Kitty litterPosted: 15 September 2009
I have this cat, which I later realized I had kidnapped from one of my neighbors. He came into my life by sleeping on my patio, outside my back door. He’d sleep on a patio lounge chair. Every time I came out, which I have to do to go into the garage where I park my truck, he’d jump up and run away. One time when I came out he must have been dead tired because he didn’t wake up so I started petting him. He woke up while I was petting him and from that point on decided that I was safe and stopped running away. It turns out that he is an extremely affectionate cat. From then on he was always waiting for me and would rub against me and meow and was a very sweet cat.
Prior to this I had been putting food and water out for him and he was voracious with the food. Because of how hungry he was I felt like he was probably abandoned but now I know that he’s just a chow hound.
One day he stopped eating the food and drinking the water, and his mouth was all slobbery and a mess and his breath was really awful. Up to now he’d been outside only, so I took him inside and let him sleep with me at night. I had been doing this every now and then before this. But he didn’t get any better after a day or two and I realized that the symptoms were like rabies. So I had a cat carrier and I stuffed him into that and off to the vet we went. The vet agreed that the symptoms were similar but they know when there have been cases of rabies in the area and he said that it was unlikely since there hadn’t been any rabies in the county. But he didn’t want to go poking around in his mouth until the cat was knocked out so I left him there for them to examine and find out what was wrong.
I also decided to have him neutered since he still had his gonads. That was strike three against whoever his owners were; strike one was that they weren’t feeding him enough, strike two was that he got sick and they didn’t notice or do anything about it.
Well, luckily it turned out that it wasn’t rabies and was only an infected injury under his lower jaw, which put his tongue out of whack. The vet cleaned it and gave me some antibiotics to give him. The antibiotics were the usual fluorescent pink goo that tastes like bubblegum which you give to them with an eyedropper, twice a day. You have to wrap the cat in a towel when dosing them because bubblegum is tops on a cat’s list of horrible flavors.
I realized that if I put him back outside I wouldn’t be able to give him his medication twice a day on schedule, so in the house he goes, locked in the unused back bedroom. I already had cat boxes from my previous cats. When I got home I’d let him out and in the evenings he’d sleep with me. After the pink goo was all gone I decided, what the hell, and kept him inside. Cats live longer and don’t get jaw wounds and other various cat fight wounds when they’re indoors only. Or get hit by cars, shot with bb guns, etc.
One time after he’d peed in the cat box I noticed that he had a lot of kitty litter on his butt. I wasn’t happy thinking of that kitty litter scattered all over my place so I got a washcloth and cleaned him up. I also remember wondering how his gastrointestinal (GI) system would handle all that kitty litter if and when he licked it off. But I didn’t think about it any more. Then a month or so later he got sick, but not in any identifiable way; he was just listless and not eating, and acting sort of half dead. So back to the vet we go, and she guesses that it’s probably some sort of obstruction in his GI system and that it might get better on its own. She offered that I could bring him back if it doesn’t get any better or he gets worse. Or pay them big bucks to have him x-rayed right then, which probably wouldn’t show anything. I’ve been through this with previous dogs and cats; it’s a gamble as to whether to pay the big bucks early on and then you often find out that it’s nothing, or something minor that goes away on its own. The vets are usually pretty good about giving you clues as to whether or not you should do the expensive stuff now or do a wait-and-see. The honest one are at least.
Well, it did get better on its own. And right after I’d taken him to the vet I remembered about the kitty litter on his butt and figured that that was probably what had caused it. I remembered that the pet store carries this kitty litter that’s biodegradable and flushable. One brand is made from corn, and then there’s another one that’s made from wheat. Both are the clumping type. And they say that they’re safe for kittens; apparently kittens ingest kitty litter when cleaning themselves. So I got a bag of the corn based stuff; I had tried both types with my previous cats and remembered that the corn one clumped better. With the wheat one the urine sinks to the bottom of the pan before it clumps so you have to scrape it off the bottom of the pan every time you take out the urine clumps.
At first he didn’t get gummed up on the inside from kitter litter, but then it turned out that he does, just not as often. Which seems weird given that this kitty litter is supposed to go through them.
But I think (I hope) that I’ve finally figured it out. My previous cat, Squirt, died of kidney failure. It’s a typical scenario for older cats who’ve lived on dried food. The theory is that they’re not getting enough fluids in their system and that affects their kidneys. So with this guy (Tar; he’s black) I decided to feed him canned food. One six ounce can of cat food, half in the morning and half in the evening. I mentioned that he’s a chow hound. As far as he was concerned one can of cat food was only a fraction of what he was due. In the mornings he’d be jumping on and off my bed, meowing in my face, running laps around the place, to let me know that I should have fed him long ago. Not so bad on week days but on weekends it was very annoying.
So I came up with the idea of adding wheat bran to Tar’s food. I had done this with a dog I was taking care of which was grossly overweight; he was getting only 1/2 cup of diet dry dog food a day and I started giving him bran so his GI system would have some bulk to work on.
With Tar’s food I was putting in a few teaspoons of additional water, just to make sure that he was never under hydrated. (I had to italicize hydrated because I think it’s so dopey when I see that word used for skin lotions and whatnot.) When I started adding bran I decided to add the bran to the water and cook it a bit in the microwave before adding it to his food. Eating bran is like eating shredded balsa wood and cooking it helps soften it and hopefully make it slightly more palatable. I was using about three and a half ounces of water and two heaping teaspoons of bran. His food ended up being fairly soupy. But the bran gave him the additional bulk and he was less of a pest in the mornings.
What I think was happening is that with all of the additional water he’s getting, he’s having to pee a lot more than he would ordinarily. In other words, five trips to the cat box a day instead of the usual two trips to the cat box. Each time he uses the cat box, afterwards he’ll need to lick off the kitty litter that’s on his butt and the kitty litter dust that gets on his paws. He’s simply ingesting a lot more kitty litter than his system can process.
So what I’ve done is cut back on the water; I now add just enough water to the bran so that it cooks properly, about an ounce. Fewer trips to the cat box, and hopefully fewer near death experiences for Tar.