Now when a cat goes off their food, it is a vague clinical signs that can occur with a range of issues. If we are able to remove oral differentials (since there has been no drooling or begging to eat before turning away) then we can turn our attentions to the conditions that affect the body as a whole. This includes grumbling bacterial infection, viral disease, pancreatitis, cancer (if she is older), metabolic conditions (ie hyperthyroidism), organ disease (ie liver or kidney troubles) toxin and/or foreign material ingestion (more likely if she is younger but possible if she does go outdoors).
To complicate matters, we get very concerned for cats who go off their food (and this is getting worrying) because cats were not well designed for the anorexic lifestyle. When they are off their food, body fat is broken down and released into the blood stream, causing their liver distress (ie. hepatic lipidosis) that can make getting them better even more difficult for us.
Now if she is turning away from food, then it her signs could include nausea despite only vomiting bile once (often nauseous cats go off their food rather then eat/vomit like a dog would). That said, this can be GI based but it can also be associated with systemic diseases that have an associated nausea.
To rule out nausea as an anorexia differential, you can try her on antacid therapy. There are a number of antacids that are available over the counter and pet friendly. I would advise only treating with one, but the two I tend to recommend are Pepcid (LINK) or Zantac (LINK). This medication of course shouldn’t be given without consulting your vet if she does have any pre-existing conditions or is on any other medications. Ideally, it should be given about 30 minutes before food to easy her upset stomach.
As well, you will want to try and see if you can get her eating (as I am sure you have been). Favourite foods are allowed or you can tempt her with a light/easily digestible diet. Examples of this would be boiled chicken, scrambled eggs (made with water and not milk), meat baby food (do avoid the ones with garlic powder in the ingredients) or there are also veterinary prescription diets that can be used here (ie Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity.)
Further to this, if she has been off her food this long and if tempting doesn’t work, then we do have to consider initiating syringe feeds to get food into her. In that case, you may want to try Hill's A/D (LINK) or Royal Canin Recovery (LINK) from your local vet. These are critical care diets that is comes as a soft, palatable pate. Both are alorically dense, so a little goes a long way nutrition-wise and this could just help get some more calories into her even if we can’t get a huge volume of food in. As well, for syringing food, you can use the animal version of Ensure (balanced for animals dietary requirements) called Clinicare Canine/Feline Liquid Diet (LINK). It is actually by the same people who make Ensure, but is formulated to meet out pet's dietary needs. Your vet should be able to order it for you but it is available without a prescription. This way it would a means of getting food, staving off hepatic lipidosis, and buying you time to uncover the reason for her anorexia.
On top off all of this, you do need to keep an eye on her water intake. You noted that she wasn't drinking but hopefully once you treat her with an antacid, she will do so for you. In either case, we do want to check her hydration status now to make sure she is not becoming dehydrated. To do so, there are a few things we can test at home. One is whether the eyes appear sunken, if the gums are tacky instead of wet/moist, and whether she has a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these parameters for dehydration, you can find a wee video on this HERE. ( They use a big dog but it makes it easier to see and the principles are exactly the same) If you are seeing any signs of dehydration already, then you do want to have your kitty seen by her vet before this gets out of control for her.
In regards to what you can do to help stave off dehydration at home (though do note that if she is already then she will likely need more the oral rehydration), encourage her to drink but offering fresh water or even low-sodium chicken broth. As well, wet foods (as mentioned above) are 35% water, so getting her to eat will help us deal with water intake as well. If she isn't amenable to drinking, you may wish to offer unflavored pedialyte via syringe feeding. While we cannot do this if they are vomiting, it may be an option for this situation. A typical maintenance rate for hydration in an animal 48mls per kilogram of her body weight a day. If you do give syringe pedialyte, this should obviously be divided up into multiple offerings through the day rather then all at once. This value will give you the total she needs for the day and is a good starting point to give you an idea of her daily requirement. If she does vomits if you give pedialyte, I would discontinue this as a therapy. (since we don’t want her vomiting because of our intervention).
Overall, when a cat is anorexic, it can mean a wide range of underlying issues usually relating to nausea. Therefore, if you try the above and do not see improvement in 12-24 hours or she worsens (vomits more), then you do want to get your vet involved at that stage. They can assess her hydration, check her signs of any sinister lumps/bumps or internal issues. As well, if their exam findings are normal then you may consider having them check a blood sample to assess the state of her organs. They can also cover her with antibiotics, anti-nausea/vomiting medication by injection and even appetite stimulating drugs if necessary. Depending on the findings, the vet will be able advise you on what is likely our culprit and what can be done to help your wee one before she just fades away on us.
I hope this information is helpful.
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All the best,
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