Message from the Editor
A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped me test our Newsletter broadcast software. I have so much to learn! Thanks! Kathy
The first time I ever heard about feeding a cat with a syringe, it was called “Force Feeding.” Perhaps it was called this because the cat is generally not all that keen on the idea. This term doesn’t exactly evoke nice images, and over the years the term eventually became known as ”Assist Feeding.” Assist Feeding can mean any time we are helping our cats obtain the nutrition needed to survive, regardless of the method of food delivery.
Different Ways to Assist Feed
Spoon Feeding. This works with some cats because of their sense of obligation to you. They want to please you, so they will lick canned food off of a spoon. The extra attention your are providing during this personal time may encourage a cat that is not feeling well to eat. If your cat will eat the full caloric requirements, this method will work for you. Ask your vet how much food you need to feed to maintain your cat’s weight.
Finger Feeding. Some cats will lick food off of your finger… the personal touch. Or, try placing a small amount of food directly into the mouth. This may stimulate your cat to eat on his own. It is sometimes hard to get food into a cat’s mouth, if so try this: Gently pull the head up like your are going to give a pill and then with a finger of canned food, scrape a little food off using the cats top front teeth. We call this ”priming the pump.”
Syringe Feeding. Syringe feeding uses a plastic syringe to squeeze the food into the side of the mouth. The tip of the syringes vary depending on type: they may be tapered, blunt, or curved and tapered. Depending on you and your cat, it may take several feedings to get the hang of it. Syringe feeding works best if you can feed your cat at least 3 times per day. We will talk about different syringes in a future newsletter.
Orogastric Tube. If you cannot be home to Syringe Feed your cat, you may consider day boarding and allowing the clinic to feed your cat during the day by using an orogastric tube. An orogastric tube is a temporary feeding tube placed down the throat and esophagus and into the stomach at the time of feeding and then immediately removed. No anesthesia is required. The tube is lubricated for ease of placement and feline comfort. This type of feeding is meant to be used as a temporary solution and must be performed by your vet. The value of this type of feeding is that you can get the full daily caloric requirements into your cat. Your cat may start eating on his own after a few days of this feeding. This type of feeding is also beneficial if you need to build the cat’s strength up before surgery.
Note: Feeding via an Orogastric Tube has been around for 30 years; however, it is not common practice and your vet may not be familiar with this technique. It’s all too easy in today’s world just to surgically place an eTube. Read Dr. Norsworthy’s short article about Feline Hepatic Lipidosis
Tube Feeding. There are several types of tubes that can be surgically place when any of the above methods are not an option. As with all surgery, there is a risk… a chance that your cat may not survive the operation. Tubes have saved lives though, so please talk to your vet about your cat’s health and what your options are. The different types of tubes have varying risks associated with them. The three most common tubes are: nasoesophageal tubes (through the nose), esophagotomy tube (eTube), and Percutaneous Endogastric tube (PEG tube). The PEG tube is the most invasive and risky procedure. If your vet recommends a PEG tube, please ask if an eTube would work. We will discuss the details about each tube type in a future newsletter.
You probably know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated drugs and medical devices for humans, but did you know that they also regulate drugs, medical devices and food for animals? This division is called the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). Their web site states that “CVM is responsible for regulating drugs, devices, and food additives given to, or used on, over one hundred million companion animals, plus millions of poultry, cattle, swine, and minor animal species. (Minor animal species include animals other than cattle, swine, chickens, turkeys, horses, dogs, and cats.)”
The CVM also works in partnership with AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). In fact an CVM representative serves on the AAFCO Board of Directors. While the CVM does actively take steps to protect our pets, they are understaffed as indicated by this statement from the CVM “We believe that continued partnership with AAFCO is vital to the effective regulation of pet food products because FDA has limited enforcement resources that are focused on human food safety issues.”
The CVM posts pet food recall notices on their web site, however, most pet owners are not aware of these recalls. After reading some of what the CVM considers safe for livestock feed, I wonder what they consider safe for our pets? In the following weeks, we will explore pet food ingredients and what the labeling means.
Choosing a good vet is like choosing our own family doctor, except that we need to be more selective. Why? Because you and I can observe and challenge what’s being done, and Fluffy cannot; she is at the mercy of our decision. So it’s essential that we establish a long-term relationship with a competent vet, if we want to assure Fluffy’s wellness over the years.
That’s what this week’s topic is all about. . . helping you establish such a relationship with a vet who will be there for the long haul.
Whether you’re a first-time kitty parent, or seeking a “regular” vet for any reason whatsoever, please take a few moments to read the information. We hope you’ll find it informative and helpful.
My qualifications: Someone who made all the mistakes that I’m urging you to avoid, and lost the most precious thing in my life while floundering around looking for a miracle. If I had another chance, I’d follow these guidelines to the letter.
Read Garry’s Top 12 Tips for Selecting a Veterinarian
If your kitty is ready to start a diet, it’s very important to have an accurate scale. You can’t use the one that you give a little bounce on to see if the reading is correct… or the one where you stand closer to the side because it gives lower reading… you know the scales I’m talking about! You will want to get a digital scale that is accurate to at least 0.2 of a pound. That equates to within 3 ounces. Why so accurate? It’s critical that your kitty not lose too much weight too fast. Only 1/2 of a pound per month. Overweight cats are prone to developing a potentially fatal disease called Feline Hepatic Lipidosis (FHL or HL). This is a topic for a future newsletter, but HL occurs when a cat loses weight too fast and the liver becomes clogged with fat deposits.
Set up a schedule to weigh your cat weekly and at the same time of the day. I weigh my 3 cats every Monday morning… (oh yes, and me, too.) Place your scale at the same location each time and on a hard surface. Record the date and the weight on a form so that you can keep track of the weight trends. Don’t rely on your memory… you need to see the weight on paper so you have a history and can see what’s really going on.
The first few times I weighed my cats they were really scared but now they are used to it. They still complain, but they know what to expect so they are OK with it.
The postal scales are great because you can also weigh packages! The weighing platform is really small though so you will need to place a small wash basin (like for washing dishes) on the scale to set your cat in. The wash basin is actually well tolerated by kitties and it helps you keep all 4 paws on the platform. The scales have a tare feature which subtracts the weight of the basin. Linda F. weighs Mittens by placing him in his carrier and then placing the carrier on the scales.
Here are a few ideas for scales that readers of this newsletter use to weigh their cats:
Next Week: We will introduce you to Whiskey who started a weight loss program last June. How much weight has Whiskey lost? Read his story next week!
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.