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April 21st, 2015

lexin: (Default)
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.