Loss of Appetite

Dboots

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Hi, we've run into a issue and we're looking for some advice. I wasn't which forum it belongs in (Nutrition vs Behavior vs Health), but I decided it fit best here.

We've had our elderly little guy for about 6 months. He's 13 years old, very mellow and sweet. For the first 5 months, he ate normally, both dry and wet food, and was always hungry in the morning. About 3 weeks ago, he suddenly lost his appetite. I first noticed that he wasn't finishing his food. But then he also started to lose weight and has become more lethargic (he was always pretty lazy, but now he can sleep all day). He's gone from eating about 150-200 calories per day, down to less than 50. He's still sweet and doesn't have any other odd behaviors.

After becoming concerned, we experimented with way to get him to eat. He still loves treats, so I've been giving him more just so that he can still get his calories. He will also eat wet food if I hold his bowl directly under his nose, almost shoving it into his face. He won't eat much, but at least a few bites. He will also very casually eat some dry food, but not more than a few pieces at a time. He still drinks water normally, as far as I can tell.

Otherwise, he seems fine. We took him to the vet, and the vet said that everything seemed normal, and nothing was obviously wrong. But something is wrong. He was so eager to eat everyday, and now he barely eats at all. I know that cats slow down with age, but this was quite sudden, and he's still losing weight.

We're open to ideas and to answer any questions that we may have missed. Thanks in advance!
 

Tagrendy

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My cat had similar issues and it was due to tooth injury. Try to run wet food through blender, see if it helps. I would take the cat to another vet.
 

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Hi. I agree something is wrong! What tests did the vet run? A full blood work up - CBC, Chemistry Profile, and thyroid testing to start with - just to see if all the numbers are within range. He could also be experiencing pain from arthritis, and could help to explain that different ways his bowl is placed in front of him will enable him to eat more than with other placements. Is he peeing/pooping OK? Is he throwing up any?

Another vet is a good idea, or at least pushing your current vet to do more testing. And, for now, try using some of the suggestions in these articles to see if you can get more calories in him. He surely needs them ASAP.

How To Get A Cat To Gain Weight – TheCatSite Articles
How To Get Your Cat To Start Eating Again – TheCatSite Articles
Why Has My Cat Stopped Eating And Is It Dangerous? – TheCatSite Articles
 
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Dboots

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Thanks for the quick replies. He does have dental issues (from before we adopted him), so that could be related. He seems to be able to chew his treats up without a problem, however. It is almost as if he doesn't think his food is actually food, though. When we put it right in front of his face, he sits there for several seconds before very carefully nibbling at it. He also has some arthritis pain in his back legs, and we've re-positioned his food bowls to make it easier on him. It doesn't seem to make a difference, but we're still giving it more time.

We'll try softening up his food too. It is already pretty soft, but I'm sure it could be more.

He is peeing and pooping just fine, when he goes. With so little food, his poops are smaller and less frequent. But they see otherwise normal. No vomiting. He had a couple of days of diarrhea a few months ago, but they went away on their own.

We pushed the vet to do more blood work, and we're waiting on results. This vet has always been great in the past, so it was surprising that he was mostly uninterested this time.

We'll check out the articles to get him to keep eating what he needs.
 

Tagrendy

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Thanks for the quick replies. He does have dental issues (from before we adopted him), so that could be related. He seems to be able to chew his treats up without a problem, however. It is almost as if he doesn't think his food is actually food, though. When we put it right in front of his face, he sits there for several seconds before very carefully nibbling at it. He also has some arthritis pain in his back legs, and we've re-positioned his food bowls to make it easier on him. It doesn't seem to make a difference, but we're still giving it more time.

We'll try softening up his food too. It is already pretty soft, but I'm sure it could be more.

He is peeing and pooping just fine, when he goes. With so little food, his poops are smaller and less frequent. But they see otherwise normal. No vomiting. He had a couple of days of diarrhea a few months ago, but they went away on their own.

We pushed the vet to do more blood work, and we're waiting on results. This vet has always been great in the past, so it was surprising that he was mostly uninterested this time.

We'll check out the articles to get him to keep eating what he needs.
In sunlight open his mouth and try to see if there is any wounds or issues with gums. Also can use your finger to try and test if there is any pain on any tooth ( be careful though ).

Whatever the issue is though, he needs to get nutrition somehow. I would consider things like vitamins for cats, feeding from syringe, trying nibble for kittens - anything to prevent weight loss before issue is identified. In my case I had to feed him raw meat, even with toothache he couldn't resist eating raw chicken breast.

Hope thing's will be clear soon.
 
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Dboots

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I should also point out that I think there could be an issue with his sense of smell. I don't have any way to verify that, but he doesn't respond to food after "sniffing" it like he used to.

It would be very difficult for me to check his gums, unfortunately. He's just not that kind of cat. He won't bite me, but he will push and pull and do everything in his power to not open his mouth or show me his gums. I'd really have to pin him down hard. He's surprisingly strong and squirmy for a cat his age. Any other ideas on how to check his teeth/gums?
 

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I learned how to open cat's mouth watching videos on how to give cat a pill. There is a technique, with one hand you make the cat look up & pull on the sides of the mouth ( almost forcing him to 'smile' ), while with the second hand putting some pressure on lower jaw to come down. The first few times are tricky, the cat will be terrified & fighting, but with time he will get used to it. Now I can open his mouth as he is sitting on my lap, after 40 seconds or so is when he'll start to let me know that I should get out of his mouth :D

Either way it would be good to get him used to it, as he has dental issues, you might need to routinely check his gums or brush teeth.
 
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Dboots

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Thanks for the advice. I'll try it out with him.
 
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Dboots

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Quick update. We got some tests back from the vet, and we're told that our guy has diabetes. It does seem to match his symptoms, and now we are working out treatment options. Of course, this is not the ideal outcome, but at least we have some idea of what is going on and can work on a path forward.
 
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Dboots

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Quick update. I like to add an update so that if anyone in the future is looking for help in forums, they get the complete story.

Since our cat didn't have an appetite and was barely eating on his own (about 40 - 50 calories/day), but was diagnosed with diabetes, we have a tough situation on our hands. We've been advised that he needs insulin twice a day, but he also needs to eat before the insulin injection. We were left without much of a choice; we had to start force-feeding him with a syringe. Of course, he hated it, and fought it as hard as he could, which left him exhausted. It was mentally exhausting for us too. The insulin is very easy to administer, thankfully. After a couple of days of the force feeding, he started to get some appetite back, and was able to eat about 100 calories/day on his own.

Unfortunately, he has reverted, and stopped eating more than a couple of bites. We're back to force feeding him with the syringe. He has been very lethargic, and staying in bed for the vast majority of the day. He started doing this before the insulin, and we haven't seen a change yet. We're hanging in there, and just wish he would start to eat more on his own.

I'll keep updating this post as things progress in the hopes of helping future readers.
 
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Dboots

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We checked his teeth and gums, and they all look good. When he does get the occasional craving, he'll chew down treats and kibble. We've tried to entice him with several different foods. It is comical how many open cans of foot we have in the fridge. We've tried different temperatures, bowls, consistencies, etc. A feeding tube may be in his future, although it may also be a case of pancreatitis, which caused the diabetes. In that case, it is more complicated. We'll know more soon, as he is back to the vet today.

Thanks for all of the suggestions and feedback.
 

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It is comical how many open cans of foot we have in the fridge.
No, that's love. My last cat that passed of kidney disease when her bout started she wouldn't eat. I did the same, I bought every brand every flavor in hopes. She went about week not eating 6.5 days late that night she finally licked some tuna. After that she fought for a year. Prays for you and your cat.
 
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Dboots

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For the sake of future readers, I have some updates.

It appears that we have passed the low point, which was terribly low. About a week ago, our cat spent a full day at the vet after refusing to eat for several previous days. The vet gave him fluids and some medication in an effort to ease his pain in the hopes that it would bring his appetite back. The vet confirmed the she thought pancreatitis was the culprit, and there aren't any great options. She advised that we give him as much comfort as possible, and then just wait and see.

The next 48 hours were emotionally brutal. He didn't eat or drink or leave the bed. We stopped the insulin since he wasn't eating. We thought it was his time, and were preparing ourselves while making him as comfortable as possible. The next morning, however, we tried to feed him, and he perked up a bit. He ate a few bites, and generally seemed improved... more alert.

Since then, he has eaten more each day, and we resumed insulin. Yesterday, he got out of bed to eat. This morning, he woke us up early, vocalizing for food (as was his old habit), and he had a full meal for the first time in weeks.

We know he's not in the clear yet, but it is shocking how much of a difference a week makes. Next steps are to keep him eating, and get his diabetes under control. One step at a time, but we are so pleased with how he's bounced back.
 

Furballsmom

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Gracious sakes!

This morning, he woke us up early, vocalizing for food (as was his old habit), and he had a full meal for the first time in weeks.
WOW

Keeping you-all in my thoughts and prayers!!
 

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My Quorra was prescribed Mirataz (mirtazapine) as an appetite stimulant after a recent surgery. It’s very easy to administer as it’s a cream rubbed in ear. If you can get a vet to prescribe that, it’ll definitely help with appetite or weight loss.
 
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Dboots

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My Quorra was prescribed Mirataz (mirtazapine) as an appetite stimulant after a recent surgery. It’s very easy to administer as it’s a cream rubbed in ear. If you can get a vet to prescribe that, it’ll definitely help with appetite or weight loss.
That is interesting. We asked the vet about Mirataz, but she was hesitant to use it due to potential side effects, given that his other systems were struggling, including dealing with diabetes. I'm happy to hear that you had good results! Did Quorra immediately regain an appetite?
 
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