Thank you, Jean.
Now when a elderly cat goes off their food and water with lethargy, these are vague clinical signs that can occur with a range of issues. In cats her age, this includes grumbling bacterial infection, viral disease, metabolic conditions, organ issues (ie kidney, liver, etc), toxin and/or foreign material ingestion (these last two will be less likely in her situation)
Now if she is turning away from favorite foods, then we do have to be suspicious of nausea despite not showing any vomiting (often nauseous cats go off their food rather then eat/vomit like a dog would). 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 (More Info/Dose Here) or Zantac (More Info/Dose Here). 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 ease her upset stomach.
Once this has had time to be absorbed (20-30 minutes, you can try and see if you can get her eating (as 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.) Offer small volumes to start (just a spoonful) and if she eats, let her have 30 minutes before giving any more. This will ensure we don't overfill her and risk inducing vomiting.
Now she has not been off her food for very long, therefore, syringe feeding wouldn't be indicated at this stage. Still just in case you find that tempting isn't working, then I do just want to note some diets to use if initiating syringe feeds to get food into her. In these cases, we tend to use Hill's A/D (LINK) or Royal Canin Recovery diet. These are critical care diets that come as a soft, palatable pate. They are calorically 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 (some pet stores and even Amazon stock it as well). These would be a means of getting food into her, avoiding nutritional deprivation side effects, 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 hydration (especially if she won't drink) Therefore, I would say this is a good point to check her hydration status. To do so and make sure she is not becoming dehydrated 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 (http://www.ehow.com/video_12232503_dog-dehydrated.html). They use a big dog but it makes it easier to see and the principles are exactly the same. If we are seeing dehydration already, then that would be a cue to get her vet involved before this becomes an issue for her.
In regards ***** ***** 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. In regards ***** ***** 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 anorexia, withdrawn, and lethargic, it can mean a wide range of underlying issues. Therefore, at this stage, we want to use the above supportive care and monitor her. If you try the above and do not see improvement in 12-24 hours or she worsens (vomits, etc), then you do want to get your vet involved. They can assess her hydration, check her signs of any sinister lumps/bumps or internal issues. 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 which of our differentials are our culprit and get her back to eating properly for you.
I hope this information is helpful.
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All the best,
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