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

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Pud

Owner's Name: PJ
Pet's Name: Pud Age: 14 Gender: Female

Illness
Date Diagnosed
Papillary cystic adenocarcinoma. Cancer.
Dec. 2002
moderate CRF
Feb. 2003

Why I think my kitty isn't eating: In Dec '02 Pud had surgery for a tiny lump on her abdomen, during the operation they felt it looked more suspicious than they first thought, and she had a complete mastectomy of the surrounding gland. 5 days later the pathology result showed "papillary cystic adenocarcinoma". Cancer. The single worst day of my life so far. She started chemotherapy on Christmas Eve, and had 3 cycles over Jan/Feb '03. Cats normally tolerate chemo quite well, but Pud didn't, despite treatment with anti-nausea meds. During this time, she ate small amounts, and while she only vomited a few times, I could tell she was nauseated most of the time. When I offered her food she would start to over-salivate and and did the 'lip-smacking' thing. It came to the point in late Feb, where she just didn't eat at all, even though the chemo had finished. We tried the appetite stimulant Cyprohetadine, and that worked for about 2 weeks, and then the effect wore off. Pud's weight had dropped from 10 lbs to just over 6 lbs. During this time Pud also developed moderate CRF. I think the combination of the "memory" of the nausea after the chemo, and the CRF are what made her stop eating.

Date when assist feeding began: April 2003
Why I've chosen to Assist Feed: Finally I couldn't stand it any longer, and I made the decision that having her starve to death just wasn't an option, and I took matters out of her paws, and into my hands!
Food and Feeding Technique:

Food: As Pud needed to put on weight, AND be on a renal diet, I chose to use Walthams renal support, as it had the highest fat content (and therefore more calories) than the other k/d foods available. I calculated that she needed at 250-300 calories/day, and worked up to feeding that amount over time. For fiber I also add brown rice, and some vegetables.

Preparation: I cook brown rice, and some veges (pumpkin/carrot/squash etc) and puree these with a stick blender. She gets about 2 teaspoonfuls of this added to her food per day. I push the Walthams renal support through a sieve, add some extra water, and some of the rice vege mix. Mix it well, and keep it in a tupperware container in the fridge. I make 2 days worth at a time. At feeding time, I use a small kitchen scale, and measure out the food into a smaller plastic container. I sit this small tub of food into a larger bowl filled with quite warm water...and wait until it is just warm before starting the actual feed. I use a 10ml syringe, and have modified a bit of an 'extension' to the tip, with some IV tubing. I just use the one syringe, and re-fill it several times during the feed.

Position: Pud has a feeding towel, I wrap her in it just like you would a baby in a blanket, and then hold her in "baby" position in my left arm.

This works for us, as she was always used to being held like that anyway (can anyone say "Freudian"...lol). At first the towel helped to restrain her a bit, she never fought, but would get a bit wriggly during the first few times. Now I think it works well to help support her back during the feed, it catches drips and I use an edge of it to wipe the corners of her mouth during the feed. I used to use a new towel every day, but I only have to wash it once a week, as there are very few drips now. I support her in the crook of my left arm, and feed her with my right hand. I put the syringe into the side of her mouth, and she gets about 1ml at a time, and then time to swallow. A 50ml feed (5 syringes worth) now takes about 20 minutes to get through. At the end of the feed, she gets another syringe of just plain water...we aim for 100ml of water/day for her CRF. I also add whatever meds she needs to the feed at each individual sitting. She gets fed twice a day when I work, and 3 times when I don't (same amount but smaller divided doses). Currently Pud has been fed like this for 8 months, and her weight in Dec'03 is 10 1/2 lbs...so now she is offically "fat", and I am trying to learn how to feed her less...and what quantities I need to maintain her weight, rather than have her continue to gain it. Assisted feeding has been a HUGE success for us, and her vets constantly comment on her great condition. I really believe her good nutritional status, has enabled her body to help fight the cancer better. She also had more chemo in July/August, was syringe fed the whole way through it, and sailed through it this time.

Other comments/tips:
1. You BOTH need to get used to the syringe feeding...I doubt any cat loves it, but they do get used to it...don't give up!! The first few feeds we did, I was covered in cat food and she spat most of it out, and clearly wasn't happy. It probably took a good month to get the hang of it for both of us. Now it's just routine, and she accepts it without any fuss.

2. Stay calm!! Syringe feeding can be very stressful, as you are only doing it because your cat is sick, so getting the food in is important to you. But try not to let this show, your cat will feel if you are stressed and uptight. I talk softly to Pud the whole time, tell her what a good girl she is. Be gentle, move slowly and calmly, try not to rush.

3. When I first started feeding Pud, I would always try and do something positive afterwards, she loves being brushed, so I would groom her after each feed, and spend some time cuddling. I think it helped to associate the feeding with something good.

4. Other people will think you are either totally crazy, or just don't know when to 'let go'....IGNORE them.

5. Even with added fiber from the brown rice and veg, I find Pud still gets a bit constipated, I use lactulose as well to avoid this becoming a problem

6. Remember that each cat is an individual...try an work with their existing personality to try and figure out what will work for you (eg: if your cats hates being in a certain position then don't use that, even if it works for others), modify the way you feed until you find the routine that works best for you.

Appetite Primer Tricks:  
Food liked best:  
Food liked least:  
Special Treats:  

Medications, Dose/Frequency
Norvasc 1/8 tab daily

Potassium liquid 1ml (1 mmol) twice/day

Lactulose 1/2 - 1ml twice/day

Zantac 4mg at night

Weight
Date
6 pounds
March 2003
10.5 pounds
December 2003
10 pounds
January 2003

About Pud and Me

     I adopted Kiriana (aka "Pud") 11 years ago, when she was 3 years old. She is a Russian Blue and a retired breeding and show cat. I knew I wanted an indoor-only cat, so I did some research, and Russian Blue's kept coming up as the "apartment cat" of choice. Of course I didn't know then that they weren't a very common breed. I was on the list waiting for a kitten, and was then told I had missed out this year and it would be another 12 months before there were any kittens available.

     After talking to the breeder for awhile, she asked if I might be interested in taking on an 'older' cat...Kiri, who was being retired from breeding after her 3rd litter of kittens. Something about it just felt right, and I accepted. Pud came to live with me in Nov '92, and has been the light in my life ever since. She truly is my soulcat!

 

 

 

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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.