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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 7 October 2003 Issue


What Jill Knows:
"Can't Afford" to Bring Companion Cat to Vet

Dear Jill,

I have a 7 year old cat. For five years for sure she has been a little over weight.  She was an in-door and out-door cat. I lived at home with my family and we had two other cats.  Maggie (my cats name) was a the top of the pecking order and was happy. (The other cats weren't)

Anyway I recently got married and moved. Unfortunately Maggie has to be an indoor cat. She seemed to be ok with not going outside. I expected her to have to adjust to the move, staying inside and my husband of course. 

I brought the same cat food with me that I had been feeding her for the past 5 years or so.  She was not allowed table food and never begged for it.  I would give her the odd treat of milk (which she would only have a little of) and I would always give her the tuna juice from the can when I made myself a sandwich. ( she loved it and drank it all)

Everything was fine.  She was eating good adjusting well and happy.  My cat food was getting low so I went to buy her some more, but they have stopped making the brand of food I used to get her.  So I picked out some new food, 'Wiskas'.  Maggie liked this new food, she tore open the bag and would not eat her old food.  I ended up mixing what was left of her old for with some of the new food.  She would pick out the new stuff and ask for more, not eating her old food.  I made her finish everything in her dish before I filled it with all new cat food. 

Over time I noticed she was eating less. (I had to fill her dish less) Maggie started losing weight.  At first I didn't worry too much, she was a little over weight anyway.  But then she started getting a bony. We tried mixing her food with tuna, soaking it with a little milk and warming it up with tuna mixed in, tuna on its own... all this she ate a few bites and then would leave it.  So we got her wet cat food.  She liked it for a while,( a couple of days) then started eating less.  During this wet cat food period we put her dry cat food away. Just recently I took out her dry cat food to see if she would eat it, and she did.  So I filled her dish with dry cat food.  Maggie ate good for about 2 days....I have tried feeding her wet cat food again...leaving her dry cat  food in her dish.  She ate a couple of bites then stopped.  The left over wet cat food I cover and keep in the fridge.  I just tried putting a little in a plate a warming it up a little, she wouldn't eat it.  I broke up little pieces of sandwich meat and placed it on top of the warmed up cat food.  She ate just enough of the cat for to get the sandwich meat off. I added a little milk to the food, and she drank a little and then refused any more.  I am not sure what else to do.  I have not taken her to the vet.  We can't afford that right now....can you help?

Thank you for your time.

Dear Christina,

Thank you for your email.  So, let me get this right.... You have a 7 year-old cat named Maggie, who used to live inside with two other cats. All cats had access to the outdoors.  You have recently married and moved.  Maggie was a bit overweight.  She is now strictly indoors, is eating a new cat food, you feed her milk and she has lost considerable weight.

First of all, stop feeding her milk!!  It causes intestinal upset.  Cats don't NEED bovine mammary fluids, nor can their bodies HANDLE cows milk.  Just stop it!

Has Maggie ever been to a veterinarian for health care?  I have no idea why your cat is losing weight -- it doesn't sound like a behavioral problem to me, it sounds like it's a medical problem. 

Have you ever had Maggie wormed? As she was outside or with other cats, she could easily have round worms, hook worms, tape worms, whip worms, and/or heart worms.  Any of these worms can cause weight loss plus a myriad of other problems.  Does Maggie have any fleas?  Where there's fleas there are tapeworm.  Has Maggie been tested for Feline Leukemia? Tested for FIV?  She was outside, so she should have been checked for heart worms and put on heart worm preventative.  Was this done? (Heart worms can eventually kill your cat) Has she had her annual vaccinations against preventable diseases?  If not, she could have been infected.  You say you can't afford to take your cat to the vet?  Well, can you "afford" to have her euthanized and cremated/or buried?  (It's costly…euthanasia runs anywhere from $0- $75. Cat cremation $0-$100.) That's what happens to cats who suffer from medical conditions -- just like us, they get sick, suffer, need medical attention and can die from disease/illness and neglect. 

I can't stand to hear one more person write me that they "cannot afford" to take THEIR companion animal to the vet.  I mean, what if this were your child ... would you consider it acceptable to say:  "My child has lost weight and become bony. I really can't afford to bring my child to the doctor's office."  Heck no!  --You would be arrested and sent to prison.  Your child would be taken away from you (and rightfully so!).  Now let's try this scenario, and see if gets any better:  "My husband fell off a ladder and broke his leg.  I can't afford to bring him to the doctor now......"  Hmm ... sounds just as bad. 

My point:  Your companion animal is YOUR responsibility, she is YOUR cat. Medical attention is not a luxury -- it's a NECESSITY, just as it is with you.  You MUST provide your companion animal with basic veterinary attention. If you really have zero dollars and zero cents to your name, then how can you afford to; eat food; buy gas for your car; pay for a computer; pay for online Internet access; purchase cigarettes, magazines, newspapers, sodas, coffee, shoes, etc., ????? I'm CERTAIN you can find the money to take your cat to a vet for the medical attention she requires.  If not, borrow the money.

Maggie has decreased appetite, weight loss and needs a complete physical.  Take her to a vet promptly.  If you cannot budget her into your life, then take her to your local animal control/shelter facility and have her humanely euthanized with you by her side until the end.  It's the least you can do for her.

Love and paw pats,
Jillouise Breslauer
Companion Animal Behavior Consultant
What Jill Knows, Copyright 2003
e-mail: [email protected]


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