Cat acting worse after force feeding

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Member Since
Purred: Tue Jun 4, '13 8:55pm PST 
Hello, folks! I'm sad that my first post has to be something a bit more on the serious side, but I'd like to ask some other fuzzy owners for suggestions, maybe tell me if I might be doing something wrong.

My kitty Kip was recently diagnosed with feline hepatic lipidosis. I began to notice maybe in March that he had lost weight, but only after someone pointed it out to me. I know I sound negligent, but it's been a bad year. Between November and February, I learned my other two cats had cancer and were both put down within less than two months of one another. On top of that, I've been cramming to finish my thesis since January. I swear I don't neglect my kitties, but it was just a very busy time for me.

Kip went from probably 13-15 pounds down to 9, though I don't know when the weight loss started. Probably December or January. And I don't know what would have caused him to lose his appetite. He didn't get along with the other cats, so I don't think he was mourning them. Aside from the anorexia, he was a happy perky noisy kitty.

Thursday I took him to the vet for a rabies booster and blood tests, and Friday I began force feeding Hill's A/D since Kip needed the extra calories and wouldn't eat it on his own. He wouldn't eat canned food anymore and just barely picked at his kibbles prior to Friday, and he would eat a handful of foods like baby food, cooked meat, and milk.

As of yesterday, he absolutely refuses to eat anything at all. Not even chicken, which he loves. He also won't drink water anymore.

I think it's too much of a coincidence to say that his condition just happened to worsen immediately after syringe feeding #1. Kip is a former stray and he gets stressed easily; he fought like crazy the first few feedings. Now, on top of not eating or drinking, he's extremely lethargic and likes to hide from me at times. He'll lay in the same exact spot all day and maybe just move to change his position.

He doesn't seem to be in pain, and he still purrs when I pet him, and he still shows some interest in playing (which, in his case, is nipping my finger).

I understand that recovery from fatty liver disease is not an overnight thing, but why would he get worse when he's getting more calories in him each day than he's had in months? I didn't expect him to get better all of a sudden, but I also didn't expect him to get worse. I was going to take a break from feeding on Monday, but when he decided he wasn't going to eat or drink at all, I couldn't take a break.

He goes back to the vet Thursday to get his liver enzymes retested to see if the force feedings are helping. What was found is he has a heart murmur and elevated liver enzymes, and the vet doesn't think it's hyperthyroidism because his appetite is gone rather than increased.

Kip is syringe fed every...maybe 4 hours? About 1/4 of a cup of Hill's A/D diluted with water and heavy cream (Kip tolerates dairy well and I figure the cream has some extra calories). I also get as much water into him as I can, but it's probably not even one ounce a day (I use a 1 mL syringe, he gets freaked out when I use anything larger).

This is weird. Has anyone ever had their cat actually get worse from force feeding? His behavior changed too quickly for it to be due to his liver, so I am blaming it on the feedings. But his liver will get worse if he doesn't eat, so I don't have a choice.


Somewhere there- is love for- everyone
Purred: Wed Jun 5, '13 3:55am PST 
I'm not an expert by any means on hepatic lipidosis (Alex is, hopefully she'll be along later) or on syringe feeding, but I do have a sick cat that sometimes requires lots of encouragement to get him to eat.

I too got some food to syringe feed him and he too struggled like a crazed thing during the process. Since your guy struggled so much at first when you syringed his food into his mouth, do you think it is possible that he could have gotten an injury somewhere in there that is making it painful for him to eat? Also, remember not to syringe food too quickly into his mouth so that some of it doesn't end up getting aspirated into his lungs.

Does Kip act hungry and then just not eat, or does he never even show up at meal times? BB acts hungry, but often won't eat, he'll just stare at his food and stare at the other cats eating. I've found that if I sit with him, talk with him, and keep tapping his bowl with my finger that he'll eventually take that first bite and then he'll keep on eating.

Have you tried sprinkling Fortiflora on top of his food; it's a probiotic, but it's great usefulness is that it is pretty much irresistable to felines. That worked for a while with BB to get him interested in eating.

I feel for you with him hiding from you because of the feeding. BB often runs away or flinches from me when I come near him or touch him now.

Best wishes, and I hope someone comes along who is more useful than me!


Somewhere there- is love for- everyone
Purred: Wed Jun 5, '13 3:57am PST 
P.S. I'm not so sure that giving him cream is the best idea.

Member Since
Purred: Fri Jun 7, '13 10:12pm PST 
At the suggestion of another vet, I was told to stop force feeding altogether because of the high likelihood of Kip developing a food aversion and never eating ever again. And he isn't running and hiding from me as much and he picks at food a little bit now, though I don't think it's enough. He'll eat some finely chopped chicken, cat treats and milk. Won't eat baby food anymore and won't eat cat food, not even the so-called irresistible Hill's Science foods.

He likes to eat out of this little glass bowl that holds maybe 1/2 cup. On average, I'd say he's been eating about one bowlful of chicken and 1-2 bowls of milk a day...and about 10-15 cat treats, the nutritional value of which I'm not sure. I don't know if he's drinking anything either.

I worry if I don't force feed him, he won't get enough calories in him. But I worry if I do, it'll put him off his food for even longer. I also worry about getting him a feeding tube because vets do this annoying thing where they want to order hundreds of dollars worth of unnecessary tests like bloodwork (when it was done less than 48 hours prior), shots of antibiotics, IV medications, ultrasounds, CAT scans, biopsies, etc. Kip gets stressed easily and I know there's no way I could just ask for a feeding tube and whatever is necessary to place it to minimize the stress on him and on my wallet (I have no job right now and am using student loan money to afford his care).

Kip managed to lose six ounces during the week he was force fed, and I don't know if that was water weight or stress or what. He drank on his own pre-syringe feeding, so I'm hoping he does that again because I really don't want to have to give him fluids too. He was meowing a lot at the vet's when he got fluids there, so I know he didn't enjoy it.


They Little Grey- Ghost
Purred: Sat Jun 8, '13 10:52pm PST 
Make sure you feed him in the same area each time. Wash your hands before you feed. Make sure the food is soft enough to be pushed through a syringe. Don't feed food that is too hot or too cold. You will need to bring your cat to the feeding area. You will need to stand behind your cat for this. Then you can begin the feeding. I recommend using a new syringe each time you feed to prevent the spread of bacteria. Place the syringe on the side of the cat's mouth during the feeding. Make sure you give your cat time to swallow the food before giving more. You will need to clean up your kitty afterwards. Then you can let the cat go. Make sure to give frequent breaks during the feeding. Keep track of the amount of water you add to the food. You can refridgerate unused portions.


Chica Chiquita- Hanna
Purred: Tue Jun 11, '13 5:36pm PST 
Without treatment, FHL (Feline Hepatic Lipidosis) has a mortality rate of over 90%. With treatment, cats have a recovery rate of 80%. If untreated, cats die of malnutrition. Treatment involves aggressive feeding. I would ask the veterinarian to insert a feeding tube. You can continue to force feed, but a feeding tube would be much easier. When your cat stops vomiting and regains his appetite, you can begin normal feedings again. They key is aggressive feeding. They cat liver has a high regeneration rate. But, they key to FHL is prevention. Don't ever let your cat become obese. The longer the disease goes untreated, the higher the mortality rate.

Member Since
Purred: Wed Jun 12, '13 9:17pm PST 
I don't know if I want to force feed...not by mouth anyway. Also, Kip is not vomiting. Aside from the occasional hairball, he keeps his food down well. I'm getting him to eat on his own again by feeding him tuna and deli turkey. I know, not the greatest thing for a kitty, but he does eat and he's begun drinking on his own again, so all his issues in the last couple of weeks were, in fact, from my syringe feeding him.

I'm not sure how I'm going to wean him off the tuna and get him back on cat food, but my concern right now is getting food in his belly. I don't think he's gained any weight, but he's acting more like himself again. The vets I've spoke to are really pushing for a dental cleaning and extraction more than anything regarding liver treatment, for some reason. He has to go back in a few weeks to get his liver tested to see if it's improving or getting worse.

I think I'd get a feeding tube as a last resort, and if he's willing to eat on his own, then I'd rather let him do that. Kippy never had a big appetite even when he was healthy, yet he was still somehow 14 or 15 pounds. I have no idea how he managed that, but if he's willing to eat on his own, I won't put him through the stress of getting a feeding tube. If his liver improved a little bit after just a week of force feeding, I imagine it will improve after he eats on his own for a few weeks. Also, I'm noticing his coat looks better now too. That might be from the tuna (the kind in oil).


Somewhere there- is love for- everyone
Purred: Thu Jun 13, '13 4:11am PST 
It's ok for a total emergency, but please get your cat off the exclusive tuna and deli turkey diet. Please read this about tuna: http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/ask-the-expert/ask-the-expert-poison-c ontrol/canned-tuna.aspx

Additionally, never feed a cat tuna packed in oil. Tuna packed in oil may cause an disease called steatitis, or yellow fat disease, which involves inflammation of the fatty tissue under the skin. Read this: http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/endocrine/c_ct_steatitis#.Ubmlse c3uew

To tempt your cat to eat cat food again, you can try pouring some water from tuna packed in WATER over the food causing it to smell like tuna. Can you get bonito flakes (pet stores or Asian markets)? They smell very fishy and you could try putting them on top of canned food of any flavor to get him to try it.

As you suspect, your cat is eating a very unbalanced diet at the momment. You have to try really hard to get some actual cat food into him. Not that it's great, but have you tried any of the more fish based canned cat foods to start switching him back over to cat food?

Good luck!

Member Since
Purred: Tue Jul 2, '13 2:12pm PST 
A little update, Kippy has begun eating cat food on his own again. Not a lot, but even when he was healthy, he never had a big appetite. Still, eating on his own without me having to cheerlead him for 15 minutes is a big step if you ask me. I also got him some different food recently; he seems to prefer dry food to canned, so I got him just a couple small bags of new kibbles for a change of pace and he likes both.

His behavior is also normal...well, he's been kind of out of it since yesterday, I think because he was at the vet's getting blood drawn. Kip has a very bad reaction to stress in that he gets extremely lethargic. Syringe feeding for one week stressed him out so bad that he took three weeks to recover. A couple hours of stress at the clinic and I bet he's like this for another day or so.

BUT his liver enzymes are up again. Originally, they were 8, then 5, then 6.6, and now they're at 7. I was syringe feeding him Hill's food, so he was probably getting more nutrition, but it's not a good option for him when he loses his appetite even more when under stress. I understand an ideal liver enzyme level for a cat is 1 or below, so while Kip's are high, the vet didn't seem to think it's an emergency of "OMG he's gonna die right now" proportions.

The vet suggested a possible tumor in the liver, but Kip has no symptoms besides the enzyme levels. He was lethargic before, but it was due to stress. His appetite had decreased, but I was originally told it's hepatic lipidosis. The current plan is to give him this supplement that has milk thistle or some strange thing in it...by mouth. I don't see that going over well. Also to try and get Kip eating Hill's L/D...even though I said he won't eat canned food.

Also, Kip did gain weight. He's gained 10 ounces in the last 3 weeks. I know it's probably not a significant amount, but gain is better than loss, I think.

~Purrcy ~- Meohmy

Purred: Tue Jul 2, '13 7:41pm PST 
I think that Feline Hepatic Lipidosis is sometimes a symptom of a disease process rather than a diagnosis. Purrcy was diagnosed with FHL but with further investigation it was found that he had a blockage in his common bile duct - he had surgery to correct this and at the same time an esophageal feeding tube (e-tube) was placed.
Before his blockage was found, my vet wanted me to force feed him and it was a struggle despite the fact that Purrcy was a very easy cat to work with - he simply did not tolerate me trying too squirt food down his throat - he was anorexic at that point and nauseous most of the time.
After his surgery I gave him multiple meds via his e-tube.
denamrin (liver support)
ursodiol (liver support)
vitamin E (liver support)
clavamox (for chronic infection of his bile duct)
pepcid 5mg as needed (to combat nausea)
SAMe (stopped denamarin and gave for liver support)
I think there were more meds but I can't remember them right now.
The e-tube was also a great way to give additional fluid support - he became nauseous from dehydration being reluctant to drink water - I was able to combat
that by syringing in small amounts of water frequently.
Purrcy had dropped his weight to about 8 pounds and after his surgery and with the feeding tube I was able to get his weight up to about 11 pounds. He started to eat very slowly on his own and as he ate more I was able to just supplement his diet with the tube feedings until I was sure he was willing to eat on his own, and then the tube was removed.
It was an arduous process and I was pretty worn out by the stress and the initial feeding schedule, but it was worth it - Purrcy survived almost 3 more years.
He was not in pain and I monitored his weight at least 2 times weekly just to
make sure he was maintaining.
Wishing you the best!
Purrcy's mumma

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