Connecting the Dots Between Your Furry Kids Health and Behavior
Our grumpy cat, Oryo (pronounce as O-re-yo) the dragon is always hungry. Every morning and evening she’ll give me a dirty look if I’m not ready to feed her. Since we feed her raw food, her mealtime is the same time as our dogs; twice a day, and no grazing allowed. This way, I know for sure how much she eats every day and keep her at a healthy weight. (Dr. Barrow, one of my favorite veterinarians at Parkside Animal Health Center, wrote an excellent blog more on healthy weight.)
Not long ago, my husband and I noticed that Oryo hadn’t eaten her meals at all for a few days, this was on Saturday, the day before the forth of July when many veterinarians get busy treating animals with “Holiday injuries/sicknesses” (like, heat stroke, food poisoning, indigested holiday ornaments etc.). We called Parkside to see when they could get Oryo in, they kindly took us in on the same day. Dr. Barrow thoroughly examined her, and thankfully she couldn’t find any serious illness. Dr. Barrow then mentioned to us that Oryo has some decaying teeth that need to be extracted, and it probably was causing her to not want to eat. My original thought was “Oh poor cat, she already had a dental surgery 2 years ago, not again!” But then of course, I want her to feel better, so we made an appointment to go ahead and have the surgery done the following week.
After the surgery, she recovered in no time; although she now only has 12 teeth left, her appetite was back immediately, and my husband and I were happy that she was back to her normal self, the grumpy cat, Oryo the dragon!
But recently, we noticed that she is getting more active, visible and confident. She was so skittish before; she’d get scared if anything moved that made a noise, so she really didn’t want to play with anything. We had to be flat on the floor, look under the bed to say “hello” when we would come home from work because usually that was where she stayed. But now, she started to play with a little piece of paper and/or strings, she’ll some times even come and see me when I’m working in my basement office to get attention. I’m not so fond of this behavior, but she hisses, teases, and challenges our sleepy dogs from the top of the bed/couch, and the funniest thing is that she uses them as an obstacle course for her, and it’s becoming her daily routine. (She zigzags between Midori and Sakura, jumps over them, and/or passes by their noses and/or ears as close as she can while the dogs are sleeping.)
So I thought, hmmm, she must be feeling really good after the surgery, and maybe she needs more environment enrichment. So I grabbed a food dispenser toy and gave it a shot to see if she could figure it out. My husband and I both thought that she wouldn’t even go near it and run away from it. Amazingly, it only took a few trials until she became more confident to use her nose and paws to get treats from the toy. I was so thrilled when she started using the toy! I was so excited; I ended up buying a kitty puzzle from Kriser’s (my favorite pet supplies store) with a bit of doubt that she may not use it at all. But my guess was again, wrong! Ever since she started using her paws and nose to play with the little food dispenser toy, it seems like a little light bulb went off in her head! It took a few days for her to figure the puzzle out, but hey, no problem. She now started drinking water from our pint glass by sticking her paw in and scooping up drips of water and licks her paw. She started playing with a string, and also she finds herself entertained by “shredding papers”; she uses her paws, grabs pieces of paper, chews it, and rips it off! (Some times she eats it, too. Oh boy…)
I am amazed by her transformation from being just a grumpy cat to now the “Happy”-grumpy cat, Oryo the dragon, and you know what? It all started out when she stopped eating her meals; very unusual behavior from a cat who loves and demands her meals every day. If your furry kid starts acting strange, please check with your veterinarian before you “assume” it’s behavioral. Observe how your furry kid normally eats, plays, and interacts with you. Animals can’t tell us when s/he is hurt or in pain, changing their behavior is the only way for them to tell us “something is wrong with me”. Watch your furry kid’s daily routine, their activity, food intake and their personality very carefully every day, and if anything changes, don't ask “Dr. Google” and/or other free advices on the Internet and Social media. The Internet can’t observe and exam your furry kid from inside out like Dr. Barrow can. This is the reason why I always want to rule out any underline medical cause before I work with my clients and their furry kids; and I’m pleased to say that our dragon cat, Oryo the “Happy”- grumpy cat proved it!
Meanwhile, watch this short video of our dragon cat, Oryo having fun playing with her new puzzle toy!