Even if a cat has not yet developed FLS, a sudden and serious weight loss should be viewed seriously, and the cat should be coaxed to eat, in any way possible. Trying to tempt an anorexic cat to eat can be a frustrating experience, especially with an older cat, that might be easily stressed. I've assembled a list of helpful things to try, gleaned from suggestions by About Cats Forum members, as well as my experiences with my cat Shannon, who became anorexic in his final stages of FIV and CRF.
Keep Him Well-Hydrated
Dehydrated cats quickly lose their appetites. In fact, anorexic cats are more often than not dehydrated. Try flavoring his water with a small amount of sodium-free chicken broth, or even giving watered-down chicken broth a small teaspoon at a time. An automatic water dispenser may also tempt him to drink more water, which will also help guard against urinary tract problems.
Warm up Canned Food
Older cats' olifactory senses may deteriorate to the point that they can't smell their food. Try warming a small amount of canned food in a microwave oven. If it's too hot, add some more food right out of the can until it's a little warmer than room temperature. Then hold the dish right under his nose and let him get a good sniff. Alternatively, mix a small amount of hot water in the food and stir until it forms a sort of "gruel." Sometimes a senior cat's teeth and/or mouth may be sore, and they'd prefer a much softer food they can lick, rather than "chew."
Offer Canned Pumpkin
Plain canned pumpkin is loaded with vitamins, and more importantly, fiber. Most cats love the taste. Offer a small amount on the tip of a teaspoon, and if he likes it, give up to two teaspoons a day. Constipation goes along with anorexia, and the pumpkin will help. If your cat doesn't like it, you can always bake a pie with the remainder.
Human Baby Food
Plain meat is preferable, and make sure it doesn't contain onions. Try a number of flavors until you hit on one your cat likes. I also gave Shannon baby food squash and peas, and he readily ate both.
Try a New Food
Even if your cat has been on a premium quality diet, forget the labels for the time being, and look for "stinky" foods that might whet that ailing appetite. Some suggestions from the About Cats Forum members:
- Fancy Feast Seafood Filets Sardines Shrimp & Crab Gourmet Cat Food
- Fancy Feast Flaked Fish & Shrimp Feast Gourmet Cat Food
- Nutro Gourmet Classics Seafood and Tomato Bisque
- Nutro Gourmet Classics Savory Hunter's Stew with Duck
Use "Add-Ons" to Enhance the Flavor
- Try Tuna Juice: Although tuna is not generally recommended in quanity for cats, try adding some tuna juice to his regular food to spice up the taste. Use the water from albacore tuna, rather than the pink varieties.
- Clam Juice
- Sardines, minced fine
- Kitty Kaviar: This is available from most larger pet food stores. It is made of dried bonito (tuna), and is irresistible to cats. Dried bonito flakes are also marketed under Seagate Pet Gold Dried Bonito Flakes. You can also purchase dried Bonito flakes in bulk at some health food stores, or oriental markets - much more economical.
- Tuna Dash: Dried powdered tuna, available at CatClaws.com.
- Jack Mackeral: Either chop up over his food or offer separately.
The point is that "desperate times call for desperate means," and right now, your main consideration is not in what your cat is eating, so much as actually getting him to eat something.
Any cat, particularly an older one, that stops eating and loses weight rapidly should be taken to the veterinarian immediately, because anorexia and weight loss can be symptoms of a number of other diseases. Discuss these suggestions with your veterinarian, since each cat has a different health history.