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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 10266
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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My Dad had two siamese cats and now he only has one. The

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My Dad had two siamese cats and now he only has one. The older siamese, Charlie, had to be put to sleep because he was very ill. For a few weeks the other siamese, Timmy, behaved normally but for the past two weeks he has been staying permanently outside Dad's flat. He is still eating because Dad calls him and he comes to eat. Sometimes Dad manages to pick him up, bring him into the flat and give him something to eat but as soon as he has finished eating, he's straight back outside. Sometimes Dad's neighbour has given Timmy something to eat. Dad wonders if Timmy has now realised that Charlie is not coming back and is mourning for him. Dad is old and disabled and living on his own, so Timmy is company for him and, not only did he find losing Charlie very upsetting but the fact that Timmy won't come in is also very upsetting, and it is upsetting me aswell. Dad asked me if I could look after Timmy because I have his cat's brother from the same litter but of course Timmy found it very strange living in a strange flat and hid under the bed all night. The next day in the afternoon, Timmy came out and had a look round and eventually sat on the kitchen work top and stayed there. He seemed a bit calmer. He ate a tiny bit while he was with me on the first night and had a little water to drink but the next day he didn't eat or drink anything. Dad phoned me several times to ask how Timmy was coping. Yesterday, Dad took him back and, not surprisingly, Timmy has stayed outside all night and won't come in, and Dad is at his wit's end. It is now playing on his mind that he shouldn't have had Charlie, the older cat, put down and feels bad about it but of course there's nothing he can do about that now. Can you suggest ways in which I could help? If I had Timmy back at my place again, Dad would miss him and want him back and maybe, as soon as I unlocked the cat flap at my flat, Timmy would run off. We don't know what to do about this and I would be very grateful for your help.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.

Hello Ruth, I'm Dr. Deb.

I recently came online and see that your question about Timmy hasn't been answered. I'm so sorry that you've had to wait for a response,but if you still need assistance, I'd like to help if I can.

First, let me express my condolences to you and your dad on the loss of your beloved Charlie. I know this must have been a very heartbreaking decision for you both.

And, now this current situation with Timmy is obviously a very distressing as well.

I do have a few questions to ask first, if you don't mind:
1. Has Timmy been losing weight?
2. Any change in his drinking or urinating habits?
3. No vomiting or diarrhea?
4. Does he seem at all confused or is he still mentally alert and aware all of the time? 5. When he's inside your dad's flat, how does he behave? Is he anxious, excessively vocalizing, for example?
6. Has any recent blood work been done on him?

There may be a delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you and I may be offline at the time you respond. But I'll get back to you as soon as I can since I'm on the computer some part of every day.

Thanks for your patience. Deb

Dr. Deb and 2 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I do have a few questions to ask first, if you don't mind:
1. Has Timmy been losing weight? - Difficult to say because he wasn't weighed before this trouble started but he looks thin and I can feel his vertebrae on his spine. I weighed him when he was at my flat and he weighs 3.7 kg.
2. Any change in his drinking or urinating habits? Not sure what he's been doing while outside, bearing in mind he has been continually outside for 2 weeks.
3. No vomiting or diarrhea? No, though again, difficult to say because he's always outside so can't see what he's doing.
4. Does he seem at all confused or is he still mentally alert and aware all of the time? No, is mentally alert and aware.

5. When he's inside your dad's flat, how does he behave? Is he anxious, excessively vocalizing, for example? Anxious. When Dad brings him in he goes straight out.

6. Has any recent blood work been done on him? No.

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.

Ruth:
Thanks for the answers to my questions. And I'm not sure if you hit the rating's button unintentionally or not since answers are usually rated after a reply is provided but I thank you.

My initial thoughts about this situation with Timmy is not that his behavior is because he's mourning Charlie although I can see why you and your dad might think this was the case. Don't get me wrong: I do believe that cats mourn but I'm just not certain that this is playing a role in his behavior now. If he were acting mopey and depressed or constantly searching for him, then I'd be more inclined to think it was playing a role.

Having said that, he Timmy and Charlie spent a great deal of time outside together, then he may be searching for him and hasn't reconciled himself to the fact that he's gone yet. If that's the case, then it may just be a matter of more time for Timmy to realize that his friend won't be coming back and he'll feel more comfortable spending time inside with your dad.

I always worry when older cats start to behave in odd and unusual ways that their may be an underlying medical reason for them doing so. For example, cats with Hypertension can start acting differently. In a cat, this condition is usually secondary to other conditions such as Hyperthyroid Disease, Diabetes, or kidney issues...which is why I asked about weight loss, vomiting/diarrhea, thirst and urination changes.
Since blood work hasn't been done on him recently, this may be something to consider. We can also take blood pressure measurements on cats although sometimes it's difficult to accurately interpret the results based on the cat's attitude towards a car ride and the vet visit.

Brain masses can also cause older cats to act differently from the norm although this is going to be a much more difficult diagnosis to make without an MRI. These masses tend to be slow growing but are not usually amenable to surgery since they're usually located in areas of the brain where it's not practical or feasible to remove them....assuming this is something that you would consider for a cat this age.

I know your dad wants Timmy to be happy but I wonder what would happen if he kept him inside (once he manages to catch him and bring him in) and not let him out at all.
I'd advise use of a product called Feliway which is a natural pheromone and is intended to reduce stress and anxiety. Composure Chews are the oral equivalent of Feliway and could be given if he likes tasty treats.
The goal of such products would be to help him relax and feel less stressful while readjusting to inside life.

The only other thing which occurred to me is that Timmy may feel less safe or threatened somehow by remaining indoors. If you believe in such things, it's possible that he even sees Charlie (or something else) and is totally unprepared to deal with it. If that's even the remotest possibility, then there are pet communicators whom you could contact who then, in turn, could contact Timmy.
I know this may sound odd coming from me but I've had a number of clients through the years who swear by such individuals and have incredible stores to tell so I try to keep an open mind.

I hope this helps although I realize that this is a situation which may not have an easy solution.
At the least, however, I'd want to rule out an underlying medical explanation for his behavior (although I probably wouldn't have an MRI done if this were my cat).

Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks, ***** ***** your comprehensive response. I hope he hasn't got hyperthyroid because Charlie lost a lot of weight and became very ill because of that. Timmy looks very thin to me - as I said before he weighs 3.7 kg, which doesn't sound too bad. Dad had him back for a day and then wanted me to take him back again, so I agreed but on the strict understanding that he wouldn't keep changing his mind, otherwise Timmy won't know whether he's coming or going. So, I have had Timmy back, for keeps this time. I was rather annoyed with Dad because Dad lost his temper with Timmy when Timmy kept miaowing in his carrier box and Dad was banging the box grating with his crutch! Sounds almost amusing - a bit like Victor Meldrew in "One Foot in the grave" (English sitcom - you probably haven't seen it) but I didn't find it amusing when he was losing patience with Timmy. I told him off and said that Timmy couldn't help it. Timmy is sitting on the kitchen windowsill tonight, been there for hours. Hasn't eaten or drunk. I will have to take him to the vet next week after he has, hopefully, settled a bit, if he will. A friend advised me to refer him to a cat rescue centre but I don't want to because i don't want to give up on him, except as a last resort. Anyway these rescue centres are always bursting at the seams and saying they are fully booked up. As I said, thanks for the information, it's very useful, and I hope it's not his thyroid because that would be history repeating itself, as with Charlie. With Charlie, the vet was suggesting all sorts of treatments because of his thyroid - it was a nightmare. Dad has been torturing himself thinking he may have made a mistake in having Charlie put to sleep and I told him it's no use torturing himself now and he probably did the right thing because Charlie was at least 15 yrs old and getting rapidly more and more ill.

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.
Ruth:
You're more than welcome. I'm sorry that I didn't respond sooner but I had to work today at a vet clinic and have just now logged back onto the site.

You're correct that I'm not familar with the sitcom you reference but I do love British comedies so I'd probably enjoy it.

It sounds to me like it might be best that Timmy stay with you as your pet if things work out. I agree that the back and forth was not good for him since cats hate change as you know....and they hate it even more as they age.
And, your dad's impatience with Timmy probably hasn't helped the situation especially if he was getting a little impatient with him at other times as well.

It's awfully difficult to find homes for older cats (as you probably know) so I do so hope that this is not a serious option for him.

I actually think a diagnosis of Hyperthyroid disease is a good diagnosis since there are a variety of treatment options and most cats do very well once treatment has begun. You'll have to share why it was such a nightmare with Charlie.
But, please don't share my thoughts with your dad since there will be no reason for him to feel worse than he already does about putting him to sleep.

If Charlie's quality of life was poor, then I agree that euthanasia was the kindest decision to make although I know that second-guessing the decision is easy to do.

I hope that Timmy settles in before too long and adjusts well to his new home. It may be a difficult transition for him to make but I hope that he can manage to acclimate to his new situation.

Please continue to keep me posted (and please share Charlie's treatment options if you have a chance). Even though you've rated, we can still continue to communicate at no additional charge to you. Regards, Deb
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks again, Deb. We took Timmy to a local vet on Monday and the vet did not think he had hyperthyroid disease. She said that it is rare in siamese cats in her experience. She noticed he needs teeth extracting because they were rotten. She advised worming treatment and flea treatment, which I already had in hand. She also gave him a shot of anti-inflammatory for his tummy which she thought was a bit gassy. Since then, Dad took him home for a few more days to see if he would settle. As you suggested pet communicators to me, I have done a bit of "Dr Doolittle" stuff with Timmy myself - I will explain. Dad and I are Christians, so I decided to communicate with Timmy - in "tongues"!!! I speak in tongues and, as I doubt whether animals understand human languages to any high degree except for a few basic words, I wondered whether speaking in tongues may "reach" Timmy on a much deeper level than a human language would. I had no idea whether it would work but I thought I would give it a try because God gave me the language to communicate with Him on a deeper spiritual level, and God knows how animals think whereas we can only infer things from their behaviour, so it may help to communicate with Timmy. I spoke to Timmy in tongues while stroking him, finishing with a prayer in tongues. To our amazement, Timmy starting coming back into the flat! He has been in several times and sat on the chair for hours and had something to eat! I don't know what you think but I believe that I was able to communicate with Timmy in this way. I believe that through prayer and direct communication with Timmy in my spirit language, God answered my prayer and communicated with Timmy. I am praying that Timmy becomes more comfortable and settled and I wanted to share this with you as you suggested a pet communicator. Looks as if I have acted as a pet communicator - maybe! For the time being I will leave Timmy with Dad but if Timmy becomes unsettled again I will definitely take him in. Thanks, ***** ***** Deb - Ruth

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.

Ruth,

Thanks so much for sending me an update about Timmy. I actually had been wondering how he was making out.

I find your success in communicating with Timmy fascinating....and it does sound as if you were successful. As I previously mentioned, I've heard similar stories from owners throughout my career and my conclusion is that there's much that we don't know in this realm but that we should keep an open mind to alternative options.

I hope that you'll continue to communicate with him such that he continues to stay inside with your dad. He may need reinforcement from time to time that all is well.

Thanks, ***** ***** taking the time to send me an update about Timmy. I'll share your experience when I raise the possibility of animal communicators with other owners in the future. Regards, Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry Deb, I cannot rate your service again. I didn't realise that every time you rate the vet's service you have to pay an additional amount - I cannot afford to pay any more because I had to pay my local vet £71 for Timmy's treatment in addition to the £14 to this service, and I have a cat of my own to look after for whom I had to buy worm and flea treatment, in addition to buying a spray to treat my home against fleas, so all in all it has cost me a lot of money recently. Anyway, all the best for the future.

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.
Ruth:
I have no expectations of your paying or rating again; once is more than sufficient:)

I'm not sure what you see on your end of things which may be what prompted the explanation but no worries whatsoever.

Best of luck to you, your dad and Timmy, too:) Regards, Deb

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