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cat won't eat or drink

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
My 11-year old cat is being treated by a specialist for
heart disease. Just recently he stopped eating and drinking;
after a week at the vet's (where he had an intervenous drip)
for possible digoxin poisoning, he's supposedly better, but
he still won't eat on his own, and mostly won't drink.
We're force-feeding him formula the vet gave us, and we also
have him on a medication that's supposed to bring his appetite
back, but he still won't eat or drink.

His drinking behavior is really weird though; he'll go to his
water bowl and beg (his throat is weird now and he really just
kind of groans). We'll give him fresh water, and he'll stick his nose
in it repeatedly, and maybe the tip of his tongue, but he just won't
drink. Then he'll look up and whine again, like he really wants WATER
this time. :-( I thought maybe he'd forgotten how to lap or
something really weird, and bought him a little bottle, but he won't
drink from that either. I've tried putting his water in a cup and
also in a shallow dish, and I've also tried to get him to drink
lactaid milk (which he used to love) but no luck.

I'm new here, so I hope I'm asking the question right. Anyway,
I'd be very grateful if anyone has any ideas about how to
entice my cat into either eating or drinking! Thanks very much!

Cara
post #2 of 18
Cara,

You don't mention this, so forgive me if I'm suggesting something you've already done. This is way outside what I can advise on, except to say that I'm very glad you are feeding him, and wanted to know if you've also been eye droppering water into your guy? How long has he been home and how long since you know he drank anything?

I'm very concerned that he's gotten dehydrated (this alone will affect his appetite), and would suggest you have a vet, is your regular vet co-ordinating care with the specialist?, see him asap.

The specialist or your regular vet needs to know the appetite stimulant isn't working and that he seems unable to drink (is he still grooming himself or giving you kisses?) and needs to know just how much he's had in fluids recently.

Please keep us updated? I hope others will post their advice here soon, but suspect the overall common bit of advice will be consulting a vet again immediately.
post #3 of 18
I would definetly check with your vet and let them know. If he is not cleaning himself he may have a problem using his mouth. Watch him closely and Good Luck to you.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for replying, Pat & Alix!

My cat's been home for four days now; we force-feed him a liquid
formula through a syringe, but because of his apparently thirsty
behaviour we've also force-fed him water twice with the syringe;
I should have thought this would keep him from being dehydrated,
but I'm not certain.

In any case, I wouldn't have thought his behavior could be due to
him being dehydrated, because while he was in the cat hospital
they got his blood pressure back up and rehydrated him; he was
on an i.v. drip for a week. At the end of the (very expensive) week
the vets couldn't get him to eat either, so I'd think there's more to
it than dehydration... We're going to talk to the specialist on the phone
tonight and see what she says, but so far I don't think they've had
much luck with his eating/drinking problem.

<< The specialist or your regular vet needs to know the appetite stimulant isn't working and that he seems unable to drink (is he still grooming himself or giving you kisses?) and needs to know just how much he's had in fluids recently. >>

Thanks. Now that you mention it, he isn't grooming himself
either; I take it that can be a sign of dehydration?

I guess one thing that I just think is really weird is his behavior
with his water bowl; another thing he does is sort of hunch over it
like he's going to fall asleep in it, and then he just sits there for a
long time with his nose half-an-inch from the water.
So I think he knows he's thirsty...but he won't drink! I'll touch the
surface of the water, and that seems to interest him...and whenever
I bring him more water, he'll get right up...

Anyway, sorry for going on at such length! I thought I'd ask here
because both of the specialists my cat has (cardiologist and internist)
are very young, and so though I'm sure they know a lot they probably
haven't seen every eccentric cat who's out there yet...and I
wondered if anyone out there had seen something like this!

Thanks!!!! (By the way, I notice I never said my cat's name;
it's Mousie, because when he was a tiny baby he looked like
a little mouse.)

Cara
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
<<If he is not cleaning himself he may have a problem using his mouth. Watch him closely and Good Luck to you.>>

Thanks! I hadn't known that about the mouth. I'll definitely
mention that to our vet. Thanks!!!

Cara
post #6 of 18
From what you are describing, it sounds like there may be an underlying problem. Generally cats who are ill or not feeling well don't want to eat or drink, and they also have poor hair coats. I would try and get him in for a CBC/Chemistry blood panel as well as another exam.
post #7 of 18
Hi Cara,

I believe dehydration can occur pretty quickly - even though Mousie had a recent hospitalization with iv drip - if he's been home for 4 days without much liquid in, I think it's possible he's dehydrated.

Though I know Mousie has not been diagnosed with the problem a page I am going to refer you to, deals with, if you scroll down the page to "dehydration", it has an excellent paragraph on how to check for this.
Go here

The reason I asked about if he was grooming or giving you kisses was that I was wondering if he's able to lap liquids right now or if something is wrong with ?tongue?jaw?mouth somehow.

I am not sure how many cc's of water a cat needs per day, please if someone on the board knows, post it here for her?

I do hope you'll check in with your vets...try the tests described on the site link I gave you for dehydration...it can either reassure you, or let you know you must have him seen asap, imo.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Sandie, and Pat & Alix for your replies.

The cardiologist we talked to today didn't have any ideas except
to use a higher calorie formula when force-feeding Mousie.
I did the tests for dehydration, and I don't think they indicate
dehydration (luckily.) We'll continue giving him water as well
as formula by syringe, I guess, and hope that he perks up.

Cara
post #9 of 18
Cara, you can go to the store tomorrow and get some acidopholous capsules. Take a capsule and break it open pour it on a small plate. Wet your finger, and dip it in the powder. Then open Mousie's mouth and rub the wet powder on his gums, this may stimulate his appetite. Also take canned food, make it into a sort of thick brothy mixture using warm water, nuke it for few seconds in your microwave and offer it to to him to see if he eats that-

Also get a bottle of pedialyte and try and get some of that into him instead of water-

Good luck-
post #10 of 18
I just wanted to say when you use the syringe please do it slowly and take care the liquid is going the right way so that you do not end up with fluid in the lung.
I have used in the past Nutri-Cal from the vet which is a brownish gel in a tube and stuffed with vitamins. It is a great appetite stimulator.
post #11 of 18
Cara, could it be possible that your cat has Feline Parvovirus? It is also known as Feline Infectious Enteritis or Feline Panleukopenia and he has many of the classic symptoms. The vet needs to take a sample of his faeces and blood and get it tested for this. Are there other cats in the house? If it is Parvovirus, this is very contageous and the virus can live in your home for a year or more.
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cara 21
another thing he does is sort of hunch over it
like he's going to fall asleep in it, and then he just sits there for a
long time with his nose half-an-inch from the water.

Cara
That is a flashing red signal to me that he is in pain. I've seen this in cats in later stages of cancer and CRF - it is one of the questions that my vets ask me when they are assessing their health (are they hunching over?).

Dehydration can be very painful, and the health problems that he is experiencing are also probably painful. We are not vets and can't offer anything sound advice. I suggest you consult with your vet or specialist on this.
post #13 of 18
Cara, it sounds like he may have had this for a while as Feline Parvovirus is often misdiagnosed as possible poisoning. He needs to be on an IV to fight this.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your suggestions, everyone! I've noted them all down.
As to feline parvovirus -- I guess I thought a cat with
up-to-date shots wouldn't have something like that. (Of course,
I can never keep straight which cat shots are for
which sicknesses...)

He's had a lot of blood tests over the past couple weeks... But is
f.p. something they have to specifically look for, does anyone
know??? Or would it have turned up, seeing that he's had so
many blood tests?

Anyway, I'll go look around on the internet for more info about
f.p., and I'll see about getting acidopholus powder etc.

Thanks!

Cara
post #15 of 18
Cara
It sounds like your cat is very sick and it is unlikely that he will get better at home. Was he like this when you brought him home or did he get worse after coming home? I would be surprised if your vet released him to you in this condition.
Cats that are hunched, lethargic, and not eating and drinking are usually in a lot of pain and feel like !#*@. Dehydration can cause this and so can kidney and liver problems. I would think it extremely unlikely that feline panleuk would be the cause of this being that your cat is older and well vaccinated.
Inflammation of a facial nerve can prevent an animal from lapping and or swallowing. (Side note: rabies virus also paralyzes the swallowing muscles) If this is the case a vet can help you.
Take your cat back to the vet. You said you were seeing a specialist (Cardiologist? Feline Practitioner?), if you are taking him to a referal hospital maybe you should ask to see a specialist in internal medicine. In the meantime keep syringing food and water into him as others have told you. Is he keeping everthing down? Does he have any vomiting or diarrhea? I would not let this go on much longer.
Good luck! Keep us posted! Sending good vibes to your kitty!
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
<< It sounds like your cat is very sick and it is unlikely that he will get better at home. Was he like this when you brought him home or did he get worse after coming home? I would be surprised if your vet released him to you in this condition. >>

Well, I think my vet has a bit of a Pollyanna approach here. When we
first brought the cat in for being off his food (maybe two weeks ago now)
the internist thought he was just being picky, having recently moved
into a new home. (The fact that he had eaten fine for the first
week in the new home, and then lost interest, didn't seem significant
to her.) The vet also said his blood work was great.

When we brought Mousie back a few days later, they said they'd
have to keep him overnight. The overnight ended up a week;
they at first said they thought he wasn't eating due to low blood
pressure, the low bp being caused by several of his meds. While there,
he became more lethargic. By the end of the week, they were saying
it was all due to an overdose of digoxin, and that though his first
two blood tests after he'd stopped eating had shown his digoxin
levels as just high-normal, his last blood test (a full four days after
his last dose of digoxin) showed a radically elevated digoxin level.
To be honest, I don't buy this explanation, but I'm just the
owner...

Anyway, when the vet released Mousie to us, they'd brought his
blood pressure back to normal range, and rehydrated him. They
assured us that though they couldn't get him to eat,
surely he would eat at home. (This is why I say "Pollyanna.")

<< Cats that are hunched, lethargic, and not eating and drinking are usually in a lot of pain and feel like !#*@. Dehydration can cause this and so can kidney and liver problems. I would think it extremely unlikely that feline panleuk would be the cause of this being that your cat is older and well vaccinated.>>

Well, they were pretty sure his kidneys were good, and I'm sure
they checked liver function. I looked at info about viral infections,
and because he had his shots a year ago, and hasn't been in contact
with any other cats since then, I don't see an infection as likely.
Plus, he isn't vomiting much (not at all since we stopped giving him
aspirin) and that seems to be a major symptom of all these infections.

<< Inflammation of a facial nerve can prevent an animal from lapping and or swallowing. (Side note: rabies virus also paralyzes the swallowing muscles) If this is the case a vet can help you. >>

Thanks! We're going to talk to our internist today, and I'll ask if
they checked for that.

<< Take your cat back to the vet. You said you were seeing a specialist (Cardiologist? Feline Practitioner?), if you are taking him to a referal hospital maybe you should ask to see a specialist in internal medicine.>>

He has a cardiologist and also an internist. (Until he got dehydrated
he had to have a chest tap every two or three weeks, hence the
internist.) Both are right out of med school, though, and I sometimes
wonder if they have as much experience as we need.

<< In the meantime keep syringing food and water into him as others have told you. Is he keeping everthing down? Does he have any vomiting or diarrhea? >>

He's had no diarrhea since coming back from the hospital, and though
he's thrown up a few times, he rarely brings much up. Plus, he hasn't
thrown up in a couple days, so he's clearly keeping down most of
what we put in him.

The reason I'm reluctant to just put him back in the cat hospital and
back on his i.v. is that (a) we're pretty much out of money now (the
week in the hospital, plus all the tests, cost a staggering amount),
and (b) we know he's dying anyway (heart failure); we've kept him
alive and happy now for six months since his diagnosis, but now that
he's clearly unhappy, and that much more expensive, I do sort of
wonder if we should just have him put down. (I would guess this
would be a lot kinder than letting him die naturally, as he's clearly
very unhappy.) If it's something simple like a mouth problem, that
would be nice. If it's something more complicated, I just don't know...

<< Good luck! Keep us posted! Sending good vibes to your
kitty! >>

Thanks so much! It's wonderful to find strangers out here in cyberspace
who are so kind and willing to help! It means a lot to me.

Cara
post #17 of 18
Cara?

When you said you gave the cat aspirin did your vet tell you to? Did you give baby aspirin or full strength?
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
<< When you said you gave the cat aspirin did your vet tell you to? Did you give baby aspirin or full strength? >>

Yes, he's been on a cat prescription dose of aspirin for
six months now; it's a fraction of a baby aspirin every three
days or so (I don't recall the exact dose; my husband gives
the meds.) All the meds were at doctor's orders:
enacard, digoxin, aspirin, and a diuretic (which surely accelerated
the dehydration.) Poor kitty! He hates taking his pills.

Cara
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