The Big Guy and the Pet Food Recall.

As many of you already know, Schmitty had some problems recently that forced us to take him to the dreaded vet. I think the problems began in December when we noticed he was pooping outside of the litter box and that there were small amounts of blood in each of his stools, red blood. After reading about the symptoms online, we guessed that it was from too much pushing.

We brought him to the vet on February 18th. (I’m trying to get all my facts straight for this post. There is a good chance I’ll be wrong on something. I’ll update as necessary.) The vet said that she didn’t see anything wrong with him (although I don’t think she took more blood as he had just been there six months earlier). She took a urine sample and ran some other tests and she noticed that several of his teeth were rotting and were infected because of it. We knew this. His breath smelled so badly you could barely stand to be near him. Plus, he had had some removed in the past. But since we’re bad parents – parents who don’t like torturing him by taking him to the doctor – we postponed it until we realized we were entering PETA death threat territory. (I swear to the animal God, people, I would do just about anything for this cat. We do not neglect him. He is just absolutely terrified of the car. It breaks my heart having to watch him go through a vet visit.)

We let the vet do her thing. We left him there overnight so he could get an ECHO because she said there was some irregularity in his heartbeat. (I guessed she would have taken blood then, but I can’t be sure. We’ll have to call her.) He checked out fine and we go the go ahead for dental surgery. He went under that Thursday.

I picked him up the very next day. He was toothless and confused. We were given antibiotics and pain medicine, both of which were downright impossible to get down. We were told he would probably be disoriented for a while and would probably drink a lot more water. We were told he could start eating right away.

Back up for a minute. We put Schmitty on a wet food diet about 9 months ago specifically due to his decaying, and lack of teeth. Usually we feed him Newman’s Own but sometimes that wet food included the stuff currently being recalled because he wasn’t always crazy about certain cans of Newman’s Own. This cat loves to eat. He lives to eat. We tried feeding him everything. We even gave him the pouched, gravy kind (currently being recalled) and I’m sure we gave him other tainted brands during that time as well. (Seriously, what wet foods are SAFE to feed cats. It seems to me this list gets longer every day.) So when I noticed he was losing weight and not eating quite as much as he once had, I got a little worried. We assumed his lack of appetite was due to his painful teeth, hence the extra push to visit the vet. Point is he visited the vet after he would have eaten the tainted food. One would assume they would have caught that, right?

Schmitty ate just fine for a few days right after we left the vet. His appetite seemed to be closer to normal. He scarfed down certain foods and left the rest. He still has an appetite. He begs for food. I feed him and then he nibbles on a few pieces, or licks the top of his wet food. and then he moves on. And he doesn’t poop much at all anymore. He stands outside the box as if convulsing from below and nothing ever comes out. He drinks water as usual and he seems perfectly happy but he’s just not eating as much as he should be and he’s still having bathroom problems.

And so I am worried. And I’m a little annoyed as well. We took him in because there was a little blood in his stool and he was going outside the box. We spent over 1500 bucks to have his teeth removed and cleaned and his heart checked. The vet said that while he was under for oral surgery she gave him a Colonoscopy and said that everything appeared to be fine. The annoying thing is the problem we originally took him in for was not at all fixed. Instead, we have a toothless cat that doesn’t really eat much anymore and can’t poop. 1500 dollars in credit card debt later and he hasn’t gotten any better. (Is there pet health insurance? Clearly, we need it.)

I know I need to take him back to the vet and that brings me heartburn for two reason: I don’t have the money right now to pay for another massive vet bill as I’m still paying off the first one. I’m also worried about what they’re going to tell me after charging me thousands of dollars. I’m a bad parent in a cheap state of denial.

Before I torture him all over again (and start hooking myself on the street corner) I’m looking to the Internet for answers. Would acute kidney failure have shown up in his urine? If he had eaten tainted cat food, wouldn’t they have caught that while he was there in February? What’s wrong with my Big Guy?

Related news: Lisa started a pool on Flickr featuring the little fuzzy people who have perished due to the Menu Foods disaster. Look at this little baby.

God dammit. I have to stop looking at this shit, it’s making me cry.


  1. I believe that they can tell if he has kidney issues by doing an analysis of his blood gases, not his urine.

    How old is the big guy?


  2. He’s 15.

    Tobyjoe talked to the vet this morning and she said he might have a stool in his intestines which would lead him to believe he’s full when he’s not and would also cause him to push too hard to get it out therefore causing the blood etc.

    Because of his gas (yes, he has gas and sometimes stuff comes out when he farts) she thinks it’s intestinal and not related to the tainted food at all. That’s reassuring. But what isn’t so much is that she wants us to bring him in again. Ugh.


  3. Man, I am annoyed right now. This vet is going to break us. She’s trying to get us to take him in and get MORE bloodwork done, which means at least 400 more dollars. I really don’t have the money to do this kind of crap and it’s infuriating to me that this wasn’t addressed when we brought him in in February.


  4. Schmitty seems to have the same symptoms our cat Holly has had for quite some time now. I have been back and forth the vet about this for a awhile. I love my vet but she can’t seem to find out exactly why there is blood mixed in with her stool. We also find spots of blood in various areas on the floor. Quite fun! Our vet thinks Holly has a very sensitive stomach so she is now on Hills Prescription diet I/D for felines. She has also been on a couple rounds of steroids to keep down the inflammation….When she is on that medicine she seems to do alright. I just don’t know if this is something we will have to do for the rest of her life though….
    Anyway, the Dr.’s main view is Holly has a sensitive stomach is really all.
    Hope this helps…


  5. nervous and small April 4, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Yes, they DO have pet health insurance. It’s actually been around for quite a while [I had friends who had it as an insurance product in the ‘90’s, and the only real reason I remember this, is that I didn’t have health insurance at the time, but their two cats did, and this became a running joke for awhile]………….alas, it’s kinda like “flood” insurance………one never ponders it until, well……it would really help out a lot. Sorry to hear Schmitty’s under the weather…….


  6. We feed our (problem) kitties Wellness Diet and they have been doing super on it. Two of them had very frustrating, expensive mystery problems that multiple vets could not pinpoint an exact cause for. Once we started feeding them this food the problems went away almost entirely. It’s worth every penny. It may take some hunting to see what store carries it though. Good luck and sending healthy thoguhts to Schmitty.


  7. I know Wellness, well. Perhaps I’ll try that one. I just hit the pet store and got him some wet kitten food. He seems to be eating it. I put some flax into the mix as well. I would LOVE to fix this problem on my own instead of dumping another thousand bucks into more blood work only to find out that they can’t figure out what the problem actually is. And, Cathy, I think you might be onto something with the tummy. Perhaps I’ll give your remedy a shot as well.

    I love this guy and if they assured me they would solve his problem, I’d happily spend more money. But this vet is killing me. She just can’t seem to figure it out and I don’t have the money to give her all the time in the world to do so.

    Cathy, where does one get that brand? I can get Wellness at our local joint. I think. But Hills?


  8. Oh, god, honey, I’m so sorry about all of this. :(

    I had a cat when I still lived in Michigan who developed kidney failure at 16. It came on VERY quickly and luckily it was caught and treated early, an she lived another 3 years before passing from stomach cancer. I think it’s one of those things that can develop and progress rapidly, so a vet visit in February may not have shown anything.

    There is some info on kidney disease on the Cat Practice website:

    I feel horrible that you’re feeling so frustrated about all of this. Have you thought about getting a second opinion from someone, maybe a vet closer to where you live so the car torture is minimal?

    (Also, I know a bunch of people who feed their cats and dogs Wellness, and they say it’s been great.)

    Smooch the big guy for me. Poor fella.


  9. Oh, another thing you might try, which we did with Dub last October, is cooking up some plain white rice until it’s completely mushy, and mixing that with chopped up boiled turkey (best) or chicken – cool the mixture a bit and serve. Dr. Sullivan recommended that to us when Dub first started having his tummy issues and he did eat it, though as you know there was more going on with him.


  10. They put rice in the Newman’s. That always makes me giggle. He loves fish, which is funny because we were told that cats shouldn’t eat fish. I’m willing to toss that one out the door to get him to eat more, however.

    I’ll have to try some turkey the next time we get a bird. I’ll feed him anything at this point. I’ll even make his childhood favorite: banana muffin tops.


  11. I can see over at my sidebar that there’s a class action lawsuit taking place. Insane. I seriously wonder how many cats and dogs have died from this monstrosity.

    I feel a rant about globalization coming on…


  12. Sorry about your little guy. Hopefully your vet will be able to figure what is wrong before you break the bank.

    My cat has been ill for a few months. I felt terrible last week when I took him to the vet and found out he weighs only six pounds. Fortunately, we found he has hyperthyroidism. Unfortunately, he needs pills 2x per day for the rest of his life. I am no good at giving pills to cats. But looks like I will be getting lots of practice in the future. If anyone has any good tips, please share!


  13. Just to clarify, I do not feel fortunate that my cat has hyperthyroidism. I am fortunate because it is totally treatable.


  14. Julie: I have had a better time with pills than we had with this damn syringe in the mouth ordeal. What a freaking disaster that was. I had it all over myself and Schitty wore it on his chest. I don’t think we got anything into his actual mouth.

    So, pills. Can you break them up and put them into wet food or tuna? Since the little guy is so underweight a little wet food won’t hurt him, right? How big are the pills? I used to confuse my cats by putting them in yummy food. If you can’t do that, then, yeah, I feel your pain. Shoving things down a cat’s throat is NOT a pleasant or easy thing to do.

    Anyone else out there have a cure all for the whole pill drop thing?


  15. Back when my former cat’s teeth were falling out, I read somewhere that wet food actually promotes decay. I’ve since fed my current cat dry food only. I don’t know how you work around that when your cat doesn’t have any teeth left, though. Really, the whole thing just makes me incredibly sad for you.


  16. The weird thing is, I only ever gave him dry food all his life. We only recently switched over. Although, I didn’t always feed him the healthiest food out there. There were times he got used to McDonalds type food over the course of his 15 years. When I tried to feed him diet food, he simply refused to go near it. We spent so much money on expensive foods for him and he just looked at us like we were insane. Picky fellas.


  17. Yep, there’ll be a nice class action lawsuit to recover vet costs, and perhaps pain and suffering incurred at having an otherwise healthy family pet in renal failure.

    IANAVet, but it doesn’t sound like Schmitty’s got renal failure. That’s a pretty quick process, and a real slippery slope towards death.

    He may just be aging the way mammals are meant to age. When teeth start to decay naturally, you have to start treating the old guys like they’re babies again. Jenblossom’s idea of mushy rice mixed with poultry sounds like a good place to start.

    I don’t have much else to add… but just a wee word of caution: Careful of the flax. If it’s seeds, and Schmitty has a blockage, it could make the issue worse. I’ve been told by many practitiners over the years that oil may be better, as the hulls of the seeds can collect in small pockets in the colon.

    Scritches to Schmitty. And a big hug for you. And maybe a second vet’s opinion.


  18. oh ps… Man, I love that kitty’s face.


  19. Thanks for the pointers on the flax. I think I’ll lay off that for a while as well. They are ground, but I don’t want to irritate the poor guy’s belly more than it already is.

    He does have a perfectly lovely face, doesn’t he? Man, do I ever love him.


  20. we have insurance for mortimer…but they don’t cover pre-existing conditions and for him, they recently decided to stop covering the thing that we had been testing for over and over.


  21. Hello—I’ve been reading you for a while now (am also pregnant—17 weeks) but haven’t commented yet. I know a good vet in Carroll Gardens if you’re looking for a second opinion. She can be a bit pricey (and would also require a drive) but she is also a good diagnostician and leans towards natural remedies. If you tell her you don’t have a lot of money to spend up front, she may have some suggestions. Although I’ve often had to take my two dogs in more than once to diagnose anything really tricky. Send me an email if you’d like her info. Good luck to you and Schmitty!


  22. ahhh – nevermind… I just read 15 yrs


  23. I believe Hills Prescription diet I/D is only available from a vet.


  24. KidKate, I’ll write you an email for sure.


  25. where is your paypal button? seriously.


  26. Hey lady. that’s so not necessary, but thank you for asking. We don’t have one set up. We do have a registry set up for the baby. If for some reason you have an extra 15 bucks lying around, feel free to get some Boudreaux’s Buttpaste. :]

    Also, for those of you who already got us something, if it’s not too much to ask, might you drop us an email? We want to thank you in more ways than just one. Someone recently purchased us a (way too pricey) car seat and I’m not sure who you are. I have your address (snail) but I want to email you as well. I do hope you see this.


  27. The whole thing makes me cry whenever I read about it. I love our two kitties so much. People were all “when you have a baby, you won’t be so obsessed with your cats”. Lies. I love them even more. The recall makes my blood boil. I want to punch someone. I also want to snuggle all the kitties and all the peoples who have lost kitties or have sick ones. I hope things turn out ok.


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