I have rescued and fostered many pets over the years. Keeping my pets healthy and happy is my number one priority.
Why Is My Cat Not Eating?
Most cats enjoy eating and eat well. Many owners struggle with keeping their cats from gaining too much weight.
But there are times in a cat's life when eating may become difficult. If a cat stops eating, it is important that the owner try to find the underlying cause and work to get the cat eating again. Not eating can lead to permanent liver and kidney damage in cats.
Reasons a cat may stop eating include:
- Abrupt Food Switch
- Kidney Disease
If your cat is not eating, you will need to have it examined by a vet for possible illnesses. Then you need to work to get your cat to start eating again.
Some cats can go into "anorexic mode" and seem to have a hard time regaining interest in food. In these cases, it may be necessary to jump-start your cat's appetite again. One of the ways you can do this is with a high-calorie supplement gel.
Where to Find High Calorie Supplements
High-calorie supplements can typically be purchased over-the-counter at your vet's office or at a pet supply store such as Petsmart.
Look in the cat section of the store near the medications and vitamins.
The gel is usually found in a squeezable tube that looks like a toothpaste tube.
You can also purchase nutritional supplement gel online.
Once you get the gel, check the expiration date. Then read the instructions for use.
There are usually two ways the gel can be used: as a supplement or as a calorie replacement. If your cat is eating some food then follow the supplement instructions. If it is eating very little or no food, follow the instructions for a full ration.
Typically the gel is dosed as one teaspoon per 10 pounds of weight for supplement and three teaspoons per ten pounds of weight for replacement calories.
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You should always consult your vet about recommended dosage.
How to Give Your Cat High-Calorie Gel Supplements
According to label directions, many cats like the taste of the gel and will readily take it when offered.
Some cats will lick it off their owner's finger, lick it off their paws or even take it right out of the tube.
As the owner of multiple cats who has also had cats that, at different times, needed calorie supplements, I have never had a cat that would readily take the gels without forcing the issue.
So if you are having trouble getting your cat to take the gel, don't despair. It is still relatively easy to get them to take the supplement.
Pick the cat up and set it in your lap so that the spine is against your stomach and it is sitting in your lap.
If your cat is suspicious or resistant to being picked up, you may need to wrap it in a towel or blanket to calm it down and keep you from getting scratched and bitten.
If you need to wrap the cat in a towel, make sure to wrap it snugly, leaving only it's face exposed.
You may need to get another person to help hold the cat if it continues to protest or squirm.
Squeeze some gel out onto your pointer finger.
With your other hand, gently pry open the cat's jaws at the hinge (see picture above).
I like to use my thumb and first finger to pry open their mouth.
Then take the finger with the gel and wipe the contents on the inside, roof of your cat's mouth.
Give it time to taste and lick and swallow the gel.
Then you can repeat until the correct dose is reached. You can measure the gel out ahead of time for an exact measurement or just use a guestimate measure like I do.
How Long Should You Give the High-Calorie Gel?
Sometimes the high calorie gel as a supplement will be needed for the remainder of the cat's life, especially if they have a chronic condition such as cancer or kidney failure.
If your cat has an illness that they can recover from, then the gel may just help to get the cat back on its feet. As the cat begins to eat food again, you can slowly cut back on the doses of gel until the cat is eating all regular food again.
You should work with your vet to develop the best plan for supplementing the cat's diet.
The Pros and Cons of Supplemental gels
Cats can stop eating for a variety of reasons. Making the decision to supplement with a high-calorie gel is one that the owner needs to make based on the conditions and quality of life of the cat.
If your cat has an illness and is recovering, giving it high-calorie gel makes sense. If your cat has a chronic disease, the decision is not as easy.
I have given several older cats with chronic diseases such as cancer or kidney failure high-calorie gel in order to extend their time and give them more energy. The cats had stopped eating and the energy provided from the gel was the only nutrition they received.
Giving the gel prolonged their lives for several weeks to several months.
However, deciding not to do it is okay too. You will want to, with your vet's and family's help, assess the cat's quality of life and his or her pain to make sure all aspects are being managed well.
Ultimately, each situation with a cat in need is unique and each owner needs to do what works for their family and their cat.
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Alun on May 09, 2018:
Where do i get the gel for cats to put on wieght wot make is it
L C David (author) from Florida on January 06, 2018:
I think that they can get too much. Have they thought about whether she has an allergy or not?
Maryse on January 02, 2018:
Thank you for the info on this product. We have had problems with our cat for a while now and saw 2 different vets with no results. She eats, but not a lot and she vomits pretty much everyday.. So the vet changed her food, gave her médecine and this high calorie tube. It worked for a few weeks. But she has started to vomit again at my mother's, while we were our of town. But since she was fine, we didn't ask my mom to give her the nutri-cal. I was wondering, within your knowledge and expetience, does this product have any impact on faciliting her digestion or something like that? That could maybe explain why she started to vomit again.
Thanks so much!