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Assisted Feeding
Challenges and Problems

 

If you cat refuses to eat, and if you haven't already done so, please make an appointment with your veterinarian for a full exam. Especially important is to ask your veterinarian to do a blood test to see if any cat health problems are revealed through the blood work.

Agitating with Feeding Sessions - Some cats are a breeze to assist feed, others... well, I guess some cats just aren't too happy with the idea. Refer to Feeding Techniques to see if changing your techniques might make a more peaceful feeding session. Additionally, try perking up your cats interest in food with Enticing Kitty Treats. If the session gets worse as you go, you may need to feed less during each feeding with more feeding sessions to get in the required calories. You also might try Rescue Remedy. I've heard of people rubbing the ears and head and even dropping a single drop on the tongue.

Cat Constipation - There can be many reasons for constipation and it's very important to take action to help your cat. Constipation is likely anytime you see your cat really straining when trying to poop or if the poops come out bullet hard. Dehydration can cause constipation. A cat that has not eaten in a while can also become constipated when food is reintroduced or the amount of food fed increased. Not taking care of constipation can lead to an impacted bowel, enlarged colon, prolapsed rectum, to name a few. Constipation can either be a temporary thing or chronic (long term). If your cat vomits after visiting the litter box, constipation may be the culprit.

You have several options to try to resolve constipation.

Canned Pumpkin - NOT pie mix, but rather pure pumpkin

Plain Yogurt (although Bubba prefers Cherry Yoplait)

Lactulose - Lactulose is an excellent product that you can mix in with the food you are assist feeding. It is a sweet tasting syrup (with only a bit of an edge). It takes about a day or so to work so giving it every day is best. An average dose is 1ml 2x per day. Adjust the dosage until you find the perfect amount. If the stool becomes too lose, lower the dosage a little - but don't stop it all together for fear of causing constipation. Since Lactulose is a non-digestable sugar, it is safe for diabetic cats, but please talk to your vet first. In the US, Lactulose is by prescription only and can be purchased from your vet, or more economically from your local pharmacy. I can purchase a pint for $27 (16 ounces) from my local grocery store pharmacy. Paying by the ounce from my vet, I would have paid $128 for a pint! Ask your pharmacy for pricing and quantity options.

Definition of Lactulose from Medline Plus:

"Lactulose is a synthetic sugar used to treat constipation. It is broken down in the colon into products that pull water out from the body and into the colon. This water softens stools. Lactulose is also used to reduce the amount of ammonia in the blood of patients with liver disease. It works by drawing ammonia from the blood into the colon where it is removed from the body."

Psyllium Husk

Slippery Elm - good to coat the intestines, but may prevent medicines from being absorbed because the stomach is also coated. Give at least an hour before or after medicine.

Diarrhea

CAUTION: It used to be common practice to give Kaopectate to cats for diarrhea. The makers of Kaopectate recently changed the active ingredient to bismuth subsalicylate, an ingredient related to asprin which can be toxic to cats. Use only under the strict supervision of your vet.

Canned Pumpkin (somehow works for both constipation and diarrhea...fiber.)

Pet Pectillin Diarrhea Medication for Dogs, Cats and Birds
Pet Pectillin Diarrhea MedicationLinda F. writes "Pet Pectillin has the ingredients that the old Kaopectate had."

 

Messy rear end - Ask your vet to trim the fur back there. Your cat will probably appreciate this. Use electric pet hair trimmers for less chance of injury. Do NOT use scissors. The skin is this area is quite delicate and if there is a cut, your cat could develop a terrible infection. If you are uncertain on how to trim your cat, ask your veterinarian or vet tech to show you with the first trimming. Some veterinarian don't charge very much for this service so if you prefer, have them trim once a month or so depending on how fast your kitty's hair grows back.

Ulcers - Mouth, throat or stomach. Any of these will certainly make your cat feel lousy and not want to eat. Stomach ulcers can bleed un-noticed and cause anemia and death so it's important to seek treatment. Carafate (Sucralfate) is commonly used to treat ulcers. It works by applying a protective coating to the surfaces that it comes in contact with so that the area does not receive further damage and hopefully the ulcer can heal. This protective coating DOES hinder absorption of nutrients and medications so it's important to give food and medicines 2 hours before or after giving Carafate. This product is NOT a long term usage product because it does contain aluminum. Watch your pet closely and work with your veterinarian because one side effect of Carafate can be constipation.

Vomiting - Early Morning

Is it 5 a.m. and your are awakened from a deep sleep by your cat throwing up white foamy liquid? This is so distressing.

You cat probably is extra hungry and has a build up of stomach acid. This is often called "bilious vomiting." Here are some ideas to try to stop this viscous cycle which could damage the esophagus:

  • PepcidAC - Famotidine
    CAUTION
    : The is the Pepcid AC 10mg tablet...
    NOT the Pepcid Complete... and
    NOT the Extra Strength 20mg tablet. (The 10 mg Regular Strength tablets are getting harder to find as they're pushing Maximum Strength tablets now and they are 20 mg each.
    )

    Call your vet and ask if it would be ok to try. Dosages vary per cat so work closely with your veterinarian. A common dosage is 1/4 of a 10mg tablet every other day, or every day if necessary. Also, not all cats tolerate Pepcid. If vomiting continues or become worse, discontinue the Pepcid AC and talk to your veterinarian again.
  • Reglan - if Pepcid AC doesn't seem to work, perhaps try Reglan. Read about Reglan at the Marvistavet site. Dosages vary per cat so work closely with your veterinarian.
  • Zantac - Ranitidine. About the same as Pepcid, but worth a try. Has a bitter taste.
  • Tagamet - Cimetidine. Give more frequently than Pepcid or Zantac. Has a bitter taste.
  • Get up for an extra early feeding.
  • Assist feed a small meal just before bed. Perhaps about 6ml. You don't want to feed too much before bed because it may cause a blood sugar spike and more nausea in the morning. Have you ever eaten a big meal before going to bed and you wake up starving the next morning? And maybe a litted nauseated? It can be that way for your kitty as well.
  • Prepare a bowl of dry food the night before then wake up at 4 a.m., stumble into the bathroom and mix the food with a little water to make a broth and see if your cat will drink it. Then go back to bed. This will settle the stomach and let you have a few extra hours of sleep.
  • Giving medications on an empty stomach can cause vomiting.
  • Some antibiotics can cause vomiting.

Vomiting - After Feeding

If your cat has not been eating for quite some time, or just barely eating, he or she may not be able to tolerate much food at one time. Perhaps start with 10ml of food per feeding and work your way up.

Vomiting - After Visiting the Litter Box

If your cat throws up after pooping or trying to poop, there is a good chance your cat is constipated. It may not take much constipation to cause vomiting. In older cats, the muscles needed to poop may be weak which causes the cat to strain harder than a younger cat. The firmness of the stool should be ''adjusted'' to whatever makes your cat comfortable ... observation will help you be the judge. See Cat Constipation.

Teeth Grinding - this may be stress related. Does it happen every feeding?

  • Try changing the consistency of the food... either thinner or thicker to see if the grinding stops.
  • Your cat may also be trying to clear food from the side of the mouth or cheek. Experiment on where you place the food in the mouth and the amount of food.
  • Your cat may not like the feel of food or wetness on the outside of the mouth. Try wiping away any extra food on the side of the mouth immediately with a dry cloth.
  • If squirting the food on the roof of the mouth, try squirting on the back of the tongue.
  • Try stroking your cats throat heavily from the base of the jaw down the throat. This helps some cats swallow and keep the mouth closed.
  • Immediately after squirting food in the mouth, place your hands gently around the head to form an ''Elizabethan Collar." For some cats, this is comforting and causes the cat to swallow without grinding first.
  • Maybe try changing your cat's position. If sitting up, try laying down. If laying down flat, try laying on a light incline, etc.
  • Try changing your position. It's easier to get the food on the tongue instead of the roof of the mouth if you are positioned higher than your cat.
  • Does your cat turn it's head to one side while grinding? If so, rapidly stroke the jaw on the side of the mouth in the direction of the turn and your cat may turn it's head back the other way and stop the grinding for that squirt. Alternately, try slightly lifting the upper lip on the side that the cat is turning towards.
  • If grinding occurs at other times besides feeding time, ask your vet to check for cavities, ulcers, teeth misalignment, etc.

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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.