Cat Collapse Disorder

Boa cat is 11. We got her and Princess Mittens when my daughter was 7.

Last summer Princess Mittens was killed by a car in front of our house. We were looking for her the day after she went missing. A neighbor said, “There is a cat dead across the street. I’m sorry.” Yes, it was Princess, all stiff. We put her in a box and brought her in the living room. Boa came in, and went stiff legged, arched and fur on end and backed out of the room. She had been crying and looking for Princess and she stopped then.

The next morning we dug a hole and buried Princess in the back yard. Boa joined us and watched. She avoided the living room for 24 hours and then was ok.

Without her companion, she is more social. Princess was the one who would come into the middle of a party and lie down as equidistant from all the people as possible. Boa would rarely venture out in company but now she is social.

In January she started dropping weight. She didn’t look right. By March I worried. I changed her food first, to an all protein, no corn, no GMO one. In May she went to the vet. She is an indoor outdoor cat. I let her out for a while when I am up writing in the hour of stupid early and the hour of insomnia and the hour of convalescence. Both cats would return when I clapped, because that meant I was locking the door and might not open it again until I returned from work. No cat door. We have a family of raccoons and they can get a bit exciting in the house.

The vet said fleas and parasites and maybe we should do a whole bunch of things including antibiotics. I negotiated by phone from Portland. My daughter promised to pat Boa while I was gone. She’s a bit cat allergic, so usually she doesn’t. She said, “Can I wear your clothes if I am going to pat Boa?” Well, good idea. She wore a cat-patting outfit and then promptly changed.

Anyhow, Boa is still thin but better. And so why would she have fleas and parasites and general awfulness after we’ve pretty much managed her the same way for 11 years? Grief, I think. I got terribly ill after my sister died and then after my father died. I think that grief lowered her immune mechanisms and she was just prone to everything. And why did I switch her food? I don’t think that cats normally eat corn or much vegetable filler, and so I wanted her nutrition to be as normally cat like as possible. Also, this spring she caught and ate 7 mice and two birds and she has never done that before. I think she had realized that the cat food I had for her was not ok. Since I switched foods, she has not brought in any catches. She also thinks I’m a bit dense, but you know….

I used to think those people who bought organic for their pets were nuts. But I can change my mind.

But reading about honeybee collapse disorder, it’s not one mechanism: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0006481. It looks like it’s multifactorial. Do GMOs bother honeybees enough that then they are more likely to get parasites and mites and whatever? Or maybe the bees are grieving…..

The picture is from 2005. Boa is the black one and Princess Mittens is the black and white tabby.

2 thoughts on “Cat Collapse Disorder

  1. Susanne says:

    I think it is possible for animals to feel some form of grief. What i find fascinating is that it affects diet and immune systems much the same as grief does in humans. Good to hear Boa is recovering. We do love our pets! My little dog has a hitch in his giddy-up (a wonky knee), just like me!

    • drkottaway says:

      It was Boa crying that made us go look for Mittens. And she was quite clear that her adopted sister was dead.

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