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  #1  
Old 12-03-2011, 11:42 AM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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My cat isn't eating. Is force feeding him a good idea?

Ever since Thanksgiving my cat, Thomas Jefferson, hasn't been eating as much food as he used to, and he has been less active.

My mother and I took him to the vet for a check up. The vet said that he's dehydrated but can't determine the cause without further blood tests. The tests would cost around $340, and my mother would rather wait a while longer to see if Thomas recovers rather than pay for the tests.

Is it a good idea to force him to eat food? I asked the vet how to do this and he suggested I get an oral syringe, fill it with a mixture of baby food and water, and then squirt it into the cat's mouth.

I know most of you aren't veterinarians, but I would like your advice anyway. What do you think?
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  #2  
Old 12-03-2011, 11:48 AM
DCnDC DCnDC is offline
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I don't know anything about force feeding but I do know that it's extremely bad if a cat doesn't eat regularly. Fucks their liver all up, and then you'll be looking at thousands, not hundreds.

Whatever you do, don't wait too long to get it seriously checked out.
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  #3  
Old 12-03-2011, 12:11 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is online now
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Did the vet hydrate your cat? Hydrating will often stimulate appetite in a cat. The vet can give you the whole setup to do at home, or he/she will do it for you (recommended). Also, try a can of Royal Canin Recovery RS cat food. Even our very sick cat would at least try to eat that stuff.
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:12 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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How old is kitty? When a kitty is old and ready to go, they might stop eating and doing stuff.
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  #5  
Old 12-03-2011, 12:23 PM
Lasciel Lasciel is offline
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Try some really smelly tunafish in oil, and see if he'll lap that up.

If you're worried mostly about hydration, see if you can get the vet to send you home with a subcutaneous hydration kit - basically, you get a saline bag, a tube, and a teeny needle, and the vet shows you where to stick kitty for a few minutes at a time to pump some liquids into his system. Some cats truly don't mind this, and some cats act like you're torturing them slowly to death.

If you're worried about fatty liver (if kitty was overweight before he stopped eating, you need to be worried) then you do really need to keep him eating. People food, treats, oily stuff, anything you can try to get him to eat something is good. The smellier the better for cats.

Forcefeeding is really the last resort - if he truly won't eat ANYTHING (and I'm serious - try everything from meat in gravy to sardines to sprinkling catnip on his favorite treats. Food is food for the purposes of emergency eating.) then you can try it, but a lot of cats will be stressed out, and immediately throw up what you just fed them because of the stress.

That's bad in two ways - first, the throw-up could damage his throat. Second, he's now associating food with stress and throwing up, which is not good psychologically.

TL:dr - Try really hard to find stinky foods that kitty will eat on his own. Worry less about nutritional value and just getting him eating something. If hydration is a concern, check out a saline IV from the vet.
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  #6  
Old 12-03-2011, 12:58 PM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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He is eating, just not as much as he used to. He's eating about once a day, rather than his usual five or six times.

Edit: The kitty is 14 years old.

Last edited by Lakai; 12-03-2011 at 12:59 PM..
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  #7  
Old 12-03-2011, 02:52 PM
saje saje is offline
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Time for bloodwork, see if the vet can just run a basic panel. I'm surprised at the $300+ quote though it shouldn't be that much. At 14 I'd be concerned about kidney failure, which is treatable for a while, but makes them feel like crap when they get dehydrated. If you are comfortable with needles and such, it's not that hard to do subcutaneous fluids a couple times a week.

In the meantime, get as much soft food and liquids in as you can. If there's a particular kind of canned food he likes, feed him that in several small meals a day, and add some warm water to it. Tuna juice is good too to get them interested in food.

Last edited by saje; 12-03-2011 at 02:52 PM..
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  #8  
Old 12-03-2011, 03:20 PM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
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My beagle quit eating in the last stages of cancer. Him not eating is how we discovered he was in the final stages of cancer. We put him to sleep very shortly thereafter.

I, personally, wouldn't force feed him. Nor would I pursue testing on a 14 year old cat. I'd let the old guy do what he needs to do, then if he seems to be in distress, I'd put him to sleep.

Good luck.
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  #9  
Old 12-03-2011, 03:30 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Have you called different vets to see if one will do bloodwork for less? I know you're in NYC which I assume is going to be much more expensive than here in the Midwest...around here a blood panel will be about $35-45. Plus the office visit and maybe urinalysis - but even with all that, $340 sounds high.

A 14-year-old cat not eating, probably isn't going to get better on his own. Kidney failure is common, could be struivite crystals, could be a lot of things I guess. Some easily treatable, some not.

I'd do the testing to at least know what you're dealing with. If he's not eating very much and dehydrated, he's certainly not feeling very good as it is. Not fair to let him go on feeling poorly. Fourteen isn't really THAT old for a cat.

In the meantime, very palatable moist food or gruel, tuna, cooked meat, whatever he'll eat that also gets fluids into him. There's stuff you can get at pet stores - high calorie, very palatable paste that you smear on a cat's forelegs if they won't eat so they're forced to lick it off....won't cure what's ailing him and may not do any good but may perk his appetite a little. It's inexpensive.

http://shop.corneranimal.com/Nutrica...nt-p/04110.htm
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  #10  
Old 12-03-2011, 03:49 PM
saje saje is offline
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Oh yeah, Nutrical! Good stuff.

I've never had luck putting it on them, if they feel cruddy they generally aren't grooming either. What I do is to put a dab on my finger and then quickly stick my finger in the cat's mouth and scrape the stuff off on their top teeth.

I realize this won't work for all cats - too big a risk of being flayed, but I make sure all my guys are used to having every part of them handled whether they like it or not. YMMV, of course.

Also, the stuff gets pretty liquid if it's warmed, so you might be able to mix it w/ a little warm water, then soak a syringe of it in hot water to warm it up a bit more. Messy and sticky, but good stuff.

Good luck, I hope Olde Catte is just temporarily under the weather and bounces back soon. FWIW, most of my guys have lived to 18 or 19 before things (kidneys, heart, liver) starting giving out. Your old guy could have several good years yet if this is just something transient.
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  #11  
Old 12-03-2011, 04:34 PM
Madame Joy Madame Joy is offline
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When a cat doesn't eat for too long, it can get feline hepatic lipidosis, also known as "fatty liver syndrome". It isn't a good thing, although some can recover.

When my cat went off her feed, I was able to tempt her with fresh KFC with the coating & skin off, until she felt better enough to eat canned food. Wouldn't be nutritionally complete for very long, but was better than letting her risk FHL.
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  #12  
Old 12-03-2011, 08:55 PM
FrillyNettles FrillyNettles is offline
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Veterinarian here. Your cat needs to have a metabolic panel done, if at all possible, to at least evaluate kidney and liver function. I am surprised by the price quote, as I can run a CBC, chemistry panel and thyroid function testing on a cat for about $100.

At the least, ask about mirtazapine--an appetite stimulant. You give it every 2-3 days, and the cat will literally start eating within 30 minutes of the dose. If not, then there is a really serious problem. Ideally, you would do the blood work and get an abdominal x-ray. But I will tell you what we would be looking for: kidney failure or cancer.

Kidney failure is VERY treatable for quite a long time, and cancer is not. So there is benefit to knowing what is going on. Those are the two big reasons your cat might decrease his eating.

Just letting "nature take its course" is kind of cruel, in my opinion. So if you really cannot afford ANY testing, then I would suggest giving the mirtazapine a try. If that does not work, I would treat as if the cat has kidney disease--and have a blood pressure checked, too, btw. If the cat won't respond to appetite stimulants and diet/med changes for kidney failure, and subq fluids given at home, then I would think cancer is likely and I would not let the cat linger.
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:49 PM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
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My cat recently had a pretty complete panel of "senior wellness" blood tests (including but not limited to the metabolic panel that Frilly Nettles mentioned) for a fraction of the price you mentioned, so I am wondering if that really high price your vet quoted was for a lot of different tests to cover every possible base.
Maybe you should ask the vet what he would be looking for with the blood tests. Perhaps you could get a few tests to look for the most common problems more cheaply instead of getting the deluxe workup. Or maybe try a different vet who might be cheaper.

Last edited by lavenderviolet; 12-03-2011 at 09:50 PM..
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  #14  
Old 12-04-2011, 09:59 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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It's time to get that bloodwork done; the expense will be a lot more if you wait. Plus, an early diagnosis and treatment could make the difference in the cat's longevity. He is telling you there's something wrong, and you should listen.
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  #15  
Old 12-04-2011, 02:06 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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A 14 year old cat who has drastically reduced their food intake needs a senior screening, as everyone else has said. My 12 year old cat just got one, and we discovered a very early stage hyperthyroidism problem, which we are now treating. Our 15 year old cat got one a couple of years ago, and she is now being treated (very successfully) for arthritis. Pet ownership includes their medical care.
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:14 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Humane societies and cat rescue groups might be able to point you in the direction of lower-cost veterinarians, or clinics. Some might have funds to help people in need with vet costs, too. If finances are a concern.

Also since nobody's mentioned it yet - if you qualify, CARE Credit can be a great resource for unexpected vet bills.
http://www.carecredit.com/vetmed/
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  #17  
Old 12-05-2011, 05:56 PM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrillyNettles View Post
Veterinarian here. Your cat needs to have a metabolic panel done, if at all possible, to at least evaluate kidney and liver function. I am surprised by the price quote, as I can run a CBC, chemistry panel and thyroid function testing on a cat for about $100.
I called our vet to ask him about the tests that he would like to run. He said he would like to do a CBC, thyroid test, pancreas test, liver test, and urine analysis. I called other hospitals in my area and they charge around the same amount.

I've convinced my parents to pay for the treatment and I'm taking the cat to his appointment tomorrow. He's been without food for a week so I hope he hasn't done any substantial damage to his liver.
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  #18  
Old 12-05-2011, 06:05 PM
VOW VOW is offline
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At 14, if the cat was overweight, I'd suspect Diabetes. The vet can do a dip stick test in the cat's urine for a quick screening.

I'll second the recommendation for you to check with the local Humane Society. Sometimes even the HS has low cost clinics. They will also know of vets who charge less.

We had an elderly kitty develop kidney disease. She had several hospitalizations, was on antibiotics for a long time, and we finally just acknowledged it was time for her to go to Rainbow Bridge. She had a great life with our family, and kidney disease was making her miserable.


~VOW
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  #19  
Old 12-05-2011, 07:13 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakai View Post
I called our vet to ask him about the tests that he would like to run. He said he would like to do a CBC, thyroid test, pancreas test, liver test, and urine analysis. I called other hospitals in my area and they charge around the same amount.

I've convinced my parents to pay for the treatment and I'm taking the cat to his appointment tomorrow. He's been without food for a week so I hope he hasn't done any substantial damage to his liver.
Excellent, good for you.
Cats are so good at hiding pain and illness, a lot of people don't realise how sick they are.
I hope the cat will be OK and has many good years left.
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:02 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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I'm glad to hear that, Lakai. Fingers crossed it will be something simple and easily treated, but if not, you and your parents can make an informed decision in the cat's best interests.
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  #21  
Old 12-07-2011, 06:01 PM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Bad News

Tom has pancreatitis and elevated calcium levels. The calcium levels are usually caused by a tumor. It would cost thousands of dollars to treat the symptoms of pancreatitis and more if a tumor is causing the elevated calcium levels.

It looks like we'll have to put our kitty to sleep. I'm going to talk to the doctor tomorrow to see if there is an affordable way out of this, but it's not very likely.
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  #22  
Old 12-07-2011, 06:04 PM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
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So sorry to hear the news.

Good luck with your upcoming decision.
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  #23  
Old 12-08-2011, 12:01 AM
FrillyNettles FrillyNettles is offline
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I am sorry to hear this. I am confused, though, by the quote of "thousands" to treat pancreatitis. In cats, pancreatitis is rarely due to infection, and is almost always secondary to inflammation (usually inflammatory bowel disease). Trying prednisolone to calm the inflammation (and stimulate appetite) as well as an anti-nausea medication such as Cerenia may work wonders. It is also important--vitally so--that the cat eats. If he WILL eat, then it should be a high quality, poultry based CANNED food, because you need to reduce carbs in these cats. Otherwise they end up with diabetes to go along with the pancreatitis.

The calcium elevation may indeed be due to cancer. But cats also get something called idiopathic hypercalcemia, and it does not require treatment.

So while it is quite likely Tom is very sick, and euthanasia would not be a wrong choice, I wanted to make you aware that there are treatments you can try for pancreatitis that do NOT cost a lot of money, and may help. They may not help, either, but I wanted you to be aware of possible options.
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  #24  
Old 12-08-2011, 05:37 AM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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I'm sorry.

Hopefully the vet will be able to suggest affordable treatment, but if Tom is very sick, then it's good you got him to the vet so he didn't suffer for a long time unecessarily.
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  #25  
Old 12-08-2011, 11:01 AM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrillyNettles View Post
I am sorry to hear this. I am confused, though, by the quote of "thousands" to treat pancreatitis. In cats, pancreatitis is rarely due to infection, and is almost always secondary to inflammation (usually inflammatory bowel disease). Trying prednisolone to calm the inflammation (and stimulate appetite) as well as an anti-nausea medication such as Cerenia may work wonders. It is also important--vitally so--that the cat eats. If he WILL eat, then it should be a high quality, poultry based CANNED food, because you need to reduce carbs in these cats. Otherwise they end up with diabetes to go along with the pancreatitis.
The cat isn't responding to appetite stimulants and he's currently dehydrated from not eating. The doctor recommended hospitalization and hooking him up to an IV. I think that's why it would cost more than a thousand dollars.

I'm going to call him again soon to straighten this out.
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  #26  
Old 12-08-2011, 11:07 AM
FrillyNettles FrillyNettles is offline
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I see. Has he tried anti-nausea meds yet? But yes, if he is dehydrated, fluids are a must. But it still should not be thousands of dollars. I could see hospitalization running into the hundreds, though. Poor kitty. I am sorry he is so ill.
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  #27  
Old 12-08-2011, 11:41 AM
Av8trix Av8trix is offline
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I had a very similar experience to yours a few years ago with one of mine, who stopped eating after a high fever. I was very financially limited at the time too. Vet decided we could treat the symptoms while waiting to figure out what else might be wrong, and after stinky foods and appetite stimulants failed, placed a feeding tube for the cat. There are two types as I understand, one which runs down the cat's nose into their stomach, and the other which is surgically placed in the cats stomach though their side. We began feeding every 2-3 hours (yes, waking up at night on a timer), using blended wet food and water. Amount of food per feeding gradually went up, and frequency went down, and then after about a month or so, the tube came out and the cat went back on solid food. It was a lot of work for us, but the cat didn't seem too troubled by the tube (he was a super-docile laid back trusting cat), and he eventually went on to get a diagnosis of pancreantitis and thyroid disease which was fairly easily managed for another 5 years before he succumbed to heart disease. Just wanted to let you know that there may be hope.

ETA: and yes, the vet said that a soft infant-type syringe would work in a pinch, but there's a risk of getting food 'down the wrong pipe' which could cause other complications- hence the semi-permanent tube was the best risk-vs-reward scenario.

Last edited by Av8trix; 12-08-2011 at 11:43 AM..
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  #28  
Old 12-08-2011, 11:52 AM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Originally Posted by FrillyNettles View Post
I see. Has he tried anti-nausea meds yet? But yes, if he is dehydrated, fluids are a must. But it still should not be thousands of dollars. I could see hospitalization running into the hundreds, though. Poor kitty. I am sorry he is so ill.
We tried Pepcid AC for nausea. The vet also said that we could try steroids, which I'm going to pick up later today.

Even if we do hospitalize him, we would still have to have tests done to figure out what is causing the elevated calcium levels. All that just to figure out what is wrong with him, and then we would have to treat the condition.

Now we're just going to see if we can get him to eat again.

Thanks for responding to this thread. I really appreciate everyone's help on this.
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  #29  
Old 12-08-2011, 11:56 AM
Av8trix Av8trix is offline
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If you read my post history, you'll find this http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=358574 is my first post on the boards here, concerning my non-eating cat Phantom. Although treatment was begun too late to save him, his brother 'Ghost' is the cat described (and saved) in the above post. Ghost became sick nearly a year to the day after Phantom's illness, and because of the awesome vet care he received, stuck with us for a good while longer.
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  #30  
Old 12-08-2011, 12:07 PM
FrillyNettles FrillyNettles is offline
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Ask your vet if you can try Cerenia for nausea. It is much more effective than Pepcid AC.
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  #31  
Old 12-08-2011, 01:12 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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I'm sorry to hear you didn't get a better diagnosis, Lakai.
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  #32  
Old 12-08-2011, 01:31 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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I was prescribed Cerenia for a dog with cancer a while back, it did work temporarily. Nothing else did.

Question if FrillyNettles or another vet-type comes back: Is it common for a vet to prescribe steroids as an appetite stimulant, if the underlying cause of the inappetance is unclear? I was under the impression that steroids should be given judiciously and for known conditions, because they supress immune functioning and may lead to primary/secondary infections. I know pred and other steroids can be a wonder-drug for a lot of issues; just wondering how careful one has to be in using it.

Lakai - I also with you'd gotten a better or more definitive diagnosis, but I'm glad you're doing what you can for Tom.

Just one thought - is there a veterinary teaching hospital in the city? You may get better diagnostics, much cheaper, if you can get in. The animal is seen by a gaggle of veterinary students, but overseen and guided by a licensed vet. And good vet hospitals tend to be on the cutting edge of diagnostics and treatments, IME. Also there's a chance to get into a clinical trial (free treatment.) I've had a couple of dogs at the MSU vet school, and they were fantastic.
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  #33  
Old 12-08-2011, 06:29 PM
FrillyNettles FrillyNettles is offline
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Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
I was prescribed Cerenia for a dog with cancer a while back, it did work temporarily. Nothing else did.

Question if FrillyNettles or another vet-type comes back: Is it common for a vet to prescribe steroids as an appetite stimulant, if the underlying cause of the inappetance is unclear? I was under the impression that steroids should be given judiciously and for known conditions, because they supress immune functioning and may lead to primary/secondary infections. I know pred and other steroids can be a wonder-drug for a lot of issues; just wondering how careful one has to be in using it.
No, it is not common, nor should it be. But in this case, if the cat has pancreatitis, it is absolutely a good use of steroids. Cats, unlike dogs, tend to get pancreatitis secondary to inflammatory conditions, not infection, and the anti-inflammatory effects of steroids are very helpful in treatment of feline pancreatitis. It has the side benefit of stimulating the appetite, but that is not why it is prescribed.

It is important to note, though, that cats do not metabolize prednisone well, and really should only be given prednisolone.
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  #34  
Old 12-08-2011, 09:43 PM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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I gave Tom his drugs today. He seems more active, but he's still not eating. He's been walking back and forth from his food bowl, sniffing the food there, and walking away. He also ate some catnip, but that's not going to be enough.

I'm going to buy some turkey tomorrow to see if he'll eat that. He always loved turkey.
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  #35  
Old 12-08-2011, 10:01 PM
choie choie is offline
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Lakia, I'm so sorry that Tom's this ill.

As others have suggested, have you tried the Humane Society? The Manhattan branch is right around the corner from me, and not only do they have some excellent vets, they're inexpensive and they offer payment plans for those in need.

Also there's the ASPCA's Bergh hospital up on 92nd street. They're also relatively reasonable, pricewise (though not as inexpensive as the Humane Society) and I believe they too offer a payment plan.

Here is the Animal Alliance for NYC run by the Mayor, with a list of affordable/lower cost/payment plan-friendly veterinary services, plus some financial assistance options for vet care.

My cats Mina, Sophie and Therblig send their best wishes to Tom, as do I.
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  #36  
Old 12-09-2011, 04:37 AM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Thanks, FrillyNettles.

Lakia, glad Tom is feeling better. I wonder if sprinkling catnip into his food would entice him?
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  #37  
Old 12-09-2011, 12:39 PM
JohnGalt JohnGalt is online now
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This happened to our 12-year old cat about a month ago - not eating, vomiting often, losing weight. A $80 blood test revealed pancreatitis and we were given mirtazapine to simulate appetite and prednisolone.
The vet had us move him to pate-style cat foot (Friskies was fine); the thinking is it's the carbs in normal cat food that was causing him problems.
A month later he's eating great (1 1/2 cans per day) and gaining the weight back. We're keeping our fingers crossed.
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  #38  
Old 12-16-2011, 11:27 AM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Good News

Tomas is still alive. He responded to steroids, started eating again, and regained most of his weight.

According to the vet, the steroids are keeping his calcium low, and we'll have to keep giving Tomas steroids for the rest of his life. This isn't ideal, but it's much better than slowly starving to death.
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  #39  
Old 12-16-2011, 02:01 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Yay! Go Tomas, go Tomas!
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  #40  
Old 12-16-2011, 02:51 PM
G-SE G-SE is offline
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so great to hear!
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  #41  
Old 12-16-2011, 03:39 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Originally Posted by Lakai View Post
Tomas is still alive. He responded to steroids, started eating again, and regained most of his weight.

According to the vet, the steroids are keeping his calcium low, and we'll have to keep giving Tomas steroids for the rest of his life. This isn't ideal, but it's much better than slowly starving to death.
Better living through chemistry! I am glad he's feeling better.
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  #42  
Old 12-16-2011, 04:03 PM
Two Many Cats Two Many Cats is offline
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I'm so happy for you and Tomas! Especially after such an upsetting diagnosis!
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  #43  
Old 05-24-2012, 10:35 PM
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HI, my cat Dodger has just been diagnosed with Kidney Failure. His BUN number is 130 and his Creatinine (sp) is 13. He seems to be going down hill fast. I have been sitting with him the last three days doing the IV thing with him and right after he seems like he is feeling better. But I am sure that he is just hydrated. I got some oral syringes and I pure'ed some food for him and slowly squirted it into his mouth. he took it well and has kept it down. Isn't this idea better than him not getting any food at all? I am going back to the vet tomorrrow. He is on meds as well. I just want him to feel better. I feel so bad that this is happening to him. He is only 9.
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Old 05-26-2012, 08:26 PM
tadtooornamental tadtooornamental is offline
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I had a kitty go into kidney failure about the same age as yours, Dodgerbaby. She responded well to rehydration, as well as a special diet, and seemed to rebound. Unfortunately,she was so far advanced that I had to give her a bolus of Lactated Ringers daily. Being a rather skittish kitty in the first place, after a few weeks of getting poked with needles every time I picked her up, she raised holy hell every time I TRIED to pick her up. Eventually, she didn't even want me near her, out of fear she would be jabbed. We stopped treatment for her, figuring she would let us know when her time was up, or when she was in too much pain. And she did. We got a few months out of her after stopping treatment. The whole ordeal was heartbreaking, from knowing she was ill to losing faith in the caregiver that wanted only what was best for her, and I'm so sorry you and your little guy have to go through this. Hopefully things were discovered early enough that medication and a possible special diet will be of help to him. My heartfelt thoughts (and those of my current kitty) go out to you and Dodger
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