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Feeding Tube Experience

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi All, I post here very rarely, but I have a cat who was diagnosed with Lymphosarcoma in the stomach. In the past 3 months, he as frequent vomitting, he is very lethargic, and recently started having diarrhea. He is eating less and less to the point where we are force feeding him through a syringe. The amount we feed him minus the amount he throws up, he is eating VERY little.

I am considering getting him a feeding tube, since he seems almost anorexic.

For those who've had this procedure done, how uncomfortable is it for the cat? Is it selfish of me to perform such a procedure on a cat who's terminally ill? What drugs can I give him to help with his appetite?

He is currently on 10mg of predisolone a day...... I was thinking maybe Valium or some type of pain killer.

Any help is appreciated. Thank you.
post #2 of 7
I know that a dying loved one, human or animal can be a sensitive area, so forgive me if I sound unfeeling.

What is the likelihood of improving his quality of life (from the pain, etc) if you can prolong it? (And how long is he expected to live, if he were put on a feeding tube?) As he is terminally ill, it may be better if you put him to sleep, since he is suffering and won't eat. But, I think you ultimately have to decide this for yourself.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
he still runs to me when he hears food, he still plays certain games, and he still enjoys it when I brush his hair.... so he still enjoys life, just with less energy.

When the time comes, I won't prolong his agony. But right now, I think if he can ingest food, he will feel much better. Of course that is my best assumption, I cannot feel what he's feeling.

I understand that putting him to sleep is in my near future, but I don't want to have any regrets, thinking that I could have improved his life in his final hours, and I refused him the opportunity

And no, you don't sound unfeeling, you are just being rational, and I really appreciate that.
post #4 of 7
It depends on the type of feeding tube (nasogastric, inserted through esophagus; or gastrostomy tube, inserted through abdominal wall directly into the stomach)....it also depends on kitty's anesthesia candidacy for the latter. A nasogastric tube doesn't require anesthesia (providing your vet has a good technique, is quick with insertion and can adhere the tube in place above the nose without the need of a staple; vet glue is usually the preferred option). The gastrostomy tube is more involved, this requires general anesthesia.

Your vet would take into account kitty's comfort level, your comfort level in using the tube, and the anesthesia candidacy. There are risks with both feeding tubes, but to save cost and spare anesthesia, the nasogastric tube would be your option. The drawback to this is that the tube can shift if not properly sized, positioned and secure. Coughing, gagging or vomiting can shift the tube and this would require immediate veterinary attention to replace it or reposition it. The nasogastric tube is also slightly smaller than the gastrostomy tube, making feeding slightly more difficult (slower administration time, monitoring for gag reflex, etc).

The gastrostomy tube would be an option because it bypasses the need for food fed through the mouth, esophagus, etc....it is inserted directly into the stomach through the abdominal wall. There is a "washer" to keep it positioned, and the tube is slightly larger, making it easier to administer food through syringe feeding. The drawback to this besides anesthesia, is risk of infection at the incision site. Most cases fair really well as long as the owner monitors the inicision site carefully for any signs of infection, and the kitty tolerates it well, with no discomfort. (you will probably have to have a gauze wrap around the body to keep it secure and to keep the area clean and dry. Anesthesia is again required to remove the tube once nutritional support has been achieved.

Your vet can discuss the pros and cons with each with you, as it applies to your kitty's individual needs. I commend you for considering the option. As long as your kitty still has interest in his normal routine, is happy, is comfortable and is seemingly able to continue body functions, is interested in his environment and is seemingly wanting to fight, then the options are available to you. If you choose either procedure, be sure to get all your questions met so that you understand what to expect. Forced feeding a cancer patient can be trying for both patient and owner, and can cause undue stress which in turn can hamper the ability to overcome the worst obstacles....mainly stress, vomiting, dehydration, all of which add to the cancer's debilitation.

I am not suggesting this be done for every cancer patient, least of all those with stomach lymphomas...however, you have expressed that your kitty is enjoying his life and has the will to fight. Only you and your vet can make the correct decision based on what you observe with your kitty, his health status and because you know him better than anyone else.

As for medications to curb the side effects, ask your vet about the "rescue" protocol (if you are also using a chemotherapeutic agent), or at the very least, medications are available to minimize these effects and help to keep kitty comfortable, including meds for nausea, diarrhea, anorexia, and pain should it come to that point. These medications should not be viewed as "just more drugs"....but as options to minimize the effects. These effects are an inevitable part of cancer, and the medications are available to alleviate the symptoms.

Again, check the link I gave you in your first post...review the home care tips and then discuss the medication options with your vet. (also discuss modifying the diet, it will need to be modified anyway if you choose a parenteal nutritional feeding tube).......................Traci
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for you post, I did visit the site you sent me, and it was very informitive.

The cat is on exclusive diet that consists of Hill's A/D, Baby Food, and treats...... it's actually whatever he is willing to eat... and since it's only treats.... we 'assist feed' Hill's A/D and baby food

I think he knows that we feed him very frequently (4 - 6 times a day), and he hides a lot now I hope he knows we're trying to do what's good for him.

I contacted the vet and he does not perform the procedure to insert a feeding tube. Through the esophogus or the stomach. And after some thought, a surgical procedure that affects his stomach to achieve a short-term solution is not worth the stress of surgery.

The Esophagus feeding tube is essentially what we are doing now. And since he is responding to this method, we'll go with what works for now.

This all started 8/30, and it's been a little more than 3 months now, and he has changed so much.... as this rate of deteriation, I can only think that he doesn't have much time left. When he stops enjoying what he is doing, I know what I have to do

I will ask the doctor for more medication options to help with his appetite, nausea, and pain (I don't know if he is suffering)...... Prednisolone alone doesn't seem to be doing the trick.
post #6 of 7
I'm so sorry that you are going thru this! While I have never resorted to feeding tubes, I have had to force feed elderly cats. My experience (and I have heard this also from friends that have gone thru the experience) is that they will tell you when they have had enough of it. Feeding them will be more and more difficult (they will fight you more and more), their behavior will change (like they have given up) and one day they will just tell you "no more". I can't fully explain, but if you know your baby, you will know the signs when they come. The difficultly is putting your emotions aside to recognize those signs objectively.

((((****hugs****)))) Hang in there!!
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
he is more and more agitated by the force feeding. But on the bright side, I made a bib for him and he looks so cute when he's wearing it (yes I can sew!!)

I know he is very weak now, so when he is fighting me to get away, I know he is REALLY agitated, I only give him as much as he is willing to stay still for. So that means more feeding sessions.

His stool is very odd lately. It's not really diarrhea........

The best description I can give is it looked like the stool I had when I ate WOW chips. That short-lived potato chip that used a special 'oil' that your body can't absorb.

What it basically looks like is very creamy, very dark (nearly jet black which leads me to believe there's blood somewhere), and there is a layer of oil.

I know this because Mentos is toilet trained, so I can visually see a thin layer of oil on top of the water.

This is very concerning to me because
1) He goes potty now about twice a day (he use to go once very 2 days). And he puts out about 1/2 what we put in.

2) Oil in his stool means it's not being absorbed.

He has gone from a plump 13 1/2 lbs to a lean 10lbs now. I am kinda glad I spoiled him so that he had room to slim down. But at this rate, where he does not eat at all by himself, I don't like the feel of things.

Thanks for all your support, I'm going to check a few more vets for their opinions. Thanks!
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