Thank you Diane,
First, hiding under the bed is common for kitties who are feeling unwell. Cats often take a defensive/hiding approach when they feel too poorly to pretend all is well. This is an instinct left over from their wild days since letting the world know you are unwell and vulnerable makes you a target for predation.
Now when a cat goes off their food, it is a vague clinical signs that can occur with a range of issues. That said, Barman's distended belly does mean that we have to be concerned about some more worrisome causes for his signs. Specifically, we'd have to be concerned that this distension and his signs could be due an issue with his heart, his kidneys, his liver or that he could have an abdominal mass (either a mass/growth itself causing the distension, causing fluid accumulation or even a bleed if his gums are also pale).
To complicate matters further, if he has been off his food for this long than we have to be concerned about secondary issues. The reason we get very concerned for cats who go off their food (and this is getting worrying for your lad) 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 he is turning away from food, then it can be a hint that he is experiencing 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 seen with systemic diseases that have an associated nausea. To rule out nausea as an anorexia differential, you can try him with 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 he does have any pre-existing conditions or is on any other medications. Ideally, it should be given about 30 minutes before food to ease his upset stomach.
As well, you will want to try and see if you can get him eating (as I am see you have been). Favourite foods are allowed or you can tempt him with a light/easily digestible diet. Examples of this would be boiled chicken, boiled white fish, 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 tempting doesn’t work, then we do have to consider initiating syringe feeds to get food into him. In that case, you may want to try try Hill's A/D (LINK) from your local vet. This is a critical care diet that is comes as a soft, palatable pate. It is 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). They also make one specifically for older cats with kidney troubles, and this could be an alternative for a cat his age. This way it would a means of getting food, staving off hepatic lipidosis, and buying you time to uncover the reason for the anorexia.
On top off all of this, you do need to keep an eye on his water intake and hydration status. Since he is older and won't have the body reserves he once had, we can see dehydration arise quickly when they are not eating/drinking properly. If possible, you do want to check his hydration now. To check this and make sure he 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 he 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 the vet before this gets any further out of control.
In regards XXXXX XXXXX you can do to help stave off dehydration at home (though do note that if he is already then he will likely need more the oral rehydration), encourage him to drink but offering fresh water or even low-sodium chicken broth. As well, wet foods (as mentioned above) are 35% water, so getting him to eat will help us deal with water intake as well. If he 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 he needs for the day and is a good starting point to give you an idea of the feline daily requirement. If he does vomit if you give pedialyte, I would discontinue this as a therapy (since we don’t want vomiting because of our intervention).
Overall, when a cat is anorexic, it can mean a wide range of underlying issues. Therefore, if you try the above and do not see him picking up in the next 12-24 hours, then you do want to consider following up with his vet at that stage (since this has already gone on for a bit and I am concerned that he is sounding very poorly with this now). They can assess his hydration, palpate (+/- scan) his belly to tell you what is causing his deterioration. Depending on their findings, you may also want to have the vet check a blood sample to see if his kidneys and organs are functioning as they should. In light of the exam and bloods, the vet will be able advise you on what is causing his signs and therefore what can be done to help Barman. They will also be able to cover him with antibiotics, give strong any-nausea/vomiting medication by injection, and appetite stimulating drugs if necessary.
Finally, just to note in case you were keen to have him seen without delay (which I do think is a good idea after he has been off his food so long and this distended belly is a major concern), some veterinary practices in our country have Sunday office hours and all vet practices here do have contingency plans for emergency care for their patients even when they are not open. Therefore, it is worth ringing the practice. If they are open tomorrow then you can try the above tonight with a view to having him seen in the morning. If they are not, then you can consider having the out of hours vet see him tonight or tomorrow (depending on your preference). In any case, if you phone the practice then they will likely have a message to direct you on how to contact their out of hours service. And if you don't have a vet you can find one local to you, you can check you can check the RCVS Register (HERE) to find your local Vets Now (LINK) who are open all nights/weekends. In any case, if you wanted to get him checked out sooner then there are options to have him seen today too.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
Please take care,
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! : )