Sick kitty needs nose to work again.
January 26, 2007 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Tips for getting a sick pussycat on a feeding tube to eat by mouth again (and a cautionary tale)?

Lots of information below before I get to the question, because this situation took us terribly by surprise and I hope anyone in a similar situation will see the warning signs we missed. It could save your kitty's life.

In late December, our cat Jason got a cortisone shot for his feline acne. He soon developed the sniffles, and passed whatever he picked up at the vet to the other two indoor cats. The vet denied that anything viral or bacterial could have been picked up at the office, but did admit that cortisone might have lowered Jason's immunity, causing a flare up of something he already was carrying. If that's so, it's unfortunate he didn't suggest quarentining Jason when we brought him home to make sure he stayed healthy. The vet said to keep an eye on the cats and bring them in a few days if they seemed to be getting worse. For the moment they seemed to just have bad colds, though Jason was almost over his.

A couple days later, we came home in the evening to find the smallest cat, 11-year-old Talullah, hunkered down on the kitchen floor panting. Her nose was caked with hard snot and her white chin was dark with stuff that had run down her face. We cleaned her nostrils out with wet Q-Tips, squirted some water in her mouth and warmed her up, and she seemed to perk up a little. My husband wrapped her in a towel and let her sleep on his chest, and we planned to take her to the vet in the morning. Before dawn he got up to give her more water, and she gasped and died.

So in the morning it was Evel, the 16-year-old, who was rushed to the vet, along with his sister's body. The vet was shocked Talullah had become so sick so fast. Evel was immediately put on a drip with antibiotics, and after a few days the vet wanted to put him under and insert a feeding tube. He was extremely listless and congested, and I was very concerned he would not survive anesthesia. I asked if I could try to feed him by syringe rather than put him under, and I was able to get a couple of small syringes of semi-liquid A/D food into him by working very slowly. The next day he had more energy, but no one else had been able to feed him orally. Told that if he did not eat soon he would die, we agreed to having the feeding tube inserted, and he took the surgery well.

The vet failed to diagnose the illness, and the antibiotics given did not seem to help. He showed an elevated white count that remained constant after more than a week of antibiotics. He became anemic, which the vet thought was due to too much drip hydration, and that was scaled back. Herpes was suggested as a possibility, as was Calicivirus. After talking with a friend whose cat had showed similar symptons and survived, I asked about it perhaps being Feline Chlamydia and the efficacy of trying Zithromax as a one-dose treatment, but the vet blew the suggestion off. Since Evel seemed to be getting better, I didn't press the matter.

After nine days in critical condition Evel began showing signs of his personality and energy returning, and after twelve days we brought him home with the tube still in his esophogus. The vet said he could be tube fed for a month or more without problems, but that the aim is to transition him back to oral eating. After two days home, he seems to be feeling reasonably well, but shows no interest in eating or drinking and spends most of his time lying in the sun. Tube feeding is quite difficult--the tube frequently gets clogged and requires great hand-strength to flush a little water in and then pull back to loosen and suck up the stuck food. With me holding Evel and my husband working the syringe it can be done, but it's messy and frustrating and hard on the cat. The sooner he starts eating, the better!

Here is our current care schedule:

3 times a day:
1) flush each nostril with 6cc saline solution
2) a little later, attempt to get him to eat moist canned salmon
3) when he refuses, flush 2-3 60cc tubes of watery, hand-blended A/D prescription diet food through his feeding tube, with frequent stops to unclog the tube, flushing it with water and papaya juice to break up clogs

morning and night: .9cc Clavamox antiobiotic by mouth, powder contents of lysine pill included in tube feeding, 1/4 tube each tincture of Osha and Goldenseal/Echinacea mixed with water in his feeding tube (recommended by herbalist friend to kickstart his immunity)

Although he is much less snotty than he was (there's some nostril caking in the mornings, but the saline flush seems to go right up into his sinuses, and he doesn't sneeze or blow much mucus out at all afterwards) and his eyes are only a little runny, Evel shows no interest in the salmon. He sometimes seems to be trying to smell it, sniffing and moving his face around the bowl, but there's none of the usual reaction to a fishy treat and he won't taste it.

I'm wondering if there are any tricks to get him smelling and eating again. Are there better foods to be trying? Should the food be heated? Is there anything beyond the saline flush that can be done to help the nose to regain its function? Maybe it's just a matter of time and shaking off this illness, whatever it is, but any suggestions from people who have had similar experiences with their cats would be most welcome.

Evel's a world class pussycat, very personable, affectionate and tough. We've got high hopes he'll make it through this tough time, and he welcomes your prayers, good wishes and bright ideas.
posted by Scram to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My sympathies for your kitties.

One of our cats was in very bad shape several years ago (right around when the 9/11 attacks happened here in NYC, which was also right when I lost my job... good times).

Her illness was different from what's afflicted your cats, but she too had a feeding tube inserted. She was suffering from hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver in plain English. This may have been brought on when she stopped eating due to stress (our younger cat had just been spayed, and was wearing one of those huge lampshades for a while; her appearance and smell greatly upset the older cat).

After a few days in the hospital, we brought her home, and I fed her three times a day thru the tube.

What I did was close the door of the room she was in (to keep her from bolting, but also to help her feel more secure), hold her down on a towel, and wrap the towel around her tightly, with only her head sticking out. Then I'd hold her between my knees, kneeling over her, and slowly put the food in thru the tube. I prepared the syringle full of food in advance.

It's not fun for you or the cat, but it does get a little easier, as you both get used to it. After help from my wife for the first couple of days, I was soon doing it by myself.

In Emily's case, her appetite for regular food did eventually come back, but it took about two weeks, maybe a bit longer.

Good luck.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 5:45 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: I'm sorry about your cat! I don't know anything about feeding tubes, but I have been waging a long struggle trying to get one of my own cats to eat after severe gum disease caused her long-term oral pain and the loss of most of her teeth.

What I've found so far is that even when flare-ups are so bad that she seems to be actively afraid of food, she is still very tempted by meat-flavored baby food. She seems to really like the smell, so maybe it would be worth a try, if only as a transitional step back to regular cat food.

A couple of things to be aware of - some brands contain onion powder, which is bad for cats, so read the labels and make sure there's no onion in the flavors you buy. And while I've read that some cats will take flavors that are meat and vegetables or rice, mine only likes the stuff that is purely meat-flavored. So you might pick up just a couple of jars of those flavors to try out, and then branch out if it works.
posted by Stacey at 5:47 PM on January 26, 2007

P.S. We also tried tempting Emily with salmon. She more or less ignored it for a long time. Like I said, it took at least two weeks for her to get her appetite back. I would keep doing what you're doing, and don't stress too much right now if Elmer passes on the salmon -- it sounds like it's only been a couple of days yet.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 5:48 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: Just remembered another tip from my vet: If he does get to the point where he'll take canned food, but only in small amounts, try kitten food if you're concerned he's not getting enough nutrition. She said it's more caloric than adult canned food, so if there's any concern about getting enough calories into your cat, that can be a good solution.
posted by Stacey at 5:51 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: I really don't know if this applies (and I sorta wish your vet would step up to the plate), but my vet says cats develop stomach acid if they don't eat and therefore nausea very easily, and it inhibits them from eating. When one of my guys had a bad reaction to meds about six months ago and stopped eating (dangerous, as above), she recommended human Pedcid AC, half a tab, half hour before feeding time. There was still a week or so where I gave him beef or chicken baby food, forcefed through a syringe. Good news is, he's still here, eats cat food now, and purrs like the dickens. He's happy again, and he's 16.

Sincere best wishes for you and yours - it's clear you take good care, and it's just finding out what works.
posted by vers at 6:00 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: I am so sorry your kitty is sick! I have had decent luck getting cats to eat by warming the food--it seems to increase the aroma, and this helps encourage them to eat. I also second the baby food suggestion above, as well as warmed fishy cat food. Gross, but it works.

When my kitten had a severe upper respiratory infection, the vet recommended an over the counter nasal decongestant drop for children that we put in her nose. It had to be diluted (the vet did this for us), and I will try to find out the name of it and get back to you. Maybe you could ask your vet about this?

You might also try a tiny (few drops) amount of Coke in the feeding tube to help with the clogs.

It may take quite a while for your kitty to regain his appetite--hang in there and good luck!
posted by shakobe at 6:29 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: Get meat baby foods (gerbers, heinz, etc are good), veal, turkey, chicken, and beef. Not mixed with any veg or rice, just the pure meat baby food. Scrape it on the roof of kitty's mouth with your index finger, if she doesn't lick it off on her own. Meat baby foods are very smelly and have a high flavour concentrate, and many many cats who are inappetant due to illness respond to them very well, and regain their desire to eat. Good luck!
posted by zarah at 7:06 PM on January 26, 2007

Oops, sorry your kitty is a boy, not a girl. Also wanted to add that cats become inappetant during illness often because they lose their sense of smell & they need their sense of smell to activate their digestive system. If it's not activated they sort of go anorexic. This is why the smelly meat baby foods are often so effective in bringing back their appetite.
posted by zarah at 7:11 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: I'm so sorry your cat is sick.

We had some cat-won't-eat trauma not too long ago. It didn't result in a feeding tube, but it was stressful. Try baby food - turkey, beef, whatever - but read the ingredients to make sure it doesn't have onion in it (poisonous to cats). We also hied ourselves to a pet food store and bought two cans of just about everything, since non-eating cat is not normally a wet-food eater, and the wet food therefore had to be very very tempting. On the advice of a neighbor with lots of cats, we also dosed him with a syringefull of dissolved nux vomica, which is a homeopathic remedy. I think homeopathy is kind of silly, but he's my cat! I can't swear it helped (though he would often head right for the food bowl after getting a dose), but it won't hurt either, since it's sugar and water.

Our vet never really figured out what made him stop eating in the first place - possibly a stomach virus - but the consensus was that the nausea made him not want to eat...and not eating increased the nausea. Sigh. Fortunately, tempting him with little spoonfuls of various kinds of wet food seemed to work, and he's now back to normal.

Perhaps consider a different vet for a second opinion, if your cat doesn't seem to improve to the point of feeding tube-removal. Good luck.
posted by rtha at 7:14 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: I can't add much to the feeding advice here, other than to say that I hope biscotti drops by this thread. However, if your vet was not very concerned about the upper respritory infection/symptoms your cat was showing, get another vet. Upper respritory things are very, very serious for cats, and if you have a small animal vet that doesn't get that, then you really, really need to find a new one.

Good luck. I hope Evel is feeling better soon.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:31 PM on January 26, 2007

I am so sorry to hear the loss of your kitty and the sickness of your other. I certianly hope, like others have said, that your vet steps up and gets a good hand on the situation. I am not sure if this will help you or not, but when I had to feed our kittens and puppies for nutrition, we mixed baby cereal with goats milk and karo syrup.
I am thinking the karo syrup would be to thick, but maybe the goats milk and dried baby cereal would help (the cereal is the one that is all flaky)

Good luck and love to your kitty.
posted by ForeverDcember at 8:05 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: So sorry about all your kitty trauma.

When we got our boys they came with a nasty upper respiratory infection and though we didn't have a feeding tube, I got very good at oral syringe feeding. We went through the effort of trying what seemed like every wet food in the world, but in the end what seemed to help most was getting food in through their mouths.
posted by advicepig at 8:32 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: When my cat went off his food (supposedly very dangerous, like AE mentioned), the only thing that got him eating again was Fancy Feast Shrimp and Tuna Feast. That stuff smells so strong, but it's one of the best for getting past the "I can't smell it so I'm not eating" problem. We heated it for about 15 seconds on low power in the microwave, just to get it slightly warm. Also try some fresh catnip - I did this in combo with the FF, and it seemed to stimulate him enough so that he felt like eating. Or maybe he just had the munchies. :)

I had a Siamese that went down this quickly - I had just adopted him from the pound, and one week later/over $800 in vet bills later, he was gone. They never knew the cause, but his symptoms were similar to Evel's. I'm glad to hear your guy is doing better.
posted by Liosliath at 8:52 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: The most important thing is to get him to eat. Swaddle him like a baby, hold him in your lap, and using a syringe, squirt warm baby food (pureed meat) into his mouth 4 or 5 times a day. It sounds like he still has a lot of upper respiratory congestion. You may want to keep him in a small room with a steam vaporizer. Sit with him on your lap and talk softly to him as much as you can.

My vet claimed that babying and spoon feeding sick cats did more for them than all of the medicine in the world.

Good luck
posted by JujuB at 9:26 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: I would DEFINITELY get a second opinion, ideally from a vet who specializes in cats, but at least a different vet.

I agree with the suggestions to try baby food. When cats feel gross, sometimes very stinky things like fish are too overpowering and nauseate them. The only real use for the low end cat foods like Sheba is with sick cats - very few cats can resist the foods like that, but I would stay away from fish and pick chicken or beef, something blander.

What worked with my cat who was dying of kidney failure (and he lived happily for two years when the vet gave him six months at the outside) was occasional force-feeding. I had strict rules about how long I would do this to him, because it's not pleasant and animals definitely seem to care far more about quality of life than anything else, however, it did work to get him out of the cycle of not eating-feeling yucky because he wasn't eating-not eating-etc.

Part of the problem is most likely simply that your cat hasn't really eaten in a while, and the feeding tube means he isn't really hungry, plus the antibiotics are likely adding to the problem by making him nauseous. Has your vet not suggested valium? Valium makes anorexic cats eat with pretty good reliability. If you aren't giving him any water by mouth I might try that first, his throat may be very dry which sure isn't going to help him want to eat. I would try starting with something bland, beef or chicken baby food, some kind of cheap cat food, or a/d. Put a dab on your finger and put it on his tongue. If he won't swallow it or spits it out, you may actually need to make a tiny meatball and put it way to the back of his throat. I would only try and get a tiny bit of food down him at any one time, and give him a couple of hours at least between feedings. My personal rule is that if regular force-feeding doesn't get a cat eating again in 4 days or so, it might not work at all.

I would consider stopping the herbs unless you can find a naturopathic vet who can advise you on them, they may not be helping with his appetite.

I'm sorry your cat is so sick, that's a world of no-fun, he's lucky to have owners like you.
posted by biscotti at 10:10 PM on January 26, 2007

Oh and as JujuB says: warm food is definitely the way to go - cats smell and taste food much better when it's warm and even hurfdurf cats will often refuse cold food.
posted by biscotti at 10:11 PM on January 26, 2007

Best answer: I'm sorry Evel and you are having such a rough time.

I don't have too much to add to the good advice above, but definately second getting another veterinary opinion (try and find a cat specialist) and withdrawing the herbal treatments. Often herbs that are fine for humans are not fine for cats. Only a vet who has trained in herbalism will be able to tell you for sure.

Steam inhalation before you try and feed him, may help with the mucous/caking problem and also may provide some relief from any soreness Evel is feeling in his nostrils, sinuses and throat. Who ever feels like eating when their nose is blocked and they can't taste their food? Try taking Evel into the shower/bathroom with you when you bathe, just let him settle in the room with you. If he won't settle and doesn't mind being placed in an open wired carrier, then put him in that for the duration.

The second method is to put some just boiled water into a stable bowl near to you (about 18" away)at lap height - do not add any essential oils/ decongestant oils of any kind into the water. Place Evel on your lap, relax yourself and let him inhale some of that steam. Don't force him close to the steam, safety is obviously paramount here. About ten minutes will be enough.

With the recommendation of my own vet, I've added one teaspoon of Tincture of Benzoin (aka Friar's Balsam) to the water. I have seen this help many a cat with congested nostrils. Ask your own vet first before using Tincture of Benzoin.

Evel's mouth/nostrils may be sore from the vital interventions he's had already. Ask your vet if a low dose non-steroidal, anti-inflamatory would ease this. If any of the steroid treatment Evel has had already is still present in his system then this approach may not be possible as non-steroidal anti-inflamatory drugs are contraindicated with many steroids.

Good luck, it sounds as if you are doing all you can to aid his recovery, he's lucky to have you as his human.
posted by Arqa at 1:50 AM on January 27, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for the great feedback and kind words. I have a lot of best answers to click.

The suggestion of wrapping him in a towel for tube feeding rather than just holding him on top of a flat towel was really helpful -- he seemed to feel safer and didn't get meat all over his fur last night. Yay! I felt really bad about getting him wet while cleaning him up, especially at night.

After his dinner I filled a hot water bottle, and put it next to him while he was sleeping. When I peeked in a little later he was using it as a pillow, and he slept curled around it all night.

This morning I let Evel rest next to some steaming water for a spell, then tried to get him to take some all-beef baby food by mouth while holding him swaddled on my lap. I found that what worked best was smearing a small dollop on his upper lip, which he immediately licked off, but this only gave him a tiny bit of food over about 15 minutes. He was really unhappy with the food coming at him in the syringe, and I didn't want to stress him. We decided this is a good start for his first oral feeding, are letting him rest for 20 minutes and will tube feed him.

We now have a recommendation of a good cat specialist who we will take Evel to for a second opinion. The vet we saw was not ours, but a relative's dog's vet. Our cats have never needed regular vet care, and the local vet where I was buying their prescription dry food had a fire over the summer and has not re-opened, so we started all this trouble by taking Jason to the only other vet my husband was familar with. Never again!

I plan to follow up with one or both vets on the suggestions of an anti-inflamatory, nux vomica and Friar's Balsalm, and have discontinued the herbs for now. Thanks again from me and Evel, will keep you all posted on his progress.
posted by Scram at 10:19 AM on January 27, 2007

Response by poster: P.S. We warmed the baby food to a little above body temp in a warm water bath. I didn't think the beef was all that smelly, but I don't have a great sense of smell. Will try a different variety next feeding, maybe there is another he will like more.
posted by Scram at 10:23 AM on January 27, 2007

Response by poster: Report from the easiest tube feeding yet: we have been using 2-3 60cc tubes filled with liquified, blended A/D, with a lot of clogging and associated delay. This time we underfilled the syringes, 30-45cc each, which allowed much better leverage and no need to stop midway for my husband to adjust his grip. The feeding went very quick, no clogs, and Evel was fed and back in his sunny spot within 5 minutes.
posted by Scram at 10:35 AM on January 27, 2007

I'm glad you're having some success. Re: Anti-inflammatories (usually in my experience prednisone) -- it will make him very thirsty, if he is prescribed them. Our vet is pretty old skool and has treated our kids with prednisone before with great results -- basically, if there is inflammation, you make it go away and treat what is left.

I hope Evel feels better soon.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:49 AM on January 27, 2007

Scram and Evel, it's good to read you are having some success. Evel get well soon.
posted by Arqa at 5:09 PM on January 27, 2007

Checking back in to see how he's doing - I'm glad you guys are doing better and have a new vet. A vet you can build up a good ongoing relationship with is priceless. Keep us updated!
posted by Stacey at 6:27 PM on January 27, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for checking in. Evel is in good spirits today, most of which he spent on my lap. He's so patient with all the poking and fuss. I'm very proud of him.

I got him to take about 9ML of chicken baby food at lunch via syringe, then switched to the tube. For dinner we just went straight to the tube, since everyone is tired. Feeding is pretty fast with the half full syringes, though they did clog a couple of times. We're making the food wetter to help with flow, but this has introduced more air into the tube, and we've heard some gurgling from it and burps from the kitty. Reported this to the vet who said it shouldn't be a problem.

We picked up a humidifier and are running it in Evel's room (he's quarantined from Jason). We have an appointment with a feline vet in Hollywood on Tuesday night who our friends say is wonderful, and will ask him to look over Evel's charts, evaluate his condition and advise us on what he thinks will get him back to health.
posted by Scram at 10:22 PM on January 27, 2007

Response by poster: This is a great morning: Evel ate a couple of tablespoons of chicken baby food on his own. We have decided that if he'll eat the whole jar by noon he doesn't have to be tubed this morning.

We also signed up for pet insurance for both he and Jason, the Pet Care indoor cat plan. This is something we've been debating for a while, but $250/year seems a good investment in peace of mind for now. Evel's care has been over $3000 so far, and we can't afford another hit like this. Of course they won't cover aftercare for the current situation.

Now that Evel is rallying, I have been thinking about something that was so disturbing that I kind of blocked it out last week. The distinctively striped towel that his sister's body was brought wrapped in showed up in Evel's cage at one point during his care. Earlier, my husband saw it in a stack of towels in the kennel/operating room and asked an assistant to move it so he wouldn't have to look at it. That was very upsetting to see, and didn't inspire much confidence in the vet's concepts of hygiene and quarantine. I was also disturbed that Evel's cage, and those of other sick animals, were directly in the line of sight of the table where animals were being operated on. One time while I was there spending time with Evel, a dog was unconscious on the table having its teeth cleaned, and I thought it must frighten the other animals to see, hear and smell dogs and cats whimpering, bleeding, soiling themselves and being knocked out. (At that point Evel was very depressed, facing away from the opening in his cage and leaning his nose against the cold steel.) Do all vets keep conscious animals caged in the OR?
posted by Scram at 8:47 AM on January 28, 2007

Evel sounds like he is doing better! Keep up the good work.
posted by JujuB at 8:09 PM on January 28, 2007

That was very upsetting to see, and didn't inspire much confidence in the vet's concepts of hygiene and quarantine

I understand why it was upsetting, but it shouldn't cause any concern about hygiene and quarantine - almost all vet clinics have in-house laundry facilities or send their laundry out. Everything gets washed in hot water between uses, I don't know a single vet clinic that reuses dirty towels.

Most clinics don't do minor procedures like teeth cleaning (and other minor procedures like minor suturing jobs, sometimes kitten neuters, etc.) in the OR, they do it in the "treatment area" which is usually in a central part of the clinic. Again, I have never been in the back of a vet clinic which DIDN'T have a treatment area which also had hospitalized animals in it. This is the norm for vet clinics, the actual OR, where surgeries are performed, is normally in a separate room without any animals but the one being operated on.

I'm glad to hear Evel is eating! You're obviously doing a great job, he's a lucky kitty.
posted by biscotti at 1:33 PM on January 29, 2007

Response by poster: Evel isn't interested in eating today, so we're back on the tube, but will keep trying at every mealtime. He's going to see the other vet tomorrow, and perhaps we'll get a script for something that will encourage his appetite.

Thanks for the insight, biscotti. You're right, there was a separate room where I glimpsed a major surgery taking place, so I guess that was just the treatment area in front of Evel's cage. But that dental treatment was pretty intense, and I bet it would be easier on other critters not to see things like that.

Of course I realized that the towel had been washed in hot water, but when a cat has died from unknown causes inside it, I'd rather see them err on the side of caution and toss the towel.
posted by Scram at 6:42 PM on January 29, 2007

Sorry that Evel isn't eating, I hope the vet visit tomorrow helps.

I bet it would be easier on other critters not to see things like that.

Things like that look a lot worse to a person than an animal (especially if you're not used to what the "behind the scenes" things look like, plus you're stressed out about the catastrophically bad time you've been having with your pets). The critters rarely even notice, and most of the sociable ones are much happier out where the action is than shut away in the back, really. Vets wouldn't almost universally set up their clinics this way if it was harmful to the animals. I was a vet tech for years and I've seen only a handful of animals who were stressed at being caged in the treatment area, and for the most part these were fearful/unsociable/nervous/in pain animals who would likely have been stressed regardless - the majority have no problem with it.
posted by biscotti at 6:52 PM on January 29, 2007

Response by poster: Update on Evel's visit with his new vet, Dr. Reina: he looked at the blood panel from last week and expressed concern that, while Evel had been on a feeding tube and drip, his potassium was extremely low, which would make him feel crummy. He was also worried about how skinny he's become--despite three large tube meals most days, he's lost a pound since leaving the pet hospital. We were given an anti-nausea drug to dose him with twice a day, and have changed the feeding regimine to 20cc hourly. We also were given a drip system and are hydrating him by needle twice a day.

The best news was that there was no real reason to be quarantining him, since Jason already had whatever illness Evel's recovering from.* So kitty is now back in the main part of the house and not a pariah behind a closed door, and he seems to appreciate that.

*Dr. Reina suspects herpes based on the symptoms, including an ulcer that formed on Evel's tongue during his hospitalization, though he's surprised that would have killed Talullah; my indoor cats haven't been vaccinated since they were kittens, and as older cats would have been vulnerable to the virus. Jason used to be an outdoor cat, and was vaccinated yearly until 2003. Dr. Reina recommends vaccinating indoor cats every three years. Having cats with no health issues over more than a decade meant I neglected this, and I wish I'd known it was important.
posted by Scram at 8:37 AM on January 31, 2007

Thanks for the update. I'm glad that the new vet was able to find and (start to) fix things. Best of luck to Evel - give him a skritch for me.
posted by rtha at 2:00 PM on January 31, 2007

Response by poster: Just an update, Evel's getting stronger and more frisky, which makes it harder to tube feed and hydrate him, but with two people for most tasks we're managing. He's roaming around the apartment, checking out the food and water bowls (though not eating yet) and the hair they shaved off his front legs for the IV is starting to grow back. His stomach is pretty upset, probably from two+ weeks of antibiotics (I'm giving him yogurt a couple times a day to help with this) but he's holding most of his food down and gaining a little weight.

For anyone else who ever has to do this, note that we've had more success feeding him with smaller syringes, 35cc instead of 60cc, which are easier to empty in a single push. Any time you stop the flow of food it tends to clog the tube. Also, whipping the prepared food slurry up with a blender or similar every couple of hours keeps it from getting too thick.
posted by Scram at 4:21 PM on February 2, 2007

I'm really glad to hear that Evel is improving, he's been a very sick fella and he's lucky to have such dilligent humans caring for him. Good luck Evel & Scram!
posted by Arqa at 5:11 PM on February 2, 2007

Response by poster: Hurrah for Evel, who went to the food bowl today and nibbled some kibble. We're going to keep him on the tube feedings and drip until he sees his vet again tomorrow evening, but this is a most auspicious sign of his return to health. Thanks again for all the support and advice as we got the little guy through his crisis. Meow!
posted by Scram at 8:14 AM on February 4, 2007

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