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Can anyone help me get my cat to eat?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

My beautiful 13 year old cat, Neek, has been the picture of health for her entire life. About a month ago, she suddenly stopped eating. I took her to the vet for a physical exam and some lab work. While it was documented that she lost nearly a pound since her last check up 5 months ago, he could find no physical or medical reason why she was not eating, and mentioned that she appears to be in great condition for her age. Neek has never liked canned or wet food, but in desperation I bought about 10 different kinds in hopes that she would take to something. Thankfully there were a couple different kinds she seemed to like and she began eating it. Unfortunately, this only lasted a few weeks. She has not eaten now for a day and a half. The vet mentioned an antihistamine that can act as an appetite stimulant in some cats. Does anyone know anything about its effectiveness or if it's safe? And if it doesn't work, is there anything else I can do? Neek does not act sick otherwise.... in fact, she has been more affectionate in the past month than she has in years. If anyone has any advice, it would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you!
post #2 of 28
Hi!
It is imperative that you get her eating, on her own, with help, or force-feeding, but a cat going with no food is a bad combo and dangerous thing.
Never heard of antihistamine being used for that...
Have used Steroids in the past, and even a couple of weeks ago in an emergency when my cat stopped eating. Although I do not like steroids, an injection of Depo-Medrol usually works very well on increasing the appetite. Mixing steroids is a good idea as Depo takes a bit to kick in - there are some that kick in immediately. It is generally safe for sporadic use - meaning, I wouldn't recommend it for repeated long term use.

Here is a link with a lot of information on assisted feeding


Also, here is a video I did of me force feeding my Cat Lucky: http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=227858

Here in my place, a cat doesn't go more than a day, day and 1/2 without being somehow assisted-fed.

IMHO though, while you work on feeding her, you have to find out what is wrong and taking her appetite away. A CBC and a regular vet visit is not enough.
Your vet should get her a full senior check up with a Thyroid test, check her liver enzymes, her kidneys, everything....
post #3 of 28
At the clinic where I work they use mirtazapine (brand name Remeron). It's an anti-depressant but also stimulates the appetite. Usually, a quarter of a pill is given every 3 days as it can affect the liver if given more frequently.

I agree with the other posters, either use the appetite stimulant and/or force feed ber with a syringe. If she diesn't eat, she is at risk for hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver, which is dangerous and very expensive to treat (i.e. long recovery time plus bloodwork plus tube feeding through the stomach, etc.). Maybe get an xray. Is it possible she could have ingested a foreign body?

Not trying to scare you but even if you can get her to eat kitten food. Or tuna-make sure you rinse it to elreduce the salt. Usually we force feed 20 mls of food every 4 hours. If she continues to not eat go to the vet and maybe get a referral to an internist (sp?)
post #4 of 28
I've been dealing with eating problems with two of my cats for a while and it's such a stuggle. When a cat doesn't want to eat though there is definitely something wrong. There are a lot of things that could be wrong that would not show up on tests. Has she had a full blood work-up? If not that's something that should be done asap. But even if everything is normal it doesn't mean that the cat is well. I lost one of my babies a couple of years ago after a long illness and despite numerous tests and exams nothing was ever found wrong with her. Clearly something was very wrong though.

Has your vet examined your cat's mouth thoroughly? Dental pain can be horrible and make it hard to eat. Stomach troubles can also make the cat want to eat so that's another area you can look into. I would also recommend getting a second opinion since another vet may be able to find something your current vet hasn't. Seeing a cat specialist is a great idea if that's an option for you.

Like Carolina said eating is very important for cats. If your cat won't eat enough you can get some nutrients and calories in her by giving her Nutrical or similar. I put it in a syringe and squirt it in my cat's mouth to get him to eat it. I take a 3cc syringe, without a luer lock, pull the plunger out and put the Nutrical in from the back of the syringe and reinsert the plunger. It's too thick to draw it up the regular way. Then I stick it in the corner of my cat's mouth and squirt a little bit at a time. You have to do this several times a day to get enough in her. You could also get a bigger oral syringe and put some canned food in there that you make a bit more runny by mixing it with kitten formula which gives additional nutrients too. Some cats love drinking kitten formula from a bowl so you could try that too.

You may want to check and see if your cat is dehydrated (let me know if you don't know how). If she is dehydrated she will feel bad which makes it harder to eat. If that's the case you should bring her to the vet and give her some sub-q fluids for a few days. In my experience some cats will start eating after they get some fluids in their system. If you can't afford to take the kitty to the vet for fluids several times you can ask your vet for an IV bag, tubing and needles and do it at home yourself. It's really easy. Getting fluids is really important when a cat is not eating.

If your cat is not too uncooperative you can also force feed her. The way I do this is by putting some canned food on the tip of my index finger. Then I open my cat's mouth by sticking my other index finder into the corner of his mouth which makes him open it. Then I stick the food up in the roof of his mouth as quick as I can. It's important to make it really stick up there or else he can spit it out easily. Since feeding a whole meal this way is pretty tough on the cat you may have to feed her a little at a time several times a day.
If push comes to shove and nothing works you can bring her to the vet to have them tube feed her.

Good luck!
post #5 of 28
I don't usually recommend force-feeding, since unless you know how to do it right and can keep her calm, it may just stress her out more and she may puke up the food.
If you can get a feeding tube put in her, feeding daily should be a snap and allow you time to figure out Why she isn't eating without having to worry about her Actually eating.
http://www.catinfo.org/?link=feedingtubes
post #6 of 28
I went through this with my 14 year old cat several times this year. Most cats will always eat tuna not matter how sick they are. Pedialyte is good for restoring electalites so I add that and it usually works. You can also try baby food or the old country remedy of warm milk with a dab of melted butter in it.
post #7 of 28
Milk and butter contain lactose though, which could cause vomiting and diarrhea.
post #8 of 28
Reading the thread I have to agree with most of the other posters. Either the antihistamine or force feed (which I really don't like as it will probably stress her out) are the 2 choices. Luvsmykat suggested tuna and Pedialyte. Sounds like a good idea but I would do this after consulting with the vet and getting the go ahead.
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much to everyone for your suggestions. It looks like I am going to have to force feed her a bit until these pills have a chance to work.

@Ziggy's Mom- yes, I have inspected her mouth and the vet did as well. That was my first thought but it looks like everything is in good condition so he ruled that out.

I do think she is a bit dehydrated. I don't know how to tell for sure, but I have been monitoring her water intake and it is much less than usual. She was not dehyrated at the vet, but that was a couple weeks ago. I weighed her yesterday and she has lost another 8 ounces in the past 3 weeks.

In hopes to get her to get something, anything on her stomach, I offered her tuna, treats, milk, and she wouldn't touch any of it. The only thing I successfully got her to eat a small amount of was string cheese. I know the lactose is not good for her, but I wanted her to eat so badly that I was willing to give her whatever she would accept. The strange thing is, it's almost like she wants to eat but she can't. She would bite at it aggressively but it just kind of fell out of her mouth. She did get some of it down, but more came back out than actually stayed in. Could there be something wrong with her throat? The vet didn't feel any swelling, but I am wondering if something else could be making it painful to eat. When I am bringing her food to her, she runs to it and seems excited, then licks it once or twice and walks away. It really has me baffled :-(
post #10 of 28
Ok, here is my two cents for those against force-feeding due to stress: IMHO Stress is nothing compared to the havoc Fatty liver disease can do to a cat. That is a lethal disease and the only thing you can do to prevent is feeding your cat. This is nothing to play with it, and it happens faster than you think.
There are no two ways to go about it. The cat is not eating, you must to be proactive. Tried everything and didn't work? You have to force-feed. Don't like the terminology? call it assisted feeding - but you just need to do it.
I can not stress this enough...
The key is to make it as pleasant as possible for your cat. Starting by your level of stress - you need to be calm. Your cat will pick up on your stress and frustration and will get stressed too....
Then the food - choose a palatable food - Hill A/D is excellent. Not only that, but it is packed with nutrients and you don't have to dilute it to feed it with a syringe. Remember, the more you dilute it, the more you have to feed. The tastier the food, the easier it is to feed... A/D is the perfect consistency to go through a syringe and just as tasty as it could be.
Get a good, large syringe so you don't need to do several syringes at a time. My syringes are 1/2 ounce - they are available at petsmart and also at Pet Supplies Plus (I am sure at other places too).
Feed several small meals a day... You want to feed 4-5 meals, not 2 large meals, especially with A/D.
A cat bag will help you tremendously - it will make the whole process much easier on you and your cat.

Look, I have 4 cats, I have force-fed 3 of them with absolutely no problem.
None of my cats will ever go over a day without being force fed per my vet's instructions. If their appetite is low and eating very little, I will force feed them a meal.
Fatty liver disease is a very scary thing... But it is also very easy to prevent, simply by feeding... I know it is stressful and scary... I know it is... But once you get the hang of assist-feeding for a couple of days your kitty should start eating on her own again. You will not be doing this forever - she just needs a little help for now, a little help that can save her life...
That link I posted on my first post (on assisted feeding) has many many different techniques that can help you - it is full of tips; really a great site... please but sure to read it and don't be discouraged...
post #11 of 28
Hi there. It sure is hard to get a cat to eat when they don't want to or feel like they can't for some reason. I would get her right back to the vet. Maybe they need to take an x-ray. That's the route I would go. More important than the food is water. Make sure she's drinking. Your vet can give her fluids if she is dehydrated. It almost sounds like the poor thing has a sore throat. You have to wonder, since she goes after the food at first.

Best of luck to you. Get her back in to see the doc asap. Something's just not right.

Ligwa
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktfields22 View Post
The strange thing is, it's almost like she wants to eat but she can't. She would bite at it aggressively but it just kind of fell out of her mouth. She did get some of it down, but more came back out than actually stayed in. Could there be something wrong with her throat? The vet didn't feel any swelling, but I am wondering if something else could be making it painful to eat. When I am bringing her food to her, she runs to it and seems excited, then licks it once or twice and walks away. It really has me baffled :-(
This has toothache all over for me. If I were you, I would run with this kitty to a dentist. A regular check will not tell you the extent of the problem in a kitty's mouth, unless it is on the canines for example or readily visible... The proper way to do it is to put her under light anesthesia (gas) and take a through look at her mouth. Only with the kitty under they can do a complete check - tell them to run x-rays of her mouth too, she can have an abscessed tooth, a fractured root, or something internal.
I would definitely check this out - it screams toothache to me.
post #13 of 28
I agree with Carolina on this. Toothache or maybe some abnormality in the mouth. Best of luck. Definitely check it out with your vet.
post #14 of 28
I have to ditto the post above. It really sounds like eating causes pain for your kitty. Something is up with the mouth or the throat.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carolina View Post
Ok, here is my two cents for those against force-feeding due to stress: IMHO Stress is nothing compared to the havoc Fatty liver disease can do to a cat. That is a lethal disease and the only thing you can do to prevent is feeding your cat. This is nothing to play with it, and it happens faster than you think.
This is why I recommended a feeding tube. You don't have to stress out the cat or force it to swallow, you just put it down the tube and, done!, cat fed.
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minka View Post
This is why I recommended a feeding tube. You don't have to stress out the cat or force it to swallow, you just put it down the tube and, done!, cat fed.
Well.... Not really.... Assisted feeding can be done immediately and for no extra money - not the case for feeding tube...
Not everybody can afford a feeding tube. But everybody, wanting, can syringe-feed a cat...
Plus, removing a cat from a feeding tube and bringing it back to eat on its own is a "bit" more complicated than a cat that is syringe fed.
Don't take me wrong, it has its merits and works great, but it is not for every cat that stops eating.
Assisted/force feeding is readily available and can be done on the spot - literally when the O.P. stops reading this post. Regardless, the cat has to eat, and IMHO saying to not force feed due to stress is not really the best advice to give... It can scare away pet parents from something that can be life-saving for their cats IMHO.
post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carolina View Post
Well.... Not really.... Assisted feeding can be done immediately and for no extra money - not the case for feeding tube...
Not everybody can afford a feeding tube. But everybody, wanting, can syringe-feed a cat...
Plus, removing a cat from a feeding tube and bringing it back to eat on its own is a "bit" more complicated than a cat that is syringe fed.
Don't take me wrong, it has its merits and works great, but it is not for every cat that stops eating.
Assisted/force feeding is readily available and can be done on the spot - literally when the O.P. stops reading this post. Regardless, the cat has to eat, and IMHO saying to not force feed due to stress is not really the best advice to give... It can scare away pet parents from something that can be life-saving for their cats IMHO.
I think of it this way...
You can either struggle to force-feed a cat, and hope you don't have to pay for much more expensive veterinary services when your cat develops fatty liver disease.. OR you could pay for a feeding tube and be able to give your cat all the nutrients it needs until you resolve Why it's not eating.
http://www.catinfo.org/?link=feedingtubes
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minka View Post
I think of it this way...
You can either struggle to force-feed a cat, and hope you don't have to pay for much more expensive veterinary services when your cat develops fatty liver disease.. OR you could pay for a feeding tube and be able to give your cat all the nutrients it needs until you resolve Why it's not eating.
http://www.catinfo.org/?link=feedingtubes
I am not sure why you keep giving the understanding that force feeding is a struggle and inefficient... And if you force feed your cat you might end up with fatty liver... That is so not true... I have force fed all my cats, without any struggle, none of them developed fatty liver. I have the technique down, and know what to do. I don't freak out about it, which makes a world of difference. They are all fine... Never needed a feeding tube...
What the cat needs, one way or another, is food- the right amount of food- period.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carolina View Post
I am not sure why you keep giving the understanding that force feeding is a struggle and inefficient... And if you force feed your cat you might end up with fatty liver... That is so not true... I have force fed all my cats, without any struggle, none of them developed fatty liver. I have the technique down, and know what to do. I don't freak out about it, which makes a world of difference. They are all fine... Never needed a feeding tube...
What the cat needs, one way or another, is food- the right amount of food- period.
Because for inexperienced (aka most) owners, it is. Why take the chance that your cat won't get enough food and water when you can put a feeding tube in? Sounds like a no brainer to me.
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minka View Post
Because for inexperienced (aka most) owners, it is. Why take the chance that your cat won't get enough food and water when you can put a feeding tube in? Sounds like a no brainer to me.
There are great information out there for those owners... It takes one reading, much faster than a trip to the vet... I posted a great link to the OP, with tons of info and plenty of choices of different techniques... If I learned, anybody can. I also placed a thread with video of me force feeding my cat Lucky (her first time in a cat bag, first time being force-fed and first time eating wet food, btw) and a bunch more info of what to do...
It is not that complicated really... The key is to not have this pre-conception that it is hard and stressful, because the kitty will pick up on it. If you are calm, and relaxed, have the right food, right syringe and so on, you can do it. It doesn't take all this "experience" you are talking about- it takes confidence, will and a relaxed frame of mind. You just do what you gotta do for your kitty, that's all.
Those two options are available, but pet parents should not be shone away from syringe feeding... It can be an easy way to save their babies.
post #21 of 28
I would like to know how Neek is doing.

As for the feeding tube; I think I would only use that as a last resort. It just doesn't sound at all pleasant. Don't get me wrong, I would if I had to but it would be my last choice.
post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to give a quick update.... I got the appetite stimulating antihistamine pills from the vet on Friday and have been giving her 2 mg a day since then. Early Sunday morning, I came home to find her finishing off a full bowl of dry food! I can't tell you how relieved I was to see this. I am continuing to monitor her closely, but it appears that she is quickly getting better. Her water consumption has also increased. Thanks so much to everyone for the advice. The 4 days of syringe feeding were rough on both of us, but it seemed to do the job until her appetite came back. I'm going to have to cal the vet again to see how long I need to keep her on the meds, but I will gladly give them to her if it keeps her eating. In case anyone else is having the same difficulties, here's some info on the pills:

Cyproheptadine 4mg, giving 1/2 a tablet once a day. A month's supply was only $7.00 through my local vet so I would recommending giving it a try if other methods have failed.

Thanks again everyone!
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktfields22 View Post
Just wanted to give a quick update.... I got the appetite stimulating antihistamine pills from the vet on Friday and have been giving her 2 mg a day since then. Early Sunday morning, I came home to find her finishing off a full bowl of dry food! I can't tell you how relieved I was to see this. I am continuing to monitor her closely, but it appears that she is quickly getting better. Her water consumption has also increased. Thanks so much to everyone for the advice. The 4 days of syringe feeding were rough on both of us, but it seemed to do the job until her appetite came back. I'm going to have to cal the vet again to see how long I need to keep her on the meds, but I will gladly give them to her if it keeps her eating. In case anyone else is having the same difficulties, here's some info on the pills:

Cyproheptadine 4mg, giving 1/2 a tablet once a day. A month's supply was only $7.00 through my local vet so I would recommending giving it a try if other methods have failed.

Thanks again everyone!
Great Deal
That's the thing with syringe-feeding... Once the cat's blood sugar and metabolism is regulated, the kitty usually get back to feeding on its own.... It really works... It can be trying and sometimes you feel helpless thinking you will be doing this "forever"... but then... bam! Kitty starts eating! Yey!!!!
For my Gracie, my vet prescribed the same drug, as follows:
Cyproheptadine 4mg - 1/2 tablet every 12 hours for 7 days, then reduce dose to one 1/2 tablet once a day.
Gracie is 13-14 years old, and at the time I think she was about 8 1/2-9lbs.

This drug needs to be tapered off , I was never prescribed for less than a week, as it does take a little to kick in -

I hope she continues to do well!
post #24 of 28
I agree with Carolina. I syringe feed many cats and dogs at the clinic where I work. Most cats tolerate it well. I have also fed many cats through a feeding tube. A tube cannot stay in for more than a few days so if the cat isn't eating by them, it's pointless. Plus, if it's done too quickly, then cats will vomit and then they feel like crap. Plus they are not getting the full nutrition as the food is often watered down so it can go through the tube. Plus, there is always the risk of infection where the tube is placed which is what happened to one cat. In addition, most of the owners could not do it so they had to hospitalize their cat anyway, increasing the vet.bill.

Syringe feeding has its cons too but for the most part, it is simple for owners to do themselves and if done properly, it can be done with minimal stress to the cat. A feeding tube does suit some cats but syringe feeding is useful in most cases.

To the OP, I hope your cat reacts well to the drug and starts to eat. Keep us posted!
post #25 of 28
I'm so happy to hear that the kitty is finally eating. That's great news! I bet it was a combination of the force feeding and the medication that caused it. A few years ago I was really sick for a long time. I couldn't eat or drink anything for several days. Once I got better though I still couldn't get myself to eat. I was hungry and I wanted to eat but I just couldn't get it down. I ended up spitting food out whenever I tried eating. But once I got an IV to help the dehydration and was forced to drink protein shakes I started to be able to eat. Once I got something in my system it was like the barrier to eating started to go away. I think that cats experience something similar if they don't eat for a few days.
When you're dehydrated your mouth gets very dry and that also makes it harder to eat which is partly why I think sub-q fluids help stimulate eating.

It's pretty simple to check if a cat is dehydrated. What you do is check his skin elasticity. If you pinch the skin on your cat is should bounce back right away. But if the cat is dehydrated the skin goes back into place slower. The slower the more dehydrated he is. You can compare it to another cat or yourself for reference to see what it should be like. The gums can also be a bit pale on a dehydrated cat.

I'm so surprised that I never heard about this appetite stimulant. I didn't even know such a drug existed. Having something like that could have helped me several times. I'll be sure to ask my vet for it in the future when I get a cat that don't want to eat.
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktfields22 View Post
Just wanted to give a quick update.... I got the appetite stimulating antihistamine pills from the vet on Friday and have been giving her 2 mg a day since then. Early Sunday morning, I came home to find her finishing off a full bowl of dry food! I can't tell you how relieved I was to see this. I am continuing to monitor her closely, but it appears that she is quickly getting better. Her water consumption has also increased. Thanks so much to everyone for the advice. The 4 days of syringe feeding were rough on both of us, but it seemed to do the job until her appetite came back. I'm going to have to cal the vet again to see how long I need to keep her on the meds, but I will gladly give them to her if it keeps her eating. In case anyone else is having the same difficulties, here's some info on the pills:

Cyproheptadine 4mg, giving 1/2 a tablet once a day. A month's supply was only $7.00 through my local vet so I would recommending giving it a try if other methods have failed.

Thanks again everyone!
I am so glad this issue is resolved. Thanks for the info on the pills. I've filed it in case I ever need it.
post #27 of 28
My cat stopped eating before and the vet gave her Periactin (pills) to stimulate appetite and it worked.

Curious what wet food you got your cat to eat. My 16 year old girl has been on dry for life. I've tried to switch her to wet but she refuses it.

Good luck with your kitty!
post #28 of 28

Hi ktfields

 

When my cat Moe had a tumor growing in her throat, she would do the same thing - go to her dish, start eating (she was a great eater) but then have most of the food dribble out of the side of her mouth. Take your fingers and check the sides of her neck - if you feel any hardness or swelling, have your vet look down your kitty's throat (may have to be given anesthesia). 

 

Good luck!

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