Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I don't recommend the technique that I had to use for several days to feed our cat.   For reasons not totally understood or clear, one of my cats (Elton) developed fatty liver syndrome.   He was losing weight and I had that maternal instinct to know something was wrong.  The first visit to the veterinarian involved blood work, ultrasound and x-rays.  Blood results indicated that something was wrong with his liver but nothing was definitive from the x-rays and ultrasound.  He spent the night back home and the following day went back to the veterinarian for more investigative procedures.  He had a scope put down his esophagus and into his stomach to check to see if there was any obstructions.  Negative results were found.  After consulting with me, my wonderful veterinarian opened him up to see if there was any obstruction in his bowel or if cancer was present or if there was something else.  Elton had been suffering from irritable bowel disease for about the last two years.  I was able to watch the surgery at the clinic and be part of the investigation.  It was interesting to see the large intestine and other body parts.  Once the veterinarian saw the liver, it was evident he had fatty liver syndrome and the liver was also jaundiced.   Elton was experiencing liver failure.  To reverse the damage and get the liver working again you need to force feed the cat.  This involves using a feeding tube.  As the cat was still asleep, a feeding tube was inserted through the side of his neck into his esophagus and then down into his stomach.  I also watched this procedure.  The goal of using a feeding tube is to get the cat to eat again.  He does graduate to eating solid food and the time spent using the feeding tube is dependent on the cat and the desire to eat and keep food down.

While he was at the veterinarian clinic for several days following his surgery, he was fed through his stomach tube and was a real trooper.  He didn't resist being fed by the tube.  Of course he has to wear the cone of shame as he has stitches and he is not allowed to have access to the cut while it heals.

Once we were able to take Elton home, we had to learn how to feed him through the stomach tube plus follow the instructions for mixing the slurry which he was fed and the medications.  He also had to be elevated while being fed so we used a small foot stool for him to place his front paws on.  

Tools and products used in this process of feeding included special cat food, a container for mixing the cat food with water to create the slurry, large syringes filled with the slurry and then inserted into the stomach tubing, pills and a pill splitter which cut a large pill into halves.   The pill was dissolved in water or the slurry and then sucked up into the syringe and slowly plunged into the feeding tube.

I have been lucky with Elton.  For some owners it takes several weeks of feeding through the stomach tube to get them back on solid food.  We were able to introduce him to solid food the following day he came home from the clinic and haven't experienced any set backs.

I likely will never fully know the reasons why Elton got sick and I do appreciate the patient centred care he received at the veterinarian clinic .

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