Elderly cat does not eat

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Theonic
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Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:09 pm

Hi I have an old female cat that must be around 21 years old (I am not sure as I took her from the streets). She has stopped eating for a few days now and I have to force feed her. The thing is that she seems very hungry and she asks for food but she does not eat. She used to eat at least of 15 gr of dry food every day and she just stopped. I tried for a few days cutting the dry food into smaller pieces and she was eating a bit as she didn’t have to chew. Then she stopped eating. I thought maybe the problem was a tooth. We went to the vet who said he couldn’t find anything wrong with her teeth or gums. He gave her dexamethasone for two days to see if she eats. We came back and she was pleading for food although the bowl with her dry food was there. She ate a few tiny pieces of pork chop and that was it. I don’t really know what else to do as I have tried anything possible as to changing her food and trying new brands. Someone might think that she is reaching the end but that is not the case as her appetite seems fine, she jumps on the sofa to sit with us, she turns around to stroke her belly. She might begin eating with the steroids but that does not solve the problem. I don’t want to put her under sedation for any reason because it will be risky. I don’t think the vet can do anything else. If any of you had an elderly cat and had to cope with anything similar please let me know as I am in a dead end.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Lilith » Tue Jul 16, 2019 3:48 pm

Hi and welcome, and I'm so sorry to read this.

There are the soups for cats varieties of food and there is a high calorie paste - 'Nurish 'Um' or 'Nutri-Vit' that provides vitamins and calories - you wipe a bit on the cat's lips. https://www.amazon.co.uk/VetIQ-001384-N ... way&sr=8-1

There are the pate foods and a brand of tinned food which I've only found online, pricey but apparently irresistible, called 'Thrive' and something quite similar, 'Encore' which you can get in supermarkets (though 'Encore''s not a complete food.)

It may be that she is at the end, but it seems so heartbreaking that she's asking for food and then can't eat much. Did the vet check for any obstruction in her oesophagus?

I have seen something similar in an elderly boy of mine, but he just didn't have the energy to do much; he was out of breath just crossing the room, and after eating a few mouthfuls he ran out of energy; he was, literally, running down.

I do hope you find something to suit her; hopefully others will be along with other suggestions. Please let us know how she goes on, fusses to her and good luck.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by fjm » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:08 pm

I would try a high protein, high calorie, very tasty food - perhaps chicken, liver, and butter pureed together - something very easy to eat that does not require chewing. If you can find a texture she likes it may then be possible to find a commercial complete food that is similar. Chicken liver pate may be a starting point.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:13 pm

Thanks for your reply. She has eaten a bit today after the steroid injection. Unfortunately it has been a while that she stopped eating wet food. The only wet food she used to eat is mousse which I sometimes feed her a bit in the mouth. The only thing she liked eating was the dry food which she has eaten a few grams today. The vet did not look into her oesophagus but could he look without putting her under sedation? She does not look tired at all. She seems content and full of energy most of the times of day. The only thing she enjoys eating is pork chop but really small portions. She seems better now but I don’t know after two days how she will be when the steroids are over

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Lilith » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:43 pm

Yes, that's the trouble; steroids only pick them up for a little, or so I've found. And true, she'd have to be sedated and scanned for a proper view of her oesophagus and stomach. Do you think she'd eat the pork very finely minced/blended, perhaps with a little liquid, to make it slip down? Of course her stomach may have shrunk with eating tiny meals; a few mouthfuls could mean a full meal to her now. Does she eat and then still ask for food?

With all best wishes to 'Missis Porkchop' and I do hope she goes on eating and keeping her strength up, bless her.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:10 pm

Thanks. Now she was waiting to the door as soon as we got home. She seemed hungry and she ate 5gr of dry food. But I didn’t have to cut them in pieces so I guess this is because of the steroids. We will see. Right now she climbed the couch and she is washing herself! She seems content. I don’t mind her eating less as far as she eats even a small amount of food by herself. The last year her food has dicreased anyway so I don’t have this kind of expectations from her. The thing is that she must be in some kind of pain if the steroids helped her feel better and eat. But what else can I do after two days. She cannot keep taking steroids because she had a problem with her liver and she is old enough. It is risky to be sedated and that’s probably why the vet did not suggest it. I always avoided it even for blood tests, ultra sounds. I was even holding her when she had to have an x-ray. I haven’t tried recently with minced pork. I will although that was not something I think she would even try. You see she has always been a really fussy cat and that became even worse when getting older. Let’s hope to a miracle

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Lilith » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:50 pm

Oh what a sweet girl, and so pretty!

I don't think she's necessarily in pain; I had two cats, brother and sister, Siamese I'd bred myself, on steroids, because they seemed to 'fading' at age 7-8. This was back in the '90s and the vet never told me what the diagnosis was, but they were very placid and definitely not in pain, they just never recovered ... a mystery, but blood tests were a good deal rarer in those days; you had to go from Wakefield to the other side of Bradford to the nearest surgery that did them; an ordeal for a poorly cat.

She's a good girl if they can take an Xray while you hold her. As always, good luck, hoping for a miracle too, all paws and tails crossed here x

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:25 pm

But what was wrong with them? Did they stop eating as well? They were not so old. The vets do not always make a diagnosis. Surely the vets there must be much better. Here in Cyprus I haven’t found a really good vet to care about cats

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Lilith » Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:12 am

They just began to slow down ... I never got a proper diagnosis although the vet was very good, no complaints there. First the boy and then the girl. It was as if they became old before their time. I had their mother too and she lived on into her teens ... a mystery. They didn't stop eating, but their appetite became poorer and poorer - but always improved after the steroid injection - for a short time that is. I have mixed feelings about steroids but at the time it seemed the only thing to do - and every case is different of course.

All the best, and hoping she gets her normal appetite back.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:15 am

I don’t have good feelings about the steroids either. A few years ago she was under steroids for a while and then the problem with her liver appeared and I still wonder if the steroids had anything to do with it. Today she does not seem to be really hungry. She has just eaten a few grams of dry food. It is as if the steroid injection is going less and less. Yesterday she was acting like crazy running around and asking for food today she is calm. Unfortunately the vets here do not really love cats, they give more attention to dogs.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Mollycat » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:19 am

I don't like steroids but ... my old boy is on them for life and it's the only thing between him and the Rainbow Bridge. We don't know what's wrong - renal failure for sure, possible hyperthyroid, maybe lymphoma or maybe inflammatory bowel - all I know is he was 24 hours from the end, had lost 10% of his body weight in 8 days and had no interest in living. One last try, so we had a 2-week slow acting antibiotic jab, a steroid jab, an appetite stimulant, and these tablets. In the first 36 hours there was no change, and then, on his 15th birthday, he demanded food and ate it all, 5 hours later he demanded more and ate it all, 5 weeks later here we are.

The idea was to reduce the dose down to the minimum effective dose, but as soon as we cut down he went downhill. He is very slowly going downhill anyway and we don't know how much longer he has with us, but we are enjoying what we have. We won't let him get that bad again, now that we know there's nothing more we can do. We will let him go when the time is right for him, whenever that is.

At 21 years old if steroids are needed they can make the difference of a good quality of life for a while if there are limited options.

I remember my first renal failure cat at the end when I asked for a high energy food and the vet said it wasn't very good for her kidneys, and I said bluntly her kidneys are not working it's a little late to be protecting them, I just want her to be happy and comfortable for her final days. The vet agreed and gave me the food.

I am not suggesting giving up on your girl, only saying sometimes nasty chemicals are needed and offer great dividends, and that when our furry friends have run out of options there comes a time when we have to do right by them. I hope there will be something that gives your lovely girl a good quality of life for as long as possible.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:51 am

I agree to what you have said. The problem is that the steroids seems to have made my cat be more hungry and asking for food all the time but the food she actually eats is not that much. We always have to plead her to eat. Before the steroids though she wouldn’t eat almost at all. She is the fussiest cat I have even seen and it is my fault mainly. I just hope that today that the steroid injection ends she won’t become worse. Your cat though eats normally when on steroids so that is a bit different. She is always restless when on steroids walking around the house all the time.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Mollycat » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:23 am

Yes it is different, my cat was at death's door and we are not prepared to put him through tests only to find that either not much can be done, or treatment would be very invasive, and it is likely it would not extend his good life by much. It was just to illustrate that as much as we don't like some of the treatments available, sometimes they offer a net gain over the alternative even with their drawbacks, and also that sometimes despite our best efforts a cat can be just tired.

I agree though this is strange that your cat obviously wants to eat but struggles after a few mouthfuls. This would normally suggest issues with teeth or an abcess or difficulty swallowing, or for some reason feeling full prematurely. Does your cat bring up hairballs and has it been a little while since one came out? That could be filling up too much of her stomach maybe?

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:40 am

She never used to vomit hairballs until the last 2 years. Once in a while she does though but I do comb her fur regularly using furminator which is something she really enjoys :D The vet gave us a prescription for steroids today and said to try give her for 15 days. Prednisolone 5mg one pill per day. What does your cat take? It seems to me like a large dose for a cat.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by booktigger » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:57 am

It is normal to start at 5mg a day, then reduce to 2.5mg for longer term, with the aim to reduce to the lowest effective dose. I've only had one on long term steroids, we got down to half a tablet twice a week with her, any less and she didn't eat well.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by alanc » Thu Jul 18, 2019 2:51 pm

Many years ago I found haddock (grilled, steamed or boiled) persuaded my old girl Sally to start eating again. Gave her an extra 2 years.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Mollycat » Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:02 pm

Theonic wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:40 am
She never used to vomit hairballs until the last 2 years. Once in a while she does though but I do comb her fur regularly using furminator which is something she really enjoys :D The vet gave us a prescription for steroids today and said to try give her for 15 days. Prednisolone 5mg one pill per day. What does your cat take? It seems to me like a large dose for a cat.
There is something about hairballs ... since my girl has had radioiodine treatment she doesn't form furballs properly and there is some connection with a bile duct or gall bladder and liver bilirubin issue. I haven't figured it out yet but there is a link.

Mine is on 5mg a day too. It was supposed to be the starting dose and reduce by a half every 5 days but as someone on here pointed out to me the drop might be too sudden. As the tablets seem to be easier whole than half, we planned to reduce by one a week, then two a week and so on. But it turns out about once a week he doesn't take it because he manages to spit it out half dissolved (so we can't give it to him again and another whole one would be too much) and reducing any more than that his symptoms return faster. His symptoms are slowly coming back anyway, I am due to talk over his future with the vet tomorrow.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:03 pm

I haven’t tried the pills yet. I waited for a day to see how she goes. During the day she was okay and chasing us around to eat. She ate some pork chop and she seemed fine. Now that we returned home she seems a bit down although she came to the living room and climbed the couch to sit with us. She is just lying and she hasn’t asked for food yet. I will wait till tomorrow and see. The vet said to give her a pill a day for the first days and then give her one a day and one nothing. Eventually half a day. I am a bit confused about what you said about the hairballs and the liver

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:08 pm

alanc wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 2:51 pm
Many years ago I found haddock (grilled, steamed or boiled) persuaded my old girl Sally to start eating again. Gave her an extra 2 years.
I have tried fish but she won’t even try it. She always liked chicken breast but now she doesn’t. She only eats pork which is something she would never even try a year ago. I left her a piece of chicken breast under the bed she was hiding yesterday and it disappeared but when I gave her more she didn’t eat it. She tends to hide when we give her food sometimes and I must admit this is my fault cause she probably feels stressed by me. We leave it in the other room and she eats it. My husband says maybe she hides it so we think she ate it 😂

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Mollycat » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:46 pm

Theonic wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:03 pm
I am a bit confused about what you said about the hairballs and the liver
It used to be accepted that hairballs were bad and should be prevented and any hair the cat swallowed should come out the other end.

Now there is an argument (which I believe) that says hairballs are part of a cat's sophisticated digestive system and that this is the right way for swallowed hair to be eliminated, because if it balls up in the intestine it can cause a blockage, but storing it in the stomach until it forms enough to vomit up is safer. Remember this is evolution at work so best for survival wins. Also a cat can vomit many times in the days or weeks a furball is forming without ejecting any hair at all, so there is some way for them to keep it in.

Sometimes this is disrupted and the cat tends to bring up hairballs that are not fully formed, or they stop bringing them up altogether. I have noticed this every time my cats have had signs of liver or gall bladder problems, which has also caused yellow or pale brown or even green diarrhoea. I am certain this is not a coincidence and that bile released into the GI tract plays some role in forming hairballs. Multiple issues can be but are rarely unconnected. If your girl only started to produce furballs 2 years ago, I would suspect that whatever has led her to stop eating now could be something that has been brewing at low level since that time, something changed in her digestive system at that time or before. This doesn't help you find a cure but maybe it might help if she went to the vet at that time for anything, or if you noticed any other changes in her around that time?

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:34 am

My memory is really short term so I don’t remember. I am not sure as to whether to give her the pills today or wait for a day or two to see. Today she hasn’t eaten much but she seems okay. She has asked for food and she has eaten. Last night she seemed down but this morning she woke me up to eat. She doesn’t eat the dry food much. She is very old so I don’t expect her to be great all times. She has been like this the last years. Some days up some days down and over again. What would you do if it was your cat?

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by fjm » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:46 pm

I think if she were mine I would start the steroids at once. The less she eats the weaker she will become, and the less inclined to eat properly. Getting her to eat rather more before she gives up altogether may give her more energy, and get her back to enjoying eating once again.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Mollycat » Fri Jul 19, 2019 4:58 pm

Mine is now becoming a struggle to pill, so I spoke with my vet today. She said it's ok to dissolve the tablet in some nice tasting liquid. She also said cats tend not to get the bad side effects from steroids, the way dogs do.

I would do the same as fjm and start them straight away, Cat needed them when you went to the vet and they were prescribed and they can go downhill surprisingly quickly, so why take the risk? When cats don't eat or eat a drastically reduced amount they can get hepatic lipidosis, a very serious form of liver failure needing emergency vet care. This can happen in just a few days. Prevention is better than cure.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:24 pm

I will give her the pills tomorrow morning. The vet said to give them for 15 days to see how she goes and we will talk again. We will see what happens. What concerns me is that I know when they take steroids they shouldn’t be eating any food with salt. The pork she eats at the moment contains salt for sure and it seems the only thing she enjoys right now

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Lilith » Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:47 pm

Hi, bacon and ham contain salt because of curing etc - raw fresh pork doesn't, unless it's sold with a savoury coating or marinaded before cookery. I've just googled my local supermarket to make sure lol.

Right at the moment I'd let her eat whatever she wants, just to keep her going.

I've thought the same as Mollycat about furballs for a long time - how else do wild cats, with no owner to brush them, deal with ingested fur. A while back I did suggest that a lion's effort must look much the same as a draught-excluder ...imagine tripping over that on the veldt!

Fusses and all the best to the sweet girl.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:29 pm

No I didn’t mean that raw pork is salted. But the pork she likes eating is not cooked plain. She won’t eat it if it is cooked unsalted! She also eats ham sometimes as well. It is as you said it. I let her eat anything she wants cause I have no other choice at the moment. Tonight she hasn’t eaten anything unfortunately. Besides she only eats that little. She seems hungry but something keeps her back which seems really weird. First thing tomorrow morning I will give her the pill. I thought it would be better not to give it to her at night. I just hope the steroids boost her a bit. Now she seems worst than she was before the steroid injection.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Lilith » Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:36 pm

Aren't they awkward? I see your problem. But yes, I'd let her have whatever fills her belly. I once had a rescue kitten who was very weak but wanted to drink out of a pan of cold gravy when he'd refused all other food. I thought it was bad for him and wouldn't let him. He died. I learned later that the sodium might have saved him as he would have been dehydrated; he died because of my inexperience :cry:

They know what they want. As always, all the best.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Sat Jul 20, 2019 4:24 am

I noticed something in her mouth like a swelling that is exactly above on of her teeth. I mean the tooth actually touches her gum there (although it is not reddish there) and probably that is why it is like that. When I showed that to the vet he said that he doesn’t think she hurts there. But that would probably make sense why she constantly wants to eat but draws back. From what I know they give steroids for gingivitis so it will probably make it better hopefully. Another question I have don’t steroids make your cat hyperactive?

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Mollycat » Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:56 am

Ah looks like you could be on to something then!

Steroids help to perk them up. Mine certainly isn't hyperactive but a few days ago the dog got hold of one of the tablets - long story short I had put it on the side while I went to get the cat and it was gone. Now he was hyper! But when I spoke to the vet about my concerns for long term use and our options now that cat is fighting back hard she said cats don't tend to suffer side effects the way dogs do.

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Re: Elderly cat does not eat

Post by Theonic » Sat Jul 20, 2019 9:09 am

She is going to drive me crazy. She woke me up crying to eat. She just ate a few pieces of dry food. Then I went back to sleep. When I woke up she seemed hungry but she wouldn’t eat. I gave her the pill and the next second she was eating a bit again. The steroids acted so fast!!! (only kidding). Your story reminded me of mine. A year ago I was giving her some pills vitamins for her liver due to the problem she has. Those days I was taking some antibiotics. Abstract as I was I accidentally took one of her pills! Nothing happened to me though. I only got some vitamins extra😂

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