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Finicky eater -at my wit's end

Discussion in 'Cat Health' started by dawnie42, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

    35
    2
    May 16, 2014
    Hi all.  I haven't posted here (but read often) since I rescued my semi-feral two years ago.  I got such good advice then, I'm hoping someone can help me with a new problem.  This one involves my 15 year old female Remy.  

    Several months ago she started getting very picky about what she would eat.  She gradually stopped eating dry food (though she had a few different choices) and would only eat wet food.  (I should mention this is not a teeth problem, she eats crunchy treats.)  She would eat one particular kind for a week or so and then refuse it.  I would go through a few cans to find something she wanted and she would eat that for a week or so and then back to opening cans until I found something she liked.  Over the last few months this got down to every few days and now we're at maybe a day and a half.  If I'm really lucky I'll find something with the first can I open.  More often it takes 2 - 4 cans.  This is not because she is not hungry.  She will be there meowing for me to feed her but turn her nose up until I find the right thing.  Also she will eat chicken flavored treats (and only chicken) and turkey lunch meat any time.  I try to limit this to once a day.  

    Things got worse about three weeks ago when I fell and fractured my arm and then had to have surgery on it.  So I was at home with her all the time.  Some days she would only eat about a spoon full of food at a time so I was trying to get her to eat every hour.  Other days she eat normally.  And we were still going through the day and a half limit on what she would eat.  I was very stressed out trying to rest myself and worried sick about her eating.  I don't know if she picked up on my stress and the change of routine or it was just a coincidence that these two things happened at the same time.

    I finally took her to the vet last Friday to make sure there wasn't some underlying medical problem even though she is behaving normally otherwise and hasn't lost any weight through all of this.  He called Monday and said  the blood tests came back negative for what the he called "The Big 5" (diabetes, hyperthyroidism, etc.).  He said an option would be an intestinal biopsy but I'm not ready to consider drastic measures at this point since the problem is not that she isn't hungry or eating at all.  He also suggested something to stimulate her appetite and since she had eaten only spoonfuls that day, I agreed.  He prescribed Mirtazapine 1 ml. every other day.  After doing some research on it, I decided to go ahead and give her a dose .  Within a hour she was ravenous and ate what she had been eating since Sunday night.  Then Tuesday we had to go through the open cans until she likes something.again.  So it increased her appetite but we still had the same problem.  Since she was eating well, I didn't give her a dose yesterday (I have some misgivings about the drug).  She stopped wanting that food today and tonight I opened three cans until she accepted one and then only ate a spoonful.  If she continues that through tomorrow night, I may give her another dose.  But since she's done that in the last few weeks, eat a little for a day or so and then go back to normal eating, I"m hoping she will start eating well tomorrow. 

    I've also wondered if the problem might be with her sense of smell or taste.  I just really don't know what to do.  It's frustrating for both of us to go through this every day and half.  I'm hoping someone here might have had a similar experience and can offer some advice.  
     

  2. maggiemay

    maggiemay TCS Member Adult Cat

    234
    102
    May 6, 2016
    Tennessee
    Hi, I'm sorry to hear you and Remy are going through this.  You are not being ignored.  It may take a while for someone with a similar problem to see your thread.  Does she drink water?  I have to tell you that a cat's blood work can be spectacular and fail to show a serious problem.  Hopefully, someone will be here soon who has experienced this type of behavior and they can help you.  Did the vet look at her teeth?  I know you said it isn't her teeth because she will eat dry treats, but I'm still curious about whether he did a dental exam.  It sounds to me like either something has altered her sense of smell, or she has a problem in her GI tract, or even stomatitis.  By intestinal biopsy, did he mean a surgical biopsy or an aspiration?  Did he do an ultrasound?  I know this is a stressful time.  I hope you recover quickly from your broken arm and that Remy's problem gets addressed. I would suggest food toppers but I don't think that is what's needed here.  Hopefully someone with experience with this problem will be along soon.  In the meantime, you might want to do a site search describing some of her symptoms.  Wishing you and Remy all the best.  
     

  3. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

    35
    2
    May 16, 2014
    Thanks for your replay.  I've been searching other threads since I posted this. :)  I know it can take a while for the "right person" to possibly see the thread, so I'm not worried about that. 

    The vet did not do an ultrasound or suggest one at that time.  And I was more concerned with just getting a baseline to find out if there was any "normal" medical situation going on.  She and I were both very stressed.  There wasn't anyone available to help me get her to the vet so I had to get her in the carrier with some turkey lunchmeat.  She's not going to fall for that again.  (And with my arm basically out of service, it's going to be difficult to get her in the carrier in the very near future).  Also, just  as we walked out the door, a big storm hit, it began pouring rain and I had trouble getting her in the car and she freaked out and howled the entire way.  Needless to say, she wasn't being very cooperative when we got there. :(  So he just did an exam and blood work.  He didn't look at her mouth that I saw.  I will have him do that when i can get her back.  The other options we talked about when he called on Monday.  He just said intestinal biopsy so I'm not sure what that entails.  He did mention lymphoma (and I've done some research on that).  But like I said, since she is not having any symptoms and is acting normally except for the picky eating, I wasn't ready to talk about any kind of invasive procedures.

    Since I posted earlier, she has twice eaten a spoonful of her latest favorite.  And, as luck would have it, that's the only can I have of that particular flavor. It should last until tomorrow until I can get some more.  And then she will stop eating it Saturday.  I literally have about 60 cans of various flavors right now but I picked that one up the other day because I'd never tried it before.  So, of course, she would like that one. :)  While I couldn't drive, I would have friends pick me up several cans of what she was eating and as soon as I got it, nope, didn't want that anymore.  She's the poster cat for finicky eaters.
     

  4. haycat

    haycat TCS Member Young Cat

    52
    4
    May 12, 2015
    Hi dawnie42,

    I'm fighting the same thing now.
    My cat usually isn't a picky eater and eats everything, but he gets very finicky every beginning of summer as the weather gets hotter. His pickiness appears only in the beginning of summer, not year-round, but it does happen every year. So I understand how frustrating your situation is! [​IMG]  This summer we are fighting him again.

    My notes below are about my cat and what I do when he gets picky. It's from my personal experience, but I hope it helps you and Remy in any way!

    (My cat used to eat many kinds of canned food, but now he is on 100% homemade diet. However, our tactics to get the picky cat to eat hasn't changed, so I hope it can be of some help to Remy, because she eats canned food too).

    What we do when my cat refuses a meal

    When my cat refuses a meal out of being picky, I never give another food immediately, because it'll teach him that he gets something better if he refuses a meal. Instead, we wait at least a couple of hours until we feed him again.

    We may use a pinch of bribe on his usual food to kick-start his appetite. As a bribe we use freeze-dried treat crushed and powdered in a blender.

    When my cat doesn't eat, we do either of the things below.

    A. Wait a couple hours and feed him the same food (with or without bribe)
    B. Wait a couple hours and offer him a different food
    C. Wait half a day (or longer) and feed him the same food

    A. Wait a couple hours and feed him the same food (with or without bribe)
    This is the best if he does eat the same food after a few hours. When I don't think he'd eat it, I add a little bribe powder on top of the food.

    B. Wait a couple hours and offer him a different food
    He is more likely to eat the different food if we choose his long-time favorite. However, there is a downside to this: if done repeatedly, it can teach him that he gets something better after a few hours if he refuses a meal.

    C. Wait half a day (or longer) and feed him the same food
    This doesn't teach him that he gets something better if he refuses a meal. And the next time his hunger works in favor of us.
    But there is a big problem if he refuses his meal again. Cats must eat every day, otherwise they may suffer from illnesses like hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease).
    Some websites say cats can get fatty liver after not eating 18 hours, others 1 day. I don't think my cat will have fatty liver immediately after skipping meals for one day, but I do my best to get him to eat once every 18 hours, or at the very least once a day, to have him healthy, even in his pickiest moments.

    Other notes

    Treats, or anything much tastier than his usual meals, make my cat pickier. So we avoid treats altogether during his picky period, especially crunchy ones cats adore.

    (If your treat is just meat and not-so-addictive, it might help if you give a tiny bit of it before meal to kick-start appetite.)

    I use a pinch of bribe powder on his food. When he gets very picky, it may require a few pinches of bribe.

    Though I don't use juices often, the bribe can be a sprinkle of juices from tuna, chicken, or whatever your cat likes.

    If your cat has favorite toys, playing hard before eating works. It makes your cat excited and hungry.

    My cat often eats from my hand when he refuses to eat from his bowl, even if it's the same food.

    Also, I sometimes put a tiny bit of food on my finger for him to lick off. While he licks it usually falls to the floor. Then I wait until he eats the tiny bit off the floor. Repeat it a few times and he sometimes start eating from the bowl, getting tired of licking little bits of food off the floor.

    My cat sometimes likes his food cold in summer, right out of the fridge. The good thing about cold food is you can return it to the fridge to offer later if he doesn't eat it immediately.

    My cat sometimes likes his food warm. I put his food in ziploc and leave it in warm water for 10 minutes before feeding. Warm foods have strong odors that often entice cats.

    We never scold him (and I'm sure you don't!) even if he is very stubborn. Adding stress usually works against his appetite.

    I hope Remy starts eating better soon! [​IMG]  Also, the above may not work if any medical conditions are involved. So please make sure your kitty is fine, her teeth too, especially she is a senior cat!
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016

  5. sparrow1

    sparrow1 TCS Member Young Cat

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    Mar 23, 2016
    I want to suggest an xray. Here's why: this started with my Simon back in February. First it was being picky but then he stated vomiting. He has rapidly declined. His xray showed a very unusual fluid in his small intestines.

    He has lost half his body weight, and continues to lose weight. The only first sign was less eating or picky eating. My very is still unsure why my Simon is going through this but he does believe catching it sooner might have made a difference.

    The xray is low cost, low aggravation to your little one and may show or rule out the signs of IBD. Let us know how it's going :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
    maggiemay purraised this.

  6. maggiemay

    maggiemay TCS Member Adult Cat

    234
    102
    May 6, 2016
    Tennessee
    Lymphoma is the most common cat cancer and it get definitely be treated.  I hope that isn't her diagnosis, but if so it does respond well to chemo.  I agree with @sparrow1  about the x-ray.  You need to know what is going on inside her.  If there is a mass, they will simply take some fluid from the mass with a small needle and send it to the lab.  Far less invasive than a surgical biopsy.  And if there isn't a mass, it could be any number of things.  I know it's terribly difficult for you right now to try to get an unwilling cat into a carrier with only one arm.  I cannot imagine how you did it!  Is there perhaps a local vet who makes housecalls?  Or would a friend help you if you need to take her back for further testing?  You're in my prayers and you have our support.  We are all hoping for the very best outcome for Remy.
     

  7. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

    35
    2
    May 16, 2014
    Thank you all so much for your replies!  I knew I could get some good advice here!

    Remy is eating well today so I didn't give her any of the Mirtazapine,  I went back to work on Wednesday so I'm hoping that those days of only eating spoonfuls at a time was because of the change of routine..  I know cats can be very sensitive to their owner's stress.  I have limited use of my left arm now so things are getting more normal around here.

    Haycat - your tips for feeding are great.  I'm afraid I violated most of them. [​IMG]   When Remy gets to the day and a half limit on eating one flavor (5 - 7 meals), I know from our experience over the last several months that she will not eat that one again.  So I've been immediately offering up the next thing and the next thing until she decides the new flavor is ok.  Tomorrow when we reach that point, I will let her wait (though that's so hard!) a little bit before I give her something else.  If she refuses that, I'll wait a little longer before I try again.  You are so right. - I've been enforcing that "something better will come along" behavior.  Since she loves the chicken treats and turkey lunchmeat so much, I've been wary of giving them to her for fear that she will decide she only wants those things.  I basically fed them to her on those days when she was eating spoonfuls so she wouldn't be hungry.  I'm going to try to limit those to every other day as real "treats".  

    sparrow1 - I'm so sorry you are going through this with Simon.  I think you and MaggieMay are right about getting further testing and I plan to get her back to the vet .  I'm definitely going to need help getting her in the carrier so it will require more planning than I had time for last time.  I was in a panic, got a last minute appointment and fortunately the turkey in the carrier got her in there.  Like I said before, that's not going to work again. [​IMG]   In fact, I'd checked on the mobile vet here but you have to make appointments a week in advance.  I may decide to go that route to make it easier on both of us.  You still have to have the cat in a carrier but maybe they can help with that.

    For now, since she is not having any other symptoms, I'll just have to accept that she has that limit of how long she will eat one flavor.  I really need to make a list because I have the best luck going back to something she liked a few weeks ago.  

    All the leftover food (my other two cats don't particularly like wet food) has caused another problem, though.  I started out putting it outside for the neighborhood cats under cover of darkness so they wouldn't know where it came from.  But a couple of them caught me at it and now they love me and want me to be their mommy.   But that's a whole other story. [​IMG]
     

  8. sparrow1

    sparrow1 TCS Member Young Cat

    57
    4
    Mar 23, 2016
    Oh haha! Good luck with the outside kitties! Addy last you know the leftovers aren't wasted!
     

  9. mimiaow

    mimiaow TCS Member Young Cat

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    12
    Apr 29, 2015
    I had the most finicky cat ever.  I had to sit by her and call her a good girl and pet her while she ate.  18 years of it!  She had me well trained.  I had multiple cats, all the rest boys, so I fed her in the bathroom separately with the door closed so she could have some time with the bowl.  In the end, she didn't even want tuna water, though.  

    If she had been the only cat, I think I would have just let her decide she must eat.  Eventually, they get hungry enough, right.

    Now, I just have one easy going boy.  He eats what I give him and if he doesn't, the outdoor kitty gets the rest.  I'm not going to baby him.  

    PS:  The outdoor cat is a stray that's been in the neighborhood longer than me and although I've tried to bring her in, she wants nothing to do with it. At least she is spayed so at one point, she was someone's pet.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016

  10. dawnie42

    dawnie42 Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

    35
    2
    May 16, 2014
    I looked up this thread because I wanted to review what was going on with Remy a year ago. Because she is having major problems again. She went back to normal after I posted this. Normal being that I'd still have to open 1-4 cans but she would eat that flavor for a day or so. We had good and bad days but at least she was eating.

    A month or so ago she started only eating the same flavor for 1 or 2 meals. Then in the evening a week ago, after she hadn't eaten all day, I opened 6 cans (every 30 minutes or so) and she wouldn't eat any of them. At 10:00 in desperation I gave her some tuna juice which she has never turned down. There were some tuna bits in it and she ate that so I gave her some tuna. She ended up eating the whole can. The next day she refused more food and that night I was eating baked chicken and gave her some and she ate that. I got her some tuna and canned chicken and she ate that for a day and a half and then didn't want that. I did get her to eat some cat food on Sunday but altogether only about a can.

    I took her to the vet on Monday where they did blood work. The vet said she looks healthy. She has lost almost 1/2 pound since last year. She did look at her mouth and she does have a crown lesion. This is probably making it uncomfortable to eat but is probably not why she will refuse some foods and eat others. The blood work showed a high level of eosinophils which could be a sign of parasites or a gastro issue. I took a stool sample in today but I can't imagine how she could have parasites since she is strictly indoors. The vet started her on 1/4 tab of Pepsid and she has had 2 doses so far. All she ate yesterday was one can of Fancy Feast (in 2 meals after being offered at least 6 flavors). Today all I've gotten her to eat is about 20 soft treats (after offering 2 choices at breakfast and 2 at lunch).

    I'm just so worried about her. I still think it's her sense of smell or taste that is somehow out of whack. She is meowing for me to feed her and then I put the food down, she sniffs it and turns away. Then looks at me like "I thought you were gong to feed me". It breaks my heart. I'm planning to take her to a dentist but I'm not sure that is going to really help the problem. And if this is some sort of gastro problem, would that manifest in this behavior? She is hungry and she will eat if I find the right thing. That's just getting very, very hard. The vet will probably call tonight about the stool sample. She is wonderful but she really hasn't addressed what we can do if I can't find anything she will eat.

    Thanks for listening and I appreciate any feedback. I just needed to talk about it. You guys have been great when I've had problems in the past.
     

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