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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
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Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My cat is 9 years old and I have her since December 2013.

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My cat is 9 years old and I have her since December 2013. She doesn't eat, I have tried all sorts of different food. I took her to my local vet on Friday and all he said was she has an upset stomach, but I don't agree. She has always been fussy with her food but now she has almost stopped eating, she will eat dry treats. This has been going on for over a month. Could you suggest anything
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

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


How long has she been living on her treats?

Did the vet check her mouth? Any signs of dental disease, oral ulcers, or growths?
What treatment did they given for her upset stomach?

Has she been drooling more then usual?
Has she had any lip smacking, hard swallowing, retching or vomiting?
Any teeth grinding or pawing at her mouth?
Has she been losing weight?
Having diarrhea?


How is her thirst? Is she drinking more then before or caught at the water dish more often? Have you noticed any increased in urination (ie litter box getting wetter quicker)?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

She has always like have treats but I have cut them down she has been eating only treats for about two week.


The vet said she had some tartar on her back teeth but her mouth was fine


She is not drooling, no diarrhoea, not grinding her teeth, she has lost a little weight.


Has had some sickness where she might vomit after eating but I put that down to over eating


She has had some drops but the vet said that would settle her stomach but I don't remember what it is called

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Eileen,

Now if she has always been fussy, such that you have seen a gradual decline in what she will eat, I would be concerned that this is more then a recent onset benign stomach upset. Instead, we’d have to consider a more chronic and potentially serious lurking. Now when a cat goes off their food, it is a vague clinical sign that can occur with a range of issues. If we are able to remove oral differentials (since there has been no drooling or struggling to eat, pawing at the mouth, etc.) then we can turn our attentions to the conditions that affect the body as a whole. This includes grumbling bacterial infection, viral disease, cancer (ie lymphoma), metabolic conditions (ie hyperthyroidism), organ disease (ie liver or kidney troubles) toxin and/or foreign material ingestion (the last two be less likely in her situation).

 

To complicate matters, we get very concerned for cats that start to go off their food(and this is getting worrying since treats won’t have the proper nutrition she needs) 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 normal food, then it her signs could include nausea despite not showing any vomiting (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 (which may be why the treatment they gave didn’t address the problem). 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) or Zantac (More Info/Dose). 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 know 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 some proper 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. 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. 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 XXXXX XXXXX 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 shows progressive appetite decline, 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, etc), then you do want to have your vet reassess the situation. They hopefully have already ruled out any oral disease (dental, but also oral tumors or ulcers from kidney trouble or viral disease), sinister lumps/bumps or internal issues. But if they cannot find a cause for her signs (and she didn't respond to their treatment), then next step would be to have them check a blood sample to assess the state of her organs. They can also cover her with antibiotics, stronger 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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