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Foster Kitty Isn't Eating

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
The cat in question is Christy, who just came to stay with me about four days ago. During that time, she hasn't eaten more than about one day's worth of food, if that. She weighs about eight pounds, so she's a small cat; she's perfect weight for her frame, but I don't want her to lose any--especially dangerously much.

What I've tried:
The shelter's food. She ate about three pieces, then turned up her nose.
My cats' food (Purina Naturals). Ignored it.
Wet food, chicken flavor. Licked off the gravy.
Kitty treats. Ate about fifteen or twenty, over the course of four days.
Wet food, fish flavor. Ate about a quarter of a can, then buried the bowl in her blankets.
Meat baby food. Ate the two licks I smeared on her lips, then buried the bowl in her blankets.
Another bowl of wet food, chicken flavor. Licked off the gravy, again. Hissed at my cat when she tried to get some.

She's been drinking enough water... though some of it was the water she got when she licked herself dry after I washed kitty pee off her (she has a habit of sleeping in her litter box). Poor thing hated the bath but actually purred at me afterwards when I came to see how she was drying off.

I can't keep this cat alive on kitty treats, naturally. What's next? I was expecting her not to eat for the first day, but four days is pushing it.

Health problems... She has icky ears, but the shelter says no ear mites; maybe a yeast infection? Found about half a dozen fleas on her, will do Frontline treatment, and have notified the shelter, where they will most likely not be pleased at the prospect of yet another flea epidemic. She has some kind of allergy, maybe dust, so her nose is a bit plugged. (Could be part of the problem--she can't smell the yummy food?) Her mouth seems fine, doesn't seem to hurt; she chewed the (moist) kitty treats well enough; but then I'm not a feline dentist. Breath smells fine, anyway.

Behavior... Shy, tends to hide a lot; but starting to feel confident enough to explore. Played a bit today with a dangled shoelace, which I'm told she's never done before. Hisses at my cats if they come too close; but then, my cats do the same to her. Very snuggly sort of lap cat, goes limp almost Ragdoll-fashion in your lap, though she's an ordinary dilute tortie/white. Purrs when scratched on the head. Loves people in general; uses the litter box well (I'm surprised--not much is going into her digestive system)... Generally a very nice cat.

But I'm worried about her.

1. How do I get her to eat?
2. When should I worry enough to call the shelter (they'll take her back--she was eating there, but she seems happier here) or call a vet?
post #2 of 16
Have you tried spoon feeding? I had an adult cat that I took in when she was abandonned and she was afraid to eat. The only thing that worked for me was to feed he the meat flavored baby food off a spoon. I could not get her to eat out of a bowl for a while. I started with the baby food on a spoon and then gradually switched her to wet food on a spoon. After a few months I started putting a spoonful of wet food on a paper plate and she started to eat off the plate. It took a while for this to work but once she stopped being scared to eat things were fine. My cat was around 2 years old when I got her and the vet I went to felt she was scared to eat due to previously being abused. Good luck getting your kitty to eat.

Hopefully someone with more experience will come along soon.
post #3 of 16
First off buy some baby nose drops and using a small feeder syringe, shoot a few drops in her nose. She will sneeze, then put two more drops in each nostril, then give her canned food warmed in the microwave on a plate. I would also talk to the vet about putting her on antibiotics, also ask him if you can have an appetite stimulant for her. She is used to being a cage, so keeping her in a small room is a good idea and keeping the other cats away from her will also lessen the stress
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Actually, she is used to being in a big house, running free with lots of other cats. No-kill shelter, remember... Not all of them use cages; this one doesn't. She is used to being in a crate at night, and finding a place to hide during the day. She actually seems to be able to smell things somewhat--she sniffs at the places where my cats rub their cheeks for scent marks...

Baby nose drops? What kind? And what's a feeder syringe? I'm not all that experienced at doing anything more than dishing out food & emptying litter boxes...

Got an e-mail from the shelter. They're giving me some Frontline & she's coming out to check on her. They're taking her back if she doesn't eat... I'm getting anxious over here... if Christy doesn't eat, she'll go back and be stressed again and have to sleep in her litter box and I don't want her to have to do that anymore.
post #5 of 16
Could you call your contact at the shelter and ask them to bring the syringes with them. Feeding syringes are bascially medical needles but without the sharp point. You can probably find the syringes at a pet store. Do you have a Petsmart or Petco near you?
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
post #7 of 16
The only thing I have to add is if she was eating at the shelter I would be sure to keep offering her whatever they were feeding her.

Good luck, I hope she starts eating soon!
post #8 of 16
i would keep trying with the familiar foods for a few more days before you call the shelter/vet. she does sound stressed so it may be that it will take her a while to calm down.

also the allergy thing may be part of it, she won't eat food that doesn't smell good to her, so if she is unable to smell it then it becomes a vicious circle.

sounds like you have all areas covered though so keep up the good work!
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
She is surviving on kitty treats, wet-food gravy, and tuna juice!! Silly kitty. But at least she's eating something and staying hydrated.

She has her Frontline treatment. Maybe the fleas were causing some of her stress. I hope so.
post #10 of 16
Next step, I'd say, is get some stinky food. Salmon, shrimp, crab, tuna - anything. If it's fresh, boil it in nothing but water. If it's canned, put it down on the plate with some water on it. I'd leave whatever dry food she had at the shelter out for her. I'd also consider putting the "stinky" food down for her and leaving the room, rather than staying in there with her. She may feel more comfortable eating if alone?

post #11 of 16
I would try human tuna. The stinkier the better.

Also, maybe sprinkle catnip or parmesan cheese on top of the wet food?

I'd keep her dry food out that she was eating at the shelter at all times.
post #12 of 16
serve it warm, to bring out the aroma, too!
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
She's still doing nothing but licking the juice off! Seems determined to go on a liquid diet plus kitty treats... If she weren't chewing the kitty treats, I'd say tooth problems, but she's chewing the treats just fine.
post #14 of 16
If you try baby food, make sure you get one without ANY onion products in it. Learned that one in another thread....after my cat became anemic, of course. He's recovered now.

You can get an oral syringe at drugstores, too- they use them to give medicine to babies. I got mine at Walgreen's and it was much better than the veterinary one they had at the shelter.
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
She's started to actually eat the wet food now, instead of licking the juice off. Still only half of what she should eat, but half is good. I think the crisis is over... now if I can just get her to eat the healthier dry food, we'll be doing great!
post #16 of 16
yay! so happy to hear that she is eating more, keep it up kitty!
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