Senior cat is barely eating ... getting desperate

briannathecatmom

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Hi all, this is going to be a fairly long post but I really could use some help. I have a 15 year old tuxedo male cat named Zinger. Recently as in about a week ago my husband and I brought home two 2 month old kittens. We have had in them in our spare bedroom basically sequestered since we brought them home. The first three days or so we'd occasionally and very slowly introduce the kittens to Zinger by having the kittens in a crate in the living room and letting him look at them or by holding a kitten in our arms a decent distance away. He was definitely not super happy about them (hissing, growling) but for the first three days he was still functioning normally and eating. However since last Wednesday, he's basically stopped eating. We've been giving him Hills K/D dry food since Jan 2021 after the vet told us his creatinine in his kidneys was getting high and he has enjoyed the food. However he downright refuses to eat it now. I took him to an emergency vet on Friday (7/30) after he had vomited white foam twice and they did blood work, his creatinine was on the higher end but the vet didn't think it was enough to cause major kidney disease yet. They gave him a Cerenia shot for nausea, some fluids under his skin and gave us Mirataz for appetite stimulant. I rubbed the Mirataz on his ear as directed and he ate like 3 or 4 treats but still wouldn't touch his Hills K/D. I tried to offer him some wet food on Friday and he really didn't want it. Then on Saturday, I got him to eat a very small amount of wet food in the morning but that was basically it. So yesterday (Sunday 8/1) my husband and I took him to a different emergency vet and they did another exam of him (no bloodwork this time) and an X-Ray and said basically everything seemed unremarkable aside from a slight fever of unknown origin. They offered us another appetite stimulant to try (Entyce). The weird thing was that while we were waiting in the car for the vet he was again eating a bunch of treats and when we got home from the vet after administering Entyce, he did salivate but then he ate a decent amount of Tiki Cat wet food. After that however he basically went into our home office and slept on the desk chair for hours. Last night, he looked super out of it and severely lethargic but as he's been doing the past few days still slept in bed with us as normal. This morning he vomited yellow bile outside of his litter box and to my knowledge he has not pooped since Friday morning and that was in my car while waiting for hours for the vet. Shortly after this, I offered him some of his treats and he again would eat those but when I offered him his Hills K/D he just sniffed it and wouldn't eat it. I gave him another dose of Entyce and some Mirataz on his ear but he wouldn't even touch any wet food this time and salivated/foamed even worse. I'm just at a loss for what to do now, I don't know if he's truly sick or just stressed out/depressed from the new kittens - though we've kept them in their room away from him since he's stopped eating to limit his stress. I don't know if the appetite stimulants are even worth it anymore as they don't seem to really help. I am going to buy some baby food and some cat nip treats today to try and help but honestly I feel like he just keeps getting nauseated over and over again and does not want to eat. The vet trips have cost us nearly 900 dollars in two days and while the money is not a real issues right now, it's just frustrating as it doesn't seem to be getting much better.
 

di and bob

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The ONLY thing my sick cats (leukemia) will eat when they have stopped eating is Hartz Delectables Lickabels in the stew flavors. They refused the bisque flavors. It is in the treat section, some Walmarts and Dollar Generals carry it in-store, I order it online. I always have it on hand, just in case, and I also give their medicines in it, dividing one pack amongst three cats. When really sick, they may only take a couple of licks a couple times a day, but it is enough to keep them going.
Be prepared though, this may just be the end of his time. I hate to bring that up, but I have had several cats pass naturally at 15. That is an average age for a cat. The twenty-year-olds you hear about are like 105 in human years, it just doesn't happen often. I'm so sorry, I'll pray for your little boy to rally, I truly hope he does.......
 
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briannathecatmom

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The ONLY thing my sick cats (leukemia) will eat when they have stopped eating is Hartz Delectables Lickabels in the stew flavors. They refused the bisque flavors. It is in the treat section, some Walmarts and Dollar Generals carry it in-store, I order it online. I always have it on hand, just in case, and I also give their medicines in it, dividing one pack amongst three cats. When really sick, they may only take a couple of licks a couple times a day, but it is enough to keep them going.
Be prepared though, this may just be the end of his time. I hate to bring that up, but I have had several cats pass naturally at 15. That is an average age for a cat. The twenty-year-olds you hear about are like 105 in human years, it just doesn't happen often. I'm so sorry, I'll pray for your little boy to rally, I truly hope he does.......
Thank you for your response, I’ll look into those treats. We just lost his sister in December so I unfortunately do know all too well that his time may be coming sooner than later. But we’re gonna try our hardest to help him where we can.
 

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I would stop any attempt at introductions at this point, and feed him whatever food he will eat. If that is Tiki Cat, so be it - especially since it is wet food. I don't think you have much of a choice but to at least talk to his regular vet about what is going on. There is also a good possibility that he is dehydrated and may need sub-Q fluids to help out. The lack of appetite, lethargy, and even the fever could be related to dehydration.
 
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briannathecatmom

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Yes, we have paused intros and he hasn’t physically seen them in almost 3 days. I’m going out today to grab some other things to see if he’ll eat them. Since I posted that, I did get him to lick up some tuna, don’t know how much of it he really ate but he did lick a lot of it. And he continues to mostly eat his treats. I really wonder if these stimulants are adding to his lethargy bc he was much more awake and moving more before I gave them to him and now he’s just very lethargic. He seemed hydrated and continues to drink water throughout the day and urinates pretty normally. I will talk to my husband about calling his reg vet though.
 

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I couldn't remember how my Krista reacted to Entyce so I searched for my content. Apparently some of the side effects of Entyce is nausea, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, hypersalivation, and lethargy. Some of these are more common than others. Of course the table of side effects I just quoted from are results from studies in dogs. In any case, unless the vet specifically said you could, I would not double up the appetite stimulants. I found Mirtaz to be more consistent than Entyce. But it also has to be given consistently. But I found mirtazapine, in the pill form, even more effective and consistent than the Mirtaz gel. The pills are pretty small and generally have to be halved or quartered depending on the size of your cat. Krista was not an easy one to pill. But we could usually manage the mirtazapine crumb. You might even be able to powder it up, mix it with a little tuna water or a tube treat like Churu or meat-only baby food, and squirt it in his mouth like a liquid medicine. He'll be none too happy about this. But if all goes well, he should be vocal (many call this drug "meowzapine" for good reason) and hungry within a couple of hours. With Krista, it seemed like she would get an initial rush from the drug, the meows, and that she just wanted 20-30 minutes of comforting lap time until that rush passed. Then she was ready to demolish whatever I put in front of her.

Cerenia is another drug that ironically causes anorexia in some cats even while alleviating their nausea. If he's not vomiting anymore, you might give him a break from Cerenia.

You might also ask your vet for a small prescription of buprenorphine to see if he's hiding pain that's keeping him from eating. If he eats after a dose or two of buprenorphine, then you could reasonably assume that he's got pain somewhere. In that case, he should go back to the vet for some imaging (X-rays and/or ultrasound.) If he's going back anytime soon, ask for the pancreatitis blood test. This is not a standard blood test and might have been skipped by the emergency vets. How's his teeth?
 
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litebritecatwoman

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Hi all, this is going to be a fairly long post but I really could use some help. I have a 15 year old tuxedo male cat named Zinger. Recently as in about a week ago my husband and I brought home two 2 month old kittens. We have had in them in our spare bedroom basically sequestered since we brought them home. The first three days or so we'd occasionally and very slowly introduce the kittens to Zinger by having the kittens in a crate in the living room and letting him look at them or by holding a kitten in our arms a decent distance away. He was definitely not super happy about them (hissing, growling) but for the first three days he was still functioning normally and eating. However since last Wednesday, he's basically stopped eating. We've been giving him Hills K/D dry food since Jan 2021 after the vet told us his creatinine in his kidneys was getting high and he has enjoyed the food. However he downright refuses to eat it now. I took him to an emergency vet on Friday (7/30) after he had vomited white foam twice and they did blood work, his creatinine was on the higher end but the vet didn't think it was enough to cause major kidney disease yet. They gave him a Cerenia shot for nausea, some fluids under his skin and gave us Mirataz for appetite stimulant. I rubbed the Mirataz on his ear as directed and he ate like 3 or 4 treats but still wouldn't touch his Hills K/D. I tried to offer him some wet food on Friday and he really didn't want it. Then on Saturday, I got him to eat a very small amount of wet food in the morning but that was basically it. So yesterday (Sunday 8/1) my husband and I took him to a different emergency vet and they did another exam of him (no bloodwork this time) and an X-Ray and said basically everything seemed unremarkable aside from a slight fever of unknown origin. They offered us another appetite stimulant to try (Entyce). The weird thing was that while we were waiting in the car for the vet he was again eating a bunch of treats and when we got home from the vet after administering Entyce, he did salivate but then he ate a decent amount of Tiki Cat wet food. After that however he basically went into our home office and slept on the desk chair for hours. Last night, he looked super out of it and severely lethargic but as he's been doing the past few days still slept in bed with us as normal. This morning he vomited yellow bile outside of his litter box and to my knowledge he has not pooped since Friday morning and that was in my car while waiting for hours for the vet. Shortly after this, I offered him some of his treats and he again would eat those but when I offered him his Hills K/D he just sniffed it and wouldn't eat it. I gave him another dose of Entyce and some Mirataz on his ear but he wouldn't even touch any wet food this time and salivated/foamed even worse. I'm just at a loss for what to do now, I don't know if he's truly sick or just stressed out/depressed from the new kittens - though we've kept them in their room away from him since he's stopped eating to limit his stress. I don't know if the appetite stimulants are even worth it anymore as they don't seem to really help. I am going to buy some baby food and some cat nip treats today to try and help but honestly I feel like he just keeps getting nauseated over and over again and does not want to eat. The vet trips have cost us nearly 900 dollars in two days and while the money is not a real issues right now, it's just frustrating as it doesn't seem to be getting much better.
So sorry for you and your baby! Please try this - you can speak to a vet for free. https://petwellbeing.com/products/cat-kidney-diseaseHills
Kidney Support Gold - for Cat Kidney Function
4.6 star rating1751 Reviews

K/D Hills dry food has corn and wheat gluten for starters. Vet food is NOT superior. The vet business is just that. Also, long, the book The Nature of Animal Healing by Dr. Martin Goldstein. I've had it for 22 years now. Pumpkin is VERY, VERY GOOD for constipation! Hugs!
 

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I do not have a lot to add here but between Entyce and Mirtazapine, I have found that the Mirtazapine works more effectively, although you have tried both. My 15 year old failing GSD was given Entyce about 3 weeks ago and I did not notice the uptick with his appetite that I always did with Mirtazapine. He did not experience the side effects to it, although I was amply warned by the vet and told to read all the literature she handed me. As for doubling up appetite stimulants, my vet was also emphatic that I was to stop Entyce at 4 days and let her know if it had not worked.....so, yes, I would check with the vet about doing that before repeating it. It worked "okay" and some appetite was restored. This round he did have pancreatitis again, so I would request that test as was suggested.
 

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Our experience when we got new 4-month-old; one of the others we already had for 3 years quit eating and was vomiting
bile. Vomiting bile is a sign of empty stomach. Cats graze their food all day and if not eating at all affects their
liver therefore vomit bile. Got over that; now after over year and half; no one is eating wet that they have always eaten (Fancy Feast). Have tried everything, barely eat dry even; only want treats. Have rarely give treats, ever. Now just to make sure they have
something in their tummies have give in to it. Even called Purina to see if they changed recipe; they checked and said no. Read that due to Pandemic; cat food ingredients are in short supply. We spend a lot of time searching for flavors they used to eat, only to throw out! They intensely "sniff" the food very strangely as tho' we are poisoning them. I still think there has been change in recipes. We have tried all types of other food to no avail. Would appreciate any ideas or experiences. Long time Cat Mom.
 
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briannathecatmom

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I couldn't remember how my Krista reacted to Entyce so I searched for my content. Apparently some of the side effects of Entyce is nausea, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, hypersalivation, and lethargy. Some of these are more common than others. Of course the table of side effects I just quoted from are results from studies in dogs. In any case, unless the vet specifically said you could, I would not double up the appetite stimulants. I found Mirtaz to be more consistent than Entyce. But it also has to be given consistently. But I found mirtazapine, in the pill form, even more effective and consistent than the Mirtaz gel. The pills are pretty small and generally have to be halved or quartered depending on the size of your cat. Krista was not an easy one to pill. But we could usually manage the mirtazapine crumb. You might even be able to powder it up, mix it with a little tuna water or a tube treat like Churu or meat-only baby food, and squirt it in his mouth like a liquid medicine. He'll be none too happy about this. But if all goes well, he should be vocal (many call this drug "meowzapine" for good reason) and hungry within a couple of hours. With Krista, it seemed like she would get an initial rush from the drug, the meows, and that she just wanted 20-30 minutes of comforting lap time until that rush passed. Then she was ready to demolish whatever I put in front of her.

Cerenia is another drug that ironically causes anorexia in some cats even while alleviating their nausea. If he's not vomiting anymore, you might give him a break from Cerenia.

You might also ask your vet for a small prescription of buprenorphine to see if he's hiding pain that's keeping him from eating. If he eats after a dose or two of buprenorphine, then you could reasonably assume that he's got pain somewhere. In that case, he should go back to the vet for some imaging (X-rays and/or ultrasound.) If he's going back anytime soon, ask for the pancreatitis blood test. This is not a standard blood test and might have been skipped by the emergency vets. How's his teeth?
As far as I know his teeth are mostly fine. He had his last normal check up in Jan and they said he had some minor teeth issues so we started brushing them more at home but the vet checked his teeth yesterday upon request and didn’t note anything strange, the treats he will eat are hard too so I would imagine he’s not having a tough time really chewing. The vet only currently offered us the ointment version of Mirataz and I didn’t feel like I saw much result with that one like everyone else seems to. He didn’t vocalize or anything and didn’t seem to eat that much more. I also couldn’t find anything conclusive on how long it should take for it to kick in for him (he’s around 10-11 pounds I think) so we got discouraged with it. I’m planning to stop the Entyce after today and just keep him on Mirataz to see if he acts any better with solely that.
 
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briannathecatmom

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I got him with various baby foods, pumpkin purée and some other Tiki Cat wet items and he wouldn’t eat it. But I also got some Temptations catnip treats and he ate 5 or 6 of those. So it seems like all he wants are different kinds of treats, I really can’t understand why but I also know treats aren’t enough to sustain him long term.
 

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As far as I know his teeth are mostly fine. He had his last normal check up in Jan and they said he had some minor teeth issues so we started brushing them more at home but the vet checked his teeth yesterday upon request and didn’t note anything strange, the treats he will eat are hard too so I would imagine he’s not having a tough time really chewing. The vet only currently offered us the ointment version of Mirataz and I didn’t feel like I saw much result with that one like everyone else seems to. He didn’t vocalize or anything and didn’t seem to eat that much more. I also couldn’t find anything conclusive on how long it should take for it to kick in for him (he’s around 10-11 pounds I think) so we got discouraged with it. I’m planning to stop the Entyce after today and just keep him on Mirataz to see if he acts any better with solely that.
Get your regular vet involved. Have any tests and records performed by the emergency vets sent over to your regular vet. Ask for a prescription of the pill form of mirtazapine. I found the pills much more effective and consistent than the transdermal. If your vet wants to see him, also ask for that pancreatitis test. He should probably go back for more fluids anyway. It's very easy for a cat who stops eating to get dehydrated as they take in a fair amount of moisture from their food.
 

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I got him with various baby foods, pumpkin purée and some other Tiki Cat wet items and he wouldn’t eat it. But I also got some Temptations catnip treats and he ate 5 or 6 of those. So it seems like all he wants are different kinds of treats, I really can’t understand why but I also know treats aren’t enough to sustain him long term.
Simple! Treats are meant to be highly appealing; apparently appealing enough to push through whatever else he's got going on. See if you can powder up and mix his treats with something else like baby food or Tiki Cat. What I did with Krista when she had pancreatitis is that I mixed a treat with a couple of bites of food. When she finished that, I mixed another treat into another couple bites of food. Maybe I got her to eat a half ounce of food. That was a half ounce she wasn't eating on her own. I came back and pestered her as many times as I could as many bites of food in her as she could manage. Each time, I tried to get her to eat a little more food and a little less treats.

You may also consider fried chicken without the skin or just about anything fishy, packed in water rather than oil. It's more important that he eats than what he eats at the moment.

Also any cat food brands you see at the grocery store like Friskies, Sheba, Purina, etc. Popular brands are popular with cats. They would not be on those shelves otherwise. I recommend grocery stores over pet stores because I believe grocery stores would have a lower tolerance for brands that don't sell. There is often a disconnect between foods cats want to eat and foods we want to feed them because of marketing and misconceptions about recipe, brand, or ingredient quality. If he wants to eat junk treats, maybe he'll also be seduced by "junk" food too. It's all going to be better than treats alone.
 
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briannathecatmom

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Get your regular vet involved. Have any tests and records performed by the emergency vets sent over to your regular vet. Ask for a prescription of the pill form of mirtazapine. I found the pills much more effective and consistent than the transdermal. If your vet wants to see him, also ask for that pancreatitis test. He should probably go back for more fluids anyway. It's very easy for a cat who stops eating to get dehydrated as they take in a fair amount of moisture from their food.
Unfortunately the earliest his regular vet could see him would be next Thursday despite his current issues. So I think our tentative plan is to call the emergency vet tomorrow to see if they are willing to provide us with the pill version of Mirataz since the ointment seems to have very little effect. I’m going to try and make an appt with his reg vet as soon as I possibly can even if it’s next week to do any other tests but if he starts looking progressively worse we’ll take him back to the emergency vet again.
 

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most cats that I've met, aren't that crazy about k/d, but it sounds as though your boy figured that was all the food there was now, so he'd eat it. Then you got the kittens, a disruption, but more than that you started feeding them REALLY GOOD food. He can smell it. Why are you giving it to them and not him?

It's probably worth the chance to offer him the kitten food or at least what he was eating before the k/d. There is no point in trying to get him to eat the food he's refusing. Try different foods to draw his attention, but particularly try the kitten food that he knows you've been giving the kittens.
 
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briannathecatmom

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most cats that I've met, aren't that crazy about k/d, but it sounds as though your boy figured that was all the food there was now, so he'd eat it. Then you got the kittens, a disruption, but more than that you started feeding them REALLY GOOD food. He can smell it. Why are you giving it to them and not him?

It's probably worth the chance to offer him the kitten food or at least what he was eating before the k/d. There is no point in trying to get him to eat the food he's refusing. Try different foods to draw his attention, but particularly try the kitten food that he knows you've been giving the kittens.
That’s a good point that I hadn’t considered. He hasn’t been in the same room as them eating but I suppose he could still potentially smell their food through the door? I’ll try to give him some of their food tonight or leave it in his bowl and see. I’d ideally like to get him on a fairly healthy senior cat food even if it’s not K/D.
 

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Cats strongest sense is their sense of smell. He probably knows everything that is in your house by smell alone.

The most important thing is to get him eating again as soon as you can. Details can come later. He will know the difference between the kitten food and healthy adult food. Check the ingredients, I think you'll find that the kitten food is very similar to the adult food, though it may have a few, but not many more calories. To a large extent the different types of food - kitten, young adult, adult, inside and outside cat aren't that different, but check the ingredients always.

I was impressed he just ate the k/d. Last experience with a cat was while cat sitting and had to shove it into her mouth and she would spit it out and chew on my fingers. Frankly, we couldn't even get the dogs to eat the k/d food.
 
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briannathecatmom

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I’m also just realizing there’s a chance I may have been applying the Mirataz slightly wrong in his ear. The vet wasn’t able to show me (covid related restrictions) and instead just sent me on my way with it. I thought I’d been doing it right but I don’t think I went into his ear deep enough. I’m going to try and apply it differently tomorrow after watching some videos and see if I start to see better results.
 
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