affection eating tips

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louisstools

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A college buddy passed away from brain cancer last Nov and I boarded her for 36 hours to attend the funeral. She didn't eat a single kibble or drink a lick of water. She just sat in a corner and peed on the blankets. They tried to play with her but she didn't want to. Luckily she was the only cat boarded that weekend.

I've been somewhat hesitant since then!
 
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louisstools

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The behaviorist I've been working with for a month and I had a conversation today. She said that we've seen brief glimpses that the cat is willing to change her feeding routine (she eats on her own while I shower and while I sleep) but the cat is reacting stronger than anticipated to keep the status quo.

It's not for certain the cat will adjust but it is at least POSSIBLE. The problem becomes the timeline. She said she's seen cases take a year or longer of daily work and struggle before the behavior is corrected. She then explained that she normally doesn't suggest this option but she is affiliated with a cat sanctuary that specializes in cats with behavior issues and that surrendering her to that organization could be an option over euthanasia. I don't like the idea of surrendering my fur baby but I need relief. I'm feeding her up to 18 times a day and each feeding is 10-20 minutes. I can't do anything.

What we're doing instead of just surrendering her is effective immediately I'm just going to dump food in the bowl and walk away. If she eats, she eats and ff she starves, she starves. We will see what happens over 3-5 days. We expect the amount she eats will drop radically but should remain high enough to avoid health issues. If it doesn't I will have to insert myself into a feeding or two. This might sound radical but if I surrendered her this is exactly what would happen and it's doubtful the sanctuary would get her to eat unless they resorted to a tube.

Hopefully my little girl cat figures things out quickly because if not I won't be able to care for her much longer.
 
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louisstools

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Thank you. One saving grace has been my co-workers. They're all pet people. One had to surrender a cat this year due to aggression with their toddler and the other has a special needs dog. They have really extended a lot of grace to me considering I'm away so long and so often to feed my girl. My last team didn't give a flying bleep about my situation and in 20 years of my career it was the only time I ever requested off an assignment.
 
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louisstools

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Edit: Any weights I use, like ounces/oz, are DRY weights by a scale. I do NOT use the typical units for dry cat food which is liquid ounces. There is no easy way to accurately convert dry ounces to liquid ounces as one measures weight and the other volume. For calorie computation, I stick to weight measurements because that is what Purina provides for calorie levels. They do not provide a way to compute calories using a volume measurement. Missy's 3 dry ounces is somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 cup, depending on kibble size and how it lays.

Our behaviorist wants to do a multi-day experiment and see how much Missy will eat in a day w/o me. I'm cool with that. I fired back a list of ten or so questions and we're pausing this a few days to hash our a plan. I don't think our behaviorist had been listening to my precise descriptions on what is going on b/c she seemed surprised things were as bad as they are OR I think she mistakenly thought the mirataz was making a big help when it's really just given me exactly ONE feeding in the mid-morning where the cat eats 0.4oz that she previously wasn't eating and enough hunger the cat will USUALLY but not always eat 0.2oz (but no more) overnight. All the other effort has been the same and the meals and amounts the same.

Some of the questions were related to how do we counter-attack the various defenses against eating Missy has? When she signals she wants to eat and walks toward the bowl but stops as soon as its visible...what do I do? Do I carry her the rest of the way, coax her along, or leave her there? She rarely walks to the actual bowl and based on the past year this behavior is not indicative of her hunger level in any way...some days she stops but then will eat a lot and other days she stops and won't eat no matter what.

Specifically with step by step details, how do I get food from the bag into her bowl? How much do I put in the bowl? She won't eat food that was previously offered so what do with that?

When we put food into her bowl, do we just dump and go or do we coax her to eat? She rarely just eats and needs to be enticed to eat with bowl swirling under her nose, picking the kibble up and dumping it in front her her multiple times (presumable puts more scent in the air), and me moving the kibble around with my fingers.

What do we do if she takes 3 bites and stops eating to go drink? She won't resume eating on her own without me restarting her. Do we just let her not eat? Do we pull the fountain up? Do I turn the fountain on to continous mode instead of cycling between pumping on and off? I normally do that when she eats b/c the change in pump will distract her enough to stop eating.

Where do I go when I walk away? Currently when I walk away I stand either a foot away right behind her or four feet away at the counter, depending on how brave she is that day. If I walk out of the room, where do I go? Am I to be silent? Currently when I walk away I try and be as silent and still as a corpse and do some breath control to not distract her. If I go out of the room and she follows me, what do I do? (Any sound or movement is enough to distract her and keep her from eating. Literally anything else is more interesting than eating food.)

What is the absolute bare minimum amount of kibble she needs to eat to sustain life? If we do this, is there an amount of kibble she needs to consume by say 5:00 PM or else we abandon the experiment for that day to get calories into her?

... and this is with the food she will eat. Wet food was a lot more effort to entice her to eat. Like I say, her default state is not interested in eating so to get her interested to eat requires a lot of strategy.

The behaviorist was thinking Missy could eat 2.0 like this but I was thinking closer to 1.3 and that's probably me being overly optimistic. Even in ~18 trips I don't see her eating much more than 1.3-1.5 without all the nonsense I have to do. But we shall see!
 
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That is so many challenging questions. ❣

Just one thought because it helped with Magnus. If it was silent a couldn't get away as easily and he would get distracted by every sound. If there was some music on for the day in the background, it was easier because we could move away and also he wasn't as sensitive to each noise. We basically just toss the radio on in the morning and leave it for the day.
 
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louisstools

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That's a good idea A Alldara ! I hadn't thought of cover noise. It's such a battle with my girl and even dear friends who are "crazy cat people" (like us) and have been with me through this are still amazed almost daily/weekly at how much of a fight Missy puts up against eating. As my one friend put it, in 40 years of owning cats the only time she's seen this was when a cat was near its end and was visibly declining and didn't want to eat. Missy isn't declining...she is just anti-food.

I don't know what will end up happening but I think I have an idea on where this adventure is going to wind up and it's not good. On June 1 I'm going to do a retrospective with my vet, the behavorist, and some friends and evaluate if we're seeing any progress and if so how much it's been. At that point it'll have been 3 months treating Missy for behavior problems and a year solid of trying to get her to eat somewhat normally. That's all I can give her if she isn't making any progress. My job is in jeopardy, I have no life, I can't even imagine a vacation, there is no point to any of this.
 

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Honestly I am also amazed. I know how frustrating this can be as I experienced it with Lily near her end of life. It's very frustrating, and rehabilitating on the owners life.

Hard she lost weight? Just brainstorming, but I wonder if it's some very odd or very rare health issue (for cats). If she's maintaining weight realitively well, but eating this low amount then her metabolism is slowing. Like perhaps some hypo-thyroid rather than hyper-thyroid. That's usually treated by giving thyroid hormone pills. (It's the opposite of the very common hyperthyroid)

Even if it didn't show on bloodwork, would you vet be willing to try that medication for her her? Just a low dose?
 

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I'm looking for tips to help break my cat's need for me to be near her and petting her and cheering her on when she eats. The only catch is it needs to work with free feedings. If there's one thing I learned from the past six months and all the diets we tried she does not like scheduled meals b/c she really only wants to eat a small amount of food each time. So the bowl needs to be down 24x7.

I'll keep a very small backstory - for more details see my mega thread. 10 year old 12.16lb girl cat, recently clean bill of health, for 9.5 years ate a free range diet of rx kibble. That changed 8 months ago when her brother got cancer and died. Spend this year trying a variety of food types and feeding schedules that didn't work b/c of health reasons or she revolted. I think we tried 5 combinations that failed. Finally the cat decided on June 1 she wanted to go back to the old diet of just rx kibble. That cleared up all her health issues and she's been doing really good and she's no longer "fighting" me with food.

Except she's free feeding and wants 11-16 feedings a day. Which would be fine if she wasn't an "affection eater" and wanted me next to her. This is not sustainable for me because I'm chained to her. She has always been needy and clingy and always wanted you to be with her when she ate but in the "way before times" she would eat just fine on her own. But for all of the diet changes -- we've had 5 or 6 this year -- I was next to her while she ate cheering her on and I think she's gotten used to it.

Right now, we're in a routine where I have to walk her to her bowl and stand next to her and "fluff" the bowl for her to eat. Sometimes she'll come get me to take her to her food bowl for a feeding. When we're on the couch watching tv she'll meow at me to go with her to the food bowl. However sometimes she'll get me to walk over to the bowl but won't eat and seemingly just wants to be petted (even though I pet her ALL day lol). I will add that she does eat some of her food over night and she has eaten her food when I'm gone and once last week I saw her go to the bowl and eat w/o me but I was in the same room as the bowl. So as far as I can tell she will eat on her own if she's hungry.

Yesterday, I started an experiment where I'll get her "started" on eating (coax/pet her to get her eating) and then walk away but maybe remain in the room with her. Sometimes she'll keep eating and other times she stops and then I'll just "restart" her and repeat. If she's particularly hungry I can leave the room -- breaking visuals -- for a minute and on one occasion she kept eating after she realized I wasn't there. I'm still cheering her on to help relax her even when I'm not next to her.

I'd like to break her of this habit and am just looking for some tips. Thanks in advance.
Your cat has you trained well! I hope I don't sound too harsh saying this, but it sounds like you're letting your cat rule your life when you have your own life to live. Why not make it a habit of giving cuddles on your terms, not hers? When she demands cuddles and praise while she eats, why not just ignore her? It seems hard to believe that she won't just eat eventually if she's hungry enough. Cats know how to manipulate people!

Honestly, it sounds like your cat is bored and your attention during mealtime is the highlight of her day. This is one of the problems with free feeding. Cats that are free fed are being made to go against their nature of hunt, catch, kill, eat, and thus not VALUING the food available to them by eating it all because they know that food isn't always available to them.

My hope is that the problem will go away if you combine tough love with engaging her in a hunt, catch, kill, eat play session just prior to fixed meal times each day.
 
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louisstools

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Her weight has been good but feeding her is basically what I do all day. If I let up and don't work at getting food into her it drops pretty rapidly b/c she 1) doesn't make as many trips to the food bowl and 2) eats significantly less at each trip she makes. She really does not eat on her own and that's our problem..
 

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Her weight has been good but feeding her is basically what I do all day. If I let up and don't work at getting food into her it drops pretty rapidly b/c she 1) doesn't make as many trips to the food bowl and 2) eats significantly less at each trip she makes. She really does not eat on her own and that's our problem..
It's like she's not feeling her own hunger.

I know you and your vet went through so many tests and trials.

If she doesn't do well without you asking your vet about the hypothyroid medication could be a last ditch effort.

Maybe the day away from you will be the step she needs. 🤞
 
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louisstools

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Your cat has you trained well! I hope I don't sound too harsh saying this, but it sounds like you're letting your cat rule your life when you have your own life to live. Why not make it a habit of giving cuddles on your terms, not hers? When she demands cuddles and praise while she eats, why not just ignore her? It seems hard to believe that she won't just eat eventually if she's hungry enough. Cats know how to manipulate people!

Honestly, it sounds like your cat is bored and your attention during mealtime is the highlight of her day. This is one of the problems with free feeding. Cats that are free fed are being made to go against their nature of hunt, catch, kill, eat, and thus not VALUING the food available to them by eating it all because they know that food isn't always available to them.

My hope is that the problem will go away if you combine tough love with engaging her in a hunt, catch, kill, eat play session just prior to fixed meal times each day.
She was on fixed meal times...we had four initially...but she only ate maybe 0.1-0.2oz (dry, on scale) at a whack. She just won't eat much in a single sitting no matter what the food is or how anything is done. We've tried tough love several times in the past and each time it didn't work and she just refused to eat and dropped weight fast. We're working with a behaviorist and in 6 weeks we've yet to see any progress. The behaviorist is concerned that this might take a year or more.
 
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It's like she's not feeling her own hunger.

I know you and your vet went through so many tests and trials.

If she doesn't do well without you asking your vet about the hypothyroid medication could be a last ditch effort.

Maybe the day away from you will be the step she needs. 🤞
I did board her for one day when I had to go away for a funeral...32 hours boarded and she didn't eat a single bite of kibble :(
And yes, I'll mention thyroid to the vet to double and triple check that.
 

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I did board her for one day when I had to go away for a funeral...32 hours boarded and she didn't eat a single bite of kibble :(
And yes, I'll mention thyroid to the vet to double and triple check that.
I'll send this along just in case. It is super rare but does happen. But, as you know from all your experiences and talking to others, you're dealing with a super rare case.

We've been hearing your journey from you and you have literally run your self ragged trying to avoid that ultimate poor decision. So if it does come to that, you know you've done all you can.
Thyroid Hormone Testing in Cats | VCA Canada Animal Hospitals(decreased%20thyroid%20function,result%20do%20not%20have%20hyperthyroidism.
 
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louisstools

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I'll send this along just in case. It is super rare but does happen. But, as you know from all your experiences and talking to others, you're dealing with a super rare case.

We've been hearing your journey from you and you have literally run your self ragged trying to avoid that ultimate poor decision. So if it does come to that, you know you've done all you can.
Thank you. Statements like that mean more than I could convey.
 

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Thank you :)

Just got word from the vet regarding the Texas A&M GI test. My girl does have some minor elevated levels which is indicating some GI distress but not enough to say its IBD or any other gut issue. She thinks this could be causing some combination of pain and/or nausea which is why the cat wasn't wanting to eat. But the main thing is we now have something clinical where in the past we didn't!

She wants to do a probiotic to help get the gut bacteria back on track. There may be other medicine in the future but it is too early to tell right now. She's not sure if mirataz is the right thing long term given this blood work but doesn't want to change anything right now because we now have a cat that wants to eat and we're about alter the cat's food with the probiotic. IBD, diabetes, or a pancreas issue could be in her future but its too early to tell.
Hello, I know your post is from last year, but do you remember how many days it took to get the results from your G.I. panel blood test? My cat had those G.I. labs done last week and the vet still hasn't received the results. My cat is so sick and the waiting is stressing me. Hope your kitty is doing well. Thanks!
 
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Hello, I know your post is from last year, but do you remember how many days it took to get the results from your G.I. panel blood test? My cat had those G.I. labs done last week and the vet still hasn't received the results. My cat is so sick and the waiting is stressing me. Hope your kitty is doing well. Thanks!
The post is a year old but these replies are much newer :)

The lab took a bit longer than a week.
 
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