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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 21437
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 11 year old cat - a house cat who is overweight but has

Resolved Question:

My 11 year old cat - a house cat who is overweight but has led a happy indoor life for 11 years, has not eaten for going on four days now...i have refreshed her food but..no interest. She is also not drinking even though again I keep her water refreshed. Is this potentially as serious as it sounds?
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.

Has Missy had any vomiting, retching, lip licking, or gulping?

Any pawing at her mouth, drooling, or teeth grinding?

Are her gums nice and pink (not white/pale)?


If you press on her belly, does she have any tensing, tenderness, discomfort, or pain?


Could she have eaten anything she should not have (ie bones, string, tinsel, toys, plants, chemicals, human meds, etc)?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you.....yes...she vomited several times on Thursday - the first day of her illness. Since then she has not, altho' I doubt there is anything left to retch up ! No pawing or drooling....gums Ok.....nothing when I press on her body....altho' she has a VERY thick coat. She is listless and is just sitting on the couch...usually she would be at my feet...BEGGING for food.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

PS....NO way culd have eaten something like toys etc.....she is not interested in anything like that.....just in 'hiding'.....sleeping and eating....and being 'petted'..."!

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you David,

Now when a older 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 noted struggling to eat) then we can turn our attentions to the conditions that would cause nausea (since this is the most common trigger for appetite loss in the cat and highly likely with Missy's initial history). When doing so, we do need to consider GI issues but also ones that affect the body on the whole. Therefore, we would need to consider grumbling bacterial infection, viral disease, metabolic conditions (ie hyperthyroidism, diabetes), cancer (ie lymphoma), organ disease (ie liver or kidney troubles) toxin and/or foreign material ingestion (the last two be less likely at her age, with her belly comfort, and from the sounds of it she isn't that kind of kitty).

To complicate matters, we get very concerned for cats who go off their food (and this is getting as worrying as you are concerned it is) 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 Missyis turning away from food and drinking poorly, then it her signs likely include 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 ones I tend to recommend are Pepcid (More Info/Dose Here ), Tagamet (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 that is on board, 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 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. They also make one specifically for older cats with kidney troubles, and this could be an alternative for an older cat. This way it would a means of getting food, staving off hepatic lipidosis, and buying you time to uncover the reason for her anorexia and lethargy.

On top off all of this, you do need to keep an eye on her water intake and hydration. To check her hydration status to 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 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 ***** ***** 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 as long as we can keep that stomach settled. 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 as Missy is, it can mean a wide range of underlying issues. Therefore, if you try the above and do not see improvement in 12-24 hours or she worsens (vomits any more, etc), 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, 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.

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

All the best,

Dr. B.

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