Calling All Cat Lovers

catnip-blossomI’ve always maintained that you can make any post into a gardening post, no matter what the subject is.  So I will preface my pleas for help by adding a bit of interesting info I discovered about catmint, which I plan to grow in a container this summer.  James, in Blackpitts, should love this. :)

Did you know that… Oil isolated from catnip by steam distillation is a repellent against insects, in particular mosquitoes, cockroaches and termites.  Research suggests that in a test tube, distilled nepetalactone, the active ingredient in catnip, repels mosquitoes ten times more effectively than DEET, the active ingredient in most insect repellents, but that it is not as effective a repellent when used on the skin.

Now, onto my questions. :-)

My beautiful boy, Toby, has had a bladder infection. Fortunately, I noted his symptoms early enough to get him to the vet right away, and started on a course of antibiotics.  He’s been fantastic about it all — even displaying nice manners to the vet.  Naturally, we came home with a $30 bag of catfood in tow, designed, so it states, to regulate the Ph of his urine.  After his antibiotics are gone, we are supposed to convince him to eat a canned food diet only, with just a few kibbles to nibble on in between.  Hah!

toby_catsterToby has eaten kibbles or dry food since…forever.  He won’t even take a sniff of canned food, nor is there any human food he’ll eat except the occasion pinch of tuna, and then only if it’s a certain kind.  Yesterday, we bought about six different kinds of canned food and tried small portions of them all.  Worse still is that he doesn’t like the $30 food from the vet that he is supposed to be eating…he’s eaten small amounts, but not nearly what he should be eating.

Our thinking was that if you simply put the new food — dry or wet — down in place of the old, he’ll eat it eventually if he gets hungry enough.  Not so, says the vet.  A dog, yes — eventually they’ll eat what they’re given.  A cat, so they said, will simply just not eat.  Period.  Which can lead to another condition called Fatty Liver Syndrome — cats MUST eat.

I’ve tried mixing his new food with his old, and he merely picks his favorite out and leaves the rest.  I’ve tried mixing small amounts of his dry food in with the canned, without success.  So, I’m at the end of my rope and, knowing there are many cat lovers among us, wondered if any of you have any suggestions for getting a persnickety kitty to eat a new food OR know of a dry/kibbles type food that is formulated for urinary tract health.  I’ve read labels until I’m cross-eyed, looking for lowest ash levels, low magnesium levels, etc.

I’m hoping this infection was just a fluke thing — Toby responded well to the antibiotics and things seem pretty much back to normal.  But I’d like to avoid another episode if I can. The $30/bag kibbles food is not an option, by the way. :-)

Thanks in advance for any ideas you might have!

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Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

23 thoughts on “Calling All Cat Lovers”

  1. Toby is so white and beautiful. I hope he’ll be ok soon. Sorry that I don’t have any advice or such but I’m wishing the best for both of you.

    Thanks, Blossom — great advice to anyone with a kitten, though. Make sure to introduce them to both kinds of food. :)

  2. Aw, Toby, please eat; your cute pink nose will turn pale.

    He is eating *some* Barbee, and I won’t see him go hungry, supposing we have to give him small amounts of his usual food. That little pink nose is there to stay! ;)

  3. Sheesh. We went through something similar when one of our cats lost his leg–we had to get him to eat–and tunafish turned out to be the answer. Can you soak the prescribed dry food in the liquid from the one canned tuna he’ll tolerate? Or even mix tuna in with the kibbles, but so thoroughly that there’s no way to get the fish without getting the kibbles too? What about raw egg? I wouldn’t think that could be problematic, and if he likes it, it could again be used to make the kibbles more palatable.

    BTW, I’ve never heard of a canned diet for cats with urinary tract trouble. Maybe there’s something new out.

    Apparently, because of the low- to no ash and the higher moisture content, it helps keep the urinary tract healthier? Cats are notoriously stupid about not drinking enough. Your tips are good ones, especially the tuna juice. That just might help. :)

    Good luck, and I hope the silly cat starts eating soon.

  4. Oh, Nancy! I know what you’re going through. All our cats and dogs have grown up eating dry food (Eukanuba or IAMS) with “real” food as supplements. But when our dog Molly got liver cancer last December, she stopped eating dry food, even when we mixed it with beef gravy or canned food. We switched her to canned food, and she’s been doing somewhat better. But our very sensible vet urged us to get whatever food we could down her, including, if necessary, Spahetti-Os and chicken noodle soup. Molly loves her daily peanut butter pill sandwich, and would eat bread (especially potato bread) all day if we’d give it to her; ditto cheese. She still loves her fruits and veggies, too, including tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and other fresh treats when I’m making dinner. Our own cats have always loved cheese fragments and sweet breads, especially pumpkin and zucchini bread. If you’d like a professional consult, my vet is Dr. Jennifer Makem at Perkiomen Animal Hospital, 1-XXX-XXX-7019. Tell them where you are and that Ellen Phillips recommended that you call. Bless you and Toby and good luck!!!

    Thank you OFB for your very generous comments — I’ve written the phone number down just in case. Thanks you so much. Toby actually seems to be doing much better. I believe the infection is well in hand now and he’s eating at least small amounts of his S/D food from the vet. I do slip him his other, regular Purina food when I give him his pill, and he gobbles it up. I’m sure he thinks we’re quite mean. :)

  5. I really hope that you find a solution for your poor Toby. It is heartbreaking when they are not feeling well.

    I don’t have any quick solutions, the vet actually told us to take away all other food, when Charlie who is a nursery cat at the last nursery I worked at had the same problem.

    It was hard to get him to even drink, and he hated the canned food that he required. Eventually though he started to eat it, and now he is on very expensive [at least I hope he is] special food from the vet.

    See, that makes sense to me. I figured eventually they’d eat what you give them, if they’re hungry enough. But the vet told us that wasn’t necessarily so and that we shouldn’t withhold food. Perhaps she thought I meant withhold it for DAYS or something. :-/ Sometimes, as much as I love his doctor, you have to wonder if they aren’t trying to sell a certain amount of the expensive food, too………..

    I go back and check on him frequently, but it is hard to monitor him when I don’t work there anymore.

    He also love to go to the neighbors houses and finish off the other cats food.

    Thinking good thoughts for Toby.


  6. I’m sorry your cat is ill.

    One of my cats is also on a special diet (to prevent crystals from forming in his urine). Luckily it was available in different flavours; he absolutely refused to eat any of the regular, but will eat the seafood flavour. Perhaps the food your cat needs is available in another flavour, or there is another food from a different company that would be more palatable?

    Good luck.

    That is Toby’s problem, too — he had crystals in his urine sample. Thus why they prescribed this special food for now. They did say the crystals could be caused BY the infection, but they won’t know until he’s finished his antibiotics and do another urinalysis. THAT is what I don’t understand either — if they make a special food for such things, why can’t they make it taste good? He’s eating small amounts of the S/D dry food for now.

  7. Boy. It is so unsettling when our animals are not well, esp. when it involves FOOD. I do know this: I know that if a cat is having the runs/digestion problems you give them boiled lean chicken meat, PERIOD and that works. In this situation? I’d be doing two things: I’d go to the market and buy babyfood chicken and warm it like you do for babies. I assure you your cat will eat that. If he’s in doubt, feed him off your finger. Then? I’d see another vet and get another opinion. Keep us posted. [Reluctant warning: make sure your pet food sources are not being processed in China. Sad, but true.]

    Thanks for the tips, Kathryn. I can’t imagine him eating the baby food, but it might be worth a try if he doesn’t come round to this new diet. He’d never eat the chicken…I would ply him with anything home cooked if he’d eat it, but he’ll have none of it. And yes, I check everything for any reference to China!

  8. So sorry Toby is not feeling well. Our Toby doesn’t have any problem eating, and he much prefers canned cat food to dry! He also likes deli turkey; whenever I would make a turkey sandwich to take to work, Toby had to have some–my daughter called it “Toby Turkey Time.” He still prefers any kind of catfood with turkey in it.

    If your Toby is still on the antibiotics, perhaps they are making him less hungry–I know our dog was that way when on antibiotics. Otherwise, I think Kathryn has some excellent suggestions; you might also try some plain turkey. I do hope one of these ideas works, and Toby starts eating again.

    Thanks for the tips, Rose — Toby won’t eat any kind of “human” food, including cooked meats. I wish he would! But he’s doing fairly well on this special food — eating small amounts anyway — so we shall see.

  9. Nancy–I thought about this some more. I think if I were in your shoes I would go straight to the boiled chicken NOW, but put it through a food processer and let the kitty eat off my finger. (Have you noticed that if animals are sick they would rather eat out of your hand or off your finger?) Let me know. Good luck, Mommie!

    Kathyrn, that sounds like such a common sense solution, and most cats would eagerly gobble it up. But honestly, Toby wouldn’t eat a bit of chicken. I will certainly give it a try though. He’s doing fairly well with the S/D kibbles food, and that’s what he’s supposed to eat for a couple of weeks. After that, we’ll have to play it by ear. :)

  10. Dear Toby, Please don’t give your Momma such a difficult time about your food. Finiky cats have terrible medical problems. I do hope you decide to eat.

    Your concerned blogger admirer.

    Hi Lisa — he’s decided to eat a bit of his vet prescribed food, so I think he’s doing okay for now. I finally put all his other food away, except for a few pieces of kibbles I give him when I give him his antibiotic pill. I think he’s doing ok for now, at least. :) Thanks for the good wishes!

  11. Dear Nancy, I am sorry Toby is having a bad time…we had two scares with crystals. Eventually Coal ate the food. He is now eating W/D….chicken flavored! Which is a diet food for cats! Ask the vet if that might work. He has had no blockage and I watch the litter box to make sure he’s using it regularly…One thing I have begun doing…now don’t laugh…I leave fresh water in each room and he has begun to drink water more often. I think that he loves discovering the water and drinking …we do what we can to make his inside life fun! gail

    I’d never laugh — I got a 10cc syringe from the vet and have been giving Toby extra water that way. :) He loves licking the little drops off the end. Toby is a strange kitty anyway — he has always liked his water dish at the end of the hallway, just outside a bedroom door. :) I have put an extra bowl down where he spends most of his time. I’ll ask about the W/D — who’d think?

  12. Nancy, so sorry to hear your sweet Toby hasn’t been well. Sorry I don’t have any advise to add to what’s already been offered as we’ve never experienced that problem with our cats (knock on wood!).
    Glad to hear he’s eating small amounts of the special food now. I hope improvement comes quickly.
    Amazing, isn’t it, that any cat food can cost so much? It does make you wonder.

    It does, indeed! And oddly enough, some of the most expensive brands are the ones with the most filler. I’m sure he’ll be fine; his toilet routine, shall we say, is pretty much back to normal at least. :)

  13. I had to put Koho on canned food for awhile, and though he turned up his nose at first, he did eventually eat it.

    I don’t know of any commercial food specifically made for UTI, but there must surely be some? The vet food is indeed expensive–we’ve switched to Science diet for all our dogs, and the cats eat dry Iams.

    As for getting a cat to drink more water, have you tried leaving the toilet seat up? ;-)

    LOL, oh yes, that definitely works!! Funny, but Charlie found a food, designed for “urinary tract health” at our local supermarket and it was the store’s own brand! Low in ash and magnesium. Just goes to show you!

  14. Nancy – so sorry to hear your lovely Toby isn’t well.

    Luckily our 2 like a variety of food so we haven’t had this problem with them – touch wood it continues.

    I see Susan’s beaten me to the toilet seat suggestion – ours go for any water left outside, particularly if it’s disguised as a bird bath. Their water bowl? Not a drop is touched – ever.

    Have you tried defrosted raw fish? We get small blocks of frozen coley or cod from the supermarket and our 2 eat a block a day between them. As it’s frozen fish, it also means they get a fair amount of water that way.

    I’ve never tried the raw fish, but I seriously doubt he would eat it. He’s just so persnickety. I guess we should have offered a larger selection of foods when he was younger. Thanks so much for your tips,though.

  15. Hercules is quite fussy and likes Wellness (organic$$$)brand – they have a chunk/wet pouch sort of foodie that might tempt him and help with the transition to his new diet. Such a worry when our dear little souls are sick.

    It is a worry, and you feel so helpless. But I’m sure he’ll be fine; “things” seem to be returning to normal. =)

  16. Every once in awhile in the mornings when I go to the guest room closet to clean the cat box, I see that neither one has used it for 24 hours! Horrifies me. Your Toby is a sweetie!

    Hi Brenda! Yes, he’s a sweet boy and a gentle soul. :) They can really give you reason to worry, though. I hope all is well in the Pines…

  17. Nancy I am speed reading but had to stop for this .. Hills Prescription Diet “kibble” has a type exactly for urinary problems .. our girls eat the T/D version for keeping the teeth nice and clean etc .. talk about expensive though .. a 10 kg bag is about $50 but it keeps them in very good health .. they still have a smidgen of can food .. and of course they eat too much (putting Sophie on a diet is insane ?) .. in any case .. back to the cat kibble thing .. ask your vet about the “Hills’ brand .. it is very high quality and Toby could go back to kibble ? Hope so ..
    Toby .. eat what is good for you !! LOL

    Hi Joy — that’s what he’s on now, Hills S/D kibble. (They classify all hard, dry food as “kibble” and all canned food as “wet” or canned.) I think the S/D is SpecialDiet and whatever it is, it is to keep the Ph of his urine at a proper number. That’s why they smallest bag they had was $28! :-) He was given a can of Hills wet food, but wants nothing to do with it. We’ll deal with that when we get rid of the antibiotics, I guess. :) Thanks for your input.

  18. If I ever get a cat, I know the garden world will be there for me. You got a lot of good advice. Seems like you said he’s eating better now and that is good for both of you. I hope he continues to get better.

    Yes, lots of kitty lovers are gardeners, too. :) I think we could turn to this community for help with just about anything. Toby seems to be doing quite well now. Thanks!

  19. What a beautiful cat! Have you checked out Hill’s Science Diet cat food? My last cat had diabetes and she was on this stuff – she loved it. They do all sorts of prescription cat food, wet and dry, tailored to urinary tract infection, bladder health, diabetes, kidney problems – you name it, they have it. The Canadian website is
    Many apologies if this is what the vet has given you already!

    No apologies necessary, but yes, that’s what he’s been on. He hates it, but he is eating small amounts of it. :) Thanks, Victoria! (He’s a Turkish Angora…sweet personality, too.)

  20. This has been interesting to read Nancy. I have had many cats but never this problem. I do know my Regis has certain preferences for wet food. Some flavors he refuses to eat and others he loves. It was trial and error finding the “right” ones. I hope you can get him and keep him well. It’s so hard when they can’t talk, isn’t it?

    Thanks, Kathleen — he seems to be doing much, much better and “all systems are go”. :-) The help and suggestions I’ve received have been wonderful. What a great bunch!

  21. I have often wondered if Toby was a purebred or a garden-variety domestic cat. The kitty of my youth was a white longhaired cat whose skull/face shape was uncannily like your Turkish Angora. She was a sweetheart too, loyal and very observant.

    You have received a lot of helpful advice already, but I will just add that my cat, who has only ever eaten dry food, has recently developed a very annoying (read: constant meowing and underfootedness) love of Friskies (canned) salmon dinner. So much so that she will now avoid her dry food if she thinks I’m likely to give her wet food! She also prefers to drinking her water on windowsills.

    Turkish Angoras aren’t nearly as “regal” as their name might imply; they’re a fairly common breed. But they’re beautiful and with a single coat only, they never get mats or tangles, even in that long white fur. Thanks for the top on the salmon dinner — we’re up for trying anything!

  22. So sorry that Toby is having trouble but glad he’s doing better! One of my big boys, Sylvester, had the urinary problem and was required to eat a bag of Hill’s. After that the vet said he could go back to his regular diet. We stick with Friskies brand dry food now and haven’t had a problem in 4 years.

    A couple of people have mentioned drinking water and getting a cat to drink enough. Our crew absolutely loves running water. A slow drip from a sink is their favorite because they can lap it, dip it, play in it – much more entertaining than a boring water dish. :) My brother has a small fountain made specifically for cats. The fountain recirculates the water over a rounded thing. Just a few suggestions for those concerned with kitty drinking enough.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Kara. I’m hoping the same thing — that Toby will be able to go back to his regular food again without trouble. I investigated the water fountains and they do look interesting.

  23. While I have enormous sympathy for Toby (even though I maintain that in all pictures he is looking at me with the sort of disdain usually employed by road sweepers for three day old roadkill) I think you have taken liberties with the unwritten laws by trying to sneak this in as a gardening post.
    It is a blatant cat post.
    My cat eats vast quantities of dry food: in fact, at this moment, she is making a really, really annoying noise that sounds like a cross between a screeching brakedrum and a goose with toothache. The rough translation is “Unless you feed me right now I will stick my claws in your leg and then go and pee in the fireplace.”

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