How to force feed an anorexic cat, if your veterinarian has recommended this
Cats sometimes present to vets for anorexia. In other words, they refuse to eat because they don’t have an appetite. Sometimes the cause of the anorexia is obvious, sometimes even after running tests, we don’t find the original cause.
Cats can go into liver failure if they stop eating for more than two days, so anorexia is very serious in our feline patients. So, it’s really important that you call us IMMEDIATELY if your cat stops eating! Or call our wonderful emergency clinic at 519-650-1617 if we’re closed.
Part of treating the anorexic cat is force feeding. It’s important that these cats continue to get the calories their bodies need. This can be done by the placement of a feeding tube, or with syringe feeding. Since feeding tubes can be expensive, many cat owners opt to try syringe feeding first.
Here’s what you need to do to force feed your cat:
1/ Wrap Kitty in a towel, like a burrito, so it can’t swat at you or squirm. Left click the diagram below for more details. You now have a Burrito Kitty.
2/ Feed a diet designed for anorexic pets mixed with water and force feed this. It is critical these cats get a certain amount of calories per day to prevent liver failure. There are two excellent veterinary diets for anorexic pets: Hills A/D and Royal Canin Recovery. An average sized cat will need about one can per day, mixed with water as outlined in #4, in 5 divided feedings. The water is to prevent or treat dehydration. Dehydration can cause kidney failure and feels like a bad hangover. No wonder these cats don’t want to eat!
3/ Address nausea. You can tell your cat is nauseous if it drools when it smells the food or if it vomits after being fed. Please call us immediately if this happens. We have medication that can help with this!
4/ Have your supplies (towel, syringe, food) ready before you start. Prepare the canned food as follows:
a) On day one, mix one can (156 grams) of A/D with 1.5 cups of water. Use a blender to make a soupy gruel. Warm the food and test it on the back of your wrist, to make sure it’s not too hot. Suck up 35 ml of this gruel and syringe that into Burrito Kitty’s mouth, from the side. Tilt the chin up a tiny bit so it runs into the back of the mouth by gravity. Repeat this five times, spaced evenly throughout the day as much as possible.
b) On day two, mix one can of A/D with one cup of water. Syringe feed 40 mls of the gruel , five times, like you did in step a.
c) On day three and for every day after that, mix one can of A/D with one cup of water but now you need to feed more at each meal. Syringe feed at least 55 mls each time, and do this for a total of 5 meals each day.
5/ Please call us if you are not able to get at least one can per day into your cat. We can’t stress enough that feeding less than this means we might lose these patients. The key to their survival is AGGRESSIVE nutritional support and hydration. We can discuss placement of a feeding tube or referral to a specialty center for these cases.
Read more tips here:
How To Syringe Feed a Cat