cat diet

Cat has lost appetite – now what?

Posted by d2030476 on March 04, 2011  /   Posted in General Information, Questions and Answers

Loss of appetite is termed anorexia, different from the self image disorder in people termed anorexia nervosa.  If your kitty has a couple of  “off” days, it is generally not a big problem as long as she maintains her hydration by drinking normally.  Try offering some canned food, along with giving your kitty a quiet place to eat not around the other household pets.  However, pet owners should seek veterinary attention soon if any another signs of illness occur such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy.  The anorexia continues into the 3rd day.  Pets with a poor appetite may be ill, and if you wait until the appetite is completely gone it may be too late for recovery.  This is particularly true for cats.  As appetite fades, the pet must depend on stored fat for nutrients.  When large amounts of fats are mobilized to meet energy demands, they must be processed by the liver before being used for calories.  The feline liver is not designed to handle large amounts of fat and will fail due to a condition called feline hepatic lipidosis.

            Your veterinarian needs to examine your cat and may recommend diagnostic testing to help identify the cause of the anorexia.  Medications may also be prescribed that might be helpful in stimulating the appetite. Cyproheptadine and mirtazapine are two of the most popular medications.

            There is absolutely no reason to stand around and watch your cat fail to eat.  If necessary, calories can be provided by syringe feeding to some cats. This can be messy especially if the pet is uncooperative and some sort of paper towel or cloth bib is probably a good idea. Be sure to ask your veterinarian what kind and how much of the food you are supposed to feed.

If this method is not working, your veterinarian may suggest hospitalizing your kitty to place a feeding tube, a procedure requiring brief anesthesia.  Feeding tubes are the least stressful method of delivering nutrition by the pet owner at home.  The most popular and easiest to manage tubes are those placed directly into the esophagus (E-tube) through which a blenderized diet or a prescription diet can be administered.  Feeding through an E-tube does not require fussing with the cat’s face and allows her to also eat food normally when she is interested.  These tubes also serve as an easy method of administering medications.  A light bandage is placed and changed approximately once weekly.  When the cat is fully recovered and eating normally, usually in 2 to 3 weeks, the tube can be pulled and the hole seals up.  Feeding tubes are very often highly successful in speeding pets to recovery.

            Remember, nutritional support is essential to proper recovery from whatever disorder may have caused anorexia, and to make sure the pet does not suffer extra debilitation from malnourishment.  If you think your pet has a problem with inadequate appetite, do not wait until the problem is extreme; see your veterinarian for a proper evaluation promptly.  A Feline Assisted-Feeding Newsgroup is available and can be joined by going to: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/Feline-Assisted-Feeding/

[doctor name=”Mary Crawford”]

Proper diet forestalls need for supplements

Posted by d2030476 on February 08, 2011  /   Posted in General Information, Questions and Answers

Q:  “Does my pet need vitamins or supplements?” 

A:  Healthy dogs and cats have a requirement for various nutrients such as protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium.  Dogs and cats have different dietary requirements than humans. For example, dogs and cats have a higher protein requirement compared to humans, and cats have some very unique requirements such as a dietary requirement for the amino acid taurine.  Nutrients must be present in the diet above the minimal requirement to prevent a deficiency but certain nutrients can cause medical problems if provided in excess.  More detail about your pet’s nutritional needs can be found on the National Research Council’s website for dog owners (http://dels-old.nas.edu/banr/dogs.html) or for cat owners (http://dels.old.nas.edu/banr/cats.html). Healthy pets on a properly formulated diet (either a commercial pet food or a home prepared diet formulated by a veterinary nutritionist) do not require additional vitamin or mineral supplementation. Your veterinarian can advise you on selecting an appropriate diet for you pet.  Please let your veterinarian know if you are giving your pet any additional vitamins or dietary supplements.  Pets with certain medical conditions may benefit from certain specific supplements in specific amounts, but this should be discussed with your veterinarian to ensure the supplement is safe, effective, and not potentially harmful to your dog or cat.  Many owners are interested in providing dietary supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin or omega-3 fatty acids.  Several websites geared to human dietary supplements such the National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (http://ods.od.nih.gov/) provide useful information including “how to evaluate information on the internet”. These sites are only a starting point to provide you with some background information. It is critical to remember some sites discuss supplements used for human health which may not help or can potentially harm your pet, so always discuss any specific products with your veterinarian before giving them to your pet.

[doctor name=”Laura Eirmann”]

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