Sunday, January 8, 2012


(NOTE:  This post is about smells and bodily functions so if you're squeamish, be forewarned.)

I've been particularly busy the past few days so I've not posted and during that time taking care of Buddy I realized he smells like a bum travelling the MTA (or at least like certain areas of the system).

OK, maybe he doesn't smell THAT bad but he does smell - of urine and vomit.  This is pretty interesting because he hasn't upchucked at all.  The urine smell, however, does come as part of the package of renal failure.  I've noticed it isn't as intense when we make sure he is on a regulated schedule as far as his medicines and fluid intake is concerned.  Bad breath is also intensified if we miss a medicine dose or if he doesn't hold still for the subQ sessions.

From when he first came to live with us Buddy was always a very fastidious groomer but lately he's been slacking off.  Being a Maine Coon/Tabby mix, he has long hair.  Now he's nothing but a mess of mats, big and small.  It's almost like Rasta-hair so maybe we should rename him Bob Marley and leave it at that.  All joking aside, you really can't leave the mats because they become uncomfortable as they become larger.

So, how do you clean a cat?  Not easily that's for sure.  The very first part of this process should be trimming the nails.  If your cat gives you a hard time or appears to be getting annoyed, do the nails and postpone any other grooming until the following day.

Buddy had diarrhea twice since the renal diagnosis and he did allow us to stand his hind legs in a shallow bucket of warm water as long as we held his front paws up.  He actually gave up struggling once he realized his butt felt better as he was getting cleaned.  We did have a few escape attempts that consisted of Buddy trying to climb up our bodies - not a fun experience.

If you are going to attempt this type of cleaning make sure you know your cat's personality.  Buddy is incredibly laid back so his reaction to a partial bath surprised us.  I wouldn't recommend trying this with most cats.  If that's the case with your cat use baby wipes to clean the butt.  Also, and this is important, suit yourself up as if you are going to war.  Make sure your arms, chest, neck and hands are covered.  I recommend putting on thick clothing so you don't get hurt during the cleaning process. If your cat is a swiper,  or you suspect he might get ticked off enough to take a swipe at you, invest in some sort of eye protection.

Hair grooming:  I can't stress this enough, brush every day or every other day.  Unfortunately, we had a period of downtime because of circumstances which coincided with Buddy deciding not to groom himself anymore.  Result: tons of mats (mostly small but a pain nonetheless).  My remedy is to get Buddy  comfortable on my lap with a blunt baby scissors and a flea comb nearby (no particular reason for the flea comb other than that's what I have).  Once he's really relaxed, I start to pull the mats sideways to release them.  Combing them from the base is a good idea but it should be done working from the top of the mat down.  You should always hold the mat near the skin so it doesn't pull and if the mat is medium to large, work on a section of it at a time.  If you cannot undo the mat, cut it off.  Do this by working the comb between the skin and the mat cutting the mat just above the comb.  This will prevent you from cutting your cat's skin by mistake and will prevent you from getting scratched or bit.

Renal failure makes the urine smell and part of the reason why Buddy smells is the long hair on his stomach. It touches the wet kitty litter or in Buddy's case, wet newspaper, and voila! your cat smells like a urinal.  I trim all the hair on his stomach by half it's length and this definitely helps keep the stinky factor in check.  Always, make sure to cut the hair above the comb; don't attempt to trim the hair without the comb as a shield between where you're cutting and the skin.  If you can't manage this alone, get someone to help you.  By the way, the not grooming is also part of the whole illness thing.

Now, how to get the cat smelling like a rose again or at least not like the local garbage dump?  I use baby wipes.  The first time I tried to clean Buddy with a baby wipe, he took off for parts unknown.  Why?  The perfume smell and the fact that the baby wipes were cold!  Heat the wipes in the microwave but make sure they are slightly warm only; don't make them hot.  You can address the scent issue by either spending more money on wipes made especially for cats and dogs, test run baby wipes until you find a brand with less of a smell or do as I do, just hang on to your cat and make him stay still.  I wipe Buddy from his shoulder blades down his back and his legs.  Then I cradle him and wipe his stomach finally wiping his butt and what's left of his tail.  Since I don't like chemicals and really don't want him ingesting them if he licks himself, I have an old cotton cloth that I rinse in hot water, ring out and wipe him down a second time, this time including his head, neck and chest, before wiping him off with his cotton towel.  By this time, he's totally annoyed so I will follow up the next day by cleaning out his ears.

Dr. Young prescribed medicine for Buddy's ears when he was having a mite problem.  That stuff needed to be refrigerated.  It worked well cleaning up the problem; no more shaking his head or scratching his ears.  For normal maintenance, Dr.  Young prescribed Epi-Otic by Virbac and we use that on a regular basis.  You can find a good holistic alternative in Dr. Pitcairn's book, Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.

I use cotton gauze pads or a cotton cloth to remove dirt from the ears after putting a few drops of Epi-Otic into the ear canal then massaging the base of the ear.  Always follow the directions.

Once you are done your cat should be smell-free.  This sweet-smelling state of bliss won't last long so remember a regular schedule of maintenance is the key to keeping the air clear.

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