My cat is losing weight and won't eat

by Lori
(Mt. Laurel, NJ USA)

I have a 10 year old tabby, Alex, who is my best friend. He is continuously losing weight. He's been under a vet's care for over 2 years.

Three years ago, he was a healthy 15 lbs. Now he's 11.5. He hardly eats now. He's been on steroids and B12 shots for a year. He vomits five out of seven days.

His blood work is always good. Because of the unreasonable cost for ultrasound and X-rays, he has not had them.

I am unable to continue this never ending cycle with Alex. I can't do a good job cleaning up after him as I can't get down on my knees to scrub the rug.

I was again at the vet two days ago and we discussed trying more steroids for another month or so. If this doesn't help, we may have to say goodbye.

He gets wet food in the a.m. and now he only licks the gravy. Dry food is always out but I never see him eating. The only thing he eats is treats - he keeps them down.

Please let me know if you can recommend a food I can make or buy that will give him nutrition and keep him from losing any more weight. Also if you have any advice on his weight loss issue. Thank you.

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Jul 29, 2018
Alex/Losing weight
by: Lora W.

I just read Kurt's comments and I can't add much to the subject, except perhaps Alex has allergies that interfere with his sense of smell. And if he can't smell his food, he won't eat it.We have a cat, ( Oski ), who had problems several years ago with not eating. He had always been a very healthy eater so we were very concerned. It turned out to be an allergy that was blocking his sense of smell. After that diagnosis, he began eating again ( after the allergy injection ).
Please, get another opinion from another vet. Alex is too precious to give up on !

Jul 29, 2018
Cat losing weight
by: Rosalyn Brown

I have an 18 yrs young cat and she was always eating, wet only as she stopped eating the dry but as she would eat crunchy treats, I ruled out problems with teeth. Took her to vet and did senior labs. Can back fine, they asked for a T3 T4 separate panel. Came back fine. Went back for a free diabetes check. Came back fine. Also no worms. I have had 9 rescue cats over the years and now only 5. due to cancer. The vomiting sounds bad as if that is the case they get dehydrated fast. Good luck and I hope your cat gets well soon. Just wanted to share as we all have to help each other.

Jul 29, 2018
Some resources on cat nutrition
by: Kurt (Admin)

I'm sorry to hear your cat is ill. I don't know what you and your vet have discussed, but my opinion is that your vet should be guiding you on how to get him to eat, and giving you advice on food options so he gets the nutrition he needs.

If your vet has no ideas on the subject or no interest in helping you in this way, I'd find another vet who can help.

I know it's expensive, but if you can find a way to pay for the tests, X-rays and ultrasound may be revealing. For example, severe hairballs can't be seen from the outside, but can cause chronic vomiting and loss of appetite, and may require surgery to remove.

I'd also consider getting a second opinion from an internal medicine specialist, preferably one who works exclusively with cats. If there's a university with a veterinary school near you, you might want to look into that as well.

To encourage Alex to eat (again, your vet should have ideas for this)...

Some rescuers I've known sometimes use baby food to get sick cats to eat. Others use tuna, or sardines or salmon (something with a strong smell), but tuna has too much mercury so a little goes a long way.

Pour a little tuna juice (from a can of tuna and water) over his wet food and see if he goes for it, or maybe mix a little with his dry food. You may have to feed him by hand.

A cat can't live on baby food or tuna alone, so if he'll only eat the baby food or tuna, he won't be getting all the nutrients he needs. To get complete nutrition for a cat (cats especially need adequate amounts of taurine), you could look into adding the mix people use for raw food diets. If he'll eat baby food, you might be able to blend in the raw food diet mix so he gets his vitamins.

You might be able to switch him to raw food or add raw food to his diet. I've never done it and there's some controversy over it, but some cat parents swear by it. Given the situation, it may be worth looking into.

I would not do any of the above without consulting your vet first.

Here are some resources that may help:

Feline nutrition information

Information on feeding cats raw food and homemade diets

Ask a veterinarian (paid consultation service)

Camuti Consultation Service (paid service)

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