Puzzled cat sitting in front of food bowl containing very large fish.

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Bud

Owner's Name: Joel & Linda Kehler
Pet's Name: Bud Age: 13 Gender: Male

Illness
Date Diagnosed
FIV
1993; symptomatic 1999
 
Primary Complications: chronic hepatitis, diarrhea, rhinitis/sinusitis

Why I think my kitty isn't eating: Bud was a problem eater from the time he became symptomatic at age 9, largely because of gastric inflammation. Up to that time he had been a 13-14 lb cat. When his first episode of hepatitis occurred in February 2002 he stopped eating almost entirely. When I saw that he was starving to death and endangering his liver further from FHL I tried the assist-feeding I have described in desperation. I wish now that I had begun it much earlier. As Bud's overall health gradually improved as a result of the program of FIV therapy I put him on (described on his website at www.geocities.com/joelkehler) as well as some effective antibiotic therapy, his appetite improved. I honestly do not know today how much he would eat if left to his own devices. I do know that eating on his own he would not choose the food he ought to have.

Date when assist feeding began: March 2002
Why I've chosen to Assist Feed: Well, as I said, I don't syringe feed. I figured, if I could accomplish the same end without it, that was the route I wanted to go. The first time I fed him this way and it worked, I was so elated, I was shaking. Now that I feed him myself, I don't have to worry that he isn't eating enough or that he isn't eating the right kind of food. Unfortunately, his prefered food is dry, Friskies Special Diet, which he ate from his youth because of an episode of "blocking" at age 3. But because of his FIV, he needs a better quality of protein. I still allow him to eat whatever dry food he wants because I know he is getting adequate nutrition from me in wet form.
Feeding Technique: I hand feed cut up pieces of ordinary cat food. Bud first got used to a blanket restraint when being pilled, so it was not much of an adjustment to use a blanket restraint for feeding. I place a thin sheet blanket along the left side of an upholstered swivel rocker which has just enough room for the two of us side by side, he to my left. The blanket is folded in two lengthwise, touching the floor at one end and running up the chair back at the other. Loose folds of slack are created on both sides of the blanket: along my left thigh and attop the arm of the chair. I place Bud beside me on the blanket, pull the slackened fold next to my leg around the front of him, pinning it to itself with a cloths pin at the back of his neck. The folds on the arm of the chair are then tucked down to Bud's left at the cushion base and the blanket portion hanging down towards the floor is brought across Bud left to right and tucked between my thigh and his body. This creates a secure restraint that allows free use of both hands. if Bud gets rambunctious I can apply pressure to his back with my left forearm. I then draw a sheet around his neck like a giant bib and pin it behind with a clothespin; this is to catch food and, just as important, to keep food off him. I then pop pieces of food into his mouth from a bowl sitting on my lap using an action approximately like that used in pilling; i.e., pinching the corners of the mouth to open it. When I first began feeding in this way I would press his mouth shut as soon as the food was in it, then make a circle around it with my left thumb and index finger, leaving him just enough room to move his jaws but not enough to spit the food out. Over time, this became less and less necessary. Now I do not need to restrain his mouth in any way. Once he begins chewing I can use both hands to catch bits of food and return them to the bowl. The blanket restraint really is not necessary any more either, though I still use it. Bud has become extremely compliant about the whole process.
Appetite Primer Tricks:  
Food liked best: People's tuna, naturally, but only chunk light in water
Food liked least: Everything else
Special Treats: Occasional tuna fish

Medications, Dose/Frequency
HIV Drugs: tenofovir, emtricitabine, abacavir
No antibiotics at this time; various antiviral and immunomodulatoiry supplements; ketotifen for inflammation (experimental)

Weight
Date
9lbs 6oz
April 2004

 

 

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Copyright © 2003-2013 by Kathy Fatheree. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: Kathy Fatheree is not at all a medical expert. Contents of this web site are a collection of Kathy's assist feeding experiences as well as the experiences of other cat owners who have assist fed their cats. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, Kathy Fatheree or anyone associated with this web site cannot be held responsible for anything that may happen as a result of using the information on this site.