I wrote last year around November in my retired blog about my old cat that suddenly stopped using the the litter box. He used to throw up quite a bit, especially after eating or drinking. He had diarrhea but had no fever. For years he had a foul odor to his stools, even back when we got him from the humane society and even after being checked out and wormed. We figured every cat is different. His stools got looser over the years until he suddenly stopped using the litter box and went in dark corners, under things and even climbed up on things and went. Luckily, he did these things in the basement and not up in our living area (with only two exceptions.) Still, the cleanup was awful and I was at my wits end.
We bought him a playpen cage to keep him confined so he had to use the litter box and I'd let him out as long as I followed him around. When I couldn't watch him I put him in his playpen.
I thought maybe the cat food company had changed their recipe and something in the food bothered him. He's an indoor cat only and there was no plants he could have gotten into. We bought him different kinds of cat foods from Science Diet, Iams, Taste of the Wild and a bunch of organic brands. They were terribly expensive and still it didn't help. We decided to put him to sleep because he was obviously in discomfort with intestinal cramps all the time. But first I wanted to try just giving him meat and see how he did. I thought maybe there was something in the food he couldn't tolerate since he got old.
He wouldn't eat people food. The only thing I could get him to eat was raw ground turkey. He loved it. The problem was I couldn't leave it out. In a couple of days he got better. He started using the litter box again and his stools were no longer loose. He doesn't throw up anymore.
Our other 2 cats eat their dry cat food up on a high ledge they have to jump up to because we couldn't put the food down or my old cat would eat it. If we forgot to put the other food up on the ledge and if the old cat ate some of their food, he got sick again.
It is hard for us to leave to go anywhere because we can't leave his food out for more than just a few minutes because it is raw.
Here was a cat that had gotten so skinny and sickly when eating normal and organic cat foods but eating nothing but ground turkey and cat vitamins, he gained weight, got shiny, was active again and started cleaning himself again and used the litter box. But after several months of just meat he started to look kind of pot-bellied and I knew he needed more than just meat.
I wondered if cats could get celiac disease like people do. Or maybe just didn't have the enzymes anymore to digest something that is in cat food in his old age. I read up on it and it seems some cats and dogs do have problems digesting gluten as well as soy and dairy. I printed out a list of brands that made foods free of soy, dairy, and grains. These are the most likely ingredients that may cause his reaction.
I bought a food named Core (made by Wellness) at Petco. I bought the formula that didn't have grain, soy or dairy. It uses potatoes and other vegetables. I mixed it in a little at a time with his ground turkey meals. So far so good. It's been two days and he is still doing good. This evening he had nothing but Core. In another day if all goes well, I'll finish switching him over to all Core dry food and no more ground turkey. I'll post an update if he has a reaction to it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. This particular formula does have salmon in it which is also on my suspect list but so far it seems not to be a problem.
If this works out, we'll switch to Core grain-free for the other cats, too, so we don't have to feed them separate. It's so good to see him happy, satisfied and napping in the sunshine coming through the window again. He also wants to go out and sit on the sun porch like he used to and he watches the birds through the screen. I've got my fingers crossed.
update: This is the following night. My cat didn't want to leave his cage today. He hasn't eaten today no matter what I offer him. When he did leave his cage he appears to be constipated as he tried to go in his litter box but there was nothing. He doesn't look distressed and it's only been a day and a half since he went so I'm confident he's not terribly backed up. If he appears to be in distress tomorrow, we'll have to take him in to the vet. It could be he is crampy from the new food and just thinks he has to go. I should have introduced the new food more slowly.