Feeding Tubes Save Lives

feeding tubes

There is nothing more frustrating, and worrisome, than a sick cat who won’t eat. Cats may refuse to eat for many reasons. They may be bored with the same old food, or they may be stressed about something. Most often, though, inappetence and anorexia will be caused by an illness, either because the cat feels nauseated or can’t smell her food. A cat who doesn’t eat for more than 48 hours is at risk for developing hepatic lipidosis, also known as fatty liver disease, which can be fatal if left untreated.

Force feeding rarely works

It used to be that force feeding or syringe feeding was an acceptable method to try to get nutrition into these cats, but, as anyone who has ever tried to force feed a cat knows, it can be a miserable process for both cat and guardian. The volume of food needed requires multiple feedings of multiple syringes, and it is extremely challenging to meet the nutritional and hydration needs of a cat in this way. In addition, sick cats frequently need multiple medications.

All of this makes syringe feeding a struggle, which leads to stressed cats and stressed humans. This is not only detrimental to the cat’s healing process, it can also damage the bond between cat and human to the point where the cat will run every time she sees her human coming. As a result, many cat guardians give up on cats who won’t eat and elect euthanasia.

“Feeding tubes shorten hospital stays, reduce the stress of administering medications, and ensure that nutrition, one of the most important aspects of healing, happens safely and effectively,” says Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, a feline veterinarian and owner of two cat hospitals. “They can aid in recovery from any illness that involves multiple medications, significant oral pain or any other condition that would cause a cat not to want to eat.”

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Don’t be afraid of feeding tubes

Most guardians will balk at the idea of a feeding tube. “I would never put my cat through that” is a frequent reaction. In human medicine, the idea of a feeding tube has end-of-life connotations. Nothing could be further from the truth in feline medicine.

What is a feeding tube?

There are two types of feeding tubes, pharyngostomy (P) tubes and esophagostomy (E) tubes. Both are inserted through the side of the neck and into the esophagus. The body then easily passes the tube down into the stomach. The other end of the tube will come out of the side of the cat’s neck and is held in place with a bandage, or even a stylish KittyKollar. The procedures requires sedation, but takes less than 10 minutes. Removal requires no sedation.

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Using a feeding tube

Food is given via a syringe that attaches to the end of the feeding tube. Your veterinarian will guide you as to what kind of food, how much and how frequently to feed your cat. Food will need to be run through a good quality blender. The tube will need to be flushed with water after each feeding, and the area around the end of the tube that sticks out of your cat’s neck needs to be kept clean.

The real beauty of having a feeding tube in place is that you can also administer medications through the tube, rather than having to struggle to get your cat to take them.

Cats can eat on their own with a feeding tube in place. Once a cat eats enough on her own, removal of the tube can be considered, unless a guardian elects to keep the tube in place to facilitate delivery of medications.

A cat guardian’s experience with a feeding tube

Dr. Kristopher Chandroo, a veterinarian practicing at Orleans Veterinary Hospital in Ottawa, Canada, shared the experience of one of his clients with a E-tube in his comprehensive article, What to Do When They Won’t Eat at All: Pina and the E-Tube. Pina’s guardians share what worked and what didn’t work for them.

There is no question that feeding tubes can improve the quality of life for sick cats. If you’re faced with a sick cat who won’t eat, discuss feeding tubes with your veterinarian. It may just save your cat’s life.

Additional resources: Dr. Lisa Pierson has a comprehensive article about feeding tubes on her website, catinfo.org.

Has your cat had a feeding tube? What was your experience? Would you consider a feeding tube for your cat?

Photo at top of post courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, used with permission; second photo by ilovebutter, Flickr Creative Commons; third photo Wikimedia Commons

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67 Comments on Feeding Tubes Save Lives

  1. paul bonner
    May 2, 2017 at 1:56 pm (7 months ago)

    My 3 year old cat: Jasper has not eaten for about 9 days now…He was at first just throwing up, which I thought to be just hairballs. Long story short, first blood test showed crazy hi White blood cells. Higher than the Vet had ever seen before. Took him to specialist; they did ultrasound on everything and aspirated the spleen. Nothing came back from that…Did anothr blood test: FLo Cytomat. NOthing conclusive..He has been taking steroids for almost a week now…He does walk around the house tail in the air, he will sit on my lap and purr. He still wont eat and is about 2 lbs lighter than normal. When I present food he sniffs and gags….he did drink tuna water this morning! If things dont improve I am doing the feeding tube in the morning! I just dont know what else to do…

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 2, 2017 at 2:39 pm (7 months ago)

      It’s so hard when our cats get sick, and even harder when there’s no specific diagnosis. It sounds like he may need the feeding tube. All my best to you and Jasper, Paul.

      Reply
    • Diane Schefers
      May 4, 2017 at 6:56 am (7 months ago)

      My cat, Sassy, had her feeding tube in for a couple of months. She was diagnosed with either possible Crohn’s or small cell stomach carcinoma. I spent a lot of money on diagnostic tests leading up to the feeding tube so I would opt for the feeding tube. Sassy and her brother, Shadow decided to play rough overnight and the tube got a hole in it. It forced the doctor to pull it out but she was eating better by then. In March she was eating again, just like normal. I understand it is day by day but am so thankful for each day with Sassy. Good luck and keep us posted.

      Reply
  2. Mel
    April 25, 2017 at 8:31 pm (7 months ago)

    my cat got a feeding tube in a couple of days ago and when eats he turns his head to the side is that normal.

    Reply
  3. Zoe W
    March 19, 2017 at 2:33 pm (8 months ago)

    My 14 year old cat suddenly stopped eating 5 months ago. This was scary because he was a good eater all his life and dinner time was his favorite time of day. They ran tests and founds few things wrong, but nothing terminal and nothing that would explain the lack of appetite. I opted for the feeding tube. I got 3 KittyCollars so that I could change it every 1-2 days and have time for one to be ready and one in the laundry at any given time.

    There was some minor vomiting at the beginning as we were getting accustomed to the process, but it worked well. He still wanted nothing to eat for several weeks, but at some point would eat a treat or two. Then I started putting out small amounts of his favorite wet foods and sometimes he’d lick at them. Sometimes not. I tried not to get discouraged, and tried to get an answer out of my vet about how long he could be on it. She said to not worry about it and just keep going.

    He gradually ate a little more and one day I realized he might be eating enough on his own. I still left the tube in, just in case, but let him self feed for a week. (Still need to run water through the tube a couple times a day.). After a week I was comfortable that he’d maintain eating and had the tube pulled. It had been in a little over 3 months.

    He is SO happy now…feeling good and eating normally. And he’s even more affectionate. I believe he understands what we all went through to keep him with us, and appreciates it. We love our Norm!

    Reply
    • Diane Schefers
      March 19, 2017 at 3:12 pm (8 months ago)

      Very happy for you and your cat. Sounds like you made the right decisions all away around.

      Reply
  4. Jenn
    February 15, 2017 at 3:07 pm (9 months ago)

    My cat, Rupert, ended up at the kitty emergency room last week after lots and lots of nausea/vomiting and refusing to eat or drink. After a lot of testing they are still not entirely certain what is/was wrong with him. When they initially let me take him home he was coughing up any medication that I was able to force into him. It was exhausting for him and for me and he still wasn’t eating. He got a feeding tube in yesterday and it has been a huge improvement! Meds, food and water are so easy with the feeding tube. Any ETA on about how long it usually takes a cat to start eating on their own? I know I was told it would stay in for at least 14 days but I am curious as to what other people have experienced.

    Reply
    • Jenn
      February 15, 2017 at 3:19 pm (9 months ago)

      Ha, the vet just called and had just gotten a GI panel back and Rupert has pancreatitis. Also, to any of you that are worried about a feeding tube, it is not a big deal and I am very squeamish about things.

      Reply
    • Bruce
      February 15, 2017 at 4:37 pm (9 months ago)

      Jenn, it’s been a 6 1/2 – 7 years since I had to deal with the Feeding Tube, but my cat had one in for 5 weeks and it was worth every minuet it was in. It saved his life, he will be 10 years next month.

      Reply
    • Diane Schefers
      February 17, 2017 at 6:01 pm (9 months ago)

      My cat, Sassy, has had hers in since before Christmas. She is on Prednisolone. She may have small cell carcinoma in her stomach. She nibbles mostly, so unless she she shows a greater interest in eating, it is indefinite. I am sad because she doesn’t seem to be playful anymore and I wonder if she is happy…very hard to know.

      Reply
    • Jenn Halvorson
      May 2, 2017 at 2:46 pm (7 months ago)

      Update on Rupert-after about 5 weeks of being on a feeding tube He took it upon himself to pull out his own tube! What a nightmare! Luckily he has been eating a little on his own at that point so we decided to leave it out and see what happened. After a couple of weeks of eating mostly treats he has gone back to his normal eating!

      Reply
  5. Heather
    January 31, 2017 at 10:42 pm (10 months ago)

    Hello, my kitty has a PEG tube which was placed 3 weeks ago. He had finished his Clavamox antibiotic. He has some stomach gurgling and I would like to boost his over all health. Is it OK to give him probiotics? This won’t over stimulate his immune system and cause a rejection of the tube at this point? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 1, 2017 at 6:33 am (10 months ago)

      I don’t think so, Heather, but check with your vet to be safe!

      Reply
      • Heather
        February 1, 2017 at 8:08 pm (10 months ago)

        To be clear- you don’t think it will cause rejection or you don’t think it’s a good idea? I will ask my vet for sure but not everyone is aware how much good probiotics can do so I’d love to get opinions. Unfortunately, there are only a couple hospitals near me that could put in the tube so my choices were slim and I don’t feel 100% consistency in his care.

        Reply
  6. Joel Levine
    January 26, 2017 at 5:43 pm (10 months ago)

    Hello
    I could use some advice and help. My vet told me while examining my cat for a possible urinary tract infection she told me that she did not like what she saw on the underside of his tongue.
    She told me she was very concerned and thought it was cancer. Since my baby had no symptoms and was not sick and was acting fine, including eating and drinking my vet said that we were lucky that we caught it early and she felt that since we caught it early she felt that surgery would allow her to remove it and hopefully get it all. When i asked about doing a biopsy over surgery, my vet said that it was not a big deal to do surgery, that it would take as long to do the surgery as the biopsy and if she was able to get it all that much better, and he would be home that evening and would be eating fine, giving me no reason to think doing the surgery would be a problem. my vet also added that if while doing the surgery it was worse than was expected she would not go deep but would stop. After the surgery my vet came into the room where i was waiting and the first thing she told me was that she had to go deep. She said that my baby had severe swelling of the tongue and would not be able to eat or drink and needed a feeding tube.
    I did not want to do the feeding tube and was already shocked and traumitized from what she was telling me, and even more so because she never told me any of these things as a possibility before the surgery. She told me she had to do the feeding tube or he would die because he would not be able to eatI agreed to the feeding tube. The surgery was done last Wednesday the 18th of Jan. For the next 4 days my baby went thru hell, he was hospitalized, his face, mouth and tongue were so swollen, his tongue was bleeding,his tongue was so swollen that it hung to the side out of his mouth. finally Monday, 2 days ago the 23rd, the swelling subsided quite a bit, his tongue was not bleeding as much and was not hanging out of his mouth as much. On Monday the 23rd, my vet told me she got the report back from the surgery and my baby has squamous cell carcinoma and she added that when she took out the tumor that she did not get it all and she cut the nerve of the tongue when she took the tumor out.
    My baby is home with me now since Monday the 23rd and he is trying to eat, but the food keeps falling out of his mouth and he cannot drink at all.
    When i give him AD thru the tube he gets severe diarrhea, when i blend up his friskies and put it thru the tube he does not have diarrhea but i have to add too much water to liquify the friskies and he is getting more water than food.
    Help…

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 27, 2017 at 6:15 am (10 months ago)

      I’m so sorry about your baby, Joel. I know this is extremely distressing. Unfortunately, as you probably already know from talking to your vet, squamous cell carcinoma is a very aggressive cancer with a very poor prognosis. Please contact your vet about your cat’s diarrhea. There are options other than a/d that will provide concentrated nutrition. You may also want to discuss adding a probiotic to your cat’s food. I wish I had more to offer, but ultimately, you may need to consider your cat’s quality of life vs. continuing treatment. I know it’s heartbreaking. All my best to both of you.

      Reply
      • Diane Schefers
        January 27, 2017 at 6:21 am (10 months ago)

        My heart goes out to you and your baby Joel. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

        Reply
  7. Diane Schefers
    January 4, 2017 at 1:13 pm (11 months ago)

    My DSH got very ill prior to Christmas. She could not keep anything down and was drooling constantly. After 5 days of Vet visits in a row, she got admitted to the hospital. Endoscopy showed esophagitis and acid reflux. She was given a feeding tube directly into her stomach to let esophagus heal. I am doing the tube feedings three times a day and can’t seem to get her interested in eating, even though she is no longer restricted. She will nibble on a few of her favorite snacks but nothing else that is offered. It is hard to not get discouraged. I think it is a psychological barrier to eating. Any ideas?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 4, 2017 at 2:39 pm (11 months ago)

      She may not feel well enough to eat on her own yet, Diane. I would discuss with your vet.

      Reply
      • Diane Schefers
        January 5, 2017 at 7:49 am (11 months ago)

        Thank you Ingrid. They are asking me to be patient and maybe that is my problem!

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          January 6, 2017 at 6:16 am (11 months ago)

          I know it’s hard, Diane. Remember that the tube makes your kitty’s recovery less stressful, and that’s good for her and for you!

          Reply
        • Diane Schefers
          January 27, 2017 at 6:30 am (10 months ago)

          An update on my Sassy, Ingrid….just started Prednisolone as further testing has not yielded a malabsorption issue and all of her vitamin levels are normal. All of ultraounds, x-rays, other labs normal. Doctor suspects Crohn’s or small cell carcinoma. Hoping that her appetite improves and I am struggling with the thoughts of her future and quality of life. She still has enough of a spirit to manage getting out of her little protective outfits that the vet’s office provided….I nick-named her Houdini.

          Reply
          • Ingrid
            January 28, 2017 at 6:10 am (10 months ago)

            Thank you for the update, Diane. I hope the pred gives her a boost. All my best to both of you!

    • Christine
      January 4, 2017 at 3:29 pm (11 months ago)

      My boy did not eat much of anything while he had his feeding tube. He would take a mouthful or two and quit. Once the tube was out, he started eating just like normal. I wonder if it might be a little uncomfortable, or just feel strange, to eat regular food with the tube in?

      Reply
      • Diane Schefers
        January 5, 2017 at 7:47 am (11 months ago)

        That may be so Christine but the Internal Medicine Vet from the hospital is asking me to be patient. I guess the doctor is not ready to pull the tube. Appreciate your feedback and it does give me hope. Thank you.

        Reply
  8. Andrew
    December 27, 2016 at 11:26 am (11 months ago)

    My beautiful 9 month old brown Burmese Mickey suffered a laceration to his tongue. Despite prompt veterinary care, things have gone bizarrely bad and he has effectively chewed his tongue off. Apart from the tongue trauma he is otherwise healthy. We have spent $2600 already. He will go to the vet in the morning again to likely either amputate what is left of his tongue or euthanase him. Our only hope is a feeding tube and to try to teach him to eat and drink without a tongue. Is this practical? How long can a tube stay in? We will put in the effort to feed him and keep him groomed but only if he can lead an otherwise normal life. We need to be able to do this ourselves as we cannot bear onerous ongoing vet bills. I expect the amputation and tube can be done at the same time and will cost about $800. I can do that if Mickey can be a happy playful kitten again and going to lead to a practical long term solution but not otherwise. Any advise or experience?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 28, 2016 at 6:00 am (11 months ago)

      I’m so sorry about Mickey, Andrew. A feeding tube can stay in for weeks or even months. I’ve heard of cats with partial tongue amputations who are able to manage eating and drinking. I’m not sure how a cat with a complete tongue amputation would fare. All my best to you and Mickey. Please keep us updated on how he’s doing.

      Reply
      • Andrew
        December 29, 2016 at 6:47 pm (11 months ago)

        Well it’ seems Mickey is a resilient and resourceful cat. Within 24 hours of losing 60% of his tongue, he is already eating well but making a bit of a mess and drinking from a running tap. He is back to his mischievous self and into everything. We have to clean him up after meals but that’s easy. So far he is defying several vets predictions. Once he’s groomed you would even know he has almost no tongue. Anyway, back on topic, a tube was offered as an option if he was having trouble learning to eat. Fortunately it wasn’t required for our clever Mickey.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          December 30, 2016 at 6:20 am (11 months ago)

          That’s truly remarkable, Andrew! I’m so glad he’s doing so well.

          Reply
  9. Katie
    December 19, 2016 at 9:55 pm (11 months ago)

    I am facing a feeding tube for my cat Kaya with hepatic lipidosis. She was just diagnosed after a lot of tests and 4 days in the hospital. It is a Monday and she hasn’t eaten since Thursday. The vet wants to try an appetite stimulant for a couple of days, but I see a feeding tube in her future as she is so weak already. Walking is hard for her, so I won’t wait more than a day or two to set up the feeding tube. I hope I can get it done more affordably than the $500-700 the emergency vet she was with quoted me for. They are willing to ask my regular vet to do it as it would cost less here. So far $2,400 has been spent on her care and diagnosis (liver biopsy was a nice chunk). Are most medications crushable? She is on 4 pills, and I saw below in a comment where Denamarin isn’t, but she is on Clavamox, another antibiotic, and Prednisone. Forcing these pills is so stressful for her, I worry it will hurt our bond in the end.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 20, 2016 at 5:52 am (11 months ago)

      I’m sorry about Kaya, Katie. It sounds like a feeding tube may be a good option for her – it will also allow you to give her medications through the tube. Clavamox and Pred can be crushed, and most likely, the other antibiotic can be, too. I’m not sure whether Denamarin can be compounded into a liquid, but it may be worth checking with your vet. All my best to both of you.

      Reply
    • Christine
      December 20, 2016 at 10:30 am (11 months ago)

      One of my cats is also on Prednisone. She is hard to pill, and my vet ordered it compounded in a high-strength liquid from RoadRunner pharmacy. She also specified what I thought was an odd flavor, maybe vanilla hazelnut?, to mask the bitterness. It’s much easier to give this way, just a tiny amount of liquid. I hope all goes well for you both.

      Reply
  10. Christine Rule
    November 7, 2016 at 12:55 pm (1 year ago)

    My then-9-year-old cat developed pancreatitis and stopped eating. The vet worked with him for a few days, then told me a feeding tube was the best/only way to save him. It sounded horrible, but I agreed. Most of the time, he barely noticed the feeding tube. And it worked! after 4-6 weeks, he had taken the stitch holding the tube in place out, so the vet pulled the tube out (even though she would’ve preferred to leave it in place for another week or two). The hole healed completely and quickly, and he was his old self. The best thing to come out of the experience was how much he and I bonded during it, and, two years later, we still are.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 7, 2016 at 5:21 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you for sharing your experience with the feeding tube, Christine. You raise a very important point about the bond you formed with him. Usually, force feeding and giving pills to a reluctant cat is the surest way to destroy the bond between cat and human – yet another reason why feeding tubes can be lifesavers.

      Reply
  11. Lindsay
    November 1, 2016 at 8:48 pm (1 year ago)

    I have just started a feeding tube for my almost 15yr old cat Eli, he was diagnosed on Sunday with pancreatitis. The vet suggested the feeding tube to help get nurishment as he will not eat, to help the anti-inflammatory meds kick in and to help bring down the fever. He has had it for 24 hrs and it is breaking my heart. I was able to bring him in a vey little boiled chicken and he ate about 6 very small pieces. I just hope I am doing the right thing. Any advice on how not to feel like a bad mom? Thanks

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 2, 2016 at 5:42 am (1 year ago)

      I know it’s hard when a cat is so sick, but you’re doing the right thing by making getting nutrition into him less stressful for both him and you, Lindsay. All my best to both of you.

      Reply
      • Lindsay
        November 2, 2016 at 11:38 am (1 year ago)

        Thank you Ingrid, we appreciate it!

        Reply
    • Bruce
      November 2, 2016 at 9:39 am (1 year ago)

      Lindsay, you are defiantly doing the right thing for Eli. I’m not an expert (Vet.) just a pet owner, but a number of years ago my vet. advised using a feeding tube (my cat had Histoplasmosis) and I thought that sounded so bad I told her I would continue to try force feeding. Well 3 days later I had the tube put in, I still feel guilty of causing my cat Zeke 3 extra days of suffering because I waited to OK the tube. He needed the nutrition and I could tell a difference in him by the next day. He continued to improve every day. We left the tube in for 5 weeks , he gained 2 pounds in those 5 weeks. Best of luck

      Reply
      • Lindsay
        November 2, 2016 at 11:39 am (1 year ago)

        Thank you Bruce

        Reply
  12. Lisa
    October 2, 2016 at 11:07 am (1 year ago)

    I brought my 6 year old Siamese, Sookie, to the vet last week, as she stopped eating, drinking and was in distress. After medications, ct scan, blood tests, a few days not eating and drinking, the vet thought she had pancreatitis, and that a feeding tube might help. After being on the feeding tube for one day, Sookie began eating on her own. We took her home last night. The feeding tube is scary, since I’ve never had to use one on my cats before. Her medications can go through it, and I am getting the hang of it, she goes back in 5 days to check and see if it can be removed. This feeding tube saved her life, and I am grateful.

    Reply
    • Evelyn
      October 14, 2016 at 10:19 am (1 year ago)

      How is your kittie doing now? We are discussing this option with our 11 year old half Siamese diagnosed with pancreatitis. Any tips, warnings or heads up would be greatly appreciated!

      Reply
  13. Lisa
    September 20, 2016 at 10:05 am (1 year ago)

    I’m going through this right now! My poor 11-year old boy Sushi had a skin infection and after 3 weeks of twice weekly vet visits for bandage changes he had had enough! He stopped eating and hasn’t eaten a meal on his own for 2 weeks! They suspect it’s hepatic lipidosis but I don’t have the $700+ to pay for the tests so I opted to feed and medicate him at home. Initially he was eating food from my hand and I had gotten him up to about 3/4 of a can of Hill’s A/D a day for a couple days in a row but now he won’t finger feed. Have syringe fed him for 2 days and it’s awful! He struggles and growls and just hates it. Wondering if a feeding tube is the answer? Is he too old? Willing to pay for something that will work but I just can’t fathom shelling out $700 more for tests that don’t actually cure him, I’ve already spent close to $2000 on other tests and skin infection meds and bandage changes.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 20, 2016 at 10:38 am (1 year ago)

      You’ll have to discuss this with your vet, Lisa, but I don’t think 11 is too old for a feeding tube, and it sure sounds like it’s needed for your boy. All my best to Sushi for a full recovery.

      Reply
    • Bruce
      September 20, 2016 at 11:42 am (1 year ago)

      Lisa, don’t wait to have the tube put in. Your cat won’t even notice it, it is very easy to feed with it and reduces the stress of force feeding by mouth. I was hesitant to use a feeding tube and I feel I put my cat through 3 extra days of suffering that should not have happened. You will notice a change in him within a few days after the tube is in. My experience is on the this web-site, name is under BR. Good Luck.

      Reply
    • Sarah
      February 16, 2017 at 1:29 am (9 months ago)

      Hi Lisa — I don’t think 11 is too old for a feeding tube. And it could keep him alive for a long time if he is otherwise healthy. My cat had a feeding tube at 10 years old for Hepatic Lipidosis. It wasn’t discovered until it was very advanced, and the feeding tube helped save his life.

      Reply
  14. Lorna phillips
    June 25, 2016 at 11:46 am (1 year ago)

    My cat Leo was diagnosed with cat flu nearly two weeks ago, he had spent time at my vets before being referred to a specialist. When a feeding tube was proposed I must admit I wondered would it be fair to put Leo through the procedure. He hadn’t eaten properly for well over a week so it was the only option. I soon got to grips with the feeding tube, and I am pleased to say that it has played off as yesterday he started eating normal cat food and hopefully the tube will be removed next week. Leo is 15 years old and I am looking forward to see running around the garden and enjoying himself for a few more years. It’s not as scary as you may think.

    Reply
  15. BR
    December 13, 2015 at 1:56 pm (2 years ago)

    I am writing this so hopefully it will help pet owners make a better first decision than I did.
    About 5 years ago my 3 year old Bengal cat developed Histoplasmosis, his Vet. when I asked if there was a chance to save is life, she said yes but wanted me to know what the process and commitment was to do so. It was not even a possibility not to try to save him (didn’t care what the cost or time it would take). She said it was at least a 6 month process. She started him on Itraconazole. He was just not eating and I tried everything I could think of, but could not get enough food in him and he was losing weight.
    This where I hope this helps others make the decision quicker than I did. The Vet suggested putting a feeding tube in, I thought that sounded so terrible that I told her no and tried harder to force feed him. Well 3 days latter I had the tube put in. The day after it was put in all he did was lay in my lap (about 10 hours that day). When I went to bed that night I thought he would die over night and I dreaded looking under the bed (where he wanted to stay when he was sick) the next morning. When I did to my surprise he came out (still not normal, but much better) so he was dying of malnutrition and the food from a full day of feeding turned him around and he got better everyday. He gained 2 pounds in 5 weeks of feeding him through the tube. So my advice is if you Vet. recommends a feeding tube do it don’t wait.

    Reply
    • BR
      December 13, 2015 at 2:30 pm (2 years ago)

      This is a follow up to the commit above.
      Here is a video of him Zeke, he is so nosey he has to know what is in almost every box I receive. Enjoy https://youtu.be/1rbEkna5BOs

      Reply
      • Nancylynn
        August 28, 2016 at 8:25 pm (1 year ago)

        I am so glad you submitted your story. I am considering this for my cat currently.

        Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 13, 2015 at 3:52 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you for sharing your experience with a feeding tube (and your boy is beautiful!), BR.

      Reply
  16. AHT
    August 29, 2015 at 6:10 pm (2 years ago)

    My 6-year-old handsome cat Dimitri is currently being fed via e-tube. He stopped eating a month ago, and was in and out of the cat hospital countless times before I was advised to go with the feeding tube as treatment for hepatic lipidosis. He is an extremely over-sensitive cat, and he’s been experiencing a lot of nausea (he’s also been known to make himself vomit out of spite), so he’s on quite the drug cocktail, but I think it’s finally working! For Dimitri, the key has been to stick with very small amounts of food, and to constantly pet and comfort him during feedings so that he’s too happy and distracted to make himself sick. Today he finally ate on his own, during a tube feeding, when I offered him a few pieces of the dry version of his favorite food!

    Aside from the fact that Dimitri is hyper-sensitive, the tube is definitely not traumatic. It’s certainly not nearly as traumatic as giving him a pill, which I still have to do every day since Denamarin can’t be crushed! More importantly, this tube is keeping him alive, and helping to get his health back on track. If all goes well, the tube can come out in a month and he’ll be totally back to normal. As a side note, please remember that a procedure involving anesthesia for cats is not automatically a major event. Cats are anesthetized for lots of simple medical procedures, sometimes even for x-rays!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 30, 2015 at 6:21 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you for sharing your experience with Dimitri. All my best to him for a quick and complete recovery!

      Reply
  17. Margaret
    June 11, 2015 at 11:57 am (2 years ago)

    As with most things, advantages and disadvantages. On the whole I think it a good idea, although we all hope it won’t ever come to that with our cats. I t has never happened with any of our cats but I would go along with the idea should it arise.

    A lot of time and patience I think would be needed but of course they are all worth it.

    Reply
  18. Beth
    June 11, 2015 at 9:21 am (2 years ago)

    Three years ago my sweet 10 year old calico would not eat her breakfast. She had been overweight and had fatty liver, but had slowly lost 10 lbs over the past 1-1/2 years with vet supervision. By the time I came home from work, she was in distress. Rushed her to the vet and she was in liver failure. I immediately agreed to the feeding tube to save my sweetie. She was in the hospital for a couple of days and then home after I was trained with liquid food and meds. I fed her once in the morning, took her to the vet for day boarding and multiple feedings by staff, and picked her up each evening for 2 feedings at home. With her constantly improving, this went on for a month, until she pulled the feeding tube out! Our vet agreed it was time to remove the tube! She is a happy and healthy calico today thanks to the feeding tube. I would do it again to save my sweetie!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 11, 2015 at 12:43 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m so glad the feeding tube saved your girl, Beth. Thank you for sharing your experience.

      Reply
    • Suzie T
      July 8, 2016 at 12:46 am (1 year ago)

      My cat had a feeding tube for seven weeks after a severe kidney infection. It was necessary for her medication and to build up her weight. She worked hard to pull it out earlier this week. Since she is now of the antibiotics and eating on her own, the Vets did not seem overly concerned with her pulling it out. I think it served its purpose but she needed it to go!

      Reply
  19. Anne
    June 8, 2015 at 9:12 pm (2 years ago)

    I have seen feeding tubes save many cats lives. I would definitely considered it for short term use in my cat. It often allows the cat to go home and be fed and medicated by the guardian, rather than stay in the hospital.

    Reply
  20. Sometimes Cats Herd You
    June 8, 2015 at 7:45 pm (2 years ago)

    I haven’t had to use a feeding tube on any of my cats yet, but I was interested to hear a lecture to veterinarians where the feline kidney specialist recommended feeding tubes over sub-qs. I had to admit that it does sound easier for hydration as well as for nutrition.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 9, 2015 at 6:10 am (2 years ago)

      I have never heard anyone recommend a feeding tube as an alternative to sub-q fluids, Julie. Are you sure they weren’t talking about a GIF tube? GIF tubes are implanted under the skin to facilitate fluid administration so the cat doesn’t have to be stuck with a needle each time, but they’re very different from a feeding tube. Here’s more information on GIF tubes: http://www.practivet.com/downloads/gifclientbrochure.pdf

      Reply
      • Lisa
        March 5, 2016 at 12:30 am (2 years ago)

        My cats vet recommended a feeding tube when he underwent surgery to treat a blocked ureter from a kidney stone. The blockage caused a lot of damage to his kidney (both kidneys had some damage indicating it had happened before on the other side). The nephrologist recommended a feeding tube and emphasized that in addition to feeding, it was better to give cats with kidney disease extra fluid through the feeding tube than to give them subcutaneous fluids. He did well (after placement of a subcutaneous ureteral bypass device) and I have kept the feeding tube to allow me to give him supplements and extra fluid. Its been 7 months and though he eats on his own I have appreciated the ease of giving him meds and occasional feedings when he doesn’t feel well. So yes a feeding tube is recommended over sub q fluids by some vets who specialize in kidney disease. Though I wasn’t told about GIF tubes before.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          March 5, 2016 at 5:39 am (2 years ago)

          Thank you for sharing your experience with a feeding tube, Lisa. I’m glad your kitty is doing so well with it.

          Reply
  21. Steven Howard
    June 8, 2015 at 6:20 pm (2 years ago)

    We have a very sweet tortie at the shelter with an extremely tragic story. She was near death from starvation and her organs were shutting down. It took a transfusion, feeding tube, and lots of care but she made a full recovery and went to a great home. She wouldn’t have lived if not for the feeding tube.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 9, 2015 at 6:13 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you for sharing your experience with the tortie at your shelter, Steven.

      Reply
  22. ariana
    June 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm (2 years ago)

    Well, i beg to differ. It’s sounds really traumatic to me! One clue is they have to be sedated for it. There is no easy answer. I syringe fed my cat when she had fatty liver disease and had stopped eating. She had to eat or die. Yes, it was a hassle, we had to do multiple syringes a day. I prepared a bunch of syringes and locked her in the bathroom with me and i sat on the floor and did it before and after work. The key thing was to give a little at a time and not to rush too much. She finally accepted it. I think it was way less traumatic than a feeding tube would have been. I just don’t like the idea of such an intrusion into her body…seems like there’d be a risk of injection with that too, or other complications. I preferred the simpler route, and it worked for us. (I actually had to do it with both my cats on various occasions.)

    Reply
  23. Connie
    June 8, 2015 at 11:26 am (2 years ago)

    I haven’t yet had the need for a feeding tube, but I have seen it save a lot of lives..

    Reply
  24. Sue Brandes
    June 8, 2015 at 8:02 am (2 years ago)

    Sounds much better than having to force feed them. I agree it does break your bond. Your cat becomes very untrusting. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  25. Vona
    June 8, 2015 at 7:08 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you for that article. Yea I would use a feeding tube, we were not given that option many years ago. I had to give up my beloved cat and I still feel her loss to this day.

    Reply

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