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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-25-2016, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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High Calorie Food Suggestions Needed

Hi,
My cat Sniffles is having a rough time with his weight. Back in December, we had all sorts of tests run to see if something was wrong, all came back normal except a slightly elevated white count. We did a round of antibiotics. In the last couple of weeks, he has suddenly been ravenous. He's always been a good eater, even though he's had health issues all his life (he's eight). He has also been drinking more than usual. Petting him is like petting a skeleton. I have been trying to give him food higher in calories that will help put some weight on but I'm not sure what foods those are. He tends to prefer people food. I feed my cats twice daily, he's getting a third meal to himself. I've tried baby food, canned chicken, boiled chicken, tuna in water, leftover steak/roast, kitten kibble etc. He liked all those things, although not crazy about the kibble, but they haven't seemed to help. I tried a hard boiled egg but he didn't like that.

We went to the vet today and they took more blood for tests like pancreatitis, cancer etc. They tested his blood sugar and he's not diabetic and his last thyroid test was good. They noticed his blood seemed light in color so they're doing a CBC. They gave him steroids and worm meds. So, we wait for the test results but no matter what they are, I really want to get some weight on him. The vet wasn't much help in terms of food ideas.

So, my question is, what can I give him that will fatten him up and not be bad for him? I'm open to cooking food or just buying whatever. He's not big on kibble so the kitten kibble isn't helping, plus the vet said it could hurt my other adult cats. Is there a regular adult kibble that anyone can recommend for weight gain? I am open to any suggestions! I not only want to get more weight on him for his sake but also because there's so little wiggle room if he were to stop eating or he keeps losing. Of course hopefully there will be an answer and solution as to the cause of this severe weight loss but whatever it is, helping him gain will still be needed.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-25-2016, 10:05 PM
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Kibble is bad for cats. It's full of carbs, which cats cannot digest well, plus it dehydrates cats, who are designed to derive moisture from their prey - they don't have a high thirst drive. For many reasons, cats should not eat kibble at all. It causes so many health issues.

Will he take to canned food? There are good high-quality grain-free foods out there that will be full of the protein he needs to put on weight.

If not, try a raw egg yolk a few times a week. Just the yolk, not the white, and raw, not cooked. This is full of protein and is good for cats.

There is also something like Nutri-Cal gel for cats:

Nutri-CalŪ for Cats & Kittens, Dogs & Puppies and Ferrets | Tomlyn

It is available on Amazon and should be available in pet stores as well. It is a high-calorie gel designed for kittens, lactating females, etc. but is a good supplement for older or sickly kitties. It's not a permanent solution as the ingredients aren't great (corn syrup and other grain ingredients) but it will do to help Sniffles put on some weight.

Did the vet give you an ideal "target weight" for Sniffles? Many vets will be able to assess a cat's size and say, he should be 8 lbs, or 10 lbs, and so on. Also you may want to invest in a pet scale or baby scale so you can keep very close track of Sniffles' weight yourself on a day to day basis.

Honestly, I'm a huge proponent of raw diets for cats. It's the most appropriate food for them, and I've seen humongous health improvements in my cat since I started feeding her a raw diet when she was 14 (she is nearly 18 now). If Sniffles will tolerate a raw diet, and you can find one of the better brands in your area, you could try that. The raw diet will have the most proteins, nutrients, and calories that a cat needs, and easily digestible too. There are brands that are even available in grocery stores these days, though those tend to be full of pointless fruits and vegetables. Brands like Rad Cat are good, and Feline's Pride is as well. There is also Primal and Nature's Variety, which contain some veggies but are more or less okay.

I'm wondering what the underlying issue could be, though... my cat had a ravenous appetite and weight loss before she was diagnosed hyperthyroid, but you said Sniffles had his T4 checked recently? Has he had a urinalysis to check his kidneys? How about a parasite check? I know they dewormed him, but they really should do a full fecal to see if he has any parasites.


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-26-2016, 01:01 AM
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You could also check out some of the foods on this chart:

Cat Food Chart from catinfo.org

The chart is a few years old, and not all brands are there, but it should give you something to go by as you compare different foods.

With the steroid shot he got, he'll probably be even more hungry - maybe add a 4th meal?

I hope you find a high calorie food that he loves and that he starts to put on weight!
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-26-2016, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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LakotaWolf, thank you for your great suggestions! Both of the regular meals I feed the cats include canned cat food, right now Fancy Feast. I have tried "better" ones but they don't seem to be keen on what's good for them. So, Sniffles does get canned food plus they get some tuna. All my cats love tuna. The vet said that's okay as long as it's not the only thing they're getting. She did suggest I might try a canned kitten food as a supplement for Sniffles so I'll check into that.

I do have a couple of questions. Do you mix the raw egg into the food? I ask because I don't know if he'd eat just a raw yolk. You mentioned a raw diet, would that also include like raw meats such as chicken, beef, fish, organ meats etc? I used to feed my dogs organ meats but cooked. I'll check into the nutri-gel too.

She didn't give me a target weight for Sniffles but in going back in his records, he was 7lbs. and more but even that was a little light. Now he's a little over 5lbs. I'll have to ask her. I should be hearing from the vet today on at least some of the test results. His last test for thyroid was in December. I don't think she's repeating it, probably trying to keep costs low but I'd rather know what's wrong and fix it than save money! I thought she could tell about the kidneys from the blood tests but maybe I'm wrong. No fecal test, just gave the deworming meds.

I'm trying to put my trust in this vet. She's new but she pulled one of my other cats through some mystery illness about a month ago, never did find out what it was. Just because she's new doesn't mean she isn't good but I am having to fight a bit of distrust. I had asked for the appt. with Sniffle's regular vet but for some reason I didn't get her. One good thing though, there are 3 vets in the office, 2 of which are very seasoned and they normally confer with each other when there are diagnosis and treatment questions. So, I'm trying to be patient and trust that she knows what she's doing. But I won't hesitate to push if I think he's not getting proper care. My other cat's mystery illness left her also losing weight, very lethargic, hid away, wouldn't let me near her, wouldn't eat or drink etc. They thought it might be an infection and sent me home with antibiotics but after 2 days, she started hiding. It took me days to catch her and I took her right in when I did. She ended up spending 5 days at the vet's office getting hydrated on an IV but she still wouldn't eat. This "new" vet actually went to the store and bought her some tuna since I told her how she likes that and she finally started eating and came around, now is as happy and silly as ever. Never found out what caused it. While the weight loss is similar, the rest isn't really. Sniffles is actually in a better way than she was.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-26-2016, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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Spirite, thank you for that information. I'll check it out.

Sniffles has allergies and was on steroid shots monthly, the allergies are that bad. His last one was in December and in January, he wasn't scratching like he normally would a month later. I kept watch, he never started scratching again and I figured the longer he went without the steroids, the better. They had warned me he could develop diabetes but because he was so small they thought he was likely not high risk for that, one reason I was so glad yesterday when they told me he isn't diabetic. He still hasn't started scratching which is a mystery because he's had these allergy attacks for years. The vet thinks that possibly the steroids were masking the possible cause of his current condition. I don't remember which of the many things she listed as possible causes where she said that steroids are the treatment for it. So, in a way, I may have caused this problem by not taking him in for the monthly meds. I thought I was helping by limiting the meds but perhaps my actions caused this outbreak. His normal reaction after getting the steroids is that he comes home ravenous and then sleeps all day until dinner. It does seem to increase his appetite. I have more supplemental foods coming today like baby food which he seems to love. I also plan to give him meats and I forgot until last night that he loves shredded Cheddar so I'll give him some of that too. Hopefully that list will give me more ideas! Thanks again!
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-26-2016, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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I just spoke to the vet's office. While not all the test results are back, one does show that Sniffles has pancreatitis. The CBC isn't back nor the cobalamine (Sp?). I guess I will have to read up on pancreatitis. I gather it means possibly long term antibiotics. I have a hard time medicating him. I swear he can read my mind and knows when I'm coming. Most of the meds end up on me or the counter! I gather they can do an injection form but that would be weekly. I don't know if they'd let me do the injections so I'm not dragging him in there every week. Probably not although if he was diabetic they would. Well, I guess I'll find out more next week when the rest of the labs come back and we set up a treatment plan. If anyone has any knowledge or first hand experience with it, please fill me in! I'm finding this depressing but I guess it's better than not knowing what's wrong. Poor little guy.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-26-2016, 06:28 PM
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The Fancy Feast "Classic" line is actually not so bad - it's grain-free, which is a huge plus. I actually keep some FF around for the days when my cat is feeling a bit ill/nauseated and she won't eat her normal raw, she'll eat Fancy Feast. The people on the feline kidney failure mailing list refer to Fancy Feast as "kitty crack" because it seems like all kitties LOVE it and will eat it no matter how bad they feel! ;}

And I give my cat Wintressia her egg yolk just plain, whole, in one of her bowls. I crack the egg and carefully separate the yolk by hand/using the eggshell to help strain off the white. I do get raw egg on my hands/in the sink, but because I feed her a raw diet anyway, I'm used to washing my hands a lot! It was difficult at first, but I've gotten pretty good at separating the white and yolk from each other.

You could probably mix the yolk into canned food as well - I've never had to do that with Wintressia; she really isn't a picky eater (I'm very lucky in that regard). I just toss the whole yolk into her bowl and she licks at it until she "breaks" it, then she licks the bowl clean :}

Tuna, especially canned tuna, isn't good for cats. Fish in general isn't good for cats - I think there's a sticky here in the forum about fish, but it's probably okay as a "treat" occasionally, plus if it's one of the things Sniffles WILL eat, it's hard to switch off of.

As for what I feed my cat - I wish I had time/family tolerance to make my own ground raw, but I think my family would pitch a huge fit. :{

So, I buy 1-lb bags of ground meat/bones/organs from a website called Hare Today. I buy a huge variety of proteins, from chicken, duck, turkey, and beef, to a few "exotic" proteins like venison, rabbit, llama, mutton, etc. I mix in taurine powder and Alnutrin nutritional supplement.

I've also been feeding my cat some Rad Cat brand lately. The nice thing about Rad Cat is it's already supplemented, so I don't have to mix in anything. I just thaw and feed!

As a kind of side-note, something I've learned over the last couple of years with my own cat's health struggles (kidney failure, IBD, hypertension, hyperthyroid) is that vets MEAN well, but they don't study pet nutrition. It isn't taught in vet schools. It's not something they study. We're only just now starting to really understand and think about proper diet and nutrition for our pets - it's why there are so many "raw" and "species appropriate" brands showing up now, and why a lot of the major cat food brands are grain-free. We're finally realizing that our pets need to eat appropriately healthy, just like we do. But vet schools are usually sponsored by companies like Hill's, Royal Canin, and Science Diet, so vets are "encouraged" to prescribe/push these brands on pet owners (plus the vet makes a commission if they sell the special foods that you can only buy AT the vet's). They're just not taught that cats are obligate carnivores and need meat, not carbs/grains. I hope someday that changes and vets study proper nutrition for pets, but for right now, they don't. So when I read that someone's vet prescribed bland boiled chicken and rice for their cat, I cry inside - first off, the rice is a carb/grain and that is nutritionally useless for a cat, plus the cat does not get all the nutrients it needs from boiled chicken meat - they need bone and organ too. (Canned foods add the necessary nutrients back in, but the so-called "bland diet" will end up starving a cat, literally, in the long run.) So, I no longer get "angry" at the vet when they try to prescribe a special Royal Canin dry kibble for my cat - they don't really know any better - so I just politely decline purchasing it and go home to give my cat her raw meat ;}

Sorry to go on my soapbox there - feline nutrition is one of those things I care a lot about :}

For Sniffles, though, we need to follow the #1 Rule handed down to owners of kidney-failure cats: "Feed your cat what it WILL eat!" We need him to eat, and right now, we don't want to be too picky about foods that may not be so great in the super-long-run.

BTW, I also keep some of this stuff on hand for my cat:




and

PetAg CatSure Meal Replacement | Petco Store

I haven't had to use either yet, so I can't speak to their palatable-ness or effectiveness, but if you find either in a pet store, you could try them with Sniffles.

As for the kidney things - to really test the two important values, BUN and creatinine, there needs to be a urinalysis. I think they insert a super-thin needle into the bladder and extract urine, so you don't have to try and "catch" a sample from Sniffles or anything. My cat has a urinalysis every couple of months or so, but that's because she's an old beast with kidney failure ;} It doesn't seem to bother her that much overall. But, if your vet is being conscientious and trying to keep costs down, she may not have suggested it, or maybe she didn't think it was necessary.

You can also call your vet and request a copy of Sniffles' last labwork/tests. Most vets will happily fax or email copies to you, and then if you'd like, you can post them here and several members will happily go over them with you! A lot of us have gotten pretty used to poring over blood tests and urinalysis - I keep a folder of my own cat's lab tests to track her kidney values and her T4 over time.


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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-26-2016, 06:32 PM
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Whoops - I was typing up that long reply before I saw your update!

While I don't have firsthand experience with pancreatitis, it is VERY similar in some ways to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which my cat DOES have. And I was actually just recently reading up on pancreatitis in cats - I can't remember why, but I was!

Is Your Cat Suffering from Deadly Feline Pancreatitis?

Feline Pancreatitis_Serious

Symptoms & Diagnosis of Pancreatitis in Cats

It seems like "digestive enzymes"/probiotics and a good diet will help cats with pancreatitis a LOT. You should also start mixing water into Sniffles' canned food - this is actually good overall for older cats as even if they aren't in renal failure, the kidneys do tend to stop working as effectively.

I think, even with a diagnosis of pancreatitis, some of my earlier suggestions still stand - Sniffles needs good nutrition first and foremost! :}


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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-26-2016, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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LakotaWolf, thanks for all that good information! Ironically I was just reading up on fish in a cat's diet. From what I read, it can lead to a thiamine/B1 and vitamin E deficiency if feeding fresh fish and/or people tuna, that they supplement cat food with what's needed to avoid that so not so bad to feed them fish flavored cat food. It's going to be a problem cutting back on tuna because all my cats love it. At least I'm glad to hear that Fancy Feast is not a bad thing! My cats seem fickle though. For a while they'll eat something with gusto and then they start turning their noses up. I try to vary the flavors but perhaps variety isn't necessarily a good idea. Plus I have several cats so it's not so easy to get everyone on board.

Unfortunately due to physical limitations I can't easily go to the grocery store, rely on home delivery and the frozen raw foods aren't available there online. I did see some freeze dried ones of the brands you mentioned on Amazon. I will check out Hare Today. I adore my cats of course so I want to do right by them. I far and away spend more on their food than my own! And some of my cats are getting into the higher age range so I sure would like them to stay healthy. When my oldest cat makes his exit, it's going to kill me but we won't talk about that!

Earlier today I opened a jar of baby food (ham) and mixed in an egg yolk and Sniffles lapped it all up! He loved it! I had actually put the yolk in the bowl first and he wasn't interested until I mixed in the baby food. I did see one article that suggested meat based baby food as a good option so at least I guessed right on that one. However, tonight he wasn't interested in dinner. I'm hoping that's just because he was full and not because the egg caused a problem or anything. His symptoms don't exactly fit the stated symptoms for pancreatitis though so that's a little confusing. They fit perfectly what my other cat Spinner recently went through though but they said she didn't have pancreatitis. I plan to call the vet first thing Monday and get going on some sort of plan to do whatever it is I need to do for Sniffles since one thing the several articles said was that it can cause organ damage if not treated quickly and can also lead to diabetes.

I appreciate your comments on the vet and their knowledge of pet diets. I was actually surprised when the vet couldn't really suggest anything much to put weight on Sniffles. I've had them suggest I believe it's called the AD canned cat food and none of my cats, including Sniffles, will eat it. I've had dogs too and have had vets recommend things like Science Diet and IAMS and again, none of my dogs or cats would eat either. My intentions are good, I want to feed the right thing to my cats but I haven't always known what that is! So, I appreciate all the ideas and suggestions. I also will see if they will send me the test results or give them to me when I next go in and will ask about a urinalysis etc. I get the feeling they're hoping the blood test results will lead them in certain directions, that there may be more tests. I don't imagine Sniffles will like that but I'll keep that a secret for now. LOL!
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-28-2016, 02:48 AM
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The forum twice ate my post earlier today...hoping it's in a better mood now.

First, I'm so glad that Sniffles liked the egg yolk and baby food! One of my kitties got the Hill's A/D when she wasn't eating. She scarfed it down at the vet and then later at home, so I bought several cans. As we all know, that's the best way to ensure that a cat never eats a certain food again.

Your stopping the steroid shots makes complete sense - why would anyone want to give more meds than absolutely necessary? Plus, if the vet is right that the steroids were masking some other condition that needs to be treated, stopping them actually gave you the chance to get Sniffles treatment earlier rather than later.

I did some research into pancreatitis a few years ago when I thought one of my kitties might have it and found this website really helpful: Pancreatitis In Your Cat.

There is a lot of info on the types of tests that are used to diagnose pancreatitis, none of which is effective on its own. Do you know which tests the vet ran? The PLI is considered the most accurate one. The section in small purple type has links to pdfs with more info on chronic and acute pancreatitis. The same site also has an article on how to interpret bloodwork results.

One last note about baby food: When I was looking for some for my sick kitty, I couldn't believe how many other ingredients were in some of them. The one that seemed the closest to just meat was Beech Nut chicken, and even then, I think it had cornstarch or something in it. I guess this is normal, but I don't have kids, so I had no clue.

I'm pretty sure my cats get healthier food than any children I might have had!
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