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Cat gone for 5 days and came back skin and bones and will…

Customer Question
Cat gone for 5...

Cat gone for 5 days and came back skin and bones and will not eat?

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the cat's name?

Blue

Submitted: 9 months ago.Category: Cat Veterinary
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Answered in 20 minutes by:
8/3/2017
Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 9 months ago
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 18,355
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

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Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 9 months ago

I am sorry to hear that your Blue was gone for 5 days, came back skin and bones, and is refusing to eat.

A poor appetite with dramatic weight loss can be related to chronic pancreatitis, a dietary allergy or sensitivity, inflammatory bowel disease, heartworm disease, primary heart disease, internal organ failure, a full or partial gastrointestinal obstruction or even infiltrative cancers such as lymphoma.

Because she is refusing to eat and has such a dramatic weight loss that indicates a significant, chronic disease and an examination and some testing is needed as soon as possible. It is entirely possible that Blue was sick before she left home, but hid her symptoms for a while and was secluding herself because she really didn't feel well.

Or perhaps she got trapped somewhere and suffered heat stress and secondary organ damage, ate something toxic or something that led to a gastrointestinal obstruction.

Cats tend to have a higher incidence of kidney failure as they age. That can lead to nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal ulcers, a loss of appetite and weight loss. So we definitely want to look for that, but given that she has been sick long enough to lose weight we do want to make sure there isn't more than one thing happening. Cats that don't eat well for a period of time (more than 3-5 days) can get into trouble with hepatic lipidosis. This is fatty liver disease caused by overwhelming the liver with fats being broken down for energy to live when they don't eat such that it cannot perform normal functions. This is a secondary disease, but it can be deadly and needs to be aggressively managed.

I would recommend a complete blood count and biochemistry profile with a T-4 (thyroid hormone level) as well as a urinalysis to start.

If those look fine then I recommend looking for an abdominal mass or heart disease. I would also check a specific blood test for pancreatitis, a fel spec PL (feline specific pancreatic lipase).

If those tests are done and come back normal the next step is an abdominal ultrasound and/or either exploratory surgery or endoscopy to gather biopsies of her abdominal organs and gastrointestinal tract to look for inflammatory bowel disease or cancer.

In the meantime you can try giving her an acid reducer to see if that helps. You can give either:

1) Pepcid ac (famotodine) at a dose of 1/4 of a 10mg tablet per 5 to 10 pound cat every 12 to 24 hours

OR

2) Prilosec (omeprazole) at a dose of 1/4 of a 20mg tablet per 10 to 20 pound cat every 24 hours.

These are very safe and can be used long term if necessary. In this case I would give one of them for a least a week if it seems to help.

You might also try feeding a homemade bland diet to see if that helps. A homemade bland diet is a mix of 2/3 boiled, shredded white chicken and 1/3 boiled, plain, white rice. You can mix in low salt chicken broth or warm water to make the food softer, more palatable and easier to eat and swallow.

But she really needs to see her veterinarian as soon as possible for testing. Older cats do sometimes stop eating, but there is a reason behind their loss of appetite, this is NOT a normal old age change.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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Customer reply replied 9 months ago
Cat started eating normal today.What do you think?
Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 9 months ago

I think that is really wonderful news!

She is in no way out of the woods, but perhaps this indicates a toxin ingestion, severe infection, chronic pancreatitis, a foreign body that has started to move through her intestinal tract so she feels better that she is recovering from. She may backslide, and if so I highly recommend an exam. But for now small frequent, bland meals of a high quality food are best.

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