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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 32731
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My 16 yr old boy had recently had his lower jaw removed due

Customer Question

My 16 yr old boy had recently had his lower jaw removed due to osteomyelitis. He was released home after having been seen to eat, but now can't eat at all. I am tube feeding him. Will/ can he learn to eat again? Is there anything I can do? .... Please!!!
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sory to hear of this with Neo. There are really only four considerations in such a cat...

1) Continuing to force feed but lessening the amount progressively in order to gradually promote appetance. If you continue to provide for his complete daily caloric intake, he doesn't need to eat on his own.

2) Make sure that Neo is pain free. The narcotic buprenorphine should be considered because it need not be ingested. When the small liquid dose is placed in the oral cavity it's absorbed through the mucous membranes.

3) Consider an appetite stimulant such as mirtazapine doesed initially at 1.9mg/cat per day. Intervals have been increased, depending on the use and response, to every 48 hours to every 72 hours.

4) Finally, repeat his pre-operative blood work to make sure that his kidneys and liver are still functioning well enough to avoid intoxicating Neo and causing inappetance.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your time, unfortunately neo's appetite is still very much there, he just doesn't seem to be able to use his tongue. He breaks into his food cupboard every night and spills the food over the floor.. But can't pick the biscuits up. He hasn't been able to wash either. His blood work is fine. And although he doesn't appear to be in any pain, I have meta cam for him if needed. He accepts the tube feeding but is there anything I can do to help him learn to eat/lap?

Thank you
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information. I don't know of any manner in which to teach a cat how to eat/lap. If his tongue is paralyzed, however, damage to his hypoglossal nerve or inflammation surrounding that nerve exists. Consultation with his surgeon about the use of an antiinflammatory glucocorticosteroid such as prednisolone or the nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug Metacam is recommended.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.