Paws and Effect

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

What brand of dry cat food should I buy for my 1 -1/2 yr.old Maine Coon cat who seems to have problems with digesting dry cat foods? As fast as he eats it, it comes out the back end, and it smells really foul and it’s runny, too! I’ve tried only giving him wet foods, and the pooping stopped completely. But he drives me crazy with eating everything he finds on the floor — including bugs if he finds any! He follows me and whines for more food. Is there a dry food that doesn’t have all of those grains in it that I should buy for him that would help stop the runny poop and the farts? Also, his rear end leaks all over my furniture. I’m constantly cleaning his behind. And he does have long hair too! Help! The bigger he gets, the more he eats and poops. (He already weighs 18.8 pounds!)

~ Lori

Thomas: Well, Lori, before you change foods, the first thing we’d suggest is a visit to the vet. You need to get to the bottom …

Bella: Tee hee hee!

Thomas: Bella! Seriously! As I was saying, you need to get to the bottom of this bowel incontinence. It may be more than just a food issue.

Bella: Certain parasites like giardia and coccidia cause really nasty-smelling diarrhea, and those can be treated by a course of medicine prescribed by your vet.

Thomas: And those parasites can be contagious to humans, too, so if he does have coccidia or giardia, you want to get him treated as soon as you can.

Bella: Beyond that, it sounds like your kitty may be very sensitive to grains, and while there are a number of dry foods that are grain-free, they all have “replacement carbohydrates” like sweet potato or tapioca to help bind the food into kibbles.

Thomas: Besides, more and more vets are saying that cats stay healthier on a diet of canned foods because canned food is closer to what we cats evolved to eat in the wild.

Bella: Another thing your vet might test for is irritable bowel disease, which can also cause diarrhea. This can also cause gas. Generally speaking, this has to do with food sensitivities.

Thomas: If your cat does have IBD, your vet can help you find foods that will be more easily digested. Sometimes limited-ingredient diets or diets with novel proteins — meats that aren’t usually found in cat food — like rabbit can help your kitty get less flatulent and runny. I used to have a really sensitive tummy, too, but Mama started feeding all of us a raw food diet and my problems cleared up literally overnight!

Bella: We’re hesitant to recommend any particular brand of food because we don’t eat dry food ourselves, but if you want to feed dry food as well as wet, we suggest that you look for foods that have those unusual proteins or for premium brands that specifically say “grain-free” on the bag.

Thomas: And of course, you’ll want to start with the smallest bag of food you can get, so that you’re not out a lot of money if your kitty doesn’t like it or if it doesn’t stop the diarrhea.

Bella: You also want to control your cat’s weight: if he’s overweight, the fatter he gets, the harder it’s going to be for him to clean himself and the more butt cleaning you’re going to have to do. Ew!

Thomas: But before you do anything, please make an appointment to get your cat checked out at the vet. And bring a stool sample with you so they can test his feces for giardia, coccidia or other parasites.

Bella: What about you other readers? Do or did you have a cat with stinky stools and a runny behind? What did you do to help your cat feel better? Please share your stories in the comments.

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