Cleo's Progress

One Cat's Struggle with Feline Hepatic Lipidosis

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Force-feeding your cat: The technique

I have force-fed three different cats at some point during their lives, and as a result I have been able to perfect a technique that makes it as easy as possible. Although some vets recommend crouching over the cat, tipping their head up, and forcing the syringe in, I think this is a pretty rough way to do it. It also means that you can't see what you are doing very well, and is probably more likely to trigger the gag reflex.

I prefer to hold cats in a cradle when I force-feed them, but since that puts my face within their reach, that means I have to bundle them up in a towel before attempting to feed them.

There are two ways to wrap the towel. One way is to set the cat down on the towel and wrap it so that it overlaps behind them. Another way is to hold the cat still with your hand under their armpits, and drape the towel over their back; then cradle the cat, and finish wrapping the towel over their paws. The second method makes it easier to tighten up the towel or tuck a paw back in if your cat gets it out during the feeding, but can also be a bit trickier if your cat fights getting wrapped up.

When you feed, sit in a chair and rest your cat's back in your lap, with their upper body resting in the crook of your left elbow. (Reverse this if you are left-handed.) I like to cross my left knee over the right, to prop the cat a little higher. This should leave both your hands relatively free for feeding — I syringe with my right hand, and support the cat's head with the left (also keeps the cat from being able to move away).

Finally, when you syringe food in, be sure to put the syringe in at the corner of the cat's mouth. If you poke it into the corner, your cat should open their mouth, and then you can see where you are putting the food. Squirt only 1 or 2 cc on the back of their tongue (NOT down their throat, you'll make them gag) and give them time to swallow between "bites."

As you do this a few times, you should start to develop a routine, which will help make it a little easier. Your cat will recognize the signs of what's to come, and will fight you more at first, but if all goes well they should learn the routine as well and stop fighting it quite so much.



  • At October 15, 2011 at 6:32 PM , Blogger Ashley said...

    Thank you SO much for this entire website! I would like you to know that my kitty was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis recently, and my FORMER veterinarian told me that it might be kinder for me to just put her down because I want not able to afford her expensive regimen. I fed her as much as I could, but since I did not have a food processor, the pate would always get stuck in the syringe. I switched to kitten formula, and she is doing better than ever! Thank you for not letting me give up! Now I only need to find out to get her to eat on her own and she will be completely healed :).


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