Picky post-dental-op cat is hungry.
March 23, 2010 5:02 PM   Subscribe

My very fickle, post-dental-operation (one of her canines had to be removed) cat is getting hungry. She doesn't like wet food -- she'll lick up the juice and ignore the rest. I tried softening some dry food with water, but she's not interested in that either. So I've been giving her tuna, which she eats and enjoys. Should I just stick with that for the next couple weeks or is there something else I should try feeding her?
posted by The Great Big Mulp to Pets & Animals (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would call your vet and ask. That said, I'm certain the tuna won't hurt her, but I have read that once a cat develops a taste for something, sometimes it's hard to get them to switch back... ymmv
posted by HuronBob at 5:07 PM on March 23, 2010


Try babyfood. Chicken puree! Um numnum.
posted by SLC Mom at 5:08 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've heard chicken-puree babyfood called "crack for cats" - this was in a video about taming feral cats. You might want to save this for emergencies, like medicine, but most cats seem to like it.

You could try moist food that's more like flakes of fish; some of the Fancy Feast varieties say "flaked" on the can, so you can tell they have a more interesting texture.

I've attempted feeding some Science Diet and other dietetic (high-calorie) cat foods that my cats would not eat. They love the Fancy Feast, though.
posted by amtho at 5:14 PM on March 23, 2010


Tuna is not a good long term food for a cat. Basically it's got enough calories but has either too much or too little of a lot of vital nutrients.
posted by jedicus at 5:17 PM on March 23, 2010


What brand are you using? I've never had a cat that would eat 9 Lives, ever. And with Fancy Feast, they always just lick the juice. I've had much better luck with Purina, or some of the higher end stuff - all of mine like Blue Buffalo. Also, they always love salmon.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:25 PM on March 23, 2010


Yup, tuna's fine as a treat but not as the sole source of food.

Sick cats I've known have all gone for the chicken or turkey baby food. Make sure to get the kind that's just chicken/turkey + water - no onions or garlic, which will make your cat even sicker.

Fancy Feast makes a flaked tuna flavor that looks and smells a lot like tuna-for-humans, so you could give that a try.
posted by rtha at 5:26 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, there are a lot of things that aren't good for cats long-term because they aren't nutritionally complete.(Of course I lived on milkshakes for about a week after I had my wisdom teeth extracted!) But for a while, give her the meat baby food. They love it, and it's what the vets I've used have always given sick kitties.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:27 PM on March 23, 2010


My picky cat likes that incredibly overpriced Fancy Feast Elegant Medley stuff. She won't eat most wet foods, either, but this one is some sort of magic.

You could also look into getting her some kitten milk replacement, either the liquid or the powder (which you can mix into pureed chicken baby food), if trying different wet cat foods doesn't work out.
posted by jeather at 5:27 PM on March 23, 2010


Tuna is high in mercury too (especially for such a small animal) though "chunk light" has less than albacore. Beef and turkey babyfood is good (make sure they don't have onions or onion powder, as it can cause anemia). Have you tried boiling and shredding chicken breast?
posted by unknowncommand at 5:28 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


As already noted, tuna and/or baby food are not at all nutritionally complete.

Call your vet (or the veterinary dentist if other than your own vet) and ask if he/she has suggestions. You don't mention how long ago the tooth was removed, but they may want to see the cat for a followup. They may also be able to medicate the cat to increase appetite if weight loss is a real worry (personally I know my own cats could go many days without eating and not be in peril).

A relative of mine once spent thousands of dollars on high priced veterinary behaviorists on the east coast before calling me for advice.....I'm going to tell you the same thing I told him. A healthy cat will not starve itself. Even with recent tooth extraction noted, I think it is likely you are being played by the "picky" feline.

Present your cat with a high quality wet food for 15 minutes in the morning. After 15 minutes, pick up the food regardless of wheteher the cat has touched it or not. No snacks, no treats, nothing should be given to the cat other than water. Present your cat with a high quality wet food for 15 minutes in the evening. After 15 minutes, pick up the food regardless of wheteher the cat has touched it or not. No snacks, no treats, nothing should be given to the cat other than water. DAY TWO: Present your cat with a high quality wet food for 15 minutes in the morning. After 15 minutes, pick up the food regardless of wheteher the cat has touched it or not. No snacks, no treats, nothing should be given to the cat other than water. Present your cat with a high quality wet food for 15 minutes in the evening. After 15 minutes, pick up the food regardless of wheteher the cat has touched it or not. No snacks, no treats, nothing should be given to the cat other than water. Repeat until picky cat learns not to be so picky about meals.

Good Luck!
posted by labwench at 5:46 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the past I've taken some wet food and stirred it up with milk/cream such that's the consistency of a milk shake (and hence very lick-able). Because a lot of cats are actually lactose intolerant, use goat's milk. If yours likes and tolerates regular cow's milk/cream however, you can use that, but it's typically not recommended. (I do it anyway though... my cats love the stuff.)

When mine are being spoiled, I also alternate the canned tuna with canned salmon. They go nuts for both.
posted by cgg at 5:50 PM on March 23, 2010


Whenever I made a tuna salad sandwich, I pour some of the water from the can over my cat's normal dry food. You could try that as a nutritionally sound alternative to feeding them just tuna fish.
posted by cali59 at 5:56 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


When my 14 year old cat had to get a few teeth pulled (including a canine)- he didn't like wet food either. He was back on dry food (his own doing) in three days.

Try baby food. It will be better for the cat than tuna. But really, a cat won't let itself starve unless it's not healthy and it probably won't eat something (dry food) if it hurts to do so. I know my cat was making use of the non-hurty side of his mouth.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:56 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


When my cat had (all of her) teeth removed, she would only eat warmed wet food. I went along with it because damn, I felt bad about the extractions.

You could try that. Did your vet say to hold back on regular dry food for a couple weeks? That seems like a long time to me. I seem to remember my kitty eating her dry food several days after her surgery.
posted by cooker girl at 5:57 PM on March 23, 2010


I tamed some feral kittens with some of the expensive cat food from the supermarket, like Fancy Feast. They were not crazy about the super expensive cat food from the health food store, but were very happy with supermarket brands. Buy a variety and try them out. These cats also love tuna, so perhaps this will work for you.
posted by fifilaru at 5:58 PM on March 23, 2010


Present your cat with a high quality wet food for 15 minutes in the morning. After 15 minutes, pick up the food regardless of wheteher the cat has touched it or not. (etc.)

Please don't do this, and certainly for not more than 24 hours. Without eating, cats develop fatty liver (hepatic lipidosis) very quickly; and that is damaging and irreversible and frequently fatal. Cats, healthy or not, should never go much more than 24-36 without food intake by some means.

Your vet will help with this, and it may be well worth it to ask them about pain management for your cat if that's what's causing the inappetence. They may also prescribe an appetite stimulant or acid reducer as needed. My vet would say, the smellier the food the better, and warmed to body temperature. Worst case, you may need to feed baby food or a veterinary diet with a syringe for a few days.
posted by vers at 6:38 PM on March 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


When I give my cats a people-food nutritionally incomplete treat it's either a teaspoon of whipping cream or a poached egg.
posted by kmennie at 6:57 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


...I think it is likely you are being played by the "picky" feline.

Very likely.

As hinted above, vary the wet food, and keep a steady supply of (unvaried) dry present. Cats can be picky to their own detriment, but usually a variant and a constant give them something to 'settle' for.

For the record, our 'bruiser' kitteh likes dry food and drippings, and only tolerates wet food. She's over thirteen pounds and terrorizes a dog five times her size (who is eager to get at her wet food leftovers.)

Needless to say, Vet's orders supercede all of this.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:07 PM on March 23, 2010


If wet food is out...and nothing else is working, try Purina Kitten Chow, maybe softened with a little warm water if it's initially rejected. It's McDonalds for older cats.

But if nothing works, let the vet know asap. Nthing it's super-dangerous for cats not to eat.
posted by answergrape at 7:12 PM on March 23, 2010


I gave my sick cat reduced-sodium chicken broth to entice him to eat. I mixed it in with whatever wet or dry food I wanted him to have. He loved it.
posted by christinetheslp at 7:16 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are wet cat foods that are pate' style and those may be easier for your cat to eat; my vet recommended it when one of my cats had a stuffed nose.

Also, try warming the food, as others have suggested.
posted by misha at 7:55 PM on March 23, 2010


My cat loves cold cuts, especially roast beef. Roast beef perked her up after a long illness and got her eating again; I really think we would have lost her if it wasn't for that.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:02 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is a nutrient gel for cats which just won't eat at all which you may be able to use as supplement if you really can't get nutritionally complete food into her. It comes from the vet anyway so fits in well with the 'ask your vet' advice which I also endorse.

A couple of days of human food will be fine, and better than no food, but more than that and yeah, you're going to run into problems.
posted by shelleycat at 10:12 PM on March 23, 2010


If nothing else, you might as the vet that did the work, but from personal experience, the chicken/turkey baby food option has been successful for me, with my own cat.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 10:55 PM on March 23, 2010


A healthy cat will not starve itself.

This is absolutely false. Healthy DOGS will not starve themselves, cats can and do, and as has been pointed out, cats suffer far greater health consequences than dogs from even just a short period of anorexia.

I second trying pate style foods. However, if it was just a canine removed, you might be fine to feed dry food if your cat won't eat anything else (maybe try softening it with low-sodium broth) - but obviously check with your vet first. Your cat needs to eat and cats should not go for very long without eating (even overweight cats), as vers said.
posted by biscotti at 5:07 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gosh, I've just realized there was a typo in my post -- probably developed over the course of several edits. It should be "three of her canines had to be removed" -- and this operation was Sunday evening. The vet recommended trying to keep her away from dry food for the next week or so. Anyway: thank you all for the suggestions, thusfar!

I have not yet had opportunity to get to a supermarket, but I've found that if I add some tuna to her wet food, she'll eat both. Hopefully I'll be able to get to one later on tonight and get a variety of things to try. Fortunately, she hasn't shown any signs of loss of appetite and she's no longer angry with me for bringing her to the vet in the first place.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:02 AM on March 24, 2010


Poor thing! When you say wet cat food, do you mean in a pouch or a can? Nosy has no interest in canned cat food, but he loooves the pouch.

Fair warning: Green clouds may follow.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:18 PM on March 24, 2010


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