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Old 06-23-2012, 03:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Jun 2012
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Default 3 Year Old Cat Has Stopped Eating

My cat, Simon, has been in the care of several veterinarians for the last week, but so far they are stumped as to what could be causing his lack of appetite or inability to eat.

He went in for a regular check-up and received a rabies booster and Tresaderm ear drops for an ear infection. After I brought him home, he seemed fine, but didn't touch his food for several days. He has only ever shown interest in dry Nutro brand kibble - I tried several times over the years to entice him with wet food, even with human food like tuna and chicken, but he has absolutely no interest in it. Now, he will at best pick up one piece of kibble at a time, drop it a few times as he tries to eat it, and eat about half the piece of kibble.

The strange thing is that his failure to eat is his only real symptom. He licks his lips a lot after coming into contact with his food, but that's it. No vomiting, no sneezing, normal energy level, normal temperature, no trouble urinating. He is a little dehydrated, losing weight, and isn't producing stool - likely because he isn't eating.

He's been back to the vet several times over the last week. He's been treated with sub-q fluids, anti-nausia meds (cerenia, anzemet) and appetite stimulants (mirtazipine). He was hospitalized overnight and was given tests (urinalysis/complete t760, feline pancreatitis test, FELV and FIV) all of which were negative or inconclusive. He was x-rayed and nothing abnormal was found. He was given a dental exam and they found a retained baby tooth that was a little loose, but decided it was unlikely the cause of his loss of appetite. He was given a steroid shot (dexamethasone) to see if treating him for generalized inflammation would be effective, but he still does not eat.

Simon returns to his food bowl every now and then and acts as though he's pawing his litter, acting as though he's burying his food - a behavior he would engage in before this all began so this isn't new.

The next step, the vets say, is a specialist and an abdominal ultrasound. In the meantime, I'm force feeding him A/D. This is getting very expensive and I'm hoping someone who may have been through this before may have an idea where this is headed. Is it a coincidence he stopped eating right after his rabies vaccine and Tresaderm treatment? Is it cancer? Is he just being picky? Will he get over it before he does himself real harm? Will I end up with a 3 year old cat that will require 3-4 force feedings per day for the rest of his life?

Any help or experience you have would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 06-23-2012, 03:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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My cats (and dogs) are always off their food for 24 hours after their rabies shot. They nibble, but really don't eat much for 24 hours. It's also really hot outside, which affects their activity level and their appetite.

Licking his lips is a sign of nausea.

Was it a one time dose or tresaderm or is it a longer term treatment? I had to look it up as I am not familiar with it. Addison's is listed as possible side effect in prolonged use or with high doses.

Any chance your cat got into something toxic?
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Old 06-23-2012, 06:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Is he able to keep down the syringed food? If he's vomiting, I would suspect an impaction somewhere in his gut. If he's keeping the food down and processing it properly through the GI tract, then he's not impacted or constipated.

It does sound like something is making him feel nauseous (lip-licking, burying his food without eating). Does he have any fever? Has a full blood chemistry and CBC been run, and if so, what were the results?

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Old 06-23-2012, 09:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Is he passing any stool or gas? If not, he has an obstruction. That will cause the nausea, the anorexia. If he is visiting the food bowl often, then he is feeling hunger, but if he is obstructed the anorexia will keep him from eating. Can't put anything down the tubes if the gut is not working correctly. If there is no clue from the bloodwork what body system is the cause of the problem, then an ultrasound is really needed to rule out an obstruction.

My Abby had anorexia after she turned eight years old, and we never determined the root cause of the problem and despite force feeding, she just slipped away from me. When she got really emaciated and inactive, I had to have her euthanized. Five vets took care of her, including a neurologist and a gastrointestinal specialist in Philadelphia. I could not afford a CT of the brain, but the neurologist felt she may have had a stroke that affected her brain centers in regard to appetite and thirst. Because she would not drink, as well. I gave her SQ fluids for almost a year before I had her euthanized.

Hope you find a cause soon. Sending positive healing energy your way.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for your responses so far. Since I posted, Simon saw another vet who performed a rectal exam and found only loose stool, and that afternoon he did finally start having bowel movements again.

So, drinking fairly normally, producing stool again - so there doesn't seem to be a blockage. Also there has NEVER been any vomiting or abnormal temperature.

Mom Of 4 - His tresaderm treatment was in the form of ear drops that I administered at home, twice a day. He was supposed to receive this treatment for 10 days but I stopped after 4 when I realized his not eating was becoming a serious problem. His last dose was over a week ago.

Some of his appetite has returned. He would normally eat about a 1/2 cup of kibble per day, now he's eating about an 1/8 of a cup of kibble in addition to the prescription wet food he's being force fed, and occasionally he will eat a little of the prescription food out of the can.

His vet thought an infectious cause is unlikely and recommended treatment with daily oral steroids, since he showed some improvement over the weekend, after his steroid shot. I was warned that if an infection is present, the steroids could make it worse, but I trusted her wisdom and began the course of steroids yesterday.

I'm also discontinuing the anti-nausia pills on the vet's recommendation - they never seemed to have any effect on his appetite, and I think yesterday was the last appetite stimulant I want to give him, because they seem to make him needy and anxious more than they make him hungry.
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Great. Hope he continues without problems. It is so very frightening when they are ill.
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