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Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 01:13 pm
From Friday last week my lovely Smokey was, at intervals, shaking her back paws, even more occasionally her front paws, as if she'd got something stuck to them, and then she'd chew on the paw as if it hurt her or she was trying to get rid of something. I had a look but could see nothing stuck, not even little bits of litter. She was also shaking her head, but a bit more rarely.

I looked up the symptoms on Google and didn't find anything really useful on any of the (hundreds! thousands!) of cat sites. The possibilities were many and varied, but too many and varied to be able to make a guess about what was going on.

So yesterday I booked Smokey in for a vet visit.

Smokey hates going in her cat basket. She really loathes it and I felt a complete heel, because she was sleeping deeply on her radiator hammock and I grabbed her and stuffed her in the basket before she had time to really grasp what was happening and react. Poor kitty!

Luckily it was a bright sunny day, I'd hate to have to wait for a taxi in the rain as she doesn't even like wind on her fur, not being used to it. Rain would probably put the tin lid on it.

We had a long wait in the vets, but as it's a veterinary hospital which copes with emergencies as well as 'normal' appointments I don't mind that. I got into conversation with an old lady who'd caught and paid for neutering for over 25 feral cats in the local area over the last ten years, and also found homes for several of the younger ones, despite having had a stroke herself. I always meet interesting people in the vets.

I had Smokey on the bench beside me in her basket, and she cuddled as close to me as she could get while we were waiting. The old lady seemed to find this very sweet, and it was.

The vet took a really good look at Smokey, she was checked out weighed and measured all over, and she had a good look down her ears and at her paws. She told me that Smokey is a very healthy cat for her age, though a tad overweight. When I got her she was 4.2kg; last September she was 4.9kg, and yesterday she was 4.94kg. So she's not really gaining weight any more, but she's not losing it either and is a little pudgy. I said I'd take her dry food down to 40-45g a day from 50-55g and see if that helped.

The only explanation she could come up with for the shaking paws thing was an allergy. She noted that Smokey seems to sweat through her pads more than many cats, and that could be the reason she's picking something up from the floor. She asked me if I'd changed floor cleaner, carpet or anything like that recently. I haven't. She said it could be pollen or something like that, but she'd expect that to affect her respiration, which it hasn't.

She gave her a steroid injection in the hope of breaking the itch/bite cycle Smokey has with he paws, and we took our leave. If the problem doesn't resolve, we have to go back.

She checked out her ears, but could find no explanation for the head shaking. Smokey does not have any kind of ear infections, and only a little wax. So a watching brief on that one.

What I think the solution is

When I was telling the folk on FB about this, I happened to mention that I had changed Smokey's litter.

About six weeks ago, I needed to buy more litter. So I went to my normal supplier and discovered that my preferred litter (EverClean unscented) was not available. Baffled, I checked out Amazon.co.uk but the supply they had was outrageously expensive. All the other litter from my usual supplier seemed to be scented. I have a (probably unreasonable) prejudice against scented litter. Smokey uses one of those Omega Paws rolling litter trays and I think a scented litter in an enclosed environment like that would have my kitty coughing and choking. I may be wrong, but you know.

So I checked out Zooplus who have a very wide range of everything animal including lots of litter (but not EverClean), and picked the one which seemed most like EverClean unscented, but was on offer and therefore fairly cheap - it was Tigerino unscented. I didn't read the reviews, which turns out to have been a mistake.

One of my FB friends in the discussion there about Smokey said that one of her five cats had reacted very badly to Tigerino, to the point that her cat lost the fur on her belly and legs, and it had taken ages for the friend to work out what the problem was. In fact it wasn't until she read the reviews on Tigerino on Zooplus that she'd made the connection - the very same had happened to one of the other reviewers' cats.

So this morning I changed the litter in Smokey's tray to my emergency supply of Tesco own brand - and very horrible it is too, granules too big and very dusty - and I've ordered an unscented litter which has five stars and 295 reviews.

Yes, an entry mostly about cat litter. I am amazed at how many types there are and how wound up people get about it.
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Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 02:05 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear about Smokey's problems - we've been using Tigerino for about a year and a half without problems, after two friends recommended it. I haven't found it as good as they said (both said they found they could go twice as long before changing the tray, but that hasn't happened here, probably because of Rosie's kidney problems and constant thirst), and it's more expensive, but its great appeal to me is that it's delivered to my door, nine bags at a time, saving me the long trek to the giant Tesco and the struggle home weighed down by as many bags as I could carry in one go.
Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 05:42 pm (UTC)
Here's hoping that cures Smokey's problem(s)! I've been using an expensiver brand that claims to have no dust which isn't quite true, but the cat with the respiratory problems does better with it than with the cheaper ones. I can't abide the scented ones, nor the 'natural' litter made from corn, wheat, pine, whatever; they all stink to me.

Litter is a fascinating conversation topic, especially for retired cat ladies. I've been cautioned by friends, that I anthropomorphize the cats' behaviors and worry too much about inconsistencies, but I'm home all day with them, watching and interacting with them, and I notice things!
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 01:35 am (UTC)
Poor Smokey! Plucked from a nap, added to her paws bothering her. I really hope the litter changes does it for her!

Working with cats as I do, I've always found the vehemence of others on the subject of litter kind of funny - at least, the vehemence of the "don't change/be gradual/only use one kind ever!" variety. (As often found on product packaging as in the mouths or keyboards of Cat Folk.) Cats at work apparently know their choice is "take it or leave it" because I can't recall one ever refusing to use the box due to a litter change!

We've had a few who wouldn't use it for other reasons - one stubborn fellow who prefers to spray, despite being neutered, and a lady who insisted on pooping beside the box no matter what was in said box, because she was a cat of low upbringing :D. A few more who've had bad aim of one kind or another for varying lengths of time, generally correlating to medications or the sharing of their enclusure. But absolutely nobody (knock on wood!) who took one look at a new litter, in the times we've had to switch from our standard product, and turned up their nose!