Appetite Stimulation

Just as with people, cats need to eat when they are sick. Of course, also like people, sometimes when you are sick eating is the last thing you want to do.

It is very important, especially in cases of hepatic lipidosis, that cats maintain their caloric intake. If your cat has not eaten in over day consult your vet immediately. Lack of appetite is an indicator of illness and cats can get liver damage from not eating, even for just a day or two. When your cat stops eating the body will start to use its fat stores as fuel. Unfortunately cats are not very good at using stored fat for energy and thus the fat can begin to accumulate in the liver. If your cat needs to eat but refuses first call your vet. In the meantime listed below are a few things you can try:

  • Handfeeding. Sometimes just the simple act of a personal touch while your cat is sick will help him/her eat. Sit and talk to your cat, pet him/her and slowly try to coax eating.
  • Feeding special foods. Sometimes hand feeding your cat’s favorite moist food, tuna or a few treats will stimulate feeding and hunger.
  • Warm the food. Sometimes the simple act of slightly warming moist food will help it smell a little stronger and be a little more attractive to your cat.
  • If your cat won’t eat on his/her own you can try syringe feeding. You can do this with either a medical syringe or with a turkey baster. You can mix soft food with a little water in a blender and then use the syringe to ‘force feed’ it to your cat. Only do this if your cat won’t eat on his/her own. Click here for specifics on how to syringe feed liquids to a cat.
  • There are many medications that can be given to stimulate the appetite. Milk Thistle, Diazepam (Valium), Oxazepam (Serax), Periactin, and Flurazepam (Dalmane) are such medications. Milk Thistle is especially useful in conjunction with liver problems as it also has some beneficial properties to the liver. However do not give your cat any medications that are not prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • As a last resort you can have a tube put in your cat’s stomach to feed him/her. In cases of hepatic lipidosis where it is necessary for the cat to eat to reverse the problems this may be the only way to force the cat to eat the amount he/she needs to.