what’s a good “recipe” to force feed my 8lb. cat, how much of what kind of food, how often etc?

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Question by : what’s a good “recipe” to force feed my 8lb. cat, how much of what kind of food, how often etc?
My poor cat Ringo, a 3rd generation Highlander (ancestry with bobcats) has stopped eating except for stupid junk food treats. He started refusing his Natural Balance kibble in favor of only eating Party Mix and Temptations and Fancy Feast wet food. He is prone to being a nervous cat, most likely has some IBS, which I am addressing by swapping food products to address any food allergies or intolerance which is there for him to eat 24/7 but he won’t eat it! I thought I was successful at getting him to eat wet food but after carefully observing him, I noticed that all he did was lick all the food of the sauce and wasn’t taking in any protein. I actually saw him take a bite then spit it out. It was almost as if he couldn’t be bothered chewing it up and when the food stuck to the dish, he couldn’t be bothered to work to get it off the plate to eat. My vet has run blood and fecal analysis and came back inconclusive of anything. They gave me appetite pills and a GI antibiotic (?) which I administer both twice a day. Today I opened up a can of real tuna and he ate like there was no tomorrow but only about 2 TBSP and then later on when it was offered to him again, was not so interested anymore. His behaviors have changed dramatically…he does not clean himself anymore, he does not seem alert to everything like he used to be, he prefers to be off by himself where he just lies around, when outside he is not interested in exploring anymore just finds a place to hide. I cannot coax him to play like I used to, he does not “talk” to us anymore. I have read online that liver cancer is very common to cats, also that renal failure can occur within a week of a cat not eating. Well, Ringo seems to have been on a decline since probably Thanksgiving but with all the holiday crap, we didn’t notice until he had lost 3.5 lbs (he’s now lost 4.5 total) and was looking emaciated. Also, we had been battling ear mites since September but didn’t realize he didn’t have mites but a yeast infection in his ear which has now been cleared up. He also has an intermittent runny eye which I treat with eye ointment the vet gave me and that is now cleared up. What I am saying is Ringo has had a LOT to stress him out…with the prior ailments plus all the holiday crap with constant house full of people, parties, and strange pets others brought around here and there ( a dwarf bunny, a Chihuahua, 2 manic Pomeranians). I am afraid to think about the possibility of FIP which I understand is untreatable so for now my mission is to get him to eat and put on weight. My question is….what kind of food, in how much quanitity…like people say give him canned pumpkin or sweet potato with his food…but how much? Also, I’m told baby food is a good try. If he weighs 8.5lbs today that seems like he should be ingesting between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of food per day although at 13 lbs he was meant to eat 1/2 to 2/3 cup per day. At this point I can barely coax 1/4 cup of food into him and that didn’t happen until today after he lost another 1/4 lb in a week… How much water should he be consuming a day? And if he is not consuming enough water, should I be force feeding him the water?

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Answer by Ariane deR
Poor Ringo. He’s really had a lot to deal with and yes stress probably has played a role in this weight loss. You need to be getting at least enough into him to maintain his weight. He is at serious risk for liver damage from not eating. (look up “hepatic lipidosis”)

Do you think it may be a good idea to consult a specialist? For my cat who has some complicated health issues we see board certified internal medicine vets in addition to his regular vet. You can look for them on the ACVIM website. or if there’s a vet school near you.

I would suggest an abdominal ultrasound. If it is done by a skilled,experienced ultrasonographer they can really see a lot of what is going on in there that may give them some better clues. There are also some more blood tests that might be done , based on what they see.

In addition to the appy stim and A/B ( probably metronidazole?) you might also ask your vet about trying some famotidine (sold OTC as Pepcid AC or other brands), usually comes in 10 mg pills; give half a pill (5 mg) per day. It’s commonly recommended for cats. If he has an upset stomach then even if an appetite stimulant makes him hungry he may still feel too sick to eat

Something that is high calorie and pretty easy to syringe feed is canned Wellness Chicken or Wellness Turkey. That is about 220 calories per 5.5 ounce can. Some cats would need the whole can, others e would need just about 2/3 of a can per day. For a cat whose normal healthy weight is probably at least 10 pounds , I would try to get at LEAST 3/4 of a can into him, in multiple small meals.
You can mix in some stage 1 Turkey baby food (NO ONIONS) If you add the baby food, you could feed a bit less of the cat food. Sometimes in fact you could feed all baby food, but that will not be healthy for a long term diet. I would not feed just baby food for more than a week. Ideally for longer term feeding the cat food should be at least 4/5 of the mix to make sure he is getting the nutrients he needs.

> You could also add about a tablespoon of canned pumpkin per can cat food.

> Plus add warm water, both to give him some more moisture and to help thin out the mixture and make it easier to feed. Just adding a little more water to the wet food would probably give him plenty of water. If his kidneys are functioning normally, 3 tablespoons of warm water per 5.5 ounce can of Wellness should be plenty in combination with the water amount already in the food to keep him hydrated, but you might need to add some more to get the food so it’s easier to feed this way.

Get some feeding syringes. not just the little ones for giving oral med. Get some that hold at least 10 ml — that is the amount I would start out trying to give at a time . (not shoving it all down at once of course) Go very slowly as you syringe in the food mixture. (BTW – a tip — it might be easier to stuff the food in the big end of the syringe then put the plunger back in)
It is messy and takes a lot of patience.
There is a Yahoo “Feline Assisted Feeding” group that I think you should check out: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/Feline-Assisted-Feeding/

IF he has Inflammatory Bowel Disease, he might do better on a hypoallergenic/ novel protein diet like Rabbit, Venison or Duck, and with no wheat, corn or soy. No grains at all would be a good idea. Nature’s Variety Instinct make those in canned and raw frozen. My cat with IBD has done well with the Venison, he eats about 2/3 canned and 1/3 raw. Unfortunately this stuff is chunkier so if I have to syringe feed it , I need to use a food processor and try to get it into a smoother consistency.
IF he has IBD of course there are other treatment options.

I wonder if your vet has considered pancreatitis as one possibility. It can certainly cause loss of appetite. and it can be influenced by stress. It doesn’t always include vomiting ( I think less often than it does in dogs) They do have a lot of pain, but cats hide pain very well.

Have you talked to his breeder about this ? They should be informed. and it’s possible they might have some suggestions ( if there is something like this that sometimes happens in the breed)

I hope you will get Ringo feeling better soon.

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One comment on “what’s a good “recipe” to force feed my 8lb. cat, how much of what kind of food, how often etc?

  1. theshadowknows

    From the symptoms you describe, it sounds like the cat has some sort of issue that the vet has not detected. The first thing I would do is to make an another appointment or go to a different vet. But in the meantime, a cat MUST eat! Cats are very poor fasters and can quickly experience muscle loss and eventually permanent liver damage. Poor nutrition also hinders healing. Also, cats do realize that they must eat sufficiently and can develop a ‘habit’ of not eating. You must assist feed (not force feed) him in the meantime. This is the process of inserting food into a cats mouth. This requires a special technique that the cat will tolerate and you must be sure to go slowly so that the cat swallow on it’s own and you are not forcing food down the cats throat. If food enter the windpipe, you could end up with more serious issues. One of the best foods is Gerber Baby food, just make sure it is meat and has no additives. Some people mix water with canned food to make a soupy mixture. You can also use Rebound, a liquid energy formula. Lastly, stress is a huge factor. Stress has been shown to trigger disease in cats. Lastly, you should NOT force feed water. If the cat is dehydrated, you can administer sub-q fluids.

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