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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18143
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cat wants to eat and drink but refuses and puts his tongue

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My cat wants to eat and drink but refuses and puts his tongue out and keeps opening and closing his mouth. One eye is weeping and he is very lathargic and is trying to hide away
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'd like to help with your concerns about your fellow's refusal to eat and drink, weeping eye, lethargy, and abnormal tongue and mouth movements.
It is possible that your fellow picked up an upper respiratory infection. These respiratory viruses are airborne, and very contagious. If a sick cat came around and sneezed and he breathed in the aerosol droplets from the infected cat then he could pick it up. It is like you going out in public and picking up a cold. Short of putting everyone in isolation we simply cannot prevent it.
The two most common types of respiratory infections in cats are Herpes virus and Calici virus.
Herpes virus tends to cause a lot of sneezing, a fever, and an eye discharge, but unless the fever is very high or their nose becomes very congested they usually continue to eat.
Calici virus can cause sneezing, fever, runny eyes and noses but it can also cause painful oral ulcers on their gums and tongue and that leads to drooling and a reluctance to eat. If you look in your kitty' mouth and see reddened areas or actual ulcers on his gums and tongue then Calici virus is more likely.
Cats with Calici virus sometimes need oral antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections in the mouth as well as fluid therapy to keep them hydrated and electrolytes in balance while the ulcers heal. I also recommend using a mouth rinse like CET oral rinse to help keep the ulcers from getting infected and increase comfort.
If they have oral ulcers or continue refusing to eat he should see his regular veterinarian. Calici virus has a variant type which can be deadly so we do want to watch him very closely.
You can help him feel better by adding warm water to his food to make it smell more (they don't eat if they cannot smell) as well as making it easier to swallow.
Also the more fluids he gets the better. Offer tuna juice, low salt chicken broth, run the tap if they like to drink out of the sink.
Take him into the bathroom with you if you run a hot bath or shower as the steam will soothe his sore throat and airways and thin mucous in his airways.
If his nose become very congested you can use sterile saline to loosen the thick mucous and remove it. He won't like it but it will help him breathe and be able to smell food better. You can also use sterile saline to remove eye mucous if it accumulates.
Here is a link to a write up on Calici virus if you are interested in reading more:
The other possibility for his symptoms if he is an older fellow is a tumor in the back of his mouth, on his gums, or under his tongue which makes eating and drinking painful.
A foreign body, especially a string caught under his tongue, could cause what you are seeing.
Because your fellow isn't eating and drinking he is at great risk of dehydration and developing liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) so I highly recommend that he see his veterinarian as soon as possible.
Best of luck with your kitty, please let me know if you have any further questions.
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