– Try different types of food to see if your cat likes a different brand or flavor.
– Warm the food slightly.
– Add a little bit of something with a strong odor — a little tuna juice or tuna fish, for example.
– Consider hand feeding — once in a while. “Some cats will allow it,” says Dr. Ross. “You don’t want to do it too much, though. Your cat can actually get an aversion to food — associate it with being forced to eat. Also, you don’t want to get bitten, even if inadvertently.”
– If your cat has a chronic condition that persistently dampens appetite, your veterinarian may recommend that you take steps to improve your cat’s nutrition.
– “There are a few drugs that are used as appetite stimulants in cats,” says Dr. Ross. “They can sometimes be helpful. In my experience, they’re not that helpful, though. I don’t mind using them, but in most cases they don’t work very well in the long term. But they are good for a short boost to get the cat eating.”
– Sometimes cats don’t eat because they are nauseous, due to their medical condition. “Nausea can be treated,” says Dr. Ross. “There are drugs that are effective in treating nausea as well as increases in gastric acidity.”
– “We often recommend that owners use a feeding tube. It’s an owner’s individual decision.” The most common feeding tube is an “esophagostomy” or “E tube.” It’s inserted by the vet under a short bout of general anesthesia. “The E tube enters the esophagus and exits at the side of the neck. Animals can be fed food, water and medications through the tube.” After the initial insertion of the tube, owners can feed the cat at home. “If the animal can handle the short anesthesia, the tube can make life easier for everyone. When you’re ready to feed your cat, you remove the cap, and use a syringe to send food and water down the esophagus, and then you close it up and bandage it again. Not every owner is willing to do that type of feeding, but I know some cats who’ve had it in place for over a year. Sometimes, the cat can go back to oral feeding.”