Are Feeding Tubes Appropriate for Cats Who Don’t Eat?


I took my cat to the vet yesterday because he had not eaten for three days. His activity levels, thirst, urine etc are all normal. No vomiting, and no BMs since he stopped eating. He seems normal but he doesn’t want to eat.

Yesterday the vet did a bunch of blood tests and today she called to say they were all normal. She wants to put a feeding tube in my cat to prevent liver problems from developing. What are your thoughts?

Falls Church, VA

Cats who go several days without eating are prone to a problem called hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver. This condition develops through a feline metabolic quirk. It can be fatal. Overweight cats are especially at risk.

Placing a feeding tube and using it to support nutrition may help to stave off hepatic lipidosis. However, it should not be used as a substitute for further diagnostics.

You need to find out why your cat isn’t eating. There has to be a reason, and you need to determine what’s wrong in order to treat it properly.

Blood and urine tests are a good way to start. When these do not yield an answer, I recommend diagnostic imaging (X-rays and ultrasound) to search the abdomen for a possible cause. Consultation with a specialist in internal medicine (there should be plenty of them in the D.C. area) also could be valuable.

Supporting your cat’s food intake with a feeding tube may be beneficial. But don’t use a feeding tube as a substitute for finding an answer.

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