Table of Contents
Message from the Editor
Welcome to the first edition of the Caring for Cats Newsletter! How exciting! We are just getting started and we will undoubtedly grow and change as we get these first few issues published! Please let me know if you are having trouble viewing our newsletter (I see that we have a few subscribers from AOL and WebTV.) Our goal is to write about topics that are interesting to you and that will help you, so please feel free to send us your ideas for new topics. Also, we are looking for volunteer writers so please step forward if you are interested! I’m excited about this Newsletter… so here we go! Purrs, Kathy
When a cat stops eating for any reason, this is clinically known as Feline Anorexia. Contrary to popular belief, a cat cannot go but just a couple of days without eating before health problems set in. Until the underlying problem can be determined as to why a kitty has stopped eating, we humans must intercede and help our friend eat. I’ve heard it said “when he gets hungry enough he will eat!” THAT is the farthest from the truth! If a cat is sick, they are not hungry.
When I first started the AssistFeed.com web site, it was my intention to let others know that we can help our cats eat by using a syringe to squeeze the food into their mouth. I had successfully helped two of my ailing kitties maintain a good quality of life by syringe feeding. I knew about tube placement, but the only experience I had with that was disastrous and I refused to ever consider tubes. Well, never say never. My bad experience was years ago and times have changed making tube placement safer (although any procedure using anesthesia involves risk).
In this column, I will talk about assist feeding techniques and tips to include BOTH syringe feeding AND tube feeding.
Cornell University defines Feline Anorexia as the “loss or decreased appetite, not nursing, off feed.” According to their Online Consultant, A Diagnostic Support System for Veterinary Medicine, there are 454 Possible Diagnoses for Feline Anorexia. While your veterinarian is trying to diagnose your kitty, you must provide supplemental nutrition if your cat is eating a little on his or her own, or full nutrition if your cat is completely anorexic. By assist feeding, you will give your vet and your cat the gift of time.
I have 3 cats – Maya, Miss Picasso and Phoebe. Maya is skinny, Miss P is just a little plump and Phoebe, well Phoebe is… um … clinically obese. She weighs a whopping 19.4 pounds. They all eat the same brand of food. I took both Maya and Phoebe to the vet for a check up, did the complete blood panel and heart checks and thankgoodness they checked out just fine. I hardly ever buy the food my vet sells (poor guy) and I showed him the food my cats eat, told him it was from the health food stores and he curiously read the label. To my surprise he said “The ingredients look great! AND it has the AAFCO seal of approval.” Well I had to admit that I never paid much attention to the AAFCO statement, I had just looked at the ingredients!
AAFCO stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials. AAFCO is “an organization of state and federal feed regulators advised by industry representatives with the sole purpose of designing feed regulations that are fair and equitable to both consumers and industry.” Additionally they come up with policies for “regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of animal feeds; resulting in safe, effective, and useful feeds.” Bottom line, when a cat food manufacturer includes the AAFCO statement, they are promising that the food meets the standards for feline nutritional needs.
For example, on the bag that my vet was looking at there is this statement: “Animal feeding studies using procedures from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) substantiate that PetGuard® Premium Cat and Kitten food provides complete and balanced nutrition for All Life Stages.” On Phoebe’s new diet food, there is this statement: “Feline Nutrition Slim 38 is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.” Check your cat food for the AAFCO seal or AAFCO statement.
On the Net: http://www.aafco.org
Fluffy eats well, greets you at the door purring like a chain saw, she’s active and bright. And when she isn’t sleeping she’s pouncing on anything that moves. So who, in their right mind, would disrupt their schedule and spend half the mortgage payment to take this obviously happy, healthy cat to the vet? You, if you love Fluffy. Cats, you should know, are great actors: Rather than bother you with their pain, they hide it until it becomes unbearable. Quite often, by the time you observe a problem, it can be 70% or greater into progression! So this bouncy, happy, healthy Fluffy could easily be walking around with kidneys that are doing half the job. . . and you’d never know.
So what’s the answer? Early detection! Felines are unique in every way, and especially in their biological makeup. First of all, their internal systems (heart, respiratory, kidneys, liver, etc.) operate on a finely-tuned balance like none other, and they cannot tolerate even the smallest disruption. Secondly, these internal systems interact more severely than in most animals: one condition can (and often does) result in several others. So it’s our job to keep that balance intact through proper diet and regular checkups (I recommend twice annually). Many conditions, if caught early enough, are treatable and even reversible, so early detection is paramount. The success rate for treating late-stage and final-stage conditions is a bleak picture, and it’s one that you can avoid. Have those checkups done twice yearly, and at least one of those visits should include full-panel workups and even an ultrasound; don’t settle for an eyeball observation.
We all know that if humans are overweight it is unhealthy. It goes for cats as well. Even though we know that it’s unhealthy, we really don’t seriously think about doing something about it until we start running into health problems or we truly gain a better understanding of what might possibly go wrong. Being overweight can cause health problems such as diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, liver problems and the list goes on. Basically, being overweight is often the start of medical problems. When the body is young, the extra weight doesn’t visually have a detrimental effect, but there are problems developing that we can’t see from the outside.
There are a few very rare medical conditions that will cause a cat to be prone to being overweight, but for the majority of felines, the reason they are overweight is because they are consuming more calories than they need. Since we feed our cats, we are at fault. Hey! I don’t like that last statement one bit! How can it be MY fault?!? Well, Phoebe can look pretty pitiful sitting by that deep, empty bowl. She will sit there for hours! I finally cave in and feed her extra so she won’t have to worry anymore! She really DOES seem hungry!
Take Action: Phoebe is just getting started with her diet. If you want to join us, here’s what to do. Before you cut back on the food, or switch to a diet food, take your kitty to the vet for a checkup. Be sure that your vet understands that you want to help your cat lose weight and you want the green-light before you begin. Ask for a full checkup including listening to the heart, checking the teeth and running a blood panel that includes a thyroid check. You want to make absolutely sure that your cat is in excellent health before the diet begins!
Disclaimer: Kathy Fatheree is not at all a medical expert. Contents of this web site are a collection of Kathy’s assist feeding experiences as well as the experiences of other cat owners who have assist fed their cats. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, Kathy Fatheree or anyone associated with this web site cannot be held responsible for anything that may happen as a result of using the information on this site.