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Please help! Cat lost her appetite but no cause found - is it the new kitten?

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by thunderschoen, Dec 4, 2020.


  1. thunderschoen

    thunderschoen PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you in advance for reading, any advice would be appreciated!

    TL;DR: Older cat (10yo) stopped eating a few days after I adopted a new kitten, although they haven't been introduced yet. She has been to the vet twice and was given fluids and syringe feed. Bloods are mostly normal. No physical cause has been found and I'm worried that it's all because of stress, in which case, I'm not sure what to do? Should I give up and rehome the new kitten?


    Full version:


    I have a nearly-10-year-old female Bengal who has been with me since she was about 4-5 months old. During that time she has been a solo indoor cat. I'd describe her temperament as quite timid, but very affectionate and sometimes playful. She eats mostly wet food (pouches) with a bit of dry.

    Recently I made the decision to adopt a 5-month-old male kitten from a rescue group, after a lot of consideration. I'd done a lot of reading about slow introductions and they wanted this kitten to go to a home with another cat. Before I adopted him, he was living with a foster carer who has 3 other cats.

    Both my cat and the kitten are vaccinated and spayed/neutered.

    Timeline of what has happened since then...

    29/11 (Sunday)

    I brought the kitten home and he has been in his own room since then, with his own food, litter, toys, etc. However I let my older cat smell his empty cat carrier, and she must have also picked up his scent from my hands after I'd been playing with him. For the first couple of days, she was very growly, but otherwise behaving and eating normally.

    02/12 (Wednesday)


    Cat had stopped growling but I noticed that she had been going off her food and becoming less active. This was probably a gradual thing over Monday and Tuesday, since I'd noted it in my diary but it wasn't at the point of causing concern yet. But on Wednesday, I could only get her to eat a few treats, and although I kept putting out fresh food for her, she wasn't touching it so I kept having to throw it away. This was the last day that I saw any solid waste in her litter box.

    03/12 (Thursday)

    Cat was very lethargic and still hadn't eaten anything since the small handful of treats the previous day, and no idea when she last had any fluids. She vomited twice, just small amounts of white foam. Still urinating (no blood) but only in small amounts. I took her to the vet, they said she was dehydrated and had a temperature. They did some blood tests and gave her IV fluids, anti-sickness medication, an antibiotic, and an appetite stimulant tablet (Mirtazapine) for me to take home. Overnight she used the litter box about 3-4 times so I was concerned that she was losing fluids but not replacing them. At this point I was scared that she had somehow picked up an infection from the new kitten (via my hands).

    04/12 (today / Friday)

    I gave the appetite stimulant tablet first thing in the morning, not sure how long they take to work but after a couple of hours there was no change. I was starting to panic at how long it had been since she'd eaten properly, and how dull and floppy she was.

    I rang the vet again and asked for them to admit her for fluids and nutrition. Just before taking her, she did take a couple of sips from her water fountain (after staring at it for a while and moaning as though she was in pain). They kept her in for the day, gave IV fluids and syringe feed, and told me that her bloods were mostly normal except for a bit of high cholesterol. They sent her home with some of the liquid recovery food and another appetite stimulant tablet, and the details of an OOH vet since it's now the weekend. They said that if she doesn't improve, she may need an US/X-ray.

    Understandably she's very stressed right now from all the interventions so I have just left her to sleep for the night. My plan for tomorrow (05/12) is to give the appetite stimulant and keep an eye on her, and hopefully she will eat and drink a little by herself, but if not then I will try to syringe feed her a bit at a time. The vet said that if she goes another day without any intake (i.e. if she doesn't even tolerate the syringe feeding) then I need to call the emergency vet. She has a follow-up appointment with her own vet in a week's time.

    I'm hoping she will improve on her own now, but I'm just concerned because no physical cause has been found. Is it possible that she's so stressed about the kitten's presence that she's refusing, or feeling unable, to eat or drink? If so, is there anything I can do to help her through that? I installed Feliway diffusers before the kitten arrived, I've been giving my older cat just as much attention and affection as I usually would, and I still haven't let the two cats meet, so I feel like I'm following all the advice that I read...and yet things seem to be going horribly wrong :(

    Should I be thinking about rehoming the kitten? I would be very sorry to do that, but obviously I can't have my older cat starving and neglecting herself. I'm desperately worried and feeling so guilty about disturbing my older cat's life this way. I'm honestly scared that if this carries on and no cause is found, I'll either have to keep taking her back to the vet or she'll just keep deteriorating.
     
  2. jasmine2

    jasmine2 PetForums Member

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    It could be stress related but she had temperature too. Has her blood tests been done to rule out anything suspicious going on. Cats can’t live without food and usually don’t eat when they are not well. Have her blood test done. She could have infection of some kind. I don’t want to scare you but when my cat stopped eating she had Sarcoma so please have her blood tests to see how her kidneys and liver is doing. Is she using the litter tray fine? I’d she straining to urinate? It could be as simple as simple as tooth problem or something else. Time is the essence so please don’t waste time. You could also take a second opinion from another vet if this vet is not giving any clear answers. Sorry just read again that her tests have been done but I still think it could be kidney related. Stress can also cause urinary problems so it’s possible stress caused her illness. Could you leave the kitten with your family member for few weeks to see her reaction? I think stress has caused her illness and she needs treatment. Was your kitten tested for any illness before adopting? Sorry for the long reply but you need urgent action plan as if cats don’t eat they could detonate quickly. In my opinion the first thing is if you can arrange your kitten to stay with one of your relative for some time and also take her to another vet if possible to get a second opinion as this vet doesn’t seem to have a clue of what’s wrong with her.
     
    #2 jasmine2, Dec 4, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2020
  3. thunderschoen

    thunderschoen PetForums Newbie

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    Hi, thanks so much for replying and for your advice, I appreciate it.

    They did two rounds of blood tests and they were normal aside from a bit of high cholesterol. I don't know whether they did dental.

    I have seen her go to the litter box and as far as I can tell she's not straining to urinate.

    I don't know if the kitten was specifically tested for any illnesses. The rescue group that he came from will say in their adoption posts/adverts if the cat/kitten is known to have FIV, feline coronavirus, etc. Then they wouldn't allow those cats to be rehoused with other cats. There were no such warnings with this kitten, and the pre-adoption checks were quite thorough, so I assume he doesn't have any illnesses that they know of.

    Unfortunately due to the terms of the adoption contract, and also the new kitten's behaviour (he's quite skittish and had a rough start in life), I can't give him to anyone else temporarily. But I can contact the rescue group and/or foster carer and explain the situation, and ask if they will rehome him.

    My vet has said that since the blood tests are basically normal, the next step to rule out anything physical would be an ultrasound or x-ray. I think they basically want me to see if she improves over the next couple of days (with me syringe-feeding her if necessary) and then if not, they'll do further investigations. They also gave me an out of hours vet contact details in case my cat gets worse over the weekend. It is worrying me too that they don't seem to know what's wrong with her but at least they've done blood tests as the first step in ruling things out? I haven't had much experience with vets as my cat has never been ill before, so I don't know if this is best practice or not, so I guess I'm just going off what I know of human medicine which can involve a process of elimination.
     
  4. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hello @thunderschoen and welcome :)

    I am sorry to hear your adult cat has lost her appetite and has had an infection. I think it is quite likely that the kitten has brought in some kind of infection or virus with him which has been passed to your adult cat. This is always a risk when bringing a new cat or kitten into the home, especially a cat or kitten that has come from a Rescue where they will have been in contact with large numbers of cats all with different backgrounds.

    I always quarantine a new cat or kitten for 3 weeks when I bring them into my home. I don't allow any contact with my resident cats during that period, and I wash my hands and change my shoes after touching the kitten, as soon as I have left the kitten's safe room. I have always found this protects the resident cats.

    Has your older cat had all the relevant vaccinations to protect her?

    It is possible that the stress of having a strange kitten in her home has had an affect on her immune system and made her more prone to catching a bug of some kind from the kitten. ie,, it is a combination of stress and an infection or virus that has made her ill.

    I am pleased you got your cat treated promptly by the vet. As she has had an antibiotic, hopefully it should help get her better and then her appetite will return. If she is not eating quite well by tomorrow then I would do as your vet advised and contact the Out of Hours vet. Your cat may need to spend 24 hours as an in-patient at the vet's, being given IV fluids.

    I hope she soon feels better. x

    EDIT : I don't think her current illness has any bearing on how well she will get along with the kitten, as a companion, but inevitably her illness will slow down the pace of the introduction as it should wait until the adult cat is completely recovered from this illness.
     
  5. thunderschoen

    thunderschoen PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for replying and for your advice, this is really helpful.

    I admit I haven't been washing my hands or changing my shoes after coming out of the kitten's room, I think I was so focused on scent-swapping and letting my older cat pick up the kitten's scent that I didn't consider the possibility of passing any bugs/illnesses between them :(

    My older cat is vaccinated however she had her last round not that long before the kitten arrived so I'm wondering if she wasn't at full immunity?

    Update: I have contacted the adoption/rescue group to let them know about the situation, pointing out that while my other cat is unwell, I can't give the new kitten the attention he needs. So they are discussing options re: rehoming him or placing him back in foster care. I'm sad about it and maybe I acted too hastily but I feel like it's best for both cats.

    As of now (11am on 05/12), older cat is drinking water independently and urinating, with no signs of straining. However she still hasn't eaten anything and she's still quite weak. I have tried to give her the Mirtazapine (appetite stimulant) but she won't take it. I managed to give her ~2ml of syringe feed earlier so I will keep doing that over the day and see how she goes, maybe I can crush up the tablet and give it in the feed. If she stops improving or gets worse, and needs to go back to the vet, then of course that's what I'll do, but she's an anxious cat and I know that the recent vet visits will have stressed her out even more so I'm just trying to do as much as I can at home today.
     
  6. thunderschoen

    thunderschoen PetForums Newbie

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    So, there's an update...

    She's still drinking but not eating. She's looking a bit brighter but still definitely not herself, still slow and lethargic. I went to clean her litter box and I found what looked like some red in her urine. It's really difficult to tell with the clumping litter that I use, so I tried breaking up the clumps with some white tissue paper and then it was clearer, there was a streak of red in one of them.

    I hate to stress her out with another vet visit again, but I'm very concerned about this so I have got her an emergency vet appointment (since my vet is now closed until Monday). I'm not feeling very positive at this point, I think something could be seriously wrong.
     
  7. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    @thunderschoen - I am very sorry to hear your cat is still not well, and not eating. If she has blood in her urine it is likely to be either a UTI (urinary tract infection) or a more rarely a kidney infection. You mentioned earlier that the vet gave her an antibiotic on 3/12 and so this should be working by now.

    Was the antibiotic Convenia ? Convenia can be given for urinary tract infections.

    Please keep us updated on her progress when you can. I hope she feels better soon. x

    I am sorry you have had to return the kitten to the Rescue, but I agree it is probably for the best, so that you can concentrate on getting your adult cat back to health.
     
  8. thunderschoen

    thunderschoen PetForums Newbie

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    I'm unsure what the antibiotic was but it may have been Convenia, it was an injection that they said lasts 2 weeks?

    She has now been admitted to the hospital where they're going to run an ultrasound, more detailed bloods, give more fluids (as she's already dehydrated again), and NG feed. She's likely to be there for a few days. I know how anxious she gets around other people, so I'm just so scared and upset for her.

    Thank you for all your support, I haven't had an unwell cat before so this is scary new territory for me and I really appreciate your comments.
     
  9. ebonycat

    ebonycat PetForums VIP

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    Sorry to hear your cats unwell & has been admitted into hospital.
    I hope the vets find out what’s wrong with her & that it’s easily treatable.
    Keep us posted.
    Offering a supportive hug xx
     
  10. thunderschoen

    thunderschoen PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you x

    I'll post again when I get an update.
     
  11. jasmine2

    jasmine2 PetForums Member

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    This medicine is known to cause serious side effects especially bad for kidneys. I don’t want to worry you but please in my opinion don’t let them give her this medicine again. Check on the internet about the side effects of this.
     
  12. thunderschoen

    thunderschoen PetForums Newbie

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    Update: she's still in the vet hospital (been about 24 hours now), the good news is that her liver and kidney functions appear normal. She is being given fluids and tube fed. I think they're going to do some further tests for cystitis, and possibly a bowel issue although that seems unlikely since she's never had any diarrhoea. So far they haven't found a physical cause for her symptoms which is a bit frustrating but at least they have ruled out a few serious things.

    In the meantime, I have returned the kitten to his previous foster carer. It was a difficult decision and I was sad to let him go, but it seems he's already settling back in there and I'm sure he'll find his forever home soon.
     
  13. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Thank you for the update @thunderschoen. I am glad nothing serious has been found wrong with your cat and her kidney and liver function are normal. It must be a big relief for you. :)

    If she is diagnosed with cystitis, it can be stress-related so could have been due to the kitten being in the house.

    I am glad to hear the kitten is settling back with the foster carer. x
     
  14. ebonycat

    ebonycat PetForums VIP

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    Morning @thunderschoen yes thank you for the update on your girl.
    It’s good news that her liver & kidney function are normal.
    I hope her vets find out what’s wrong & that it’s easily treatable & that she starts to eat on her own & feels better soon.

    Sorry to hear you returned the kitten but I think you did the right thing.
    Glad to hear he’s settled back with his foster carer.

    Here’s hoping you have positive news today regarding your girl xx
     
  15. thunderschoen

    thunderschoen PetForums Newbie

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    Here's the latest: she is home now, as of ~6 hours ago. The vet just rang me to say that the stool samples they did while she was in the hospital have shown giardia. They have already given me some medication for that, plus a sedative and painkiller, so I'm going to give her those over the next few days and see how she gets on. She hasn't eaten or drunk yet since getting home but she has been wandering around and looking a bit more alert/interested than she was when I last saw her. Going to give her the meds as instructed tonight, let her sleep and settle down, and then just keep a close eye on her tomorrow and try to encourage eating/drinking.
     
  16. mrsfarq

    mrsfarq PetForums Member

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    I’m glad you have an answer for what it is and your cat seems to be doing better.
     
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  17. ebonycat

    ebonycat PetForums VIP

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    So glad to hear your girls back home & you have an answer to what it is.
    Here’s hoping the medication helps her & it clears up.
    Hoping she feels like eating some tasty wet foods later xx
     
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  18. thunderschoen

    thunderschoen PetForums Newbie

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    She has already started eating a little, so things are looking good :)
     
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  19. ebonycat

    ebonycat PetForums VIP

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    Yay that is so good to hear xx
     
  20. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hi @thunderschoen thank you for the update,

    I am very pleased to hear your girl is doing better and that a diagnosis has been made. She should make a good recovery from Giardia infection with the medicine prescribed by the vet.

    Do daily cleaning using a solution of bleach and cold water. The infectious Giardia cysts can survive a few days outside the body and survive best in a damp environment. So do ensure you the rooms you have cleaned are completely dry before you allow your cat back in them. Leaving the cleaned room closed for 24 hours is often best.

    Also use new cat litter daily, bleach the litter trays and leave them to dry. You may need extra litter trays so you always have a clean tray ready made up with new litter to swap for a used tray,

    You will need to inform the Rescue that the kitten came from that she is infected. Giardiasis is very infectious and an outbreak in a cattery can be a lot of work to eradicate. The Rescue should be able to quarantine the kitten until she is no longer infectious.
     
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