Feeding my cat is becoming difficult - suggestions? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2005, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Feeding my cat is becoming difficult - suggestions?

A little background first...

My cat is 15 and a few weeks ago, she stopped eating her normal food (it was a dry cat food a vet had recommended when she was small). At first I thought perhaps they changed it, or she needed a change. So I bought a different type of dry food... she ate it... once. Repeated that 2 more times. That didn't work out... so I bought one can of cat food to see if perhaps she was ill though she was acting as usual, and not vomitting more than normal (she will leave me a hairball gift about once a week or every two when its warm out).

She ate that one can of food like it was the best thing ever. So, I figured that was the solution. But that turned out to be much like the dry food. She only did it that once. Oh yeah, she did see the vet and had a full work up during all of this... nothing amiss and his words were that she is in remarkable condition for her age.

After some effort I discovered that she would eat fancy feast cat food as long as it was the really squishy no chunks, or gravy or anything too fancy. And it seemed she only liked the seafood flavors.

Now I have a similar problem. I don't know if she just expects the food to be there whenever she wants to casually have a bite (like it was with the dry food). Or if she is starting the process of disliking this food. But whatever the case, she is constantly begging to be fed and very rarely eats it when I give it to her. Though she will always lick whatever liquid there is in hurry. She wakes me up. (she meows, jumps on my head, paws at me whatever she has to do to make me move then runs in to the room where I feed her).

I don't know what to do anymore... she is driving me up the wall! She used to eat anything, could she really be this picky all the sudden? Any tips would be appreciated... a way to get her on a schedule, or a food suggestion, any sort of advice or experience would be helpful. As a side note that may mean nothing she will NOT eat left over food. (refigerated from a larger can)

The stack of cans of food she wont eat is growing mountainous in my spare room!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2005, 03:38 AM
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Has she been checked out at the vets? I would take her in to get some bloodwork done, a full biochemistry & t4 (thyroid) to check that all is ok internally.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2005, 03:43 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, I had the cat checked out to the tune of well lots of cash. Full blood work and all that jazz. He tells me that its all normal. Also, had her teeth checked, especially since her preference seems to be soft and squishy now.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2005, 08:19 AM
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I hate to say this, but in a situation like this "he tells me its all normal" is not good enough.
Please get a copy of the blood results for yourself first thing tomorrow morning (call the office and ask them to have it ready for you whenever you can pick it up later in the day) and take a good look at all the numbers and the reference numbers when you get home. You may find something that's not all that normal. It happens all the time.

If everything IS normal, please do two things.
First, ask for an X-ray of the digestive system and have that done ASAP. If nothing abnormal shows up on the X-ray make a dental appointment immediately. The vet will have to do a thorough oral exam under anesthesia and if there is no other problem, then just go ahead and clean her teeth.

Based on the change in food preference you mention, two possibilities come to mind. Something wrong in the digestive system, or there is a painful oral problem that's not obvious just by looking in her mouth during a routine vet visit. There are several possibilites, including a broken tooth where nothing is left to see, the gums are covering the remaining root and there is an infection that causes a lot of pain, interfering with normal eating and enjoyment of food.
Cats can also have caveties that in time become painful and interfere with normal eating.
She might also have a certain degree of gum disease that will respond to a professional cleaning.
Unfortunately oral cancer at that age is also a possibility.
To see just what exactly is going on the cat must be under anesthesia, that's the only way the vet can do a thorough oral exam.

In the meantime leave food out in several places to encourage her to eat but don't force her and really, don't drive yourself crazy. This is not picky eating, there is a medical reason for what's going on.

If nothing changes after the dental appointment, please go on to have an ultrasound done without delay.

Besides regular cat food you can also try offering all meat baby food that has no other ingredients, especially onions.

You can try to warm up the cat food and the baby food just a tiny, tiny bit to make it more desirable. Be sure NOT to make it too hot so it will burn her mouth!

You can try adding tuna juice to other cat food.

Get small cans only, do NOT use food from large cans because that food is lousy. It's not the same as the food in the smaller cans. They don't even make it at that same manufacturing plants.

Do NOT refrigerate the food. When you do that the food loses its smell and taste, and believe it or not, there are plenty of perfectly healthy cats that will never ever, not even once in their lives, touch canned cat food that was refrigerated.

However. Get started with tracking down what's wrong with her as soon as your vet opens for business tomorrow morning and get everything done without delay. To be on the safe side, make sure they do the X-ray tomorrow on an emergency basis, even if you haven't had the time to look at the blood results. This is the better, safer way to go.

If your cat refuses to eat anytyhing, anything at all, have your vet keep her in the hospital until the necessary testing and oral exam can be done.
She can't be allowed to go without food longer than one or two days.
After three days of starvation the consequences can be very, very serious, even life-threatening. Take no chances if your cat refuses to eat.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-19-2005, 11:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestion, I will give him a call again tomorrow. I have used this particular vet for the last 4 years, and I like him alot. He usually comes to my house (Tubby is so NOT fond of cars, and things get messy). She was out cold for most of the last exam, but I will see about the xrays first thing tomorrow morning.

I did get a faxed copy of the blood work, including the thyroid function tests but honestly I don't know what I am looking at aside from what he explained over the phone the day after the tests.

Thanks again for the suggestion, sometimes I get the feeling that people think I am off my rocker for putting so much focus on my cat... they seem to think eh she's old or just don't get it. What a great forum!
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-20-2005, 07:43 AM
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I did get a faxed copy of the blood work, including the thyroid function tests but honestly I don't know what I am looking at aside from what he explained over the phone the day after the tests.
Bloodwork results must come with the reference ranges the lab is using that did the testing. If you didn't get reference ranges, ask your vet for a different copy that will give you those numbers.

You need to look for out of range numbers and also for low-normal and high-normal readings to get a good idea where the problem areas are.
Then you have to look at those problem areas one by one and see what can be done about them.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-20-2005, 08:04 AM
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Information for you:




How To Read Laboratory Tests

A wide variety of tests are used to certify good health or indicate the presence of infection or disease. The major tests and some of the common vocabulary in lab reports are explained below. A Complete Blood Count indicates the number and type of cells in the dog's blood. This standard test can identify anemia and leukemia, as well as the presence of many infections. A Serum Chemistry Profile includes a variety of tests that examine the functioning of organs, such as the liver and thyroid. If these tests indicate any abnormality.

CBC Values

Red Blood Cells (RBC) - Responsible for carrying oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body. Iron deficiency will lower RBC count. In more reduced count, it may indicate hemorrhage, parasites, bone marrow disease, B-12 deficiency, folic acid deficiency or copper deficiency. RBC lives for 120 days so an anemia of any kind other than hemorrhage indicates a long standing problem.

Hematocrit (HCT) or Packed Cell Volume (PCV) - Provides information on the amount of red blood cells (RBC) present in the blood. Decreased levels means anemia from hemorrhage, parasites, nutritional deficiencies or chronic disease process, such as liver disease, cancer, etc. . Increased levels are often seen in dehydration.

Hemoglobin (Hb) - The essential oxygen carrier of the blood. Decreased levels indicate the presence of hemorrhage, anemia, iron deficiency. Increased levels indicate higher than normal concentrate of RBC, B-12 deficiency (because there are fewer cells).

Reticulocytes - Immature red blood cells. Decreased count is usually associate with anemia. Increased count is associated with chronic hemorrage or hemolytic anemia.

Platelets (PLT) - Play an important role in blood clotting. Decrease in number occurs in bone marrow depression, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, systemic lupus, severe hemorrhage or intravascular coagulation. Increased number may occurs with fracture or blood vessel injury, or cancer.

MCV - Measurement of the avarage size of the RBC. Elevated volumes can be due to B-12 folic acid deficiency and reduced volumes are from an iron deficiency.

White blood cells (WBC) - The body's primary means of fighting infection. Decreased levels may indicate an overwhelming infections (viruses), or drug / chemical poisoning. Increased levels indicate bacterial infection, emotinal upsets and blood disorders.

Lymphocytes (L/M) - These smooth, round white blood cells increase in number with chronic infection, recovery from acute infection or underactive glands and decrease with stress, or treatment with steroids and chemotherapy drug.

The chemistry profile

Calcium (CA) - Blood calcium levels are influenced by diet, hormone levels and blood protein levels. Decreased levels indicate acute damage to the pancrease or undersctive parathyroid. Muscle twitches may occur in decreased level. Increased levels can be an indicator of certain types of tumors, parthyroid or kidney disease. Dr. Goldstein mentioned in his book, Nature of Animal Healing that low calcium level may indicate deficiency of pancreatic enzymes, and high calcium level may indicate poor metabolism of fats and protein.

Phosphorus (PHOS) - Affected by diet, parathormone and kidney. Decreased levels shows overactive parathyroid gland and malignancies, malnutrition and malabsorption. Increases with underactive parathyroid gland and kidney failure.

Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Chloride) - The balance of these chemicals is vital to health. Abnormal levels can be life threatening. Electrolyte tests are important in evaluating vomiting, diarrhea and cardiac symptoms.

Cholesterol (CHOL) - Decreased levels are found in an overactive thyroid gland, interstinal malabsorption. Elevated levels of cholesterol are seen in a variety of disorders including hypothyroidism and diseases of the liver, kidneys, cardiovascular, diabetes, stress.

Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) - An enzyme that becomes elevated with liver disease.

Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) - An enzyme produced by the biliary tract (liver). High levels indicate bone disease, liver disease or bile flow blockage.

Total Billirubin (TBIL) - A component of bile, bilirubin is secreted by the liver into the intestinal tract. High levels can lead to jaundice and indicate destruction in the liver and bile duct.

Total Protein (TP) - Increases indicate dehydration or blood cancer, bone marrow cancer; decreases indicate malnutrition, poor digestion, liver or kidney disease, bleeding or burns.

Globulins (GLOB) - Decreased levels indicate problems with antibodies, immunodeficiency viruses or risk of infectious disease. Increased levels may indicate stress, dehydration or blood cancer, allergies, liver disease, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes.

Albumin (ALB) - Produced by the liver, reduced levels of this protein can point to chronic liver or kidney disease, or parasitic infections such as hookworm. High levels indicate dehydration and loss of protein.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) - BUN is produced by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Decreased levels are seen with low protein diets, liver insufficiency, and the use of anabolic steroid drug. Increased levels indicate any condition that reduces the kidney's ability to filter body fluids in the body or interferes with protein breakdown.

Creatinine (CREA) - Creatinine is a by-product of muscle metabolism and is excreted by the kidneys. Elevated levels can indicate kidney disease or urinary obstruction, muscle disease, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and disbetes. An increased BUN and normal creatinine suggest an early or mild problem. An increased creatinine and increased BUN with elevated phosphorus indicate a long standing kidney disease.

Blood Glucose (GLU) - High levels can help diagnose diabetes and can indicate stress, excess of the hormone progesterone, an overactive adrenal gland. Low levels can indicate liver disease, tumors or abnormal growth on pancreas, an underactive adrenal gland.

Amylase (AMYL) - The pancreas produces and secrets amylase to aid in digestion. Elevated blood levels can indicate pancreatic and/or kidney disease.


Color - Normal color is yellow to amber. Red is caused by Blood, Dark yellow to brown with yellow form are caused by bilirubin, reddish brown is caused by hemoglobin / myoglobin.

Transparency - Normal is clear. Cloudy urine is caused by crystals, cells, blood, mucous, bacteria or cast.

Gravity - 1.007 ~ 1.029 occurs with diabetes mellitus, insipidus, overactive adrenals, excessive thirst and pyometra. A pet with kidney failure has a specific gravity of between 1.008-1.012. In cats with normal kidney function, the Gravity should be greater than 1.034, in dogs it should be greater than 1.025. However, over 1.040 can occur with high fever, dehydration, diabetes mellitus, vomiting, diarhea and severe homorrhage.

PH Levels - It should be 6.2~6.5, little on the acidic side.

When you have the blood work done, make sure your pet has fasted for at least 12 hours before the test.
Some difference in clinical chemistries exist between breeds.
You should always establish what is normal for your pet. Their bodies are all different. The abnormal reading may be normal for your pet.

References:The Holistic Guide For A Healthy Dog: Wendy Volhard & Kerry Brown, DVM; Hepatitis A-Z; Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Washington State University Colleage of Veterinary Medicine; College of Veterinary Medicine Oregon State University; Abbot Laboratories; North Western Laboratories Limited
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