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Cat flu and anorexia

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I am having a tough time with my 5 year old male tabby, Max. He started losing his appetite on Monday of last week. I took him in on Wednesday (after he flat out refused his favorite wet food) because he just wasn't himself. My vet feels that he has cat flu. His temperature was elevated and there was some noise in his lungs. He got an injection of Anafen and Baytril. We were sent home with antibiotics (to prevent a secondary infection). The Dicural pills made Max foam so much that we thought he was choking so we went back for some Amoxil.

It has been very difficult for him to eat. At first, he would walk up to his wet food and then start gagging. He wouldn't vomit though. We've been giving him novel foods (different wet and dry foods) to try to get him to eat. We tried human baby food (chicken and beef, no onion), boiled chicken, and more recently, Tender Vittles. All along, he will eat a bit of something and then in the next feeding, decide that he doesn't like it anymore. I had read elsewhere to try the really cheap foods (Whiskas, Friskies) because they are more aromatic and might entice him. I don't doubt that he's hungry. When he hears a can of food being opened, he will stand at your feet. But if you give him the food, he doesn't want to eat it.

If it is cat flu, there isn't much we can do but wait it out, right? Any advice on how to treat would be appreciated. Especially on getting him back to eating more. I realize that cats should not go without food under any circumstances. He is still eating, not his full ration, but I am worried that he might stop completely.
post #2 of 24
You may want to try a very smelly wet food especially if he's congested and having trouble smelling his food. Cats that can't smell their food will often refuse to eat. Also, can you look in his mouth and see if there are any white sores?

Very smelly foods include 9 Lives tuna. If he stops eating completely discuss with your vet hand feeding with a feeding syringe, and stage one chicken flavored baby food (easy to get into a syringe).
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Stephen. I will try to take a look into his mouth tonight. It might take two of us though. Everytime I get close to his mouth, he thinks that I'm giving him meds. What would the sores indicate?

I will also try the 9 Lives. At this point, I don't care what he eats, as long as he's putting it down.
post #4 of 24
I would ask the vet if he saw any mouth ulcers while examining him, and if not, consider taking him in for an exam of his mouth - there is a medication called carafate that is useful in soothing oral ulcers as I recall, that might help him feel like eating again. Though this is not related to the condition this link is dedicated to, it has great information on carafate and mouth ulcers, click here to read about mouth ulcers and treatments .

The other question I have is if he's showing any signs of nausea? These would be lipsmacking, eating a bit then pulling back and doing a lot of swallowing as if the food isn't going down...vomitting of clear, foamy white or even of yellowish bile. If he is showing any signs of nausea, your vet can also prescribe a medication to counteract this, and that also will help him feel more like eating (also with nausea, elevating the food dish will help).

Hth, and I applaud all the things you've tried so far - I must just add that until he's eating full force, I'd use nutrical or whatever similar quality high calorie nutrition paste that you can get, and/or ask the vet for some cans of prescription Hills A/D - which is for short term use, and if necessary, is easy to syringe - IF your vet approves moving to doing some assist-feeding. The consistency of the A/D is very soft, pudding like and if your kitty does indeed turn out to have a sore mouth due to ulcers, would be a nice gentle re texture food for him to try while treatment for the ulcers kicks in.

Please keep us posted?
post #5 of 24
the sores (Pat and Alix also referred to them) would indicate Calici virus, a type of URI that sometimes causes cats to stop eating because the sores can hurt. When a cat stops eating and has a URI its useful to check for sores, but in your cat's case it could be one of various things and your vet will know better than us whats going on.
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much.

At the time of the exam, nearly a week ago, my vet didn't see anything abnormal in his mouth. The only symptoms were the elevated temp and the noise in the lungs. His nose and eyes look good too. I will try to get a look though.

I wouldn't doubt that he's a bit nauseous. My vet suspected some throat irritation because of the gagging response to the food. He does seem to be swallowing a lot so perhaps it is nausea. I will phone my vet today and ask if he would prescribe something. He did vomit for the first time yesterday. It was yellowish with some of the food he had eaten and a bit of pink amoxil (how gross is that?!).

I have tried to get some Nutrical into him and he will refuse. The most I've been able to do is rub some on his gums. I have been trying to get some kitten food into him for the extra calories. I will ask my vet about the A/D when I call. I doubt that Max will eat it, but it's worth a try. If he doesn't stock it, I know that my emergency vet does.

I will keep you posted. Thank you both for your help.
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Max went back to the vet yesterday. They took blood and urine and did another physical exam. Physically, he's the same. Lungs are a bit congested, temperature, and now his eyes have started to run, just a bit. They thoroughly checked him mouth and teeth and couldn't see anything unusual.

The good news is, he's eating a bit more. He ate a scoop of the A/D last night and then I took him to bed with me. I gave him a massage with his vibrating brush and then he slept by my feet all night. This morning at around 6:00 a.m. he crawled up to my arms and cuddled with me. He started purring too...the first time in over a week! This morning, he ate a scoop of the A/D, a few licks of the Sheba duck that I bought, and some Tender Vittles. I will be a bit more persistent tonight and see if he'll eat a bit more.

Where the heck do you find 9 Lives? I looked in the grocery store (*shudder*) but couldn't find it. I thought it was comparable to Whiskas, Friskies, etc. so I thought it would be there. Do they sell it in pet stores? (I'm a food snob and only shop in independent stores)
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
One of my vets phoned with the results. There is no sign of infection and everything in his blood looks normal...except the liver values. He said that the liver enzymes were slightly elevated. We are very confident that this is from the lack of food and my vet has no doubt that once he starts eating his normal ration that he will show a full recovery. The values weren't abnormally high, but they were higher than the "normal" range.

I am very relieved that there is no evidence of anything more serious. He is eating a bit more now so hopefully he will continue and we won't have to force him. Still can't find 9 Lives though.
post #9 of 24
Cyproheptadine is an anti-histamine that works very well in cats as an appetite stimulant. If he doesn't start eating well soon you should ask your vet for a script.
post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much. BTW, great username!
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Max ate about 1/4 can last night and then refused completely this morning. I phoned my vet first thing and asked him about the drug. He couldn't find any info on it. This could be because he's a bit old school. I faxed him some info and I also called my emergency clinic. I am waiting to hear back from the vet there. I am sure that they will have it.

My regular vet mentioned a B-vitamin injection. He didn't think that the steroid injection would be good for his liver. Is this a common treatment? And does it work?

Also, any tips for forcefeeding? I wrapped Max like a burrito last night and got about 15cc of A/D in him. It was a battle though.
post #12 of 24
Here is an article and on the latter pages there are tips on how to get a relunctant cat to eat


Generally when a cat stops eating, the cat gets caught in a viscious cycle of anorexia. They should be hungry, but the body is compensating, albeit it unnaturally within itself so the cat isn't hungry. He needs much more than a scoop of this or that- and have you talked to your vet about a feeding tube? It is temporary but it is sometimes the best way to get nutrients into a cat.
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks, hissy. I had already read that. I tried the catnip trick last night and it worked. I am waiting to hear about the cyproheptadine and then we will go from there. If not, I intend on force feeding him or having a tube inserted. From what I've read, the nasal tube should only be used for up to 7 days. The gastro one is more long term. Is it worth getting the gastro tube in case this persists for more than a week?

I have obviously never dealt with this before but I am very concerned about him. I know that hepatic lipidosis is very dangerous and I do want to be aggressive with it. Do you think that I should just go ahead with the feeding tube, and forego trying to force feed him?
post #14 of 24
The feeding tubes make it easier on you the cat owner to get the food into the cat, and stop the cat from having the gag reflex and vomiting up the contents. But the gastro tubes are expensive, there is no denying that. And it is an invasive procedure- I know when I have cats that don't want to eat they go for the fancy feasts brand food- not the seafood, but the beef and chicken in gravy-
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
If this is in fact the cat flu that we are dealing with, I would hope that he would be showing some improvement in the next week. So if we did get a nasal tube, with any luck, he would have an appetite before we were required to remove it. Worse case scenario, he doesn't eat and we remove the nasal for a gastro.

I will pick up some Fancy Feast and see if he'll eat it. I avoided it initially because it was a chunky food.

I haven't heard from the emerg vet yet so I think that I will make another call to my regular vet for an appt. this afternoon. It sounds like the tube is going to be easier than try to force feed him. I'll keep you posted. Any advice you have in the meantime is greatly appreciated, as always.
post #16 of 24
I've been having a hectic day, and just saw this. Fancy Feast is not chunky - unless you get their "Fillet & Pate" variety. They have a huge variety of textures - shredded (has gravy), minced (a thicker coating each piece kind of gravy), various ground (i.e. tender liver and chicken, tender beef and liver - these have no gravy), marinated (slightly juicy ground) etc.

Best wishes with your apt. today, and I hope things improve soon.
post #17 of 24
All the best for the vet appointment this afternoon!
post #18 of 24
Cat flu makes them congested- so if you get that nose stuff called Little Noses or just plain saline drops and treat the nose first, perhaps that will coax him to eat because then he can smell? If cat's can't smell they won't eat-
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
I spoke to my boyfriend shortly after I posted the last update. Max had eaten 3/4 of a bag of Tender Vittles. He ate another 1/2 tonight. We got the Cypro from the pharmacy and I intend on using it first thing in the morning if he doesn't want to eat again.

Hissy, I have been treating his nose already. It looks pretty clear as far as I can tell. It's strange though, he's opting for food that isn't too smelly, like Tender Vittles and he ate a few crunchies tonight.

He seems to be in better spirits tonight. He was using his scratching post, showed interest in the laser pointer, and was grooming more aggressively. I also saw him have a BM and it looked good. It was well-formed and a normal amount. I just hope that he continues.

Thank you all for the advice so far. You totally rock. And thanks for the support too...makes it easier knowing that others have been through this and know what it's like.
post #20 of 24
I am glad it is working for him. It is always a concern when they won't eat because so much can go wrong so quickly! Keep up the good work!
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 
Well, he didn't want to eat this morning. I gave him the cypro about 15 minutes ago and then we're going to try to feed him. Otherwise, it's back to forcefeeding.
post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 
How long does it take for the Cypro to wear off? I gave it to him at about 10 a.m. but he didn't really eat a lot until 3 p.m. Is it possible that he's feeling a bit better and that's why he wanted to eat?

He ate all night tonight. We picked up some Fancy Feast and he was very excited about it. I put the can down to let him smell it and he immediately started eating. I quickly scooped it onto a plate, sprinkled a bit of acidophilus on it and let him eat. He ate about 1/2 the can right away. He ate that whole can throughout the night and I've just opened another for him to eat. I'll probably be up all night worrying anyway so it's easy to give him meals throughout the night. He kept going back to where we are feeding him so we just kept giving him food. It was great to see that he was actually seeking out food. He's also made several trips to the fountain, water bowl, and the faucet.

I can only hope that tomorrow is even better.
post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 
I am very happy to report that Max ate a full ration today! And I didn't even have to coax him. He is doing SO much better and seems to be back to his bratty self. We are still on high alert for anorexia, but it looks like he's shaken the worst of whatever was going on.

Thank you all so much for your help. It is amazing the wealth of knowledge (and the willingness to share it) on this board.
post #24 of 24
Originally Posted by Candy
I am very happy to report that Max ate a full ration today! And I didn't even have to coax him. He is doing SO much better and seems to be back to his bratty self. We are still on high alert for anorexia, but it looks like he's shaken the worst of whatever was going on.

Thank you all so much for your help. It is amazing the wealth of knowledge (and the willingness to share it) on this board.
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