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NancyH, Cat Health, Behavior, Care Expert
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience:  30+ years cat owner, rescue, breeding, study of behavior & health care
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Older cat Asks for food but wont eat.

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My 12 year old cat has been throwing up her food periodically for quite some time. She had $1200 worth of blood testing performed at the vet and they have come up with NOTHING (not her thyroid, not her kidneys...she seems normal). I don’t have a ton of money (read: none) and can’t afford for them to repeat useless tests-which is all they could seem to come up with as a solution (she had the blood testing TWICE). They finally advised me to give her pepcid after she threw up with NO food in her stomach once...and that usually helps. This past week however, she has stopped eating her food entirely. At first, she was willing to eat her sister’s food (dry Iams...she normally eats W/D wet food). Now, she will eat a little "people" food (tuna) but will only eat a bite of her own...though she asks for it promptly at her normal feeding times. Should I feed her with a syringe and see if she regains interest after a week? Is there something else the vet should look for? How can I get her to eat again?
My understanding is W/D is really only for weight reduction and not a permanent food.
You might try her on a very palatable very digestible cat food and offer her some interesting 'treat' food like a slice of smoked turkey to get her started eating.
Controlling portions of high quality food can do a lot to keep the cat in slim and trim form while still keeping it eating.

W/D is a not a temporary food  and is used in cases of intestinal sensitivity, diabetes, kidney disease, and urinary well as weight maintenance.

The fact that your cat responded to Pepcid AC is great!  Are you still using it?


Customer: replied 12 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: Yes, She still takes the Pepcid though I worry about giving it to her long term. She was put on the W/D to reduce her weight as well as to keep her from throwing up as the Iams became too difficult for her to digest. She is definitely at the point where she doesn't need to lose any more weight...but the sensitivity to other food is still present.
 In reference to her eating...when are you giving the often...and when do you offer her food?
Customer: replied 12 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: I gave her the tuna in an attempt to entice her to eat the cat food...she simply picked out a little bit of the tuna and left everything else (including some of the tuna-an odd thing to do for her). I think if I gave her the turkey, she would pull the same thing.
Customer: replied 12 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: She has food in the morning around 6:30-7 and again around 6p.m. I cut a pepcid pill in half and give it to her prior to her dinner each night.

 Sorry for all the questions...just trying to figure some things out.

The last vomit was when...and when did the reluctance to eat start in relationship to the Pepcid and vet visits?


That is why I suggested a more palatable food of higher quality than that provided by Hills or Iams etc Its from experience trying to get a picky older cat to eat :)
There really is a big difference in food quality based on manufacturer and ingredient qualities being used. I prefer to use foods with less fillers and higher quality ingredients than can be found in many of the mass produced feeds sold in grocery stores or at vet offices.
I don't sell a food of any type :) so have no biases to any brand other than what I've learned by buying them to feed my animals and studying what I can find about nutrition and quality in animal foods.
What I've learned over the years is that higher quality food pays off in healthier animals in the long run. talks about some of the cat foods they view as top quality.
For my cats, after trying other things Felidae, ended up working for me.
Customer: replied 12 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: I'm happy to have someone finally ask questions! The last vomit was 2 days ago after she ate a little bit of her sister's food. She threw it up undigested (as is always the case when she eats Iams). The reluctance to eat is in the past few days. She has been on the Pepcid since early February when she had her last trip to the vet. She acts normally other than the lack of eating...playing, smacking her sister around, cuddling, begging for my food (though she doesn't eat more than a bite if I give it to her), etc. She doesn't have any sensitivity if I poke her in the belly either.
Customer: replied 12 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: If products like Felidae are not found in grocery stores or vet offices, where are they found? There is probably something to that tactic but I am not sure that this would solve the whole problem as she is refusing to finish things that she normally goes crazy for (tuna, treats, her sister's food). Though the vet has been unable to find a problem with her through blood tests, I am afraid that there might be one. is my opinion on your situation.

What your cat has is chronic gastritis...obviously. Intermittent vomiting for longer than a few days...

The causes are varied and truthfully your vets, as frustrating as it seems to you because you have spent the money and have no cure, rule out many things with all those tests. People forget that we can only go on what an owner tells us, since a cat doesn't communicate very well.  Your vets ruled out some pretty major disease processes that cause chronic vomiting. Unfortunately, it leaves you frustrated.

Now causes of gastritis can be esophageal reflux, inflammation or upper stomach inflammation, and sometimes even low grade pancreatic inflammation.  With these things on a low grade chronic don't see changes in the bloodwork or the xrays...and endoscopy just may show a few red areas...but no diagnosis.

So...what do you do? At this time you treat the symptoms. Maybe what is causing this gets better or is managed...or it gets worse and there are changes in the bloodwork or intestines to actually diagnose.  One thing that will get worse is inflammatory bowel disease which will be considered if vomiting continues, weight loss, and even diarrhea...for that they will probably want intestinal biopsy..just so you know.

Okay, management...

I will not get into a debate about foods.  There are lots out there...your focus should be on the possibility of food allergy playing a possible role. You need an easily digestible food that is moderately fat restricted and some single protein based foods. You need to probably avoid the fiber foods (W/D) because it takes the stomach more acids to break down. If you want specific names of veterinary endorsed foods, let me know.

I would continue the Pepcid. I would have your cat wormed with fenbendazole (ask vet) because there are some strange little worms that we don't see very often that have been linked with chronic gastritis...and for whatever reason...we forget about them.  I wouldn't do a fecal, just ask for the wormer.  Next ask for a prescription for Reglan syrup. It helps gastric motility so the food doesn't sit there and is actually an anti-nausea medication.

I am thinking your cat has hunger but the minute she wants or goes for food she deals with gastritis or possible tummy discomfort and she just doesn't want to deal with it.  If you felt like you were going to just start avoiding food. The scary thing is cats will become anorexic out of this habit...and then we get into liver issues. thing you can try as well until you can get her back to plain jar baby foods (without garlic or onion added) of lamb, turkey or chicken. In the clinic we warm so the have a nice "fresh" smell and the cats lick it up and don't have to chew it.

Okay..I think that is it. Let me know if you have questions.


DanaDVM, Cat Answer Team
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 998
Experience: Cat Expert
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Sorry should have provided that type of info - Petsmart, Petco and other such pet food supply specialty stores carry the premium foods.
After months of begging my aging cat to eat and doing tests it worked out that keeping him going with treat food until we found a cat food he was willing to eat regularly worked for us. I buy the Felidae at a local feed store but their website has a store locator if you want to see if its sold near you.
Mind you I am not saying that one food is a cure all food - just that its the one my cats finally said yes to. I have friends who found that another food is what worked for their cats. The list that I sent you to seems to be the ones most bandied about by cat people.
The food made by Blue is not yet on that list though ranked highly and is sold at Petsmart only. I usually try a sample packet of the food if I can and then decide if I want to pay out for a whole bag based on how the cats react. I was at wits end when I bought that sample can of chicken and rice food from Felidae - and they ate it and didn't throw up!
My conclusion was the elderly cats just are more 'touchy' than the younger ones about what they eat.
I really hope this helps you!
NancyH, Cat Health, Behavior, Care Expert
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience: 30+ years cat owner, rescue, breeding, study of behavior & health care
NancyH and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 12 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: Yes, I actually would like to know what foods you would recommend specifically. I know vets tend to recommend science diet...but she has never been willing to eat the stuff. Is there anything else? What is the veternary opinion of something like Felidae?
Customer: replied 12 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: which cat foods, other than science diet, should I try? What is your opinion of Felidae?
Well my cats liked Felidae and they are doing well on it so my reaction is positive :) Mine weren't keen on the lamb based canned food but love the chicken and rice formula they have and eat the 3 protein source dry very happily. I also feel their dry food is helping keep my cat's teeth cleaner than the foods I used to use.
but others have found
California Natural Chicken and Rice
Chicken Soup for the Catlover's Soul
Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care
Blue Adult Cat Food by Blue Buffalo
and I'm sure some more I can't think of worked for their cats.
Usually cat food samples of dry are pretty generous and you can tell if the cat will eat the food from the sample. Around here the Petsmarts and Petco's have folks doing food demo's on the weekend and often they have samples available. Petsmart I think lets you return ANY food that the animals won't eat for a refund too. I had a friend who was a demo person for a dog food at Petsmart which is how I learned about that :) if you have one near you ask them about their policy on that.

 thank you for the PM:

The following are veterinary prescription diets...meaning your need to request them from a vet...if your vet doesn't carry them...they should be willing to call around and get them!

Eukanuba Vet Diet:  Nutritional Intestinal Low-Residue Formula

Purina Vet Diet: EN-gastroENteric Food

IVD: Select Care Neutral Formula

Waltham: Feline Sensitivity Control

Hills Prescription Diet: I/D feline food

I believe all of these forumlas have a wet and dry food.