Finicky cat with new cancer diagnosis now eating even less

pennywise

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Hello everyone.  I wasn't sure if I should post this here or in the nutrition forum, so please feel free to move it, if you deem it appropriate.

My little cat has always been a picky eater, but recently, we noticed that she lost some weight as well as a bit of her appetite, so we brought her to the vet.

After bloodwork, X-ray, and ultrasound, we were told she had a tumor in her abdomen, and she was diagnosed with carcinomatosis.  We were told a biopsy could be performed to determine the origin of the tumor, however it would not impact treatment, so we passed on the extra stress/pain for the kitty.  She was started on prednisolone 5 mg twice a day and mirtazapine every third day (I cannot recall the dose).  We were told to bring her home and spoil her rotten, which would have been an easy order for our other cat, who will eat just about anything, but we've been finding it a little more tricky with the little one.

To be clear, I only call her my little one because she's always been smaller than her 'sister.'  She's a 14 year old tabby, who's pretty much just bones, belly, and fur.  She still likes to cuddle though, still purrs, still holds her tail hight when she walks, and still sits in my lap for hours.

So the medication seems to be working - her appetite has rebounded some.  However other times, she looks like she's hungry, will sniff her plate, then walk away.  Maybe the medication has affected her sense of taste?  We're kind of at our wits end with trying to find a food she enjoys, or really just any food that she'll eat consistently.  Prior to her diagnosis, she liked Fancy Feast Gravy Lovers or Marinated Morsels (seafood flavors only), and Meow Mix Souffles.  Since she's been sick, we've tried an exhausting array of different foods:   Different flavors (Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Seafood), different textures (Pate, etc), different brands (Friskies, Iams, NutroMax, Great Choice (Petsmart brand), Sheba, Whiskas), Hills Prescription a/d formula, and even Gerber baby food (Beef, Chicken, Turkey, and Ham - where the only ingredients are meat, water, and cornstarch).  All with varying degrees of success.  (It's a good thing her sister's nickname is Garbage Can).

I would love to find the one food that she absolutely can't resist.  Can anyone suggest something that we haven't tried?  Maybe something that you've used in the past with success?  

After reading reviews on the Hills Prescription diet, we were so hopeful, and after she devoured it the first time, even more so, but subsequent feedings have been less successful.  We tried heating the food up for a few seconds in the microwave, and then also trying straight out of the fridge, as well as room temperature.  There's also really been no difference between a new can and leftovers.

Also, we don't pill her at the same time as we feed her, for fear that the stress of medicating her was spilling over into dinner time.

Thank you in advance for any advice you can give!
 

momofmaxwell

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Hi Pennywise.I personally have dealt with many forms of cancer with my babes.Just wondering how a diagnosis was made without a biopsy which is so crucial?Are you dealing with an Internist,oncologist of just your vet? I understand at her age you don't want to traumatize her any more than you have to.So I'm assuming on an ultrasound or something this assumption of this form of cancer was given to you.

I see you are giving mirtzapine which most vets give for an appetite stimulant.But no anti nausea meds.A cat does not have to be vomiting to be nauseaus.your explanation of coming up to the bowl s,sniffing & walking away are very classic signs of nausea.nausea meds should always been given first before ever an appetite stimulant.Otherwise you can get a learned food aversion.

Ondanestron is my choice for nausea with cats.Cerenia can help but is more for vomitting.Ondanestron is a human drug used for chemo patients with nausea.It is available by script from your vet and you take the script to a human pharmacy & have it filled.4mg tablets.usual dosing is 1/4 tab once or twice per day.

As for a food that your cat will eat.Nothing until the nausea is addressed.I once had 18 different flavors of catfood here trying to get my Maxwell to even get a lick.mitrzapine BTW we call meowszapine.if you notice your kitty becoming very vocal or disoriented.Or restless it is because of this drug.Seritonin syndrome can also happen.You can google it.The only antidote for seritonin syndrome is Ondanestron.Many groups i belong to recommend having Ond there just in case but most members i know do not use mirt.But rather cyproheptadine.A human antihistamine used for feline care for yrs.here in Canada it is available over the counter.The us it may be different.

So until your kitties nausea has been addressed there is no simple answer as to what foods.You try everything.i tried everything.you syringe feed if need be or the liver will shut down within 2-3 days.lack of proper calorie intake will cause dehydration major.So fluids may have to be introduced.I will give you a couple of links tht you can read.Groups i recommend personally to help you help your kitty.

First is the assisted feeding group @ yahoo.they will help give you ideas of how to get food into your kitty.They re well aware of meds for nausea & dosing & how to obtain them.They  deal with kitties all over the world.Food is life now.But nausea has to be treated.Sorry I forgot in your post if you said your kitty was on prednisolone?

Their group link and if you do not belong to yahoo you will have to join.it is not hard.free & easy

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Feline-Assisted-Feeding/info

Next are two cancer groups.One being the lymphoma group with an Internist Dr.Jory who volunteers precious time to answer questions about all types of cancers in kitties.Pls make your posting bold and att: him.Their link is

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/feline_lymphoma/info

The other cancer groups who deals with oscc cancer.& other cancers but no Dr.Jory is

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/FELINE-CANCER/info

Please join & ask the assisted feeding group about addressing the inappetance.That is what they do & will help you.Food is life now & any food.Dr.Jory will be well aware of that form of cancer & how they came up with that diagnosis as well as time etc.He knows every cancer there is .

High calorie foods like Wellness Core grain free canned is over 200 calories per can.Hills A/D vet food canned 180 calories some kitties take to it right away.Vet's have it.

To give you an idea cats weighing approx 10lbs eat on average approx 180 calories per day.With a sick kitty like my Maxwell he was getting approx 350-400 calories per day syringe feeding him.Some do go the feeding tube route if kitties won't eat 7 can be a lifesaver 7 not so scary as we all think.The faf group is well aware of those too.

Also pay good attention to Bowel movements you are receiving as some meds can be constipating.A really constipated cat will not want to eat.All pees.All being pertinent information.I'm sorry you are going through this.i can relate.All he emotions that go with it.thus the reason I belong to so many groups.But IMO  the cancer groups and eating group si by far superior.That is all they deal with.They have yrs of knowledge of also kitties dealing with every cancer out here & yes food is a problem.BTW when pilling your cat always give after the pill at least 3-5mlof room temp bottled water.very carefully syringed.A cat's esophagus is roughly 6-7" long and pills just love to lay in there causing all kinds of things.Eroding the esophagus.Never dry pill a cat.Even giving a treat after if your kitty will eat it will help move it down.

They can truly help you.Please if you join make your postings to these groups large nxew member cat diagnosed with??? need help OK? Hus Honey during this very trying time. C.
 

mrsgreenjeens

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I agree that it sounds like your little one may be nauseated.  I've got the same issue with my little one (she's a kidney cat).  My girl IS on mirtazapine (no issues), but also Pepcid A/C for the nausea, which is usually enough for her.  Maybe because her issue is kidney related vs cancer and with kidneys it's usually a matter of over acidity in the tummy.  Anyway, I would definitely discuss with your Vet about an anti-emetic.

As to foods, when you say Iams, have you tried all their different types.  I just discovered Iams Purrfect Delights, and my picky eater has recently gone nuts for those.  Don't know how long this ride will last, but I'm enjoying it.  she's gone from eating maybe 3 oz per day to almost 6 oz per day!!!!!  She also went crazy for Merrick Surf and Turf ...ate so much that now she hates it.  Merrick Beef Pate, Red Barn)that's a brand), Pinnacle, Earthborn,.  My girl won't eat baby food at all 
.  Wellness Core Beef, Venison and Lamb only...no other flavors.  But as you probably know...every cat is different.  My other two cats LOVE Nutro Natural Choice Chunky Chicken, and my picky girl won't even come near it 
    There are also some nutritionally complete cat milks out there, if she likes to drink. I use them on occasion to add to her food just to add in more calories.  I'm guessing it changes the flavor a little too.  

Have you tried using toppers?  Forti-Flora is a favorite of most cats.  I've used it with success on and off.   Also, crushed treats works.  parmesan cheese from the green can usually works, tuna juice (sparingly)

Oh yes, I agree that she could also be constipated.  We also have that issue with our girl.  If it's not one thing, it's the other.  And, yes, the meds often cause this.  Miralax is a wonderful thing, not only for humans, but for cats too.  Of course, you need to get it into her.  I give my girl 1/8 to 1/4 teas. dissolved into about 1/2  - 1 teas. water, then mixed into just a teeny amount of food or tuna juice to make sure she gets it.  THEN I try to feed her.  Getting her miralax is of utmost importance.  We do this on a daily basis, but again, my girl has kidney disease, which is very dehydrating already. But with an abdominal tumor, your girl could have issues in this department as well even without medication


 
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pennywise

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Thank you for the wonderful and quick replies!  (I'm sorry I couldn't post sooner, but with work and volunteering and warm lap cuddle duty, you just run out of hours)

@MomofMaxwell  , our vet gave us a script for Cerenia, but I will definitely ask her for the ondanestron (I can never remember how to spell that word!).  And thank you for the addresses for the support groups.  I need to check them out.  So yes, kitty is on prednisolone 5 mg twice a day.  We have been checking her litter box and she is most definitely peeing and pooping.  She also drinks like a maniac, but I'm guessing that's also a side effect of the steroids.

I will pick up a few cans of Wellness, and hopefully we can find her a flavor that she likes.

And thank you for the instructions on (correctly) pilling her, because she is just not an easy cat to pill!  It takes two of us, and sometimes I wish we had a third.  Two adults, and one 7 pound kitty is kicking our butts - its unbelievable!

@mrsgreenjeens  thank you for all of your suggestions for different foods for her to try!  I feel like I should print out this thread and take it with me to the pet store (which is exactly where I'm heading as soon as I'm done typing) :)  I've never thought about toppers, and really didn't even know they existed, so I will definitely look into those!
 
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momofmaxwell

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HI Pennywise.

You may find that cerenia will help your baby.You will not know until you try it.It is used highly in veterinary care.it also comes in injectable form as well.At this point any food is a must.I once had 18 flavors of every catfood imaginable to try to entice Maxwell.I always bought two of each just in case I hit on one I had another.My boy was on Pred as well and I did not notice any excessive drinking of water.Your kitty obviously feels she needs it.Dehyration kicks in so fast which not enough food.If you still get the same response to your kitty walking up to the food sniffing & walking away with being on cerenia for say two days then I would recommend you join the assisted feeding group.It is unlikely your vet will know of ondanestron & the faf group will give you links that you can print off & take to your vet to discuss.Also they have tip,tricks of the trade of how to get food into a kitty.Babyfood if a kitty doesn't like it which some don't you can take canned food a kitty eats throw it in a blender & whip it up and add meds into that as well.Doesn't have to be Bf.Just my Maxwell liked it.Bonito flakes are another topper you'll find at an Asian store to top food.Dehydrated chicken from say petsmart or petstore entices some as well.But nausea has to be addressed otherwise  to them when they smell it & it wants to make them gag.Just like us if we were really sick in the tummy, food the thought ,may want us to gag.When pilling Maxwell depending on what it was i used to take a pce of a pill pocket from Petsmart.Its like dough.I would just take pce of the dough and wrap the pill in it & down the hatch.Then followed by a 5cc syringe of room temp bottled water.very slowly & carefully.You can also use empty gel caps which are like what contact C are in.they come in many sizes and also have vegetarian ones.www.thrivingpets.com is one place.Then you take the pce of pill put in into a gel cap & pill that way.Works great for very bitter pills or pills that are broken up into bits & too hard to pill.00 being the largest size which is like a horse pill I call it then as the numbers go up they get smaller in size.Your healthfood store will have some as well.But also cheaper online.I used Pepcid ac as well for my boy on occasion.It helps stop excess tummy acid from forming.1/4 of a10mg tablet which is extremely bitter, late at a night after all meals before bed.But you have to run all  this by your veterinarian for the ok.I am not vet & just sharing what I have done.I always talked with my specialist about everything before introducing anything into my boy.Even miralax.She had to tell me ok before i went with anything some one said on an online groups.So you need to have someone you can talk to & exchange ideas with.Your vet.Hopefully you have that as they are hard to find these days.I had many then screamed to see an Internist & never looked back.Hugs C.
 
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momofmaxwell

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Hi PennyWise,Hope you had a good day getting fudz & stuff for your baby.Can you contact  me privately when you have time? My Trixie also had abdominal tumor & i wanted to talk to you about what I found as per symptology etc.If you get time.hugs C
 
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pennywise

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Thank you for all of the wonderful suggestions!  It's nice to know there are lots of options.  And I think we're still early on in the process (at least I hope so), so we have many avenues to exhaust before we must face that final decision.

I've been to two pet stores and a supermarket, and have picked up just about every brand and flavor I could get my hands on (or that's how it feels).  She is killing the Wellness Core (for now).  I bought every flavor they had, so far she has only tried the beef, venison and lamb formula.  I stopped by the Vet, and one of the techs recommended Greenies Pill Pockets.  I thought it had worked, and was so happy and relaxed, until I looked in her food dish and found she had spit the pill back up.  This cat is giving me grey hairs!

So I also picked up shaved tuna (as a topper), and 4 different brands of cat milk.  She seems to have taken to Fancy Feast Broths.  It seems she really enjoys drinking, well, the broth.  So after I pill her (I crush the pill, mix it with a little water, and draw it up in a syringe), then she gets to drink as much broth as she'd like. 

I don't know if the steroids have kicked in and given her an appetite, but she seems to be eating better of late (I hope I didn't jinx us).  Or maybe we just have a better variety of food for her.  At each mealtime, she gets at least 3 different foods on her plate, so she can eat whichever tickles her fancy that day.

I hear you on the 18 flavors of cat food.  Between the desperation to get her to eat, mixed with a little OCD, I feel absolutely manic in the stores, and buy like I'm prepping for the apocalypse.  My cupboards are bursting with a ridiculous variety of cat food!  I hope she lives long enough to eat all of it, otherwise my local shelter is going to get one heck of a donation!
 
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