My cat is starving
September 18, 2006 7:49 PM   Subscribe

What can we feed our cat in an emergency?

We have to buy our cat special prescription cat food from the vet, and it closed before we got off work. We have to leave tomorrow before it opens, and our kitty is hungry. Is there anything in our house that we can feed him to tide him over?
posted by ubu to Pets & Animals (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You could run to a convenience store and buy some cat food, since you are not going to feed him the prescription stuff anyway.
posted by melt away at 7:54 PM on September 18, 2006

Best answer: My vet recommends plain yogurt or plain canned pumpkin (not sweetened) in a pinch.
posted by mattbucher at 7:55 PM on September 18, 2006

- canned tuna
- bits of cheese
- bits of lunchmeat, chicken, turkey, etc.
- milk
- chicken/beef broth
- small insects, particularly moths and junebugs (I don't actively feed these to my cats, but they will eat them if they catch them)
- canned evaporated milk
- yogurt
posted by Ostara at 7:56 PM on September 18, 2006

Canned tuna? This is what we used to feed our cats in similar situation, but I don't know if it was actually good or bad for them.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:57 PM on September 18, 2006

I think the answer depends on why you're buying prescription food from the vet. Does your cat have allergies? Is it a low-ash diet for urinary issues?
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:04 PM on September 18, 2006

I once fed my cat Cheerios in a pinch, but I think the other suggestions are more viable.
posted by Zosia Blue at 8:04 PM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Tuna is the best emergency choice IMO. It contains taurine (essential for cats), it's readily available in most places and most cats will eat it.
posted by biscotti at 8:10 PM on September 18, 2006

posted by lobstah at 8:12 PM on September 18, 2006

Since he has to eat special prescription food, I assume there's a specific problem. In this case, I would recommend boiled chicken and rice. It should be easy for your cat to digest.
posted by La Gata at 8:27 PM on September 18, 2006

Aren't most sardines heavily salted? I would think that would be bad for a cat with dietary issues.

I would stick with tuna.

/I don't eat sardines, so forgive me if I'm wrong.
posted by quin at 8:30 PM on September 18, 2006

Best answer: Meat flavor babyfood also works in a pinch. When my cat was recovering from illness and wouldn't eat, we hand-fed him turkey and/or chicken babyfood, and then later used it as a treat for taking his medicine.

When I worked at an animal hospital we often used it to get very sick cats who wouldn't eat to take some nutrition in.
posted by tastybrains at 8:39 PM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Why is your kitty on prescription food?

The vet has one of mine on prescription stuff (specifically for urinary disorders).
She says it's OK to give him tuna in a pinch. It's even OK to give him his favorite food - garbonzo beans. Even the super cheap stuff, if only for a day, should be fine (unless your cat is in a critical state)
posted by zerokey at 8:41 PM on September 18, 2006

My cat loves Cheerios and scrambled eggs.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:02 PM on September 18, 2006

You people are weird!

I keep a stash of cheapo non-prescription cat food for times when I can't get to the vet for the special stuff. Can't you run to the corner store or the supermarket and get some regular cat food to tide you over?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:42 PM on September 18, 2006

My mom's cat loves cantelope.

My old cat loved popcorn.

My current cat would gladly kill me for a cube of cheddar.

(None of the three cats liked the other two foods I just listed. Just a matter of personal preference, I suppose.) As far as what's BEST to feed them when you're out of cat food, I use tuna or canned salmon in a pinch if I can't get to a pet food store. I've heard it's good to feed them hard boiled eggs every so often.
posted by np312 at 10:04 PM on September 18, 2006

This really really depends on why your cat is on a prescription. I had a cat on prescription food for ten months because of severe liver disease. Feeding him anything else, even once, ran the risk of killing him. Feeding him literally a couple of mouthfuls if the wrong thing would definitely kill him. Oh, and he had stomach problems so not feeding him wasn't an option either (would make him sick for days). He was only on the diet for ten months because that's how long he lived with the disorder (as in, he was put down after that). Regular cat food was very high on the list of dangerous foods.

There were a handful of things he could eat occasionally with only some effect on his health. However, there are several types of liver disorder each with radically different diet (so my recommendations could be dangrous), let alone all the other reasons for a prescription diet. Obviously my cat was pretty sick and it was a reasonably rare problem. There are lots of more mild things that it's much more likely your cat has. But until we know the exact problem we simply can not give you a recommendation that is safe. Please call your vet and ask their advice.
posted by shelleycat at 10:06 PM on September 18, 2006

i was always under the impression you shouldnt feed cats canned tuna/fish that comes in Brine. Maybe im wrong.
posted by lemonfridge at 3:58 AM on September 19, 2006

Here is a great essay on feeding cats.

It includes all the reasons not to feed a cat tuna. And remember, don't feed cats anything with onions!
posted by cda at 5:49 AM on September 19, 2006

Thanks for that essay, cda.

ubu: It might have been helpful to tell us why your cat needs the prescription food. Without knowing more, it's hard to say what to feed him.
posted by languagehat at 6:12 AM on September 19, 2006

We have two cats on perscription food (one for weight, one for bladder crystals), but feed them small amounts of grocery store food in emergencies with no ill effects (our Emergency Bag is Purina One, I think).
posted by COBRA! at 8:18 AM on September 19, 2006

Response by poster: He is on special food because he previously had crystals in his urine/bladder. Thanks for all the advice--very interesting cats out there!
posted by ubu at 8:54 AM on September 19, 2006

Thanks for that essay cda, I have always been under the impression that tuna HAD taurine (since a vet mentioned it to me, which in retrospect I should have questioned, since vets aren't nutritionists). I learned something. I do think that one or two meals of it aren't going to make any difference overall, mind you.
posted by biscotti at 10:05 AM on September 19, 2006

You can just feed them ground raw beef or turkey, mixed with some rice (leftovers are fine) and shredded veggies (I usually use zucchini)...add some chopped garlic for more smell appeal. This is basically human food but without additives, flavorings or sauces. You can feed them that all the time. Check out Anitra Frazier's "The New Natural Cat" which explains why feeding your cats raw food is great for them. Most pet stores carry frozen raw food which is pretty good quality. For cats with crystals (I have one) the most important thing is to keep the cat hydrated so that they urinate regularly, not allowing the crystals to form. Find out what kind of crystals they have; one forms from acid urine, another from alkaline urine. There is a food additive that you can buy to add to whatever food you are feeding them; one is for acidic urine, the other kind is for alkaline urine. Ask your vet which kind of crystals your cats has.
posted by kenzi23 at 4:16 PM on September 19, 2006

The essay linked above says that onions can be toxic to cats, and that one should avoid feeding garlic (in the same plant family) to be on the safe side.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:52 PM on September 19, 2006

Cats have very sensitive stomachs. I learned this the hard way when my cat got "plugged up" and I had to take her to the vet twice before I figured out I shouldn't change her food on a whim. Better to feed him plain cooked chicken than to change his cat food.
posted by Jess the Mess at 6:49 AM on September 20, 2006

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