Has anyone tried milk thistle, yucca, or other supplements to stimulate appetite in a healthy-ish cat?

cheeser

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Buddy is more congested than usual, so I'm grasping at straws again to try to get him to eat more on his own until he's on the mend. In the meantime, we're back to assist feedings.

We've already tried the stuff the vets recommended, e.g., FortiFlora, catnip, vitamin B-12 supplements, Nutri-Cal, Parmesan cheese, etc., but alas, no luck. Buddy is on Zyrtec for his allergies, which used to work great as an appetite stimulant, but I guess that particular ship has now sailed. :sigh:

For those who aren't familiar with Buddy's history, he's a relatively healthy cat, all things considered. He's FIV+ and prone to upper respiratory symptoms, has frequent herpes flare ups (like now!), has a history of urinary tract issues (which is why he can't have fish), his upper respiratory tract is all screwed up from frequent infections that went untreated when he was a stray (so his sense of smell is pretty much shot even in the best of circumstances), and has some food allergies/sensitivities (so fish or chicken based toppers aren't options for us).

I've been doing a bit of research, and saw milk thistle and yucca mentioned as natural appetite stimulants. Has anyone tried these, or stumbled upon something that has worked for your cat? *asks hopefully*

For what it's worth, last week Buddy "helped" me do some major housecleaning in preparation for the upcoming holidays, and his appetite was amazing! But I can't clean the house from top to bottom every day just to get him to eat, and that's probably what triggered his upper respiratory symptoms anyway. Oops. :wink:
 

mrsgreenjeens

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I haven't tried those as appetite stimulants, but what works well for my guys are freeze dried 100% pure meats, like chicken, but they also make them in all types of protein, like beef, lamb, liver, etc.. Maybe Buddy would like liver? You can find them on Chewy.com, if you shop there. I just crumble them on top of their food and usually give them one of two tiny pieces to whet their appetites, and voila!

Since his sense of smell is somewhat lacking, have you tried heating his food? That seems to help bring out the smell.
 
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cheeser

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I haven't tried those as appetite stimulants, but what works well for my guys are freeze dried 100% pure meats, like chicken, but they also make them in all types of protein, like beef, lamb, liver, etc.. Maybe Buddy would like liver? You can find them on Chewy.com, if you shop there. I just crumble them on top of their food and usually give them one of two tiny pieces to whet their appetites, and voila!

Since his sense of smell is somewhat lacking, have you tried heating his food? That seems to help bring out the smell.
Alas, we've tried various freeze-dried meat treats to use as toppers, such as PureBites, Orijen, Sojos, and some others that I can't recall off the top of my head. Buddy was not impressed. In fact, that made him even less likely to eat anything we offered. However, he would eat some of them as stand-alone treats.

I recently bought a flavor enhancer product from Young Again. Buddy acted like I was trying to kill him. Argh!

The vet had recommended cooking some liver or other weird stuff that's really smelly try to stimulate Buddy's appetite. Nope. The only thing it stimulated was my sense of nausea! :lol:

We do warm Buddy's food, and sometimes that helps a little bit. And sometimes smearing a dab of food on his mouth a few times that he has to lick off will help to perk up his appetite. Heck, after seven years of going through these cycles, I could probably write a book about what *doesn't* work for Buddy! On the bright side, I've learned lots of ways to get Oscar to eat when he's fussy. :wink:

Thanks bunches! :heartshape:
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. I don't have any direct experience with this, but have heard about both milk thistle and yucca being natural appetite stimulants. I have also read that nutritional yeast (NOT brewer's yeast) is another one that is supposed to be an appetite stimulate. Cat nip is also another one.

Instead of Zyrtec, how about another antihistamine?
 
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cheeser

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Hi. I don't have any direct experience with this, but have heard about both milk thistle and yucca being natural appetite stimulants. I have also read that nutritional yeast (NOT brewer's yeast) is another one that is supposed to be an appetite stimulate. Cat nip is also another one.

Instead of Zyrtec, how about another antihistamine?
Huh. I'm not familiar with nutritional yeast. I'll have to read up on it. Thanks oodles! :)

Dumb question, but since Buddy is prone to yeasty ears and yeast infections on his skin (we live in a very hot humid climate, and he has some food allergies), could nutritional yeast make that worse? For what it's worth, I had wondered the same thing about the brewers dried yeast in his Viralys l-lysine supplement, but thus far (*knocks wood*) it hasn't been a problem.

Unfortunately, we're kinda stuck with Zyrtec for the moment, as he's mostly on it to help quiet his immune system. I have to confess, it took me a while to wrap my warped little noggin around the concept that a compromised immune system can be over active sometimes. Hee!

Oh, and while I'm asking dumb questions, let me ask another one. :)

Dried catnip doesn't have any effect on Buddy's appetite, and doesn't seem to have any effect at all on him unless it's in a Yeowww! catnip toy. And he doesn't get the concept of fresh catnip grown in little containers like I use for growing wheat grass. Is there perhaps another form of catnip we might try? Like I said, I'm really grasping at straws today. :biggrin:
 

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Have you tried the silvervine sticks? He might like those better. Frida didn't like fresh catnip unless I rubbed it on a toy for her to sniff that way - only way I could give her a "fix" :lol:

Nutritional yeast shouldn't affect the infections either. And it is a pungent smell, though not unpleasant.
 
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cheeser

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Have you tried the silvervine sticks? He might like those better. Frida didn't like fresh catnip unless I rubbed it on a toy for her to sniff that way - only way I could give her a "fix" :lol:

Nutritional yeast shouldn't affect the infections either. And it is a pungent smell, though not unpleasant.
Well, this pepurroni pizza toy we got Buddy a while back is supposedly stuffed with catnip and silvervine, but he wasn't impressed with it at all. But maybe the scent just wasn't strong enough, especially for a kitty whose sense of smell pretty much sucks.

Just curious, are silvervine sticks one of those things that you only allow your kitty to have if supervised? I'm paranoid about choking hazards. Or maybe another form might work better for us. My elderly dad is very ill, and sometimes I need to leave the kitties unattended for a while on a moment's notice. It's amazing how much trouble they can get into in such a short period of time!

And thanks for the info about nutritional yeast. I'll definitely read up on it, especially as I'm putting an Amazon order together for various odds and ends. :)
 

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You mentioned your vet recommending things, have they mentioned prescribing Mirtaz? The transdermal gel version is very easy (it goes on their ear) and doesn’t have the neurological side effects of the oral version. It was really effective in getting my cat to eat when he was sick. A low dose of prednisolone can also make cats hungry but it’s probably better to avoid steroid symptoms if you can.
 
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cheeser

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You mentioned your vet recommending things, have they mentioned prescribing Mirtaz? The transdermal gel version is very easy (it goes on their ear) and doesn’t have the neurological side effects of the oral version. It was really effective in getting my cat to eat when he was sick. A low dose of prednisolone can also make cats hungry but it’s probably better to avoid steroid symptoms if you can.
Unfortunately, our vets refuse to prescribe any meds to stimulate Buddy's appetite. :sigh:

I guess we're the victim of our own success. For years, every time we take Buddy in, the vets are like, "Well, he hasn't lost any weight, he's well hydrated, and his lab work and everything else looks all peachy keen. So we don't understand what you're so worried about." :frustrated:

Then I explain, for the umpteenth zillionth time, that we lost a cat to hepatic lipidosis many years ago, so we start assist feedings as soon as we realize that one of our cats isn't getting enough food and/or fluids so they don't have to suffer like our precious angel kitty did.

So when they suggest things to try to tempt Buddy's appetite, it's the usual stuff that I guess works for most of their kitty patients. Buddy's just an unusual guy. :wink:
 

kittenmittens84

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Unfortunately, our vets refuse to prescribe any meds to stimulate Buddy's appetite. :sigh:

I guess we're the victim of our own success. For years, every time we take Buddy in, the vets are like, "Well, he hasn't lost any weight, he's well hydrated, and his lab work and everything else looks all peachy keen. So we don't understand what you're so worried about." :frustrated:

Then I explain, for the umpteenth zillionth time, that we lost a cat to hepatic lipidosis many years ago, so we start assist feedings as soon as we realize that one of our cats isn't getting enough food and/or fluids so they don't have to suffer like our precious angel kitty did.

So when they suggest things to try to tempt Buddy's appetite, it's the usual stuff that I guess works for most of their kitty patients. Buddy's just an unusual guy. :wink:
Wow that is annoying, what the heck! You’d think they would want to try something that could both help your cat and make your life easier since trying to feed a cat by hand is so time consuming
 
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cheeser

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Wow that is annoying, what the heck! You’d think they would want to try something that could both help your cat and make your life easier since trying to feed a cat by hand is so time consuming
You'd think. :)

On the bright side, they're cutting us some slack these days re: refills on other some stuff since they know that my dad is very ill and now requires 24/7 care, which is very much appreciated. In all fairness, maybe they're doing us a favor, since perhaps some of the medications that might stimulate Buddy's appetite might require more frequent follow up visits, which while not impossible, would be an additional hardship that we really don't need right now. Bless his heart, every time we take Buddy to the vet, even if it's just for a routine check up, he gets really sick from all the stress, and it takes him about a month to bounce back.
 

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I'm so sorry about your dad! Having an ill parent is heart breaking is so many ways.
The sticks are supposed to be OK when they're on their own, but I'm paranoid too so I only give them supervised. They don't smell much until you peel off the bark, though that's still not as much as crushing the fresh catnip leaves. They do sell the dried version as well, and some of reviews are very good iirc.
If he doesn't like the nutritional yeast at least it's cheap and makes a good topping for popcorn!
 

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If you are going to try silvervine, I recommend powder (like this one) instead of stick. My kitties shows very mild interest on sticks but go crazy on powder ... this particular one is from fruits, maybe that makes difference..:headscratch:
 
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cheeser

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I'm so sorry about your dad! Having an ill parent is heart breaking is so many ways.
The sticks are supposed to be OK when they're on their own, but I'm paranoid too so I only give them supervised. They don't smell much until you peel off the bark, though that's still not as much as crushing the fresh catnip leaves. They do sell the dried version as well, and some of reviews are very good iirc.
If he doesn't like the nutritional yeast at least it's cheap and makes a good topping for popcorn!
Thanks much, hon. I really appreciate it. :)

Maybe we'll start with the dried version of silvervine first, and see how it goes. Sometimes Buddy gets a little chokey from the near chronic post nasal drip, so the idea of the sticks just makes me a little paranoid. Well, more than usual, anyway. ;)
 
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cheeser

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If you are going to try silvervine, I recommend powder (like this one) instead of stick. My kitties shows very mild interest on sticks but go crazy on powder ... this particular one is from fruits, maybe that makes difference..:headscratch:
Oooh, cool. Thankee! :biggrin:

Kinda reminds me of a triple-strength catnip I used to buy for our kitties. It was a little pricey, but supposedly it was only made from the buds or something that made it so powerful. So maybe it's sorta the same thing with the silvervine. Guess I better log in at Amazon so I can add another thing or two to my cart. :)
 

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Milk thistle supplements have no effect on my Hima's appetite level for the better or worse. However, out of the milk thistle supplement options, where I live I have never seen one that only has milk thistle. Like Hima's current one has milk thistle but also curcumin and a couple B vitamin additives. Maybe some supplements are better or worse to stimulate the appetite?

Is he on any other supplement to support the immune system?
 
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cheeser

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Milk thistle supplements have no effect on my Hima's appetite level for the better or worse. However, out of the milk thistle supplement options, where I live I have never seen one that only has milk thistle. Like Hima's current one has milk thistle but also curcumin and a couple B vitamin additives. Maybe some supplements are better or worse to stimulate the appetite?

Is he on any other supplement to support the immune system?
Oh, dear. Sorry the milk thistle didn't work out for your kitty. :(

I was reading Milk Thistle - A Wonder Herb? at Little Big Cat last night, and Dr. Hofve said:

NOTE: Consumer Lab® released a report in July 2016 regarding test results from ten commercial milk thistle supplements. Only Jarrow Formulas and GNC products contained the industry standard 70% silymarin; all the rest fell short. They suggest using a product containing milk thistle “seed extract” as opposed to “seed powder” or “whole herb” to get the most silymarin.


I don't know if that info has changed since then. Since we've had good luck with Jarrow products in the past, maybe we could give it a try. Dr. Hovfe also says this re: immune system support:

Milk thistle generally supports the immune system through its powerful antioxidant, free-radical scavenging action, its ability to preserve the supply of another important antioxidant, glutathione, as well as direct effects on immune cells. Glutathione, which is stored primarily in the liver, naturally declines over time, and depletion of this protein appears to accelerate the aging process.

So if the Jarrow milk thistle doesn't perk up Buddy's appetite, maybe it might help to strengthen his immune system. Or not. :)

Buddy's supplements can vary depending upon whatever health issues are flaring up at any given moment. But they usually at least include l-lysine and melatonin. We also add prunella vulgaris to the mix during herpes outbreaks. Oh, and the vet also prescribed Zyrtec to help quiet Buddy's immune system, since steroids aren't an option for him due to his FIV+ status and propensity to develop staph infections that he has a hard time fighting off.

We used to give Buddy lactoferrin or durlactin to help modulate/strengthen his immune system, but he got to where it upset his tummy too much, and he'd barf like crazy. Then after Buddy's most recent routine visit at the vet's, we gave CurcuVet a try. It did seem to help tamp down his body's inflammatory response, but boy is it messy if he barfs it back up!

We did have some modest success for a while with 4Life Transfer Factor, but the price kept going up every time we ordered it, which got pretty pricey as we needed to keep upping the dosage that was recommended for Buddy. I found another brand (Source Naturals) at Amazon, but I need to crunch the numbers to see how it stacks up price wise. I've learned that sometimes it can take several capsules of a cheaper brand to equal the same dosage as the pricier version. ;)

Vitamin C was also recommended (the version that is less likely to cause an upset tummy), but that didn't work out too well. It made Buddy drool and foam at the mouth something awful. To be honest, Buddy has his own medicine/supplement pantry that's full of stuff that didn't work out for him. But sometimes his hand-me-downs work great for the human members of the family. :biggrin:
 

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Oh, dear. Sorry the milk thistle didn't work out for your kitty.
No no, nothing to be sorry about :-) My cat’s appetite was normal. I meant like the milk thistle supplements didn’t increase nor decrease her appetite. There was no change. She’s getting the supplement to support her liver.
 
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cheeser

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No no, nothing to be sorry about :-) My cat’s appetite was normal. I meant like the milk thistle supplements didn’t increase nor decrease her appetite. There was no change. She’s getting the supplement to support her liver.
Ah, okay. Well, then hopefully the milk thistle works wonders to support her liver. :)

To be honest, ever since we lost a cat to fatty liver disease, I'm super paranoid about it happening to one of our other kitties any time their appetite suddenly slacks off significantly. So whether the milk thistle works or not to stimulate Buddy's appetite, maybe it would at least give me some peace of mind if I think it might help to protect his liver until he can eat enough on his own again. :wink:
 

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Ah, okay. Well, then hopefully the milk thistle works wonders to support her liver. :)

To be honest, ever since we lost a cat to fatty liver disease, I'm super paranoid about it happening to one of our other kitties any time their appetite suddenly slacks off significantly. So whether the milk thistle works or not to stimulate Buddy's appetite, maybe it would at least give me some peace of mind if I think it might help to protect his liver until he can eat enough on his own again. :wink:
I hear you there. Milk thistle is definitely a "go to" for the liver, and I also lost a cat to Fatty Liver, so know the paranoia that goes along with a cat slowing down their eating :frown:. I say why try it and see what happens? Here's hoping it does the trick for increasing his appetite
 
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