Tips on Assist Feeding your Cat
Helping your cat eat
It is important to notice behavior changes in your cat, especially decreased appetite. When an animal is sick, injured, or anxious a typical response is to stop eating.
With a multitude of reasons possible for feline anorexia, a prompt trip to your veterinarian is a must. While testing and diagnoses may take some time, your cat still needs to be provided nutrition while testing is being conducted or medications given have time to take effect and the cat begins to eat on his own.
A dangerous side effect of lack of calories and nutrition called Hepatic Lipidosis can occur if even a few days pass without proper nutrition. Though Hepatic Lipidosis is usually secondary to the primary issue of lack of appetite, it can push the liver into failure, as stored fats rapidly break down and become stored in the liver of a cat, causing fatty liver accumulation.
During this time of illness, you may need to assist feed your cat. Below are some tips on how to make your assist feeding efforts a bit easier.
Supplies- Canned Food (Most vets will recommend a high nutrition canned cat food that can be purchased at the office) Feeding syringe with measurements, sheets, towels, and warm, damp washcloth.
Preparing the Food- Most canned foods will need to be thinned down prior to loading the syringe for feeding. If the canned food is freshly opened mix with water until it has a consistency of smooth pudding. If the canned food has been stored in the refrigerator, use a bowl of hot water to warm it, by submersing the can and stirring. Cats do not like cold food, and slightly warmed food will be much more appetizing and comforting to them.
Feeding- A calm, quiet environment is important during assist feeding. Choose a room where the door can be closed, and kept free of noise and interruptions. Your cat will be anxious when being force fed. It is important to remain calm and patient while feeding, and speaking in a soothing voice can be helpful.
Feeding will be messy, so cover the area with a sheet or a towel first. Also have a warm, damp washcloth near by to clean your cat's face during the feeding process.
Holding the cat should be done gently. There are a few ways to hold your cat during the feeding process. The most natural way will be to allow the cat to sit on the bed, counter, or chair, and gently wrap your arm behind them to keep them in place. With the other hand, gently work the feeding syringe into the side of the mouth, releasing a bit of food at a time. Allow time between squeezes for the cat to swallow. It is very important to slowly and carefully feed from the side of the mouth only, as forcing the food down the front can cause asphyxiation and choking.
How much/ How often to feed- Assist feeding will need to be done several times per day. Commitment to the care of your cat and patience is a must when assist feeding. Don't expect to get all needed calories in at one time. Ask your veterinarian the proper food amount and calorie values your cat needs per day.
Medications- If your cat is also on medication during assist feeding, it may be helpful to add crushed pills, or supplements to the food at the time of feeding. It is a good idea to separate a bit of the food first, add the medication, and start with the medicated food first. This way you know the medication has been given in the full amount at the proper time. Then move on to plain food feeding by syringe.
Remember, by helping your cat get the calories and nutrition he needs during illness, you may be buying him some precious time while his diagnoses is being worked on by your vet.
Talk to your vet about appetite stimulants, nutritional supplements, and vitamins that may benefit your cat during his time of illness.
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