old blind cat can't use litter box

catsandcorals

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Jul 30, 2017
Hello All,

I am hoping some folks have suggestions for me. I have a 17 yo cat, Eek, who is blind. He was a feral rescue when he was about 9 months old, at which time he was already blind in one eye from an injury; the blindness in the other way came gradually with age.

He still very much enjoys food and petting, purrs easily, and responds to my voice (can't find me because he's blind). He is healthy for a cat his age. He doesn't do any crying, just meows when he hears my alarm clock (breakfast!). Some people think I should have him put down, but I am trying to find some other solution to the problem described below:

He will not step over/into anything (legs do seem capable of it), so he doesn't use a litter box, and for most of the past year I have had wall-to-wall puppy pads on the floor. Since the cat can't see, he ends up walking through and laying in urine and feces. Sometimes I come home or wake up to cat poop all over the place, stomped and smeared, and the cat with poop stuck between his claws and on his fur. I have to give him a lot of baths. The feces is normal consistency, not diarrhea.

The only way to prevent those scenarios from happening is to have him watched 24 hrs a day, to clean up as soon as he goes. Unfortunately, I have two jobs and so am only home a few hours a day, except when I am sleeping. I spend half of the time that I am home cleaning up after Eek and bathing him, and have to get out of bed to check on him in the middle of the night, so I can take care of any poop he may have before it is a huge mess.

I keep him blocked in an area about 7 ft by 3 ft, with just a 5" high barrier, so while he can't go out, the other 2 cats can go in so he has some company. It at least confines the area getting plastered with mess.

The only thing I can't think of on my own, is to give him less wet food, so his poop will be a little drier, making it not get stuck to his feet. However, then I worry he will be constipated, since he is used to the wet food (dry food is there all day, wet food is twice a day). He ate mostly dry when younger, but he is now missing a tooth, so I think the wet food is easier (mornings I give him a pouch of "Cats in the Kitchen" brand from the organic market; evenings I give him Fortis canned food, about half of a small sized can).

Any ideas would be really appreciated.

Thanks.
 

CatMom1994

Loving cats forever
Joined
Jul 23, 2017
Location
Florida
You came to the right place. Other people can be more helpful than me, but here are my thoughts:

Stop feeding Eek kibbles. They are full of stuff that is not easily digestible to make the kibble shape and allow 24-hour access. Wet food is healthier by a long shot. Also, you are making your kitty fat if he grazes throughout the day. More food in = more poop out.

On a related note, what wet food are you feeding? I am obsessed with ingredient lists because many recipes have completely useless and harmful stuff cats can't digest very well. It will be frustrating, but totally worth it to find a high-quality grain-free wet food that has minimal plant ingredients, no carrageenan (if possible), and nothing artificial. People who feed Nature's Variety Instinct, which is based on the belief all pets should eat a raw diet, have smaller and less stinky poop. (Don't worry, all wet products are cooked to federal safety standards.)

Good luck.
 

linda2147

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Mar 13, 2014
Location
New Hampshire
I don't know if this would work but I think in your case its worth a try. Get a rug runner or maybe a yoga mat. Put a treat on the mat every few feet leading to the litter box, once he gets to the box he'd probably go in. He can't see but his nose still works.
 

catsandcorals

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Jul 30, 2017
Original Poster
Thanks for the replies.

The foods are not patte. Both have chunks of fish and/or chicken in them. One is a brand called "Cats in the Kitchen" which is organic, which I can only get from the organic market. It is in pouches, and is a lot of gravy with pieces of different types of fish and chicken in it. The other is a canned food with the brand name "Fortis". It is a small amount of gravy with chunks of fish/chicken/beef depending on the flavor. There is ground tapioca in the Fortis, but no other grains (I'm assuming the ground tapioca is used to thicken the gravy).

The dry food is Purina Naturals for sensitive digestion. I don't think he eats very much of it. I see him take a couple pieces sometimes when he happens to run into the bowl while pacing around, but he never stands at the bowl just eating the stuff.

Unfortunately, the litter box problem isn't going to get fixed with simple training.
 

CatMom1994

Loving cats forever
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Jul 23, 2017
Location
Florida
Tapioca is in some grain-free recipes. I don't know anything about the wet food brands you mentioned, but Purina is JUNK and cats should not eat much seafood.

You have to be patient when trying to train a blind cat. Does he come to your voice? You can try calling him from the litterbox with treats in your hand if he does.
 

Alpha1

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Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
Hello and welcome! :) I have a large flat oven pan, kind of like a big cookie sheet with VERY low sides and it's large enough to cover the entire rack in my oven. Maybe something like that with a small layer of litter would be easy enough for your cat to step into, it's not much of a lip.

I definitely wouldn't stop feeding wet or canned food, that is essential for kidney and urinary health from all I've learned. But, I would try stopping the kind that has any liquid gravies in it at all, the pate would seem to be a better thing to do in my opinion. I think it's fine to keep allowing him to eat the dry food, especially since he doesn't eat that much, being blind it's good that he can have the comfort of food access. At 17 years old though, I imagine the teeth may be painful for chewing.

Also, even if the cat steps in his feces, it really shouldn't be loose enough to make much of a mess. It should be separately shaped pieces, like small tootsie rolls. If it's soft or loose at all, perhaps you can use this product and it should firm up in a couple of days of use. I've used it for my cat in the past and it works like a charm for me. I rarely have to use it, but I always have some on hand at the first sign of loose stools. Also gave larger doses to my dog and it worked for him too. I get mine at Petco. https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/nutri-vet-anti-diarrhea-cat-liquid-5000975--1

This is the pan that I have, that I was thinking of. https://www.kohls.com/product/prd-2555170/food-network-mega-cookie-sheet.jsp?prdPV=10

By the way, I admire you for helping him in his old age, kudos for that, you're very kind. Something like this shouldn't be a death sentence for your boy. I promise you'll feel much better if you let him go naturally, at his age there may not be much time left. I understand it's a lot of extra work for you, especially with two jobs, but maybe if you set up something that works for him, you can get a partner or friend to assist with the daily clean up....just a thought. Good luck, and please don't make any any harsh decisions without great thought.
 

catsandcorals

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Jul 30, 2017
Original Poster
There are usually 2 to 4 pieces each time, which is once a day. Sometimes it is softer than others, but within a normal range.

It would help if I could manipulate the time of day at which he goes. I don't have a lot of choices given my schedule, but do you think it is worth the effort for me to experiment within the time limitations? Even if I have to wake up to feed him then go back to bed, it would be worth it if it promotes a more predictable time that would hopefully be while I'm actually at home.

He always paces in circles for a while before he goes, for both pee and poo, so that helps when I am actually with him and have him roaming loose.

I have tried using a low edged pan and it did not help.
 

Alpha1

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Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
I guess it wouldn't hurt to feed him at different times, but with two other cats you have to be sure that he gets to eat, and that you're not tired and go right back to bed and the other two eat the food. Being elderly and blind I think having the security of food, and enough to satisfy is important to him. That's why I suggested keeping the dry down also. We always have a package of those baby wet wipes around, good for spot clean ups on the cat without having to use baths and water. If you change feeding times, you'll probably have to give it a week or so before you can judge the results. Good luck.
 

catsandcorals

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Jul 30, 2017
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Believe me, I have all sorts of pet wipes and waterless cat shampoos.

You are right about the eating. I watch him when I feed him the wet food. The other cats will come watch him eat, and after a few minutes try to sneak their heads into the bowl. It doesn't matter if they have their own food or not, they still try to do it if I am not standing right there. Eek is a slow eater though, and sometimes he turns away then can't find the bowl to finish, so the other cats get in it; I just move the bowl to where he wanders (I think he has some age related cognitive limitations). The other cats don't bother him at the dry food bowl, because it is always there, so Eek doesn't have to feel like getting food is a challenge.

To Catmom1994, what is the thinking behind the eating of fish being bad for cats?
 

catsandcorals

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I have to feed Eek whatever he likes, and he likes what he has now. I will explain this below:

A few years ago, my 15 yo cat had cancer and had to be put down. The year before that, my 3 yo cat had cancer (who Eek treated like his own baby from the time the kitty was tiny) and had to be put down.

Well, Eek started acting depressed, then gradually lost a lot of weight. (He still had partial sight at this time). It happened very slowly, so I didn't realize it at first. It got to the point where he wouldn't eat anything and I thought he would starve himself to death. I tried all sorts of things. I got to the point that I was putting stuff in a syringe and trying to force feed him. I thought I would lose him. The vet had no answers for me, because there were no health issues keeping Eek from eating. I was very upset that I would lose him. One day I discovered some high calorie paste stuff in the pet store, and decided to try that, and miraculously, he took an interest in it (I don't know why the vet did not suggest it). After a week, Eek slowly started being interested in food again. It took a long time, but he eventually gained back his weight (a normal weight; he was a couple pounds overweight to start with). He also started acting less depressed when he started eating normally again (I think part of it was weakness from not eating).

I went through all kinds of foods and struggles to get Eek to eat and be interested in foods, to keep him alive. Just thinking about the ordeal is making me teary eyed. We are lucky that he did not end up with kidney failure or something. He loves the foods I am giving to him at this time, and when my alarm goes off, that is the only time he meows, and he starts looking around for me to put down the food bowl. He loves to eat what he is currently eating. He is back to loving being petted and brushed, and he purrs often (he did not when depressed). He even likes being dried with a hair dryer when I have had to bathe him, and rubs his head on it. He will get the food he likes.
 

Esme

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Mar 27, 2015
Location
PA USA
I think it's absolutely awesome how you take care of Eek. He should eat whatever he likes and I agree with you 100% I have to feed my Jake in another room because he's on a special urinary diet and also he would eat everyone else's food too. Our kittens like to inhale their food and then try to move on and eat the other's so I sit on the floor and wait until they're done eating. WELCOME by the way:)
 

CatMom1994

Loving cats forever
Joined
Jul 23, 2017
Location
Florida
Believe me, I have all sorts of pet wipes and waterless cat shampoos.

You are right about the eating. I watch him when I feed him the wet food. The other cats will come watch him eat, and after a few minutes try to sneak their heads into the bowl. It doesn't matter if they have their own food or not, they still try to do it if I am not standing right there. Eek is a slow eater though, and sometimes he turns away then can't find the bowl to finish, so the other cats get in it; I just move the bowl to where he wanders (I think he has some age related cognitive limitations). The other cats don't bother him at the dry food bowl, because it is always there, so Eek doesn't have to feel like getting food is a challenge.

To Catmom1994, what is the thinking behind the eating of fish being bad for cats?
LOL That reminds me of when I fed two cats wet food at the same time. After a minute one cat went to the other cat's bowl before he finished his serving, so they ended up switching bowls every time. It does not make any sense, but neither do a lot of feline habits.

All fish have mercury. Big fish eat small fish. The result is fish that are common in cat foods like salmon and tuna have too much mercury for animals that weigh less than 20 pounds.
 

Alpha1

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Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
I went through all kinds of foods and struggles to get Eek to eat and be interested in foods, to keep him alive. Just thinking about the ordeal is making me teary eyed. We are lucky that he did not end up with kidney failure or something. He loves the foods I am giving to him at this time, and when my alarm goes off, that is the only time he meows, and he starts looking around for me to put down the food bowl. He loves to eat what he is currently eating. He is back to loving being petted and brushed, and he purrs often (he did not when depressed). He even likes being dried with a hair dryer when I have had to bathe him, and rubs his head on it. He will get the food he likes.
It sounds like you're doing all the right things for your Eek, even though I know it must be very trying for you. It's nice to hear he likes being petted, brushed and is a big purrer now....amazing to me that he likes the dryer. You're loving to give him whatever food he likes, I admire how you care for him. :love_heart:
 

catsandcorals

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Jul 30, 2017
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I'm wondering about making some kind of a gently sloped ramp into and out of an extra wide litter container. Then I could try the product suggested above, to try to train the cat. The problems are 1. the cat might be too cognitively impaired to be trainable, making the building of such a thing as big waste of money that I don't really have, 2. It would take up a very large amount of space, so I don't know if it would fit in the space once put together, 3. He might end up laying in the litter, and 4. My female cat would probably roll around in it, because she does that in boxes that are over-sized or don't have lids.

The ramp would have to slope gradually enough that Eek would be comfortable walking on it. The box would have to big enough for him to do the circling he always does before going. (He didn't do the circling thing when he could see, so I am not sure if he is working himself up to going, or maybe he is confused about picking a spot to go on since he isn't going in a litter box; he starts out just walking a normal pace, then ends up practically running in circles, sometimes falling to the side because he gets dizzy; it's important to note that his circling is strictly a potty-going behavior).
 

Esme

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Mar 27, 2015
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PA USA
You have some good points with this and it sounds like it wouldn't really work too well for Eek. I wish I had a solution for you but I don't right now but if I find anything that can help you I will let you know. Eek is very, very lucky to have someone like you and I'm sure the feeling is mutual.:love_heart:
 

catsandcorals

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Thanks.

Came home to almost a repeat. At least there was nothing stuck between his toes this time.

Although Eek was losing his sight gradually (in the eye that wasn't blind since he was a kitten), we don't know what happened that it become complete when it did. There is no evidence of an underlying medical problem. When he was depressed and not eating, he started a nervous scratching of his temples, scratching to the point of bleeding and bald spots. I ended up making him hoods out of socks, but he still tried to scratch himself. I was terrified he would end up with a bad infection. Then one day he just stopped trying. That was when he started acting strangely, standing facing the walls, crouching while walking, acting confused, going potty just anywhere. I wonder sometimes if he scratched his eye, but I never saw a sign of injury in it. I am pretty sure being blind is what stopped the scratching, so in this situation, that is the proverbial small blessing that comes with all things. Unfortunately for Eek's orientation to his environment, I had moved a couple of months before the blindness became total. I think if I had not moved, he would be having an easier time and would not have acted quite as confused.

I am hoping that he will be able to get used to not being able to see. He responds better to me than he did initially, and is following sounds better than he did initially. I wonder if using motion activated sound devices would help him navigate, though I probably couldn't afford such things.
 

linda2147

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Mar 13, 2014
Location
New Hampshire
as long as you don't move things around he'll "learn" the layout and get around quite well. Just don't make any changes, move furniture ect. and he'll find his way around. Also put rubber bumpers on things like end tables or things with hard edges so he can't hurt himself if he bumps into them.
 

catsandcorals

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Jul 30, 2017
Original Poster
Last name night I saw a post on the dog board about a Halo thing for blind dogs. I'm wondering if there is something like that which would work for a cat's body. He has bumped his head at times.

I discovered that there is such a thing as washable potty pads. I also saw that a lot of people make their own, so I am thinking about making or buying some (depending on expense and time). The cost of the disposable pads has me in the poor house and amounts to literally throwing away money, to the point that I cut out pee spots instead of throwing away whole pads. Most brands allow the spots to spread out, but one of the Hartz brand styles (they have 3 or 4 types) are thicker, heavier, and keep a smaller spot, so that is what I usually use, and those still do well even with holes in them (I take pieces of ones already cut small and patch the holes from underneath). I would much rather soak and wash than cut out pee spots and spend so much money just to throw it in the trash.
 

Alpha1

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Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
They show it being used for cats, don't know how comfortable it would be. I would talk to someone there and get the details on size, etc.

Cw3NetXccmI
 

catsandcorals

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Jul 30, 2017
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Thank you so much for posting the video. That looks like the same as a dog model I saw, which is not appropriate for a cat's body. I will have to research more. Maybe I could make something after I am more sure of the structural needs for a cat.
 

catsandcorals

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Jul 30, 2017
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Had a very rough morning cleanup wise, and I lost 2 hours of sleep waking up to it (yes, I think I can smell it in my sleep; stomped poo is far stronger than non-stomped). He is all fluffy and clean now though, and doesn't smell like poop.

I think his sniffer does not work very well. I have always believed this to an extent, but now I am sure of it. I think even blind, a cat should be able to easily find a bowl of food, and would not lay in a spot of urine or poop due to the smell. He never even tried to smell anything like other cats, and it was about the same when he could see. I think now he is relying on only sound and the declining cognitive and memory abilities of an aging cat.
 

Alpha1

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Mar 28, 2012
Location
USA
Sorry to hear you had another major clean up, you're very loving to make things good again for him, I'm sure he's confused and sad about all this and doesn't want any of it to happen. :(
 

Esme

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Mar 27, 2015
Location
PA USA
I feel so bad for Eek and you. It's a difficult aging so ungracefully but you're a good caregiver and he loves you for it. Hang in there my friend:love_heart:
 

catsandcorals

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Jul 30, 2017
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Thank you. The support I have gotten here really is making me feel less frustrated, so I am forever grateful.

I bought one re-usable large pad to try out. If it goes ok, I will buy more and only use disposables at certain time. This morning's cleanup was so much easier, I just had the one big pad to pick up, and tossed it in the washer set for half hour pre-soak and a post second rinse. I used strictly cloth diapers when my son was a baby, so I think I am ok doing this for the cat. If it works out, I will save a lot of money after initial cost. The one pad I got is about 2ft x 3ft and was $10 at the grocery store. I would need at least 6 of them (use 3 at a time for the space cat is in, and have the second set for when others are in the wash). I think I can get a set of them on eBay which will be less expensive.
 


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