What can my cat eat after dental work?
August 18, 2017 4:03 PM   Subscribe

My cat had a lot of teeth extracted today. The vet advised wet food for a week, but my cat will not go near wet food. I've tried it over the years, and it doesn't matter what brand or flavor or how I give it to him; he won't eat it. The vet tech said I could soften his dry food with hot water. What else can I try while he recovers? He can't have chicken, but no other dietary restrictions.
posted by mermaidcafe to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What wet foods have you tried? Is chicken off the plate (ha) because it is chicken, or because it might be too tough if you serve it as is? Have you tried stinky smelly fish? Sardines are tasty, though I'd wait until his mouth has healed up a bit before you offer that.
posted by arnicae at 4:08 PM on August 18, 2017

My picky cat never turned his nose up at canned tuna. You might try pureeing it (ugh) if it wouldn't be soft enough as-is.
posted by lovableiago at 4:11 PM on August 18, 2017

When my cat had jaw surgery, we had good luck luring her into eating with these "food topper" pouches - they're basically stinky fish diluted a bit (and you can re-dilute as necessary if you need to split up a pouch into multiple meals.) They're not intended to be a meal replacement, but they were *very* tasty, according to my opinionated little empress, and worked to ease her in to wet cat food. (She will eat wet if it's the only thing going, but grudgingly and not enough to keep her weight up.)
posted by restless_nomad at 4:12 PM on August 18, 2017

How about beef baby food on a spoon? My elderly cat took that at one point even though he was a dry food cat.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:12 PM on August 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

My dog recently had all of his teefs extracted except his two lower canines.

After trying different variations of wet food, the simplest and easiest (on his belly, on my wallet) method was to go back to his preferred dry food, just slightly soak it in water (or chicken broth if you are feeling fahncy), microwave it for 30 seconds.

Thank god, because the smell of wet pet food, dog or cat, from a can is beyond gagging NASTY.
posted by HeyAllie at 4:13 PM on August 18, 2017

Baby food - turkey, chicken, or beef - is like super cat crack. It's just meat + water + cornstarch. Much higher calorie than the broth treat pouches. Once the cat regularly eats baby food, you can use as a topper to wet food as a way to transition back to cat food.
posted by countrymod at 4:38 PM on August 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

Another vote for baby food. My pickiest won't turn it down.
posted by peakcomm at 4:39 PM on August 18, 2017

(Mine turned up her nose at baby food. Cats, man.)

One of the things that we needed to do right after the surgery was up her pain meds a bit - at first she wouldn't eat anything because her mouth hurt and she didn't want to move it. If your kitty seems interested in the food but won't actually touch it, it might be worth checking.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:42 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

My cat similarly rejects soft food, so I was worried about having dental work done. But, we softened her dry food and after a few cautious sniffs she ate it, and that worked perfectly for the healing period. I didn't need to give her anything else.
posted by Secretariat at 5:00 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Baby food, dry food soaked in water, but also you might look for kitten milk replacement stuff at your pet store. You wouldn't want to feed that as regular food on a long-term basis but if your cat will drink it for a few days, that might bridge the gap while his mouth heals up.
posted by Stacey at 5:15 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Our adopted cat had to have all his teeth removed a few months after turning up. He was back on biscuits within 48 hours, so perhaps consider whether the vet advice is over-cautionary.
posted by biffa at 5:24 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

People food. You might try, just for this week, people food minced very small. Many cats love minced rare steak. If the outside of the steak has been seared in butter the inside can be bloody and if the cat has ever been a mouser this might reduce him to growling with eagerness when he smells it. If you feed him something like your canned meatballs because he seems interested in the smell when you open the can check the ingredients before feeding him. He should not get anything that contains onions, as that can be toxic to cats.

Be aware that if he has lost all his teeth he may not be able to eat dry food any more because he can't chew any longer.

Also try simply crushing the dry food into tiny bits, if he is unwilling to eat it wet.

Make sure he has lots and lots and lots and lots of water.

Twenty-five years ago, trying to be a good cat steward, I made sure to only feed my cats on cat food as I was told feeding them people food would make them obese and introduce bad stuff into their diet. But the dietary advice I was given then changed both for me and for my cats, and what was forbidden became recommended and vice versa. It occurred to me that having cats would would not eat anything but dry food put them at risk when there were supply problems so now I feed my last cat canned food, and on people food regularly making sure that he only gets food of animal origin. My logic is that a cat would have evolved eating a diet that consisted primarily of small birds, rodents, insects, eggs and carrion, and very little vegetable matter, primarily what was in the digestive systems and crops of the animals it ate. But this means that I do not avoid "animal by products" the ground up bone, sinews, feathers and skin commonly found in cat food because it is a normal part of a wild or feral cats diet, although of course wild cats usually sick it up again because they swallow it in chunks rather than swallowing it after it has been ground to a paste. Anyway, my cat gets any kind of meat, and unsalted butter or lard if I fry it, and he can have egg
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:35 PM on August 18, 2017

Seconding baby food and canned tuna/salmon. Also try mashed cooked egg yolks, which helped my elderly cat through her last days.
posted by she's not there at 6:08 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

2 of my 3 cats are completely toothless, the third just had a couple removed as well (lots of severe stomatitis in my feline family... cat genetics suck!). The vet also told me no dry food for a week. However as after each surgery I also had two other cats eating dry food... so that didn't go so well. I think I was successful for a day or two with each cat. Both toothless cats each eat dry just fine now - in fact, its probably easier for them now than it was because they are no longer in pain. Everybody was fine post-surgery despite the hastened consumption of kibble. I would definitely try to keep kitty away from the dry if you can, but after a day or so it's going to be more important that he eat something rather than nothing.

Other things I would try: tuna juice to soften the dry food, tuna from a can, canned salmon, baby food, and if you have a weirdo cat like me, the sausage and egg from a mcmuffin ;) Cheese bits are also good. If you know your cat isn't lactose intolerant (a lot are), cream or milk to soften dry food may also work. (If you do have a lactose intolerant cat, i think it was goats milk they can handle... but double check that). You can also try pureeing things, even dry food, with water or other cat-appealing liquids.
posted by cgg at 6:10 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

We've adopted many older cats with mouth problems over the years. Our vets remind us: CATS DO NOT CHEW. They gulp. (In the wild they tear off a piece, then they gulp.) So you're not trying to find something smooth, you're trying to find something they want to eat despite mouth pain, and possibly nausea from the anesthetic. As to what works, restless_nomad nails it. Cats, man.
posted by kestralwing at 1:35 AM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mine was allowed to go back on biscuits with a few days. This was good because a license to eat wet food for all meals (usually it's dinner only) was naturally met with a desire to eat biscuits only and rejection of all favourite wet foods. Cats, man.
posted by kitten magic at 1:52 AM on August 19, 2017

My kitties love baby food, but check the label to make sure it doesn't have onion or garlic.
posted by merejane at 11:22 AM on August 19, 2017

My vet told me once that every cat, no matter how sick, will eat baby food. (YMMV) Look for the meat flavors like ham or turkey, which are harder to find than the fruits and vegetables. Nutrition bonus- it's pretty much just that one ingredient, plus water. No byproducts, fillers, etc. Good luck, and happy healing!
posted by Neeuq Nus at 10:49 AM on August 20, 2017

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