Feeding a cat with Megaesophagus

bettyandboys

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Hi! I have a kitty with megaesophagus. She was diagnosed 3 years ago and she'll be 10 next April. She is doing amazing!! In fact it is as if I got a brand new kitty 3 years ago. Her zest for life is beautiful to watch. She's cuddling with me right now as I post this and makiing muffins on my side!!

Anyhow...after doing an endoscopy, the Internal Specialist I saw, knew right away it was megaesophagus. We have her on wet food only, Wellness chicken. I built a table 4 inches off the ground so that she is level when she eats and the food can go down better. She takes 1/4 tablet of antacid, .05 cc of metaclopromide every day and .05 cc  prednisone every other day. I mix her meds in with some solid gold tuna and she gobbles it up.

I hope this helps! If I can support you by answering any other questions regarding living with a kitty who has megaesophagus, please feel free to reach out. I know it can be disheartening but with the right meds, you can have years with your kitty. These meds are only, maybe $20 every few months so they aren't expensive.

Occasionally she will regurgitate but that is just part of having a kitty with this condition. If she starts doing it frequently, then I just do the prednisone every day for about 5 days and then she's fine. My main goal is her quality of life.

Peace!
 
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runekeeper

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Thanks very much for your input, bettyandboys! I'm also so glad to hear that your kitty is doing so well - I was under the impression that megaesophagus was a bit of a death sentence and that care was strictly supportive. But my kitty somehow managed to get better - I have no idea how, but she did. She seems to have a little trouble with dry kibbles, but I give her all wet food now (Fancy Feast kitten formula and Meow Mix Pate Platters, along with baby food) and I usually mix it with a few spoonfuls of warm water and she keeps it down great. In fact, ever since she began eating normally again, she has not thrown up once. Not even a hairball.And once I get goat's milk, I'll be giving that to her too. I wonder if I could mix the milk with her dry kibbles until they're softened (like soggy cereal, almost) and then let her eat that. Kitten food puts weight on her better even than A/D canned food, and if I could find a way to let her eat her Kitten Chow again (which she loves), then I'd like to try it. She's definitely gained some weight since I started giving her the canned kitten food.
 

minka

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I wonder if I could mix the milk with her dry kibbles until they're softened (like soggy cereal, almost) and then let her eat that. Kitten food puts weight on her better even than A/D canned food, and if I could find a way to let her eat her Kitten Chow again (which she loves), then I'd like to try it. She's definitely gained some weight since I started giving her the canned kitten food.
I see no need to try to give her dry again. It might have helped her gain weight in the past, but it's also full of carbs and harder to digest. I would just try giving her strips of plain chicken breast or some other meat.
:nod:
 

mrsgreenjeens

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Rune, I 'm so glad she's still doing well
(other than the random peeing outside the box that you've reported in your other thread). 

And Betty, WONDERFUL news about your kitty!  THREE years!  That's fantastic.
Here's hoping for many, many more!
 

bettyandboys

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Thank you for wishing me well with my kitty cat, Betty! She is a dream and I feel so fortunate that I could help her!

I don't think megaesophagus is a death sentence, it can be managed quite well. I am so happy to help and provide information for what has worked for us. So far so good!

We also get bloodwork done every 6 months to make sure she is doing okay, especially since she is on the prednisone. Her bloodwork is always impeccable. I'm very grateful!!

Happy Holidays everyone! Meowy Christmas!!!
 

tabby vos

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So happy your cat is doing well!  My 20 year old Siamese just got diagnosed today and he's had a heck of a time throwing up . He's lost 4lb in 5 months, so I'm happy to finally find out what was going on (we were managing it with Cerexa but it just stopped working a few weeks ago). 

I'm glad that it can be managed... I was thinking it was a death sentence as well.  Any tips you could pass on would be welcome as I try to figure out how to deal with this for him.  I read the elevated surface suggestion.  He's 20 and free-feeds, so feeding him twice a day when I'm around to hold him up will be an adjustment.  Is wet food better or dry?  He's always been on dry, but I'm willing to try something else if it will go down easier.

Thanks,

Tabby
 
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runekeeper

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Wow, this certainly is an old topic, yes? I'm not sure if you aimed your comment at me or bettyandboys, Tabby Vos, but unfortunately, my girl kitty had to be put down on December 29th. I think I stopped updating this particular topic because she was found to not actually have megaesophagus. She had a stricture in her esophagus (never found the cause of it) and she had some kind of miraculous recovery from it. Normally, regular balloon catheter dilation is the only treatment for a stricture, but since there was no way to tell what was causing Caspurr's issues, I declined to have it done. The risk of complications was too high, especially given her age and state of health. She got better on her own from the stricture and for a couple weeks, she was able to eat some watered down pate with a normal appetite. Not like slurry watered down, but just so it wasn't so thick, almost like porridge, as I think she still had some issues swallowing. What ultimately made her go downhill may have been the tumor in her lung, or for all I know, it could have been complications from the UTI she developed in her last couple days. While her recovery from the stricture I think is a highly unusual outcome, she did get better from that. Just not from her cancer.

Megaesophagus, from what I learned here and on my own, means the esophagus either expands or loses the muscle control needed to push food into the stomach. Something I recall in regard to feeding is to hold the cat upright after he or she eats to allow gravity to guide the food past the esophagus. I think wet food would be a better choice for a cat with this condition just because there's less of a chance of it getting stuck. I don't know if having an elevated food bowl will help since the issue isn't with bending down. I think that's usually a suggestion offered when kitties are nauseous, as leaning down like normal might make it hard for them to eat. But if it works for your kitty, I'd say leave out dry food for grazing and feed him wet food as much as you can, however much he can keep down. Also, meat baby food is good too. Kitties with digestive disorders and abnormalities need their food to be as calorie dense as possible, and meat baby food is nothing but pureed meat and water/broth (and maybe cornstarch). So it's pure protein, which is always good. Plus it's already nice and smooth for easy travels from the mouth to the stomach. It smells bloody horrible, but my cats loved it.

Best of luck to you and your kitty! At 20, he sounds like he's got a wonderful human.  :)
 

catspaw66

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Oh, so sorry to hear about Caspurr not making it.  My Bear
had to be euthanized for a tumor in her esophagus.
 
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runekeeper

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I'm sorry to hear about Bear. Issues with the kitty esophagus seem to be really difficult because it's an area that's difficult to operate on that seems to heal rather poorly too. I got Caspurr an endoscopy to see what was causing the stricture and there was nothing in her throat at all, so the vet concluded that she must have a tumor on the outside of her esophagus that's causing the narrowing. Well obviously that wasn't the cause because it went away! And I saw the lung mass on her CAT scan, it was near the bottom of the lung on the inside, so that wouldn't have been the cause. I guess in my girl's case, the stricture was idiopathic, which is the strangest thing.

But my Caspurr was always a strange kitty, so I guess it's only natural for her to become ill with strange conditions that heal in totally unexpected ways. A unique little fuzzy, right until the end.
 

catspaw66

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Thank you. My Fuzzy Bear
- her full name - crossed the bridge 4 years ago at the age of 17. I still miss her quite a bit.  She was PTS in my arms, and is no longer in pain.  She and Psy and Caspurr are frolicking it the eternal sunshine together.
 

simbalicious

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My kitty, Simba, is just 5 months old and he has been through so much! He started to act funny after feedings and then the vomiting started. Before I knew it, the vet visits were every second day and even after surgery to his stomach it seems the mega E is still present. He had surgery a week ago and so far he hasn't vomited, he is having a lot of trouble breathing during feeding. I am trying my best to elevate him during feedings but he doesn't want to be held because he gets uncomfortable. I'm interested in a 'bailey's chair' for cats. Does anyone have a link that shows me how to make one? Thank you in advance! This website has really given me hope
 

mucho

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I found out recently my 14-year-old cat has megaesophagus (or that's what the vet is suggesting - they didn't know for sure). This seems to be a rare condition in cats. I have to ask....is this a death sentence for my poor cat? She's racked up quite a bill already and surgery for both the esophageal problem and a lung mass that was found recently would be no lower than $5000. I've already spent about $2000 on other various tests. I don't mean to make it sound like I'm putting a price on my cat's life, but I have no job and I can't afford such expensive bills. I've been using student loan money to pay for her current care. I don't even know yet if I want to have the lung mass removed since it doesn't seem to be causing any issues (and to be honest, I would draw the line at chemo if it turned out to be cancer). But my short term concern is getting food in her belly. I've been feeding her very watered-down wet food, and the vet sent me home with a few cans of Hill's Science Diet A/D and told me to water it down a lot, feed her for about 1 minute, then hold her upright for about 15 minutes. This worked earlier today, but not the second time. Basically, I do not want for my cat to suffer two surgeries - one of which is invasive - with the possibility that she may not wake up from the anesthesia. I want her to live, but I don't know if the surgery would do more harm than good. I don't want her to starve either - I'm definitely willing to feed her a liquid diet, but sometimes even diluted food does not stay down. Anyone who knows more about nourishing a cat with this condition, can you offer any guidance? Is it possible to get a cat to live a bit longer with a proper diet? What can I do to help keep her fed and control the regurgitation? And, upsetting as it is, should I consider putting my cat down? Aside from the vomiting, Kitty is still very much alert, moves around, cleans herself, etc. She's not at full power, but she still has spirit, which is why I don't want to think about euthanasia unless she's beyond help. But I also don't want her to suffer and waste away.
 

mucho

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Feed your kitty every 2 hrs the extra water helps with hydrating,my bengal that's 14 gets like that sometimes,he had pancretitis,.you have to get food in them of the liver will act up,steroids help too ,warm the food about 2 teaspoons every 2 hrs and lots of patience,I fed mucho off my finger,there is a liver diet one that is good for Older cats too,I been doing it for mucho off and and on for almost 3 yrs
 

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You have probably figured it out by now, but if not, it's important to elevate their food and water dishes, and to feed them watered down pate style food.  If it doesn't come in pate style, I use a mini-food processor to grind it more finely, then add enough water so that it's soupy - sort of like mushroom soup.  If she doesn't like the food, I don't argue - she's the authority on this one.  The only way I feed her any dry food is if it's soaked in water, and even then a limited amount.  Smaller meals, more often.  Mine won't tolerate being held upright for 15", but I try to either "stretch" her for a minute or to put her against me with her paws on my shoulders.  It seems to help.  If she's feeling nauseated, metoclopramide helps - mine will take it in her food.
 

dodieleigh3

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Hey and I know you lost your kitty some time ago.  I had to put my Big Boy down this past Friday.  He was an outside cat and was 12.  He had what your kitty had, the vet said pneumonia but I knew something else was causing him to regurate which I know he was slowly starving to death. I did what I could to feed him, broth, tuna, anything that I felt would help him get strength but even water at times he regurated up.  Just wanted you to know what a blessing your words were to me during this very hard time.  Had him since his birth and he was neutered so he was home also especially as he got older.  Thank you once again for your words even though they were years ago they truly helped me in a time that was much needed.
 

catmomdo

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Catmomdo -

Your methods (and approach) are very similar to mine.  In case anyone else with a cat who has megaesophagus finds this site, I'll give some detail, since it's a rare disorder in cats.  I have a 16 year old cat with megaesophagus (her esophagus is very distended, as is her stomach - she takes in a lot of air when she eats) and severe kidney disease.  Ideally, she would be eating low protein, low phosphorous kidney diet food, but she won't eat it - occasionally I can mix it with something more palatable and she'll tolerate it, but at this point, she's the boss - whatever she'll eat is OK with me, because she's too thin for me to get stubborn about "quality food".  She doesn't like most of the premium foods, almost all of which I have tried (most are high in protein, which is not good for kidney disease, so they're not great for her anyway).  She will eat some Fancy Feast, some Proplan, Friskie's Special Diet (the only Friskie's that is sort of OK for some of her dietary needs, and it's either pate or soft); I rotate some others, mostly premium foods, because she likes variety.  I either get pates, or something close to it (e.g., FF classic) or try to puree her food in a mini-chopper.  If the food is hard, it doesn't pate, but the pieces are smaller, and I add enough water to make it like a thick soup.  

She eats smaller, more frequent meals, on an elevated food platform (store-bought), with reserves of foods that seem to be soothing to her tummy (Proplan chicken/turkey with rice).  If she is ravenous, I try to soothe her to slow down her eating so that it stays down.  Because she swallows so much air, she gurgles a lot after eating, and is in danger of vomiting if I don't pick her up and gently "burp" her like a baby, and/or "stretch" her a couple of times, and try to hold her upright for a bit in my arms or put her paws on my shoulder (she won't tolerate it for long, but even a little bit helps).  If she starts to make sounds like she's going to vomit when I'm around, I immediately pick her up and stretch her - this usually prevents it.

Metoclopramide helps when she doesn't feel like eating because she's nauseous (from the kidney wastes), and it also helps to keep her from vomiting.  If she's not already too nauseous, she'll take it in her food, but if the food doesn't smell good to her, I have to squirt it in her mouth (from the side so that it doesn't go down the wrong way), and she'll feel like eating in 10-15 minutes.  I also give her 2.5 mg of famotidine to soothe her stomach (Pepcid - a 10 mg tab cut into 4 pieces) when I can (ground up in a pill grinder and mixed in with food - Walgreen's carries them) - she was voluntarily taking them wrapped in a thin layer of gjetost (a carmel-like Norwegian cheese) in some room temp butter, because she loves the butter.  I felt that it was safer to have her take the pill herself because she will fight me otherwise, and it could go down the wrong way.  

I also mix in about 1/32 tsp of Naturvet Digestive Enzymes, dissolved in water, with every meal (bought a set of very small measuring spoons for measuring a "smidge" and other vague recipe amounts - this is consistent with the amount she should get for her meal sizes).  To try to heal her esophagus and digestive tract (she has had a sensitive stomach all of her life), I also add a very small amount of omeprazole (about 1/8 pill) most days, but not at the same time that she takes famotidine, and sometimes just one or the other.  Occasionally I give her powdered vitamins (Life Extension Foundation's multi's for cats).  Because of her kidney disease, she also gets hydrated with Ringer's Lactate daily, which perks her up (sort of like kitty dialysis).  

My main aims are to keep her weight stable, to minimize the vomiting (both for her weight and because it can go down the wrong way and cause aspiration pneumonia), and to make her feel good.  She loves to be brushed (first with a 'gummy' type thing that stirs up loose hair, and massages her, then with a comb), and I think it helps her spirits to look good.  She, and my vets, have been my teachers.  She survived a very serious bout of pneumonia about a year ago, which is when I discovered that she had megaesophagus, and that her kidney condition had worsened (pneumonia required other meds and care).  

This sounds like a lot of trouble, but after you get the routine down, it's not difficult, and the ups and downs are less stressful.  I also found a scoop/cleaner that makes cleaning up vomit, when it does happen, much easier and cleaner (BISSELL 12V7 All-in-1 Pet Stain Tool, on Amazon).  So far, she's still in pretty good spirits - not quite 100%, but definitely herself.  So take heart - it is manageable.
 

golden13

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My 8 month bengal kitten was just diagnosed with Megaesophagus, I love her to death but with 2 dogs, small children, wondering can this be done. Mad at the breeder right now right from the beginning she never ate well and now with her getting sick and food changes I finally know she only weights 6 pounds. What am I expecting for the rest of her life, I tried holding her upright after she ate a bit she hated it. Help please any ideas
 

mrsgreenjeens

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My 8 month bengal kitten was just diagnosed with Megaesophagus, I love her to death but with 2 dogs, small children, wondering can this be done. Mad at the breeder right now right from the beginning she never ate well and now with her getting sick and food changes I finally know she only weights 6 pounds. What am I expecting for the rest of her life, I tried holding her upright after she ate a bit she hated it. Help please any ideas
Other than trying the different medications mentioned above, and getting really creative and trying to build some sort of bailey's chair for a cat, I don't know of anything to do.  My understanding is that the bailey's chairs are pretty effective for dogs, so if you can figure out a way to teach your kitten to use one, it might just do the trick.  The key is to keep him upright for about 1/2 hour AFTER he eats, isn't it.  
 

patsy2567

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Has she been checked for myasthenia gravis?  That was what we finally found with my cat.  She was treated with Mestinon, and 2 1/2 years later is doing well.  Though she is still "gurgly", she swallows easily now and is a happy girl who just passed her recent physical with flying colors (age 12).  I hope you can find a doctor who can order the test for you, and has some experience along this line.  If you are in Los Angeles, Dr Sheila Carrera-Justiz is wonderful, a veterinary neurologist.  If not, perhaps your doctor can call and confer with her. 

Best wishes to both of you. 

Eileen in West LA. 

(BTW: if diagnosis is made, the Mestinon treatment is fairly inexpensive.)
 

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About 18 years ago we unknowingly adopted a puppy with this condition, also reading it was death sentence for a large number of dogs.. My wife and I decided we would keep her and provide the best care possible. We fed her canned food making small Swedish meatball sized balls. Initially we held her feeding her  each meatball individually and then held her for 15 minutes after to ensure that gravity allowed the balls to enter her stomach avoiding the pocket in her esophagus. We did this several times daily feeding small meals. She would regurgitate about 1 x a day but she held most of her food. We went to very good vet who started her on a medication (forgot name) that assisted with intestinal motility.   She stopped vomiting or rarely did after that.Then my mother-in- law came with her dog and feed her dog on the floor, my dog ate the food. I held my breath, no regurgitation. We then decider to feed her on a step stool from a bowl. She did well,  and lived to be a feisty 14 years old. I laugh now how I searched for the perfect consistently in canned food to make a meatball.  Try what you can.

Jamie
 
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