In Parts One and Two guest author, Sandra Preston, provided an introduction on caring for a sick cat at home and went more in-depth in Part Two, on record keeping, temperature, relaxation and stress and weight changes. In this installment we discuss appetite.
APPETITE ISSUES When lack of appetite is an issue, you may want to try to entice your kitty with fresh poached chicken bits, chicken baby food, or canned tuna. To supplement fluids, try tuna juice or clam juice (available at the market in bottle form). When your friend will not eat despite all of your efforts, be sure to keep your veterinarian apprised of the situation. Avoiding dehydration is critical! If kitty won’t drink or eat on his/her own, you can help by supplementing with a syringe feeding. Your vet can supply you with a 5 cc syringe (no needle), which you can fill with slightly diluted chicken baby food, tuna or clam juice. Also available through your veterinary office are Hills AD, a high calorie soft food , and Clinicare a liquid formula designed to add nutrition for ailing cats.
When syringe feeding be sure to measure the amount that you are feeding and keep a daily record. Frequent small feedings are best. To feed, have your syringes filled and warmed to room temperature. Place kitty on your kitchen counter, and hold securely in your arms. Place the tip of the syringe into the side of the mouth and begin to feed slowly and give him a chance to swallow comfortably. Praise your kitty as you continue your feeding. This should be a comfortable bonding time for both of you.
AVOIDING DEHYDRATION If your cat requires subcutaneous fluids (under the skin) to avoid dehydration, one trip to the doctor and a lesson on “how to” should prepare you for this task. Your pet doctor will also provide instruction on the need for fluids, and the amount and frequency that you should administer. First, be sure to wash your hands before you do your equipment set-up. An easy way to administer fluids at home is to have your equipment set up and ready to go before you pick up your little one. Hang your fluid bag on an upper kitchen cabinet knob securely (the bag needs to be at a higher elevation than your cat to have the fluid drip properly). Be sure that your fresh needle is securely in place and practice turning the fluid on and off as the veterinarian instructed you. Step two, is to place kitty on the kitchen countertop and cuddle him close to you. Let him know that you are not stressed, talk to him or her gently and reassuringly. If he feels that you are relaxed, this can and will be a simple procedure for both of you. Again, it is important that your kitty feels that you are relaxed and confident with any care you are providing.
DIARRHEA/CONSTIPATION Sometimes diarrhea or constipation become a problem, often a resulting side effect of medications. Always report any elimination problem to your veterinarian. A home remedy that can aid with both diarrhea and constipation is to place a teaspoon of pure canned plain pumpkin into your cats’ food .
CONCLUSION The most important factor in caring for your cat is to monitor for any unusual factors, report to your vet, ask questions (be an advocate for your cats’ needs), and follow all veterinary advice. Lastly, be prepared to provide comfortable home care as the situation warrants. Having the necessary items for home care such as a scale and a thermometer at home and readily available is a good start toward meeting your cats’ needs in the comfort of his or her home.
Sandra Preston, R.N., Ph.D.