|First Entry: October 20, 2010
I adopted my first cats, Pookie and his sister, Bonnie, when they were about 8 weeks old from a co-worker who
took in a stray that later accidentally got pregnant by another stray. Pookie was the only male of the litter. I free-
fed commercial dry food and gave them some canned in the morning and evening. All was fine for a while but
now and then, even before they were a year old, one or the other would vomit or regurgitate their food.
Experienced people told me that cats sometimes throw up and told me not to worry about it. It seemed odd to me,
but since I was new to being a cat mommy I took their word for it.
By 1 year old, the vomiting and regurgitating was happening almost daily. I asked my vet about it and he
mentioned it could be food allergies. There were tests that could be run, he told me, but they were expensive
and may not be conclusive. Since he didn’t seem very confident that it would be worth the expense, I decided to
do a food journal of everything they ate, when they threw up and where (in case it was environmental), and who
did it (if I was home). I started the journal in June 2005 and switched them to Purina One Sensitive Systems. A
month later I started giving them smaller portions of canned food, thinking perhaps the problem was that they
were eating too fast. A few months later I started mixing Eukanuba Sensitive Stomach with the Purina One. In
January 2006 I added large beads to their dry food to slow them down, still thinking at least part of the problem
was that they were eating too fast. I also tried Natural Choice dry food with the Purina One and began giving
them pepcid as needed.
In February 2006 I switched their dry to Hills ZD and also began feeding the canned formula. They stayed on
the canned for about 10 days. They would still bring the dry up for another look, though not as often. I did find
that they usually regurgitated foods that contained fish products. Even if it only contained salmon oil, they
couldn’t tolerate it. So I made sure the canned didn’t contain fish, and fed a dry that I thought didn’t contain fish,
however it took me until their next vet visit a few months later to realize that just because the bag says “chicken
& rice” doesn’t mean that there’s no fish in it. I switched them to a dry with no fish products and things did
improve, though they would still have hairballs a lot.
In April I began mixing the Purina One (no fish) back in with the ZD. In May I pulled the ZD completely, since it
hadn’t seemed to make much difference. August 2006, after Pookie’s sister had 4 teeth pulled (both were 2
years old) I added a dental rinse to their water and started to brush their teeth. Pookie’s teeth were fine.
September 2006, I started mixing Science Diet Hairball Light (no fish) with the Purina One, since they seemed to
have a lot of hairballs.
By the time they were about 3 years old, they were vomiting/regurgitating several times a day and night, every
day and night. September 2007, I began weaning them off the Science Diet. The vet stated that it was like
feeding them cappuccino (high calories) and I needed to watch their weight so they wouldn’t become diabetic. At
that time Pookie weighed 15 pounds.
In November 2007 I added river rocks to their dry food. At some point I had removed the beads but don’t
remember when. In December 2007 I removed the Science Diet dry completely. A few days later I replaced the
Purina completely with Hill’s ZD after Bonnie had a severe bout of vomiting which led to an endoscopy. I added a
little of the Purina One back in a few days later.
In January 2008, Pookie couldn’t keep down any dry food. I called my vet and asked how I could get him back on
the dry and was told that he “didn’t have a clue.” I took Pookie to a different vet who suggested pepcid, and
advised giving him the canned with 1-2 kibble mixed in, making sure they were coated in the gravy, and over
time increase the number of kibble. I did that, and also gave him dry softened in water, and over several weeks I
was able to get him back on his dry food. Looking back, though, I’m amazed that no one ever suggested that I
not feed the dry food at all and feed only canned, and that I never thought to ask. I had been told that cats
should eat dry food to clean their teeth and I’d never heard of anyone feeding only canned food.
In February 2008 I bought a timed feeder and started putting very small amounts in the feeder so Pookie would
have some to eat without (hopefully) irritating his stomach. It was set to dispense at certain times throughout the
day. In April I started giving him Excel for his hairballs and later switched to Petromalt.
By May, the vomiting/regurgitating had started up again so I began switching them off the ZD dry and back to the
Purina One Sensitive Systems. June 2008 I switched Pookie to Kitty malt for his hairballs, even though it did
contain fish. I also was using the Furminator on him but it seemed to make the hairballs worse, probably because
it loosened up so much hair. Pookie doesn’t care too much for brushing so I couldn’t do it for very long.
In July I started giving them canned pumpkin to help with the hairballs. I stopped using the Furminator and at
some point I stopped giving the pumpkin. In August I took them to a completely different vet, who prescribed Lax’
aire for the hairballs and told me that “a cat will throw up as soon as look at you.” He felt the tummy issues were
“genetic” since they’re litter mates and because their mother and sister also had similar problems (I was still in
touch with the woman who gave them to me, who kept one of their sisters and their mother). Lax’aire contains
cod liver oil, and while Pookie seemed okay with it (I assumed due to the low amount I was giving him), his sister
became violently sick.
In January 2009, Bonnie had a very bad episode, I suspect due to my dry pilling her medication. No one had
ever told me to follow a pill with water or food, and I didn’t know the pill could dissolve in the esophagus and
erode it. I took her to the vet and asked if she had IBD. He said that she could, so I began feeding Hill’s
Prescription Diet I/D dry food to both, thinking that Pookie might have IBD as well since he also would vomit his
food (at no time were either of them “officially“ diagnosed with IBD). Pookie continued to get his normal canned
food and Bonnie got the I/D canned. In less than 3 months, Pookie gained 1 pound and Bonnie gained 3. Both
were 16 pounds! Bonnie became lethargic and groggy, and both drank a lot of water. The volume in the litter box
went up dramatically. Pookie seemed to be having problems tolerating canned food with beef products in it.
I mentioned this to a co-worker and she asked if I’d considered home-cooked diets. I was desperate and began
searching the internet, where I found Dr. Pierson’s site, www.catinfo.org, and that’s when I FINALLY began to
understand what was going on. I eventually was directed to Dr. Hodgkin’s book, “Your Cat: Simple Secrets to a
Longer, Stronger Life.” That book has become my cat Bible, and it’s what finally motivated me to remove the dry
food and begin feeding a grain-free canned food. Amazingly enough, once they went grain-free they could eat
food with fish without any problems!
I also wanted to raw-feed and the first time I gave Pookie a small piece of raw chicken, he didn’t know what to do
with it. He licked it off my finger several times and I finally had to hold it for him before he ate it. He really liked it
and when I took the plate to his sister in her basket, he followed me. She knew immediately what to do with it.
About 2 months after I removed the dry, Pookie’s coat became like silk, soft and shiny. Bonnie’s coat got much
better, too, and they both slowly lost weight. I tried giving them the Nature’s Variety chicken raw medallions, but
neither seemed to care for it and Bonnie couldn’t keep it down. I’ve tried the Bravo raw with Pookie and he likes
it, though he did regurgitate the turkey once and had an upset tummy for a couple of days after that, which was
resolved with pepcid.
In April 2009, I made the mistake of leaving out a string toy and Pookie ate it during the night. I didn’t know who’d
eaten it so both went to the vet for x-rays. Pookie was given 3 doses of hydrogen peroxide but was so nervous at
the vet’s that he wouldn’t vomit. I had to leave him there and they gave him something else to induce vomiting,
which worked. I brought him home that night and he began vomiting every couple minutes, and every time the
bile was a darker pink. I called the vet and they told me he’d be fine, but when he kept vomiting I called back and
they told me to bring him in. He stayed for 5 days because he was so nervous he wouldn’t eat, and they wanted
him to have a bowel movement to make sure there wasn’t any more string in him. They finally had to force feed
him and when he had a bowel movement (no string in it), I brought him home.
Late October 2009, I began giving Pookie the Chinese herbal, shen calmer, to try to calm him down so he
wouldn’t upset his sister so much (she didn‘t seem to like him anymore). He was on it for a month and it didn’t
seem to make a difference. Pookie has been in the kibble addiction recovery program for over a year now, and I
am happy to say that he is no longer on pepcid or any medications and is enjoying his grain-free canned food. I
rotate Wellness and Nature’s Instinct (he doesn’t care for Evo) and continue to try other grain-free can foods to
see if he’ll like it so I can add them to the rotation. I also give him raw chicken gizzards a couple of times a week
and a raw turkey breast tender or chicken tender at night.
He just had his annual check-up in August 2010. He’s 7 years old, 13 pounds, which the vet says is a perfect
weight for him, and his teeth look great. The only time he throws up/regurgitates now is if he eats too fast or is
overly excited, like when I open a can of Weruva as a treat or if I come home really late (he’s such a momma’s
boy), but once he calms down he’s fine (knock wood). I still keep the food journal as a precautionary measure. I
no longer feed him anything with beef, I don’t think he cares for it too much, and since he seemed to have
developed a sensitivity to it while on dry food, I don’t want to give it to him if he doesn’t want it. He was eating the
Wellness beef & chicken, though it wasn’t his favorite, but the last case of that flavor really turned him off for
some reason. He wouldn’t eat it, so I’ve taken it out of the rotation. I may give him some at a later time to add to
At some point I may try to do more raw-feeding, but after all these years of internet searches and trying to find
answers, I’m just enjoying having a healthy cat and the peace of mind that comes with knowing he’s being fed in
a way that’s healthier for him. I brush and comb him daily to help with the hairballs he had in early
spring/summer, but I do it now partially because he likes the attention. I no longer give him dental rinse or
hairball gel. I had brushed their teeth for a time but don’t do that anymore, either.
I no longer get Pookie vaccinated and got a waiver from my vet. Both Pookie and his sister were given FVRCPC
annually through age 4 (I didn't know that vaccines are labeled for use only in healthy animals and the vet I had
at the time continued to vaccinate despite their obvious health problems). When they were 5, I went to another
vet who told me that they'd been getting the three year rabies vaccine, so they weren't due for a couple of years.
They haven’t been vaccinated for anything since they were 4. Pookie was due for rabies this year (the others
aren't required by law in New Jersey at his age), which is when I requested the waiver. It took years to get him to
a better place and I don't want to "fix" what isn't "broken," especially since he's strictly indoor, doesn't have
access to the attic and I don't have a fireplace for bats or other animals to get inside. He also doesn’t get
boarded and he’s not a show cat. I have a strong suspicion that over-vaccination contributes to, if not causes,
IBD, and after everything he's been through, I'm not taking any chances. He'll continue to get annual check-ups
to make sure he's doing well.
|Pookie Hooper - New Jersey, USA
Male, Domestic short hair
Born May 20th, 2003
Diagnosed with suspected IBD in January 2009
|While Pookie was on shen calmer, she was on the Chinese herbals Jade Lady and later, Eight Gentleman. After
Pookie came home from the “string incident,” Bonnie hissed at him and never quite got used to him again. She
would hide under the sofa and hiss or growl when he came by. I tried the Feliway diffuser and over a couple
months things seemed to improve, until August ‘09 when both of them must have had a fight, and hacked up
huge hairballs within 10 minutes of each other. He couldn’t keep his food down so I put him on pepcid for a
couple of days, and he was fine. Bonnie couldn’t keep food or water down (vomiting pink bile) so I gave her
pepcid as well and moved her to the spare bedroom with the thought that I’d reintroduce them once she calmed
down. That never happened. I also noticed that she would smack her lips after eating, like she was going to
vomit, and/or sort of burp (with a closed mouth). My vet told me not to worry about it, but I wasn’t comfortable
with that and took her to a holistic vet who gave me probiotics and colostrum to add to her food. A couple of
months later, she couldn’t keep down the tiny piece of raw chicken I would give as a bedtime treat, and she
began vomiting her grain-free canned food. This is when I tried the Chinese herbals vet, but the herbals didn’t
help. By February of 2010, using the food log I realized that she was developing allergies to chicken, turkey, beef
and fish (she had been able to tolerate the turkey & salmon grain-free canned for a while). I contacted a
homeopathic vet and we tried various remedies, but the lip smacking and burping only got worse. This vet had
recommended “cool” foods like duck, so I gave her Evo duck which she tolerated. I was feeding her a tiny
portion, waiting 13 minutes, another tiny portion, etc. to make sure she got enough food/moisture, and did this 3
times a day. With the vet’s approval, I tried a tiny amount of a pre-made raw rabbit with bone but she couldn’t
keep it down. The vet had also suggested browned ground turkey, but she couldn’t keep that down, either.
I began researching NAET, but on Saturday, April 17, 2010, Bonnie had a small hairball and regurgitated her
food. I had to run out for an appointment and when I returned, she had vomited pink bile several times. (I’m sure
she had drunk some water and it was irritating her throat which triggered the vomiting). I followed the
homeopathic vet’s instructions on what remedy to use and how often, and also gave her small amounts of food
throughout the day and into the early morning. Sunday night she had diarrhea, which she’d never had before,
and the next morning she began vomiting again. I had started adding water to her food that morning and she
couldn’t keep it down. At that point I made the heart-breaking decision to surrender her to the Chinese herbal vet
(who also does NAET), who earlier that year had offered to take her if I couldn’t care for her anymore, and on
Monday, April 19th, I gave up my Sweetie Girl.
One month later, a week after she turned 7 years old, the vet contacted me that Bonnie had a seizure, was blind
and couldn’t walk or lift her head. She suspected Bonnie had a microscopic GI cancer that had reached her
brain, and Bonnie was scheduled to be put to sleep the next day. When I called the next morning, her
euthanasia had been delayed because she was responding to light. The vet now suspected GME, a form of
encephalitis. The last I’ve heard, Bonnie could see, was slowly improving, and though she would fall down often,
she could walk.
Pookie's Update: June 23, 2011
Pookie’s been doing well. He’s had the occasional hairball or regurgitated his food once in a while, the latter
usually due to nerves such as my neighbor doing renovations (Pookie startles easily and can be jumpy). Starting
in August/September 2010 he would occasionally burp or smack his lips, which was new, but was fine until late
November when I made the mistake of giving him some raw chicken tenders which I hadn’t frozen until after they
had expired. I had thought he wouldn’t eat it if it was bad. He did eat it, but after a few days he didn’t seem
interested in eating his regular food. I added a probiotic to his food for several days and his appetite came back,
and I’ve continued to add the probiotic to his food every other day.
The lip smacking/burping seemed to increase in January/February of 2011, which concerned me because his
sister Bonnie began doing that, and that was the beginning of her becoming allergic to several proteins. On
March 5th, I gave him his first dose of B12 (methylcobalamin 1,000 mcg) & folic acid (400 mcg) in his food. I did
this almost daily for a month and have been doing it several times a week since, and it seems like the burping
has decreased (knock wood) though he still does it now and then. I also started increasing the times between
mini-meals, from 30 minutes to 40 minutes.
As a result of the Wellness recall, I have had to take Wellness out of his rotation, only because for some reason,
Pookie will not eat the food that comes from the manufacturer with “7w” on the bottom of the can, except for the
grain-free Turkey & Salmon. After the recall, I have been unable to find Wellness that isn’t marked “7w .” Now he
is currently eating mostly the Nature’s Variety Instinct grain-free canned, with an occasional treat of Weruva
grain-free (none of the fish varieties) and raw chicken hearts and gizzards. I’m also continuing to try to find more
foods to add to his rotation, but he can be picky.
Also as a result of the recall, I decided to add spirulina to his food to give him more nutrients, however even
though I was giving much less than the recommended dose, it seems to decrease his litter box usage, so I only
give him a tiny amount once a week. His last dose was May 22nd. I haven’t given him any since then because of
On June 3rd, he had a very large hairball which upset his tummy and caused him to regurgitate his dinner. I
gave him a dose of the homeopathic remedy nux vomica, waited an hour and fed him small amounts about 40
minutes apart and he was fine. In fact, the next night he caught a mouse in my basement and ate it. While he’s
caught mice there before, this was the first time he actually ate one. He caught another mouse the next night, but
I was able to get it away from him before he could eat it, though not before he killed it.
On June 10th, he regurgitated his dinner, so I gave him another dose of nux vomica and followed the same
process I did a week earlier, and he was fine. As a result of doing this update, however, I went back through the
food log and it seems Pookie may be developing an intolerance to lamb. On several occasions, he has either
burped/smacked his lips or regurgitated his food after eating the lamb, usually in the evening. He has also
occasionally burped/smacked his lips after the raw chicken hearts/gizzards, but this has not been consistent. I
need to keep an eye on this situation, but may have to remove the lamb from his rotation. Right now, I’m starting
to add a couple more brands to his rotation, so I’m hoping that feeding the lamb with more days in between will
help, but again, I will keep a close eye on this.
Update: May 13, 2012
Pookie is still doing well, though I did pull the lamb from his rotation. I continue to try brands of grain-free wet
food but he can be picky, or else he doesn’t tolerate them. So he’s currently getting 4 wet foods, 2 that contain
chicken or chicken and turkey, 1 rabbit and 1 duck. I have noticed that when he eats the chicken or turkey
canned foods his lips swell. Sometimes in the corner of his mouth, sometimes on the bottom lip near the middle
of his mouth. The swelling and redness goes down after a day or so, and I deliberately alternate the days when I
feed the chicken with the days I feed rabbit or duck. I’m concerned that this is an allergic reaction, esp. since he
seems to scratch more on those days, and am trying to give him more raw. I don’t see the swelling when he eats
raw chicken, but he doesn’t seem to tolerate raw very well in the morning.
I have added whole prey mice (frozen mice from Petco) to his diet as a “bedtime snack” every other day or so.
He loves them and tolerates them well. I have also been giving him canned pumpkin twice a day to help with
hairballs. I freeze the pumpkin in ice cube trays and give him ½ a thawed cube before his 1st breakfast and the
other half before his 1st dinner. It seems to be working well. I no longer give the spirulina but Pookie still gets a
probiotic (Wholistic brand) almost daily, and the Superior Source No-shot B12 (with B6 and folic acid). The
burping/lip-smacking is almost totally gone, and it seems to come back if I go too long without giving him the B12.
I’ve also added a digestive enzyme (NaturVet Digestive Enzyme) to his food.
|Pookie and his sister Bonnie
|Side note on Bonnie: Bonnie had always had more
health problems than Pookie. Her first episode of
vomiting pink bile happened at 2 ½ years old, and she
had several episodes over the years. She had an
endoscopy and was diagnosed with food allergies, and
was put on metronidazole, amoxicillin, pepcid, sucralfate
and prednisolone. At no time was she ever “officially“
diagnosed as IBD, but in looking at her endoscopy
results and reviewing the “Cat Owner‘s Home Veterinary
Handbook“ I concluded a year later that she had IBD.
|Copyright © IBD Kitties 2008-2013, all rights reserved
|Living with IBD - Pookie H.