cat grief

by Anna Bradley
(Adelaide, Australia)

I had 2 Siamese cats, brother and sister, 11.5 years old. Tess and Billy.

7 days ago Billy became ill and was taken to hospital, where he stayed until we brought him home to euthanise him.

For the last 5 days Tess has not eaten. I took her to the vets yesterday where they put her on a drip and did a blood test. Her bloods were normal but she was obviously dehydrated.

I brought her home today, she still will not eat. She is missing Billy and calls for him around our home. Its obvious that she is depressed.

I do not want her to go back to the vets, where they will put in a feeding tube. In my eyes this will upset her even more than she is currently. She is very attached to me.

Is there something else you can suggest, please, I am very desperate?

RESPONSE:

Anna,

I know that you are also suffering the loss of your cat and it isn’t easy. It is compounded by seeing the grief that Tess is displaying. You must get Tess eating or she’s in danger of developing “hepatic lipidosis” which is a potentially deadly liver disease that cats are prone to when they have more than a few days of not eating. That’s the reason for the feeding tube at the vet’s.

However, something that worked for me when Diablo’s sister was humanely euthanized with liver disease, was to hold him in my arms and using a liquid dropper (like an eye drop dispenser syringe) that was filled with a high calorie liquid, talking soothingly the whole time, I was able to slowly work the small nozzle into the back, side corner of his mouth and gently release some liquid. He’d shake his head a bit but he got some drops into him. I repeated this process throughout the day for short period of times, knowing that even a few ounces would help keep his liver functioning enough during this trauma. You have to be careful not to force the liquid quickly or it may get breathed into the lungs which can lead to other problems like pneumonia.

When your cat is bonded to you like it sounds yours is, they tolerate the process better. Put the filled dropper on a small table near where you will sit with your cat and once you’ve started caressing your cat and it settles down a little, while talking to your baby, slowly pick up the dropper and try to slowly, very slowly, place it in the corner of the mouth. If you fail a few times as I did…don’t give up. It’s been a few years since I had to do that and I don’t recall how many failures I experienced but I know there were a few. Eventually, the extra affection and attention, the soothing sound of my voice…the food slowly being ingested….I’m not sure if it was a combination of all of those…but he started eating little bits of his foods on his own.

If you can’t get Tess eating you will have no option but a feeding tube to keep her alive. You have to prevent that lipidosis from happening or you will have the loss of both cats to deal with. I’m not trying to be pessimistic or mean but it is mandatory to get Tess eating. If you can get her eating a bit and the immediate danger of lipidosis is lessened, you might ask your vet if he has a mild sedative medication that will help her for a week as she adjusts further to the loss of her dear brother.

I used the high calorie Clinicare Feline Liquid Diet but there is also Rebound Feline Liquid Diet and PetAg Feline Diet. Whatever is available in your pet stores or at your vet in the area where you live…try it.

I truly know what you are going through and I hope you can succeed with this process… or as a last resort…the feeding tube. Get your baby eating even if it’s a dribble at a time.

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