Cleo's Progress

One Cat's Struggle with Feline Hepatic Lipidosis

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Treating feline hepatic lipidosis: Force-feeding

Although it seems Cleo has avoided a full-blown case of hepatic lipidosis, I've still had to force-feed her a few times. I've therefore been thinking about different approaches and what works best.

When Cleo was first diagnosed with feline hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver, in November of 2005, I remember doing some research online (which is, of course, what inspired me to put my own blog up). I found a website that recommended, as a method of force-feeding, rolling wet cat food into little balls and placing them in the back of the cat's mouth.

I never actually tried this method, but honestly I don't know how well it would work. You'd have to be sure to roll the balls of cat food small enough that they wouldn't choke the cat, for one thing. And you'd have to be really good and fast (or have a really tolerant cat) in order to pry the cat's mouth open, hold it, and get the ball of cat food into the right place.

When Cleo had hepatic lipidosis in 2005, I force-fed her using large plastic syringes. The vet gave me a type of moist cat food that had a very thin consistency, which I mixed with water in order to make a sort of cat food soup. I drew that up into the syringe, trying my best not to get any air bubbles in there.

To force Cleo's mouth open, I stuck the plastic tip of the syringe into the corner of her mouth. As soon as she opened her mouth, I depressed the plunger, a little at a time. I couldn't go too fast, or she'd throw up.

Actually, she threw up quite a bit, and I wonder now if it was partly from all the air in the syringe. It might have upset her stomach.

This time around, when I was concerned about a repeat case of feline hepatic lipidosis, I used regular cat food and a spoon to force feed her. I mixed the cat food with water, just enough so that it would slide off the spoon easily, but not so much as to dilute the protein concentration too much.

To force-feed her using the spoon, I wrapped her up in a towel and held her in my lap like a baby, just like before — but this time I reached around with the arm that held her and used that hand to get her mouth open. Then with my free hand, I could spoon a little cat food into her mouth. I let go of her mouth and let her swallow (growling at me the entire time, of course), and then force-fed her another bite.

I only had to do that a few times this time around, though. Let's hope she continues eating on her own.



  • At September 15, 2009 at 7:29 AM , Blogger Charlie said...

    I'm going through force feeding with my 5 year old cat. Fatty liver disease with our cat certainly snuck up on us. Schill is on amoxycillin and liver protectors. He hated the syringe and I was in tears because I couldn't get food into him. So, I wrap him in a towel like a baby bunting, his head only popped out..I have a baby spoon which is tiny (hard plastic, non metallic)..great for feeding teething babies. I hold Schill snug in my lap, wrapped up. With my left hand, I scruff the back of his neck and with my right hand feed him with the baby spoon into the side of his mouth. He eats anywhere from 2-1/2 ozs twice a day this way. He hasn't vomited any of it. But, he has NO desire to eat on his own. He will lick at the water bowl if I put ice cubes in the water. I'm so praying for him to take bites of food on his own.

  • At September 28, 2009 at 4:02 PM , Blogger Katharine Swan said...

    Charlie, how is Schill doing? Sorry I didn't see your comment sooner! Your feeding method sounds perfect -- I also had to wrap Cleo up to keep her from fighting me.

    So you're feeding him about 5 ounces of food a day, right? If he starts throwing it up, try splitting it up into smaller, more frequent feedings -- 2 1/2 ounces is a lot for a cat to eat at onnce!


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