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Willow still not eating much!

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
It's been a frustrating and stressful last two months! Thanks to you who answered our previous questions.

6 year old Willow has gone from eating dry food anytime, to eating nothing at all, to being diagnosed with diabetes, to trying to get her back on anything - hard or soft. She was eating 1/4 cup of dry kibbels a day last week (originally 1 cup/day) which was an improvement! She has gone from 10 lbs to only 6. She's very thin!

She has numerous tests and Xrays at the vet. Other than diabetes he can find nothing else wrong! Willow is now on 1unit of insulin a day. My husband had to learn how to give injections. We had to go out of town for a week and left her at the Vet last week. They did blood tests on her and tried different foods. Found a soft one that she liked. She seemed peppy when she came home and even chirped at us the first few days.

Now it's worse again - She eats a bare minimum. The vet's diabetic hard food, she doesn't like at all. We found one (out of dozens) that she only eats a few kibbles daily. It's not the best ingredients for her (first ingredient is corn) but now we just want her to eat anything in quantity!

She always goes to sit by the treats cupboard. We give her 5 to 7 dried kibbels each time. Some she likes. Sometimes she looks at them and leaves.

We are feeding her soft mushy food as well. The ones she likes, she just licks it a bit and then leaves. Later she will come back and eat a few more small mouthfuls as it drys up.

Sometimes she walks to her soft or dry bowls and then just looks at them and leaves. She may come back later and then eat a bit. It's almost like " I am hungry but I am not going to eat THIS". Does that make sense?

She will come into my husband's home office once or twice a day to get his attention. Then she will lead him to the kitchen and the food bowls. If he pats her while she stares at her bowl, she will eat. She may turn away, but if he pets her some more, she will stay a bit longer and eat a few more dried kibbels.

She is eating less than 1/4 cup of dry a day, plus 6 to 10 dried treats, plus a teaspoon soft food. Not nearly enough in my opinion. She is very thin. Sleeps a lot during the day. She used to love being brushed every morning, but now is not interested in that. Sometimes she just sits in the middle of the kitchen while the two of us eat supper. She has no spark to chase things like she did two months ago.

Some mentioned force feeding. But do you do that if Willow is eating something every day, regardless of how little?

Today we gave her treats, cooked chicken, dried kibbels, dried treats. She ate a BIT of everything. Usually 2 or 3 mouthfuls, and then she moves on. What she eats this week may be of no interest by next week. Sometimes she puts her head in the dried food bowl and then turns away. She's gotta be hungry by now!

Does any of this make sense?
How do we get her to eat more?
What other tests can the vet do?

Many thanks for your concern. :-)
post #2 of 48
Ask your vet about assist feeding, if it were me, yes, though she is eating some, it is far from enough (in my opinion) and I would use the assist-feeding as a supplementation.

You might check the various sites on cat diabetes to see if this topic of inappetance is addressed. My favorite is www.gorbzilla.com
post #3 of 48
I will admit I know little about diabetes in animals... but when Kandie my crf kitty says no to food I use a sprinkle of kitty cavier or crush up a cube of wildside salmon( both are mostly protein) on the food to get her to dig in...

It may be time to try Pats recommendation( I havent had to yet so I am of no help)

I am sure these test were run but did the vet run a senior blood panel( I know she is a bit young)
post #4 of 48
I used to have a terrible time getting my cat with liver probs to eat, so much so that we gave up on prescription food and I resigned myself to maybe having her for a shorter length of time. Mixing tuna or tuna water in her food helped, as did cat milk (it is classed as food for them). You said that she eats more if you stroke her while she is eating - I would carry on doing that - I have done all sorts to get my foster to start eating (taking the food bowl everywhere as after a bit of fuss she would eat, although only a couple of mouthfuls, mashing food up, sitting with her) - she has gone from only eating a mouthful or two in one go to wolfing a bowl of food in 10-15 mins and asking for more - I have only had her for 2 1/2 weeks.
post #5 of 48
Is she still drinking and peeing a lot. If she is she may not be very well regulated and as a result may be dehydrated and not feeling well. I would talk to your vet anout checking her glucose and perhaps increasing her insulin dose.
post #6 of 48
Thread Starter 
Last week she was on 2 units and after staying at the vet's for 4 days and doing blood tests, he reduced it to 1 unit per day. When she came home, she was lively and looked like she was starting to eat again. But in the past few days she has lost her interest again. We're back to trying different hard and soft foods.
Yesterday Willow gobbled up a new soft food. We were encouraged.

However this morning she vomitted it all. I gave her the 1 unit of insulin.
Later in the day she vomitted again. All bile. She hasn't eaten anything since yesterday. Today she went into hiding. Doesn't want to eat a lick! I think this is how this all started two months ago... Vomited a lot from antibiotics and then was turned off food for days. Back then she weighed 10 lbs. Now she only weighs 6 lbs! She is very thin.

We got scared and took her back to the vet. That's 5 times in the past 2 months. And a lot of tests. It takes her a day to calm down so he can get a proper blood reading tomorrow.

We don't know what to do to get her to eat more. Why would she vomit twice today? Something still has to be wrong. The vet says she will eat when she gets hungry enough. But at only a thin 6 lbs, I don't think there is room to wait.
Her urine is still sticky which suggests glucose is too high?
post #7 of 48
Originally Posted by MarshaB
The vet says she will eat when she gets hungry enough. But at only a thin 6 lbs, I don't think there is room to wait.
I will let others comment on the rest of your note, but the above concerns me greatly. It simply isn't true to the best of my knowledge and experience that a cat will eat once it is hungry enough!! Not eating can lead to cats losing all appetite, losing weight rapidly can lead to hepatic lipidosis, and I agree with you, it may be sign that something else is going on or simply not yet under control.

Can you ask for a referral to a specialist or simply find one on your own for a second opinion?
post #8 of 48
I have not got a diabetic cat, my parents do. I DO have
some experience w/not eating. Both senior cats of mine
got sick on bad (raw) chicken and wound up not eating
for a week.

The old female had to be spoon fed - baby food and a
wet food A/D? something like that, designed for cats
that wouldn't eat.

At this point with you - don't worry
about the food composition - just
get her eating again!! You may need to force
feed, till she gets the hang of eating.

If the vet has not already done so, check for
kideny functions, and ask the vet for a bit
of Pepcid to settle her stomach. The vomiting
could be due to stomach ulcers or uremia,
both of which Pepcid could help with.

Try the tuna juice trick, also try salmon canned (juice is
good and smelly!), try some roasted chicken that you
make with no salt or onion or other
additives. Maybe you could use a little low sodium
broth when roasting... Take the juices formed in roasting
pan, dilute with a bit of water, heat 10
seconds in the micro, and try pouring over some
of the roasted chicken that's been finely chopped up.

This was a TOTAL hit for both my cats! and the bonus
is that you can also eat the chicken yourself, LOL.

If this gets her eating again, gradually add the dry food
prescribed and "soak" the beans till mushy in the broth,
then put on spoon and spoon feed....

Don't let her go without eating. It is definitely NOT
good for them!
post #9 of 48
Originally Posted by MarshaB
The vet says she will eat when she gets hungry enough.
The vet is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG here. A dog will probably eat when he gets hungry enough. A cat, especially a sick cat, will refuse to eat long enough that it is fatal.

The first thing to do is go to a new vet, even if you have to drive a long way. This vet is demonstrating serious ignorance about cats and this sort of ignorance is more than enough to kill your cat.

Take her to a new vet today, and in the meantime syring feed some plain meat baby food (read the label to make sure it is onion free) to her.
post #10 of 48
If she is not eating don't worry about how good the food is, just feed her what she wants to eat - the food we have scully on is not a diabetic food, but his sugar spikes worse when he doesn't eat so the vet would rather he ate regularly, I would also try to get this sorted ASAP before the vets close for xmas.

If you have to get kitten replacement milk and feed it using a kids medicine syringe just to get vitamins into her. My vet was very against Scully turning his nose up at food and told me if he wanted to eat garbage scraps its better than not eating so i wouldn't let it go on too much. Its better to have to give an extra shot of insulin than worry about hepatic lipidosis and everything else that can happen from not eating.
post #11 of 48

The sugarcats journals here will let you see what others have gone through and what worked for them

and here is their message board - these people have lots of experience and can prob help you a little more:
post #12 of 48
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. We are struggling with this big time!
I hope you can follow this thread for a while. We will be coming back here for advice again.

Willow was overnight at the vet. He called me today and gave me a lot of info. I'm trying to digest it all...

She has slightly elevated enzymes. This has been the case all along
Her blood glucose has shot up to 21. Doesn't know why it has spiked. It could be stress from being at the vet. He wants to keep her and continue to monitor. He thinks she may need 2 insulin shots a day instead of one eventually. (Frankly I don't know how we will do that. I (husband) am in business and away often.We'll figure that out later.)

She has some infection in her system. And he is giving her liquid antibiotics. She had a bladder infection two months ago. We gave her large tablets then that she vomitted so we stopped. Maybe this has never gone away?!

Ketones(?) are up. I'm not sure what that all means.
He is now force feeding because she is skin and bones.
He gave her a lot of liquids because she was dehydrated.
From a docile beautiful cat to total disaster in a few weeks. Wow! It's breaking our hearts!

The vet said Willow is the only pet staying over in his clinic. He was to be closed down for the next few days over Christmas, but will come in and take care of her.

He will try to bring the glucose down and get food into her. She will calm down in a new location after two days. That should help.

The only other option is to send her by plane to a Veterinary School and Hospital in Saskatoon, Saskatchwan which is 600 miles away. He says they are experts and have better controls at this, if he can't remedy the situation.

Which begs the question, how much money do you spend to keep your pet healthy and alive?

Merry Christmas to all of you. :-)
post #13 of 48
Personally I wouldn't spend the money to go to Saskatoon just yet - like people it takes animals a little bit of time to get used to new regime - as far as she is concerned you have locked her away at the vets, prodded and poked her, stuck needles in her and took away her food - she can't be happy.

I remember the look in Scully's eyes when I tested his with a BG meter the first time - let alone actually give him an injection.

The high BG/Ketones could just be due to the infection so let the antibiotics do their work and get Willow on one food she will eat for a few weeks before deciding on the trip to Saskatoon.

Feline diabetes is not that big a deal that your vet shouldn't be able to cope with it. Where are you in canada, i can call my vet and see if he knows someone closer to you who has experience?
post #14 of 48
You have a wonderful vet! I am glad she's is getting this kind of care, and hope he can get her feeling better soon.

Re how much would I spend..the only time I've ever hesitated was when I was quoted $4,000 or $6,000 (can't recall) to take bone from Ophelia's pelvis to fill in bone where she had a tumor in her lower front left leg..with no guarantee's it would take and work...the further caveat being if it turned out it was a cancer, it might have already spread (and having not amputated - the recommendation), she would most likely die. We decided not to amputate, not to do the expensive, painful procedure that might do nothing for her and dang if she didn't regrow bone all on her own. She is with us, healthy (except for her asthma), adorable and totally unique.

But back to what have I spent? several thousand on a single kitty, more than once, more than one kitty
post #15 of 48
Oh on what I have actually spent - I remember one bill was $2000 and i just put it on my credit card. On big bills vets will usually let you pay installments as well. Now we have insurance for them and rarely have to pay much in vet visits.
post #16 of 48
Where in Northern Canada are you? Just asking because I may know of some good hospitals that are closer.

It sounds to me that she went into Diabetic Keto Acidosis (DKA). This happens when the body cannot use glucose because it doesn't have enough insulin. The body then begins to use fat as an energy source and the waste product- ketones- build up in the blood. This causes the body to become acidic (bodies are VERY particular about their pH) and the animal feels very sick.

Because of the lack of insulin, the glucose cannot be moved into cells and used by the body. So it stays in the bloodstream which is why you will get very high blood glucose readings in diabetic animals. At the kidneys, the glucose spills over into the urine- this does not happen if the blood glucose is normal as the kidneys are usually able to hold the glucose back. (Think about a rancher trying to hold back one steer at a gate- then picture one lone rancher trying to stop a stampede) The glucose in the urine shows up on a urinalysis. This glucose in the urine is also a very tempting environment for bacteria to grow because it provides them with a food source. This is why diabetics are more prone to UTI's.

Extra glucose in the urine also causes dehydration. This is because water follows the osmotic gradient. (Remember grade 11 Bio?) Sugar has osmotic pressure so water will follow it. Having glucose in the urine pulls additional water out of the body, making the animal very thirsty. This is why diabetic animals drink more and urinate more when they are not regulated.

Basically what all of this means is that I think your vet should not have lowered the insulin dose. In all fairness to your vet though, diabetics with active infection are more difficult to regulate. Your vet is doing all the right things. IV fluids to rehydrate and flush out those ketones will make your kitty feel much better. Insulin to help her use glucose will help lower her blood glucose and stop glucose from spilling over into her urine. Antibiotics to fight her bladder infection will help her to stabilize.

Sometimes getting a diabetic animal to regulate is difficult at first, but hang in there- she will feel better soon.
post #17 of 48
Thread Starter 
Thank you again for staying with me on this.
I live in Thompson, Manitoba. 500 miles north of Winnipeg and 600 miles east of Saskatoon. The next vet is in The Pas, 250 miles from here. But I have confidence in my vet now. He's doing his best and phoning me daily to tell me the latest...

Willow is on liquid antibiotics. Something to do with the white corpuscle count.

He upped her insulin dose. Last week another vet, who was visiting while he was out of town, reduced Willow's insulin dosage from 2 to 1 unit. He didn't agree with this and has now increased the dosage.
When I picked her up last week (we were out of town for 4 days) she seemed perky and was eating, but it deteriorated over the past week. When she vomitted twice on Thursday and stopped eating, that's when we took her in.

She is still very dehydrated and he's given her lots of liquids. But she won't keep food down. He's been force feeding her a liquid puree 3 or 4 times a day. She vomited. So now he's given her medication to keep the food down. I asked if I could take her home to force feed her (never done that before), he felt it would be easier for him to do it for the moment. Of course, our concern is that the clinic is closed over the next few days and there is no other pet or staff there.
We do live in a small city and both of us are 5 minutes from the vet clinic.

He says her glucose is now in the normal range.
But there might be some liver damage. I gather that could be from her bouts of not eating or eating very little which has been going on for weeks. Is THAT repairable?

The biggest challenge seems to be to get Willow to keep some food down.
Under the circumstances, has the damage been done? Or is there hope for us?
My wife is already in tears!

Merry Christmas to you all. We appreciate you thoughts. :-)
post #18 of 48
Read the article on hepatic lipodosis that hissy wrote - under the health section of the website (see up in the top catsite banner, where it says read about cats: care/health etc.) you can scroll through the articles and will find hers.

This may not be the damage to the liver that your vet is referring to, but I suspect you will find it still informative to read the article.

Thinking positive thoughts for your girl, and wishing her full recovery.
post #19 of 48
Originally Posted by MarshaB
Which begs the question, how much money do you spend to keep your pet healthy and alive?

Merry Christmas to all of you. :-)
that's something only you can decided. when my Mouse was so ill last christmas, i made a decision fairly early on that i could only spend $2000. party because that's all i had to spend... if i had had more, i probably would've set my limit higher. as it was, i spent about $1800 before she passed sad for 2 reasons - 1st, i spent so much, which i wouldn't have regretted in the least if 2nd i hadn't lost her anyway. {{{{{vibes}}}}} & [[[[[prayers]]]] that you'll find her answer soon!
post #20 of 48
Thread Starter 
Thanks Pat & Alix. I read that article. Let's hope it hasn't come to that.

I went to visit the vet. Willow was very placid and weak. She hasn't eaten any of the dry or wet food he has left out. Doesn't surprise me. The vet has force fed her several times. She is keeping her food down. That's good news! She's the only pet he has at the clinic! She is very docile at the best of times and didn't fight him at all.

He says there seems to be some inflammation evidence. Not sure from what.
I picked her up to recognize me. She wanted to get back in her cage. Obviously she is comfortable there even though she looks weak and malnourished. I will check again tomorrow on Christmas day. We felt it best if she stayed there for a day or two yet, to see if she keeps the food down. She's not through it yet.

I came home and my wife was in major tears! I have to believe that the vet will pull Willow out of this.

We've never had a cat before (Just a German Shepherd for 12 years that we had to put down after many seizures, etc). So one day this tiny lost kitten showed up at our front door. While I was putting signs up along the street saying "Lost Kitten?", my wife was already buying kitty toys! Marsha bonds to 4 legged furry things immediately.

Well, Willow has been a wonderful pet - she doesn't... scratch furniture, run around the middle of the night, jump on the kitchen table, howl, dig in the garbage, etc. Marsha's favourite saying is "She's sooooo cute!" And that she is!
So, we've grown attached to her big time over the last 6 years. Didn't even know cats could get diabetes, liver disease, the junk in cat food, or that these websites even existed! Man, talk about being naive. Now I am in the midst of giving insulin shots and spending a LOT of money trying to keep her alive! Wow, what we won't do for our pets!

Marsha is staying away from the clinic. She couldn't handle it. Here's hoping for the best that our vet can do his magic and bring her through this.

All the best to you and yours. Thank you for your concerns and advice. Stay tuned, please!

PS. How do I put Willow's photo on here?
post #21 of 48
I'm going to let someone else tell you how to do photos here...many use a hosting site called www.photobucket.com I believe. The few images I've posted here are located in a directory on my own website.

Cats are wonderful, and I will keep your special little one in my thoughts and prayers.
post #22 of 48
Originally Posted by Pat & Alix
I'm going to let someone else tell you how to do photos here...many use a hosting site called www.photobucket.com I believe. The few images I've posted here are located in a directory on my own website.

Cats are wonderful, and I will keep your special little one in my thoughts and prayers.
if you sign up for photobucket, you can upload images there. then paste the url that begins with the [IMG] tag and ends with the [/IMG] tag & the pic will show up. if it's too big, you can resize w/photobucket - click on the edit button, resize to 75%, log out, look at the thread - if that's not enough, log back in & resize to 50%. you can also post clickable thumbnails, but i've never done that, so i'm not sure how. hope this helps, & looking forward to seeing Willow!
post #23 of 48
Thread Starter 

Marsha's husband here...
Christmas Day! Went to the clinic and timed it right. The vet was there, but Willow is not doing well. I'm trying to absorb all this information...

She's keeping the food down that he has been force feeding her. That's good.
He doesn't know why her glucose went up to 21(?). He's been giving her 3-4 units of insulin and he brought it down to 17.
She is getting jaundice - yellow around her eyes!!!!
I am trying to understand this - that her liver is not functioning properly. I guess that is the condition that Alex & Pat referred me to. Is this because of her on again and off again eating over the past two months?

She is still on antibiotics because of inflammation. By tomorrow we will see if there is any improvement. The only way to tell what is wrong with the liver is to do a biopsy. He prefers not to because Willow is so thin and weak. There also may be some pancreas problems, but he is not sure at this point.

One option is to send her by air to a Vet University hospital in Saskatoon. That's two flights away. They could do an ultrasound, and they have students there who could maintain her. But what would the stress of all that plane handling do to her? She is already totally incapicitated.

Of course, if they verify this liver disease, what happens then?

I would drive her which is about 600 miles one way, but the same questions apply... How many days to find out what is wrong and how to get her home? Wow!

If jaundice is setting in, is there ANY hope? What would you do? Help, please!!
Thank you again.
post #24 of 48
I am hoping for a peaceful resolution for all concerned here, whatever that resolution might be. I have been where you are several times and it is always so hard to come to grips with the fact that cats just don't live as long as we want them to. The fact that Willow wanted back in her cage speaks volumes to me, and I just hope, well, I just wish for all concerned to have strength right now. Willow needs your strength and courage, just as she has needed and gotten your love in her life.

post #25 of 48
I would have a long talk with the vet. The jaundice may indeed mean it is hepatic lipidosis, I would ask your vet about that. As the article will have mentioned that condition needs aggressive treatment, some choose to have a feeding tube installed for example.

But...it sounds as if several things are going on at once and she is weak. I have always let my cat tell me when they'd had enough - if there was hope and a chance I could improve the situation and my cat still had spirit, I've done whatever...if I could not fix it, and my cat would only deteriorate and/or suffer no matter what was done, then I've made a very difficult choice to pts.

No one here can tell you whether or not it is time, your cat can, and your vet can guide you as well with what they feel can and can't be done for her.

I am so very sorry you are in this situation, you have my deepest sympathy, I know how difficult, painful and confusing a time this can be.
post #26 of 48
sorry to hear Willow's still so sickly - she's such a beautiful girl! if you're confident this vet is doing a good job, i wouldn't stress her with a long trip. {{{{{vibes}}}}} & [[[[[prayers]]]]] that she'll pull thru... to you during this difficult time.
post #27 of 48
I am so sorry things aren't looking well. I think you need to have a proper chat with the vet - I always ask mine what they would do in the situation - not that they like answering that question, but I don't let them refuse to answer. I also ask if the cat will be in pain or suffering and if there is a chance of recovery. She is such a pretty girl.
post #28 of 48
Thread Starter 
Boxing Day morning. And I need some more advice from you good folks.

Just talked to the vet. Marsha and I are going to the clinic in an hour. She's being brave and wants to see Willow for the first time in 3 days.

As you can imagine it's been hectic for the vet. He's been closed for the past 2 1/2 days, but running down 5 and 6 times a day to force feed Willow and give her insulin and monitor her condition. His daughter is in town visiting from University. So much for his family Christmas! And it may all be for naught.

Willow isn't improving. She's got jaundice. He says she needs more intensive care that he can give. He could do a liver biopsy to send away to the University Vet Hospital in another province, but doesn't know if she would pull through the anaesthetics. But is that worth a try if we have to put her down anyway? It would mean another couple of days of same treatment, and I think my vet's patience is coming to an end. I can't blame him at all. He's already gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Option 2 is to bring her home and let me force feed her ( have to learn how) and give the insulin. Would that make any difference in the final outcome? Or is the jaundice too late? I don't know if that can be overcome.

Option 3 to send her by air to Saskatoon doesn't seem to be an option. Willow would have to change planes. Be handled in noisy baggage areas a lot.There's even some doubt whether the airlines are accepting pet freight due to the high passenger volumes. We'd incur a huge cost without any certainty that things would improve.

Or the 4th and worst option is the hardest one...

Is there ANYTHING else we can do that makes sense?
I've never been a quitter, and always like to think "where there is a will, there is a way".
I have to decide in the next hour.

post #29 of 48
I have followed Willow's story and I am so sorry. What ever you decide

post #30 of 48
So sorry to hear that. I honestly don't know what to suggest.
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