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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 20627
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats and am happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My cat has just come home after 1 month of being lost. He

Resolved Question:

My cat has just come home after 1 month of being lost.
He is very very thin.
What do we feed him and how much?
Thank you
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

First, I am very glad that you have asked before feeding him. In these cases, where a cat has been starving and lost weight while away, we need to slowly reintroduce food. It will take time to get that weight back on but we don't want to rush to feed him since we'd run the risk of "refeeding syndrome". This is a condition where the sudden input of food leads to severe and fatal electrolyte disturbances. As well, we have to start slow with small meals because his stomach will have surely shrunk over the past month (so it will be more sensitive to stretch and filling).

So, when feeding him now, we want to make sure to offer a good quality diet with good levels of phosphorous, potassium and magnesium (so make sure to use a balanced pet food as opposed to treats or human foods). It should also be high in fat but low in carbohydrates. There are veterinary diets (ie Hill's A/D, Royal Canin Recovery, etc) that can be used here but you can even use wet kitten food as long as its low in carbohydrates. You can also offer a cat multivitamin at this stage to rebalance those trace minerals and vitamins that could be in deficiency.

In regards ***** ***** much to aim to feed daily, we would start by working out his resting energy requirement (RER). To calculate this, we would use his original weight and this equation: RER= 70 +(30 x BWkg). For a 4kg cat, this is 190 kCal/day and 220kCal/day for a 5kg cat. Today we'd want to aim to just feed 1/8th to 1/4th of that total over multiple little meals. Every day, we can increase this by an 1/8th to a 1/4th until he is on his daily RER. From there we can continue to slowly increase his food to a comfortable level but one that we can start to help vet some weigh onto him. It is a case of feeding slow and helping the body readjust post starvation.

Otherwise, generally speaking, to address that small sensitive stomach, plan to feed him with a small meal at least every six hours (4 times a day) rather than consuming 1-2 big meals. With time you can reduce the number of meals but at the moment 4 should be you minimum and we'd not want to push more food per meal but rather more meals at this stage.
Just to note since refeeding syndrome is a very real risk here, we need to monitor him for adverse signs. Specifically, you want to keep an eye our for any signs of weakness, muscle cramps, tremors, seizures, paling of his gums or changes to his breathing. Any signs of these and he'd need to get to his vet urgently for supportive care and IV fluids.

Finally, I would advise doing this over the weekend but if possible consider following up with his vet once they are open (some do have weekend hours or are open just now). They will be able to examine him to make sure he has no other issues from his misadventures away from home and can even check bloods to make sure that he hasn't suffered any organ damage while he was away.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks v much, most helpful. We have a vet's appointment at 3pm today. Carol.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
You are very welcome, Carol.

I am glad that I could help shed some light on how to approach feeding at this stage. Hopefully he will get a clean bill of health from his vet this afternoon and refrain from going off on any long term misadventures in the future.

Take care & all the best for your lad,

Dr. B.

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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )