13 year old cat refuses to eat raw-becoming aggressive

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Purred: Fri May 3, '13 5:33am PST 
This is long but I think background is important if I am going to find an answer! shrug

We have 6 cats in our house ranging from 7 months to 13 years. When we adopted our kittens we discovered the raw food diet and decided it was the route to take. The kittens immediately took to it but our other cats had been on the 24/7 dry food buffet feeding program for many years and didn't even know what wet food was I'm ashamed to say. I really thought I was doing them a favor feeding them hills science plan! It's very costly in South Africa and marketed as the best brand for pets

So obviously I first had to get them used to only 2 meals a day of canned food, before I could start the transition to raw. (I DID try raw straight away and they all looked at me blankly except the kittens!) After 3 months, they had forgotten about their dry kibbles and were finally eating a decent amount of canned food per meal but I had to feed them 3 meals a day or they went a bit mad from hunger. I started introducing raw pieces of chicken and FINALLY, after 3 months, my 3 year old, Baileigh and one of my 13 year old cats, Gypsy, suddenly started eating the raw food out of the blue! We were overjoyed! 4 cats converted, 2 to go!

Unfortunately, they were the most difficult cats to convince and the ones who needed raw food the most! My 13 year old boy, Sebastian, was becoming increasingly lethargic on the dry food and that's PART of my motivation for exploring the raw option.I feel he really needs to go raw. My 7 year old chubby girl, Blue, has a foot missing and had a traumatic little life before she found us. As a result, she feels quite vulnerable and is not very mobile and tends to stay indoors and sleep most of the day. She was our other big motivation for transitioning to raw because she was just ballooning on dry food and had no energy at all. Fortunately, just recently, she has started eating a raw piece of chicken here and there, but she still insists on eating majority canned food. She is a processed food addict, there is no doubt! I think I will eventually win her over with time.

However, it's our oldest boy, Sebastian, who is really giving us grey hairs. He point blank refuses to touch the raw food! I cut it up into tiny pieces and mix it with his canned food and he simply dodges it and then looks at me longingly for some "raw free" canned food. He lost HUGE amounts of weight initially when we tried to transition them all to canned food and, due to that, I was feeding him whenever he was around just to try get some fat on his bones and make sure he didn't go longer than 24hrs without food. (I used to call him "fat boy" because he was so big and healthy looking so you can imagine why I was so worried!) He finally got used to the canned food after about 3 months and started finishing it and was able to last until the next meal. Now I have started adding some raw to his food and he is NOT happy.

The downside to this whole process has been the aggression that he has started showing over the months. He has always been "the boss" out of all our cats, and a total mommy's boy. He was my first cat and I got him when his eyes weren't even open yet and had to bottle feed him. I was the first mother he ever knew and, as a result, he is very jealous and possessive. If he feels the other cats are getting more attention than him, he asserts himself. But it's always been more than manageable and they acquiesce to him. They don't fight. They just walk away from each other.

However, since I started trying to change his diet he has turned downright nasty! He attacks all the cats almost constantly and he means business when he does. And it's always unprovoked. I've had to break up some really nasty fights. He is bigger than all of them so I'm so afraid he'll hurt them. When he's not being a complete brat, he's a loving, social cat who will happily let strangers pick him up and give him love and he loves cuddles, but since I changed his diet he really is impossible. He never used to jump on kitchen counters. He knew not to eat our food. He knew his boundaries. He was the most well-behaved cat I've ever had and everyone commented. Now I walk into the kitchen and find him up on the counter eating the cheese I just grated! I never had to worry about that before. I know it says he's hungry but that's because he point blank refuses to eat his food if there is even a HINT of raw in it. And yet he will eat cheese which he's never eaten in his life before? And attacking our other cats has become a daily occurrence. I've googled for answers without much joy so I am coming here for help!

It may also have something to do with getting the kittens. Suddenly there is another male cat around and I know that can cause problems. However, both have been neutered and Toby really is NOT a take charge kind of male. He will always acquiesce to Sebastian but he mostly avoids him altogether! Sebastian ignores him unless he gets in his space which is almost never. He's terrified of Sebastian and he very much keeps to himself!

I give Sebastian as much love as I can so he doesn't feel neglected or jealous and we play so he doesn't get bored but, at the end of the day, it won't satisfy his stomach and I think that's the root of his aggression. Do I just give in? Feed him canned food and then feed the others raw food? He is losing weight again just after he started picking it up and he is making our other cats terrified to go near him. It will just be just devastating if he hurts one of them really badly. He is clearly very unhappy and I don't know if I'm being totally selfish expecting such an old boy to change so muchfrown I'd love my big, friendly, good natured cat back and a happy household again!

Can someone please give us advice!? confused


Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
Purred: Fri May 3, '13 1:59pm PST 
I'm not sure what to suggest here. I'd be surprised if the diet had that much to do with his behavior. Has he had a vet check lately? If he's not feeling well he may be trying to keep everyone away and acting out. What kind of canned food are you feeding? I imagine that your choices are limited in South Africa. Is it high enough protein? If it has grains/carbs in it maybe he's not feeling full? I'm not sure what else to offer - maybe someone else has some suggestions.


Purred: Mon May 6, '13 4:14am PST 
It's funny you should say that. Someone on another forum actually suggested he may have hyperthyroidism so I am going to give my vet a call and see what she says. It may not be the food at all! Unfortunately most of our canned foods here are loaded up with grain. I've tried to choose the one with the most protein but it's still not ideal. I think my next step is the vet and then I'll take it from there. Thanks for the help!