost weight and become a bit bony again. He's stinky, gassy, and having daily bouts of diarrhea (my apologies for the TMI, but it's necessary in order to get the advice I desperately need to solve this problem). We're heading back to the vet in the morning to head off the intestinal drama of a couple months ago when he was hooked up to an IV and suffered the indignities of being held down to have the tremendous bubbles of gas in his intestines permanently captured on x-ray.

He's a bit of a mess.

While not being officially diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Norm seems to respond better to the treatment for IBS than anything else. His appetite returns, the gas releases, and the litter box situation improves. I imagine that tomorrow we will be back on meds (more apologies to the pet sitter, but at least I'm seeking to improve her scooping experience).

My question is one of diet. Do any of you have experience with special diets for gassy kitties? Is there a certain type of food that I should be looking to use (or looking to avoid)? I'm learning that turkey (or at least the turkey filet cut in the canned food) produces exceptionally explosive results, of the negative variety. He does better with liver or chicken, but it's still not ideal. I could also use some help identifying food which can help him gain and maintain an ideal weight.

I believe that we have previously established that Norman will eat anything. So my problem isn't going to be picky eating. I am willing to make all sorts of radical changes to help Norm feel better. However, one thing that we need to have as part of the diet is dry kibble. I'm not "stuck" on it as a dietary staple, but it's turning into a psychological thing for Norman.

You see... He spent so much time scavenging on the street to provide his own meals that he's constantly worried about where his next meal is coming from (even after 14 months in a residence where he has never missed a meal). We have learned that he is calmer and easier to manage food-wise if there is always a bowl of cat kibble full and available to him. He's not so worried about stealing his next meal off my plate because he knows there is food that he can access. 

So, while the type and brand of dry kibble is negotiable, it's presence isn't.

Any help and advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I'll keep you updated after our vet visit tomorrow.


  1. Have you tried giving him canned pumpkin? Because it's such a great source of fiber, it's helps with both loose and no stools. My cat wouldn't touch it but maybe Norman will.

  2. Yes, I discovered the "side effects" of turkey on cats with Thanksgiving leftovers. Sigh. I have one guy like Norm, who has had digestive issues. I had everyone on high-dollar, no-grain kibble, but that went through Mr. Corbie like ... well, enough said. I've since put them (Mr. Corbie and his four siblings) on Purina's Healthy Weight Cat Chow, and ... wow. The litterbox leavings are so much better (shock!), all of their coats are MUCH softer now, and there's a higher level of playing/activity in the house. Like Amber's cat, Mr. Corbie turned his pink nose up at pumpkin when I tried that to control his diarrhea (before Healthy Weight). Good luck! :)

  3. Thanks for the hug Ruby!! Kelly - I feel your pain....3 days with nothing but ginger ale and I want to be run over by a truck - it would be quicker. :)

    Poor Norman - wish I had some great advice but this is one thing I haven't dealt with (knock on wood....sheesh). Hope you can get some great advice here and from the vet.

  4. I've also been told that pumpkin helps, though I've never been able to get my cats to eat it. So I have no personal experience of it.

    As for the necessity of dried kibble, I know where you are coming from on that, Kelly. I have a 17-year-old rescue whose previous owner fed him only dry Purina his whole entire life. When I got him two years ago, I managed to slowly get him off that stuff, and boy, he looked so much better in just a matter of months -- lost his excess weight, could jump again (previously, because of his weight and just general bad health, he could barely scramble onto the couch, and he did nothing but sleep all day--my husband called him an "old man" because that's how he acted), and the oily skin down the spine of his back and the really, really excessive shedding ALL disappeared.

    What I was feeding him was from a small company called Life's Abundance. Their canned food is similar in price to the more expensive canned food sold at Petco/Petsmart etc., but is much better quality, so you are getting more value for your money. You can compare the labels and see for yourself (I joke that our cats eat better than we do because everything in their cat food is organic! Of course, if you can feed raw, that's probably the best, but I don't have the time for that, so I figure this is close to the next best thing.)

    Plus the company makes new batches every single week and then they ship directly to you -- so your cat is not eating food that was prepared probably months ago and that then sat in some hot warehouse before getting shipped thousands of miles to the Petco/Petsmart/grocery store chain warehouse where it sat for another indeterminate amount of time before getting shipped to your local store where it sat on a shelf again..... you get the idea.

    But getting back to the need for kibble. After about a half-year on canned Life's Abundance, Moby started to lose too much weight. Turns out he was in renal failure (no surprise after 16 years of only dry Purina). The vet suggested that I try feeding him dry again since that was what he was used to, and even though the last thing I want him to do is to eat dry again, I also don't want him to waste away to nothing.

    So, now he gets both canned and dry Life's Abundance, and he just loves the dry stuff. If I put down wet and dry at the same time, he almost always goes for the dry.... sigh. But at least I know that it's probably the best quality dry I can feed him... and he clearly relishes it, so you know, quality of life and enjoyment of life is important too.

    Anyway, the food is not available retail, so you have to buy through the website: Full disclosure, I became a distributor after having such success with their products (my dog is also on it, and my husband and I both take the Fish Oil, so we are a Life's Abundance family!) (There's some pretty interesting--and gruesome--info and videos there about what goes into the major pet food brands found on store shelves. BTW, this website is the best I've found as far as really useful, detailed analysis of the various dog food options out there: You can check out what it says about Life's Abundance, and if you read the whole review, you'll see that even the ingredients flagged in red are not, in the opinion of that website, real causes for concern, and then there are a host of comments from happy customers....)

    If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them -- either here or e-mail me charlenelinfu (at) .

    Sorry this is such a looong comment.... It's been such an education for me learning about the food component to our pets' health, and I just wanted to share some of the foundational stuff of what I've learned.

    1. P.S. -- my comments about the fact that they make new batches of their food every week goes for all their pet food products. The way I wrote it above might have left the impression that it was just their canned cat food that they make that way...

      Also, their shipping costs are quite reasonable if you put in a large order: it tops out at $8.95, I think it is. I just put in an order last week for 2 bags of 40-pound dry dog food, 1 16.5-pound bag of dry cat, about 50 cans of canned cat food, 3 bottles of fish oil, and the shipping charge for all that was $8.95. I figure that's more than covers my time and gas going to the store to buy all those things, not to mention the physical exertion of hauling them in and out of my car. This way, the boxes show up in my garage and the muscle power is almost all on the part of the UPS man. All I have to do is get them into my kitchen....


    My first thought is raw.. I've heard of a lot of kitties with IBD doing amazing on it. since apparently you need kibble :) you can check out for suggestions (cause I can't make any)

    1. not to say you can't do raw with a side of kibble :) Remember Meira? Remember Bug (were you around for Bug?) two kitties with horrific diarrhea that nothing would touch until I put them on raw. they both ended up eating a grain free canned food afterwards, but eating raw for a while settled their intestines down quite nicely.

  6. You are going to get a gazillion responses to everyone's favorite brand. All I am going to say if find something that is Grain-Free.

  7. What are you feeding him now?

  8. I agree with Tina - I went grain free kibble for my kitties and they seem to be doing well on it. I've used Blue Wilderness and Taste of the wild and both seem to work. The pumpkin also seemed to help and my cats loved it. It was also handy for getting more liquid into their systems. Good luck to Norman. He's such a handsome man. Also - good luck to the pet sitter.

  9. Hi Kelly- I'm a daily "lurker" on your blog and have never commented before, but kitty IBS is a subject that I can really sympathize with you about! My 8 yr old Jack has TERRIBLE IBS (liquid and explosive ...TMI!!!).

    Through three years of testing culminating with an endoscopy to rule out the big "C", I tried almost everything on the market, including chicken baby food, home cooked chicken, every type of grain-free wet and dry food, and numerous rounds of metronidazole and prenisolone. His poor little body is allergic to everything. The thing that has FINALLY worked was a heavy course of prenisolone at the same time I started feeding him Royal Canin HP.

    I was very concerned about feeding a soy-based protein to an obligate carnivore, but my vet, who has done a fellowship at UC Davis in feline nutrition, said that there is a study showing that long term usage does not harm a kitty. I also didn't like the fact that it only comes in kibble, but Jack doesn't seem to mind. The best part is that, after three weeks, I was able to wean him off the prednisolone since long-term usage can cause diabetes. He still has some bad days, especially if he is under any stress,but if you lived anywhere near me, you would hear me cheering for the beautiful solid tubes he now produces!!! (REALLY TMI!!!)


  10. yep - I am another grain free vote. and a home made raw vote too!
    you'll find a lot of cans and kibble are grain based - even some of the so-called "premium" ones. However i am impressed at the range of really good products in the USA - better than here in Australia. I don't recommend the raw meat in the plastic packs from supermarkets etc - esp if sold unfrozen - it usually has sulfer and chemicals added to keep the colour and preserve. We have BARF here you may have a similar -
    or I have taken to making my own chicken mix in the food processor - chicken thighs, hearts, liver, omega oil and supplements. So the kittehs have 50 / 50 raw and grain free canned - no biscuits at all.
    that seems to keep everyone happy.

  11. I echo the comments, re - raw and/or grain-free.
    One of my cats has a very sensitive stomach and though she won't eat raw (tried, no luck, she just wouldn't do it), she does very well on Wellness brand chicken canned food. (the pate kind; she has issues with any of their varieties with extra 'gravy' and food chunks).

    If you need to have kibble out, if it's a really good quality grain-free, that might help. :)
    Also, I've found that my kitties like rabbit canned food, and it usually is a bit higher in fat content/calories, so might help to get some more weight on Norman. :)

  12. My first thought was raw with a side of kibble, and try something other than poultry base to see if that's bothering him? Nature's Variety does a "raw boost" kibble in lamb and salmon. And they have raw available in lamb, beef, venison, rabbit... (in addition to the poultry.) Stella and Chewy's does fish and beef versions of their freeze dried raw for cats (and a lot of poultry). You might be able to hide pumpkin in canned or raw too, my boys will eat a lot of stuff if I mix it in with their Weruva canned food.

    Have you tried probiotics or other supplements? Honest Kitchen does a supplement called Perfect Form aimed at digestive issues - I use it with my IBD style kitty (though he tends to have the opposite problem from Norman), no one objects to it mixed in the canned. I also got a probiotic powder and sprinkle the food with that and everyone eats it ok.