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Force feeding a cat

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I have an older post on here about my cat Gizmo who is going through a bit of a crisis. He pretty much stopped eating for the most part last Tuesday and so now I've been trying to get some nutrition into him by force feeding with a syringe. It takes both my sister and I to do it as he struggles quite a bit (even though he's sick, still manages to put up a fight!). What's worrying me though is that I don't know if this is doing much good and was wondering if anyone has any experience force feeding their cat? How long should it take before improvement is seen? We just started yesterday afternoon. Also my Vet didn't tell me how much to feed. My sister takes that excellent Hills AD food, waters it down and we can't do much more than a half syringe worth (it's a fat syringe the Vet gave us for feeding purposes) before Gizmo gets far too uncomfortable.

This sounds silly to worry about when there are bigger things at stake but is it normal to feel like you're being utterly cruel forcing food into a cat? I know of course it's absolutely vital to do this but my cat looked kind of drained and out of it after his morning feeding. It made me feel kind of weird but it could be partially do to some pain and antibiotic meds we have to give him before the food. Thanks in advance for any input!
post #2 of 22
lBack in November, I had to force feed my cat Beeba because he would not eat the wet s/d for his crystal problem.

I felt the same as you. He would hide in the closet and I would crawl back in with him and I used a cut down rubber spatula to feed him the wet food. It was a nightmare. So stressfull for both of us. I kept thinking I was hurting him, but I know it did good because it got food into him. A cat can't go long without food and they certainly can't get better with out the energy to fight the sickness.

Try to pin the vet down as to how much he should be getting. You can measure that out before hand, and feel much better when he has taken it all. But you need to keep him eating. Not good for cats to go very long with out food. Things start to shut down.

Keep at it. You sound like you are dedicated to your boy. It is good to see that.
post #3 of 22
Albus had hepatic lipidosis when I brought him home from the shelter. I had to force feed him with a syringe for 10 weeks before he started eating on his own.

I found some old threads (here and here) where I talk about force feeding, and how I figured it out, what I fed him, etc.

To summarize, I found it was easier on both of us if I didn't hold him down. Find a quiet spot, like in the corner of a quiet room and block the cat in by sitting in front of him, with him facing you. I used those cone-shaped drinking cups (bought them at an office supply store) and dropped it into a regular drinking cup so it would stand up. Put the food in the cone and it's easier to suck it up and not waste too much because it all goes down towards the point. Then I'd hold his head with my left hand (I'm right-handed, so reverse this if you're left-handed), with my thumb under his jaw, towards his neck and my other fingers on top of his head. Then I'd take the filled syringe in my right hand and stick it between his lips on his left side. If you can get it between his teeth (without hurting him), even better. At least point it towards the back of his mouth. Squirt in a couple cc's at a time and take a break for a minute or so. Take your time. Once I got good at it, I could get the whole syringe down him in less than 10 minutes.
post #4 of 22
I had to syringe feed my Micky these last 2 weeks with those fat syringes. He didn't like the A/D so I was giving him chicken or turkey flavored baby food. I tried to give him 2 jars per day. After heating in the microwave for 10 seconds, I'd fill 4 syringes, wrap him in a towel like a little burrito with only his head sticking out, and I'd squirt a little bit in the corner of his mouth at a time. It wasn't easy, he growled the whole time, a few times he started dry heaving so I'd stop for a few minutes, and then I'd continue.

In my case, I didn't see any improvement in his condition. Sadly, I had to have him put to sleep yesterday morning. But I do believe I kept him alive by feeding him these last couple of weeks, otherwise he would have starved to death.

Listen, I know it's hard to do, believe me, it took me several tries before figuring out how to do it. And I had to do it alone because I don't have anyone here helping me. But once I figured it out, although he got a lot all over his face and all over the towel, and once in his eye, I just did the best I could. And I felt a little better knowing he was getting some food in him.

With the A/D food, it's good that you're mixing it with water, that will make it less thick. And I would suggest warming it just for 10 seconds. It's going to stink but they say cats' appetites are stimulated by smell (which is why cats who have a stuffy nose stop eating).

Just keep trying and don't give up. I can't impress upon you the importance of ensuring that the cat eats something. The A/D food is great, if he'll eat it, because that has very high calorie, which is necessary for a cat that's not eating, and it has the required nutrients a cat needs. Human baby food doesn't have the right nutrients for cats, but in my case it was all I could give him, and the vet said it was better than nothing.

Good luck, I hope your kitty gets better soon.
post #5 of 22
We force-fed our male, 14, for a few weeks when he had calicivirus in the fall. We were instructed to give him 4 full syringes of AD (undiluted) at a time, twice a day. That is actually not that much out of a can. We got a quick lesson from our vet's technician. We were lucky that Bertie didn't struggle much after the first couple of times.

You should ask your vet how much you need to feed, watered down or straight, and then try to stick to that. Our amount was the daily minimum our 10-lb. guy was supposed to get while he was ill.

My husband knelt on the floor with the cat backed in a corner. He would hold the cat's head up (hand covering the eyes) and tipped back with one hand, which makes the mouth open, and angle the syringe in from the side, as far towards the back of the mouth as possible (but not down the throat). Let the head go so the cat can swallow naturally and get its bearings. Repeat and repeat.

I know there are choking risks from feeding too fast and getting it down the wrong pipe. In our case, nothing like that never happened and I think our cat appreciated getting it over with quickly. He rarely threw up. He never hid at feeding time. They are all supposed to like the taste of AD.

I just looked at a syringe to see how much it holds and it doesn't say, but they are about as wide as a woman's thumb and maybe 3" long. You probably have the same ones. Clipping a bit more off the tip will make the food go in more smoothly. (The syringes can get very stiff and hard to use over time, we found, even though we cleaned them carefully.)

My husband developed a good, fast technique, and I honestly think the cat began to prefer force-feeding to the trouble of chewing, weird as that sounds. Before most feedings, we'd offer him mushy, smelly wet food (a different flavor from AD) in a bowl, and all-meat baby food on a spoon, just in case he'd eat. If he rejected those, my husband force-fed. I'd fill two syringes and race to refill one empty one as he used the other. It was that quick. The food stayed down, Bertie recovered. His first voluntary food was a jar of all-meat chicken baby food, fed from a baby spoon.

Force-feeding can keep a cat alive, or prevent it from becoming more ill, so please try not to view it as being cruel. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but I think cats adapt to it, especially if you can develop a predictable technique and let them swallow and breathe normally. Instead of feeling bad for the cat, try to think positively about all the good you are doing: delivering nourishment and strength, and keeping the liver functioning. Cats pick up on our feelings and your cat needs to trust that you are being helpful to him.

Good luck! And many vibes:
post #6 of 22
And don't forget to tell him what a good boy he is being while you're feeding him and how proud you are that he is eating. I did that for my kitty.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by lindalee View Post
I have an older post on here about my cat Gizmo who is going through a bit of a crisis. He pretty much stopped eating for the most part last Tuesday and so now I've been trying to get some nutrition into him by force feeding with a syringe. It takes both my sister and I to do it as he struggles quite a bit (even though he's sick, still manages to put up a fight!). What's worrying me though is that I don't know if this is doing much good and was wondering if anyone has any experience force feeding their cat? How long should it take before improvement is seen? We just started yesterday afternoon. Also my Vet didn't tell me how much to feed. My sister takes that excellent Hills AD food, waters it down and we can't do much more than a half syringe worth (it's a fat syringe the Vet gave us for feeding purposes) before Gizmo gets far too uncomfortable.

This sounds silly to worry about when there are bigger things at stake but is it normal to feel like you're being utterly cruel forcing food into a cat? I know of course it's absolutely vital to do this but my cat looked kind of drained and out of it after his morning feeding. It made me feel kind of weird but it could be partially do to some pain and antibiotic meds we have to give him before the food. Thanks in advance for any input!
Please please, do not feel like you are being cruel... in his case, food is also his medicine, and can keep him alive... Keep going...
I wouldn't water the food down too much... just enough... Keep going...
Aim for 150 calories... this would be a little less than a can a day; a can has 179 calories... Call your vet...
To avoid HL 150cal seems to be the consensus for the average sized cat; I would aim for that.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your wonderful support. It's with a super-heavy heart that I write this latest as I made the dreaded decision to do what I felt was by far the most humane thing for Gizmo tonight. He was going downhill despite my and my sister's best efforts to keep him going. It was just too dreadful to see him deteriorating with each day that went and KNOWING in your gut that there as no turning back. After a week with still no bowel movement, no improvement in his appetite and complete zombie-like quietness, I couldn't take another night of knowing he would be sitting in my room for hours on end, not his normal self at all. I called my Vet today and they were to see him tomorrow morning but I knew I felt like I should get him to the Emergency Vet tonight. After some extensive talking and filling them in on Gizmo's problems, some X-rays were taken and the doctor said that while they didn't have anything 'definitive', there was some suspicious fluid that made the X-rays blurry, the sort of thing that meant big problems. Add to that the host of other problems (we heard tonight he had dental disease, the other doctors didn't make much mention other than passing comment) and a tumor on his nose that was actually starting to constrict his ease of breathing, I couldn't foresee being selfish enough to keep Gizmo going when his quality of life was so terrible.
It's so depressing. I feel I lost a little buddy that was constantly my companion. It's going to be a rough night for me and I know that I will imagine hearing his meows. I can't bring myself to throw out his bed tonight. It's my last cat as my family does not want anymore pets and I can say that it is just too wretched to go through this again. I've done it too many times and it never gets easier. This was such a horrible week.
I hope I didn't allow Gizmo to suffer longer than he needed.
Thanks again for all of your kindness throughout this.
post #9 of 22
Oh Lindalee, I am so sorry for the loss of your little Gizmo, you did the best thing for him in his final days, he knows this, and did all you could do...You are in my thoughts today..
post #10 of 22
Oh Linda, I'm so sorry for your loss! I had to put my Micky to sleep on Saturday, just 4 days ago! And he was my constant companion for the last 15 years! I absolutely completely totally feel your pain and I know exactly what you're going through. I'm so sorry, just know that you're not alone and someone else out there is feeling the same kind of grieving right now, too.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruby35 View Post
Oh Linda, I'm so sorry for your loss! I had to put my Micky to sleep on Saturday, just 4 days ago! And he was my constant companion for the last 15 years! I absolutely completely totally feel your pain and I know exactly what you're going through. I'm so sorry, just know that you're not alone and someone else out there is feeling the same kind of grieving right now, too.
Thanks Ruby for your kindness. It's reassuring somehow to have another person going through the same pain, it makes it a little easier to know I'm not alone. I thought my cat would last maybe another year or two and was kind of shocked that his health took a nosedive like this. The house feels so strangely quiet and empty but I know I'll adjust in time. I keep expecting to see or hear my Gizmo. At least we both gave our cats the best care and they knew they were loved deeply. Again, I appreciate your thoughts and hope you feel better too.
post #12 of 22
T_T I'm sorry for your loss.

My cat has recently stopped eating too. She'll lick a few bits here and take some treats, but I'm starting to worry...
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nolia View Post
T_T I'm sorry for your loss.

My cat has recently stopped eating too. She'll lick a few bits here and take some treats, but I'm starting to worry...
Nolia, Keep an eye on her. Mine did the same thing with just taking a few licks of his wet food, a few bites of his dry food that he used to inhale practically. Anything that is out of the ordinary deserves your concern. Sometimes though in the past, my cat would seem to lose his appetite but the key difference this time was that it did not return in the amount of time it usually did. If it goes on for several days, I'd highly recommend you let the Vet see her. I mentioned to my Vet that my cat was hardly eating or drinking and I just don't know if they really believed me or seemed to take it seriously. As for force feeding, it's weird because I felt my cat did not want any food and it was past the point of 'no return', it's just an intuitive feeling you can get that the doctors will miss. Hope your cat is all right and thanks for your note.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by David's Steph View Post
Oh Lindalee, I am so sorry for the loss of your little Gizmo, you did the best thing for him in his final days, he knows this, and did all you could do...You are in my thoughts today..
Thank you for your thoughts. I was telling someone how kind everyone has been and she thinks that pet owners have a special kindness in them.
I did give it my all for my Gizmo but now I'm going through a self torturing way of thinking...worrying if I put him through unnecessary stress with force feeding and meds that probably made him nauseous. But if I didn't do those things I'd be beating myself up worrying that I could have saved him...etc., etc. Thank you again
post #15 of 22
I'm so sorry that you ended up having to put Gizmo to sleep. Don't feel bad about what you did- you can't know for sure what's going on with them and you have to try all your options before making the hardest choice of all
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lsanders View Post
I'm so sorry that you ended up having to put Gizmo to sleep. Don't feel bad about what you did- you can't know for sure what's going on with them and you have to try all your options before making the hardest choice of all
Thanks Isanders for your support. It's amazing what guilt and anxiety plagued me but I know Gizmo was thoroughly loved for really what was a long life for a cat. It will be an adjustment getting used to not seeing him around, I was the one in the family that spent the most time with him and he was pretty spoiled! I can't bring myself to get rid of his favorite bed yet. It just breaks my heart to see it and I hope it doesn't seem morbid that it's still here. It's surprising how many items you acquire in the upkeep of a cat, I have his water fountain and other stuff that since I've removed them, the house feels empty...very strange.
LL
post #17 of 22
I am so sorry for your loss....... I came here yesterday, but I didn't know what to say... I am sorry about that.... It hurts that you lost your little one... I guess we get involved too, and it is just so very sad to see them lose their fights... Poor baby...
Hang in there

post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carolina View Post
I am so sorry for your loss....... I came here yesterday, but I didn't know what to say... I am sorry about that.... It hurts that you lost your little one... I guess we get involved too, and it is just so very sad to see them lose their fights... Poor baby...
Hang in there

Carolina, I've appreciated your support and concern so much throughout this past week. I never dreamed it would turn out this way although I had a bad gut feeling about this latest ordeal. I honestly thought Gizmo was going to turn the corner with the antibiotics etc. and stay with me for another year or so hopefully. He was just a week shy of his 14th birthday. Like I was telling someone else, I still have his favorite bed that I just can't get rid of yet. The house feels ridiculously empty even though it has six people living here. It will take some getting use to...I'm just relieved Gizmo was relatively healthy and happy till just the past week. He had a good life and was thoroughly doted on. It just stinks how fast time goes by and before you know it, your pets have become elderly and prone to health problems.
Thanks so much again for your empathy, it helps to ease the sadness.
Here's a picture of Gizmo with his 'lion-clip' basking in the sun
LL
post #19 of 22
He was so precious
post #20 of 22
LindaLee, so sorry for your loss. I am going to have to make this decision very soon with my Camey who is 16. Too many things going wrong to think she will recover. Mass in one of her lungs and broken blood vessels in one eye. She's not eating. She was eating recently when I was giving her salmon and tuna, but she won't even eat this. Did the x-rays, antibiotics, etc. but no better. An ultrasound would reveal more about what's going on with the lung, but it's comparable to a collapsed lung right now. Would never put her through surgery, and I now realize, after much inner struggling, that an ultrasound would be useless. Keeping her home now. Have pain medication, just in case. She will be put to sleep at home like we find for her mother two years ago. So depressed! She's my little soul mate. Having a real hard time with this. The waiting for the " right time" is killing me. Force feeding her now, along with fluid treatments. Can't do this much longer. My heart is breaking. I know you can relate.
post #21 of 22

hi - I'm new to this site, so please bear with me.  It's Sunday and my 15 year old tabby hasn't been eating on his own for about four days.  This has happened once before and force feeding him for a short while brought his appetite back.  This time is proving harder.  I've tried baby food, cat pate, pureed chicken & rice but cannot seem to whet his appetite.  He's drinking lots of water and then sleeps all the time.  We have an appointment to see his vet on Tuesday.  I'm terrified that it's "his time" -- he's been with since he was 6 months old, my constant companion, shadows me everywhere I go and is the "greatest kitty in the world" .

 

If anyone has suggestions for how to get him to eat on his own I would love to hear them.  I just not ready to let Daggett go, but I don't want him to suffer.

post #22 of 22

Are you able to get any of the foods that are recomended on here like the a/d or the Royal Canin recovery?  From the feedback I've been getting on here, they are the best options when your kitty isn't eating at all.  Both of them seem to help with the weight loss issue.  Don't let him not eat anything for too long, since just like my Ino, that will mess with his liver.  If you have them in your area, PetSmart does have Banfield vets on site TODAY!!  Most of them are open unitl 5pm eastern & should be able to write you a script for the foods!

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