When cats get sick they stop eating. So to keep them hydrated and nutritioned you need to force feed that is feed your cat liquefied food via a feeding tube or syringe. If your cat is not eating properly first get it checked, it might be that it has a bad tooth or abscess or any sickness which needs to be treated.
Like humans, cats also feel sick sometimes and lose appetite. Here comes your duty as their carer and owner to take care of their body and mind. This includes force feeding sometimes. But you should also be aware of when to stop force feeding your kitten. Force feeding should be stopped when —-
- When the cat vomits: Cats often vomit but when the vomiting doesn’t stop, it becomes a serious matter. Any sickness or force-feeding can cause vomiting. So, when your cat vomits you should stop force feeding as vomiting can cause aspirations which will result in lung inflammation in cats. Vomiting can also cause pneumonia or other pulmonary severe infections. You might need to change your method of force feeding to keep your cat well nutritioned. You can try feeding him 1 teaspoon in 20 to 25 minutes.
- When the cat starts grinding its teeth: When you have fed your cat excessively, it will start grinding its teeth. When you hear that, know it is time for you to stop force feeding. Force feeding includes syringes or feeding tubes, which are not very comfortable for pets, especially cats. Longer use of these equipment can inflict pain upon your little cat. When you insert a feeding tube almost everyday the cat’s jaw gets tired. Having periodontal disease or dental issues can also cause pain during force feeding which is an unpleasant experience for the cats. So, if your cat has dental diseases, get it treated first and stop force feeding for the time being and look for alternative methods to input calories into your kitten.
- When you don’t know how to force feed a cat properly: If you don’t know the proper way to force feed a cat you should not even try to do it by yourself. Force feeding needs proper training and practise. Otherwise you can significantly hurt your cat. Force feeding is a very delicate and careful process. However the name Force feeding sounds, you should not put any unnecessary force on your little cat. You have to learn how to properly position him otherwise, it would vomit and you could suffocate it. The syringe should be injected into the cat’s cheek pockets, it’s head should be in normal position, you should not inject syringe into its throat etc are the things you should learn before force feeding your cat.
- When your cat has ideal weight: Like us cats also have ideal weights according to their heights and ages. So when your cat has reached its ideal weight you should stop force feeding. It will eat on its own. Sometimes, they are stressed or do not feel good so they take a break from eating but they start eating as their stress level goes down or they start feeling better. Give you cat some time, keep checking up on him and if it starts eating like usual after some time consider everything okay. You don’t want your cat to be overweight because then it will have other problems like not enough self grooming, not doing any activity, developing multiple bad habits etc which can cause bigger problems later on.
- When the cat starts eating normally: During the time of sickness cats stop eating. Then you need to force feed but as they recover they would want to go back to their usual routine. No one wants to be fed from a tube or syringe everyday of their life. So, there is an easy way to check if your cat is ready to eat on its own or not. Start his day by giving him the food that he used to eat normally when he was healthy. If he eats that it is a sign that he wants to go back to the usual eating habit. Then you can stop force feeding your cat.
Is it bad to force feed a cat?
According to Ollivett et al, 2012 force feeding a diseased animal will increase its mortality rate(means the cat will die sooner). So, it suggests that it is best if we can avoid force feeding. Issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) published a paper on January 1, 2012 which claimed that stress can be the cause of poor appetite among cats. It can cause vomiting, urinating and pooping outside of the litter box, less energetic and avoiding social contacts. As the stress level goes down these symptoms also disappear. All in all force feeding is not an option you should choose, try to look for an alternative if you can’t only then try force feeding.
How often to force feed a cat?
An average indoor cat needs 180 to 250 calories per day. If you stay home you can feed your cat small portions of food throughout the day but if u are a working person and stay out most of the day you have to feed your cat at least 3 times a day, you can decide the time according to your daily routine. You can feed 3 or 4 full 12 cc syringes to your cat but keep an eye, do not feed him so much that he throws up. However, if the cat throws up feed him again 30 minutes to 1 hour later and this time give half of what you fed him earlier. But if it is a sick or diseased cat you should take him to a vet, discuss the disease and then know from the vet what he should eat and how often he should eat. Because food will be different as he is going through medications and treatments.
Ways to encourage your cat to eat?
You can encourage a cat to eat by doing several things, you can tempt him to try something new which the cat can not resist, something that he really likes.
- You can buy him a few types of canned food like paste style or flaked etc in different flavors. Heat it up slightly. If he still is not tempted try adding a little bit of fish oil or chicken broth or tuna juice or cooked egg.
- You can also try putting Bonito flakes which are the thin shavings of tuna fish on top of the warm soft cat food.
- Try taking him to a quieter place in the house, pet him, praise him, talk softly, spend time with him, also try hand feeding which is quite effective.
- Cats need a lot of attention and when they do not get it they throw tantrums. So, feeding your cat with your own hand will give him the attention he needs or wants and he might start eating again.
- If these methods do not work you can try giving him appetite stimulant (they stimulate cat’s appetite causing them to eat on their own accord) like mirtazapine or cyproheptadine.
What to feed a sick cat that won’t eat?
- Chicken and rice , no seasoning. Seasoning will make the tummies upset so avoid putting any at all. It will taste bland but it has all the nutrients that your kitten needs.
- Pasta and boiled burger mince, cook them separately and then mix them. Cool them down and then give it to your cat. They have similar nutrients like chicken and rice, but have more flavor to it than rice and chicken. Fats can be boiled away so always remember not to fry the burger mince, just boil. Fat can upset their tummies.
- Chicken soup, there are many recipes available on the internet. No seasoning should be added. Serve small portions of chicken soup after it has cooled down. However, you can not give your cat chicken soup everyday as it doesn’t have all the nutrients your pet needs.
- Human baby foods are good for cats as baby foods are harmless for them. Babies can not process food like adults so their foods are made in such a way that is easy on their stomachs. Thus these foods are good for cats too. Besides these foods contain all the nutrients.
- Prescription diet and tuna water, please understand you can not give the cat actual tuna fish only tuna water. Tuna water is water drained from tuna cans. Prescription foods are not very appealing, tuna water brings a little bit of flavor which will do no harm to your kitten.