by Andrea Pring
Reprinted with permission of Animal Wellness Magazine, © 2006, www.animalwellnessmagazine.com
Imagine you were sick in hospital and the staff fed you nothing but cookies or highly processed meat by-products. It’s unlikely you would recover very quickly, if at all. Sadly, this is exactly what many caregivers are doing when they feed their ailing cats low-end commercial foods. Illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, IBD, and heart problems are often linked to poor diet in the first place, so it follows that a sick cat won’t improve if no changes are made to her food.
Wanted: quality protein
The raw food route
Do your research, take your time
meat on its own does not constitute a balanced diet. If you don’t add the other necessary nutrients, you are likely to create more problems.
Premium packaged diets
Some cats with liver disease may need reduced protein, so check with your vet first.
Enticing her to eat
A cat’s appetite can often be stimulated by strong-smelling foods such as fish. Try increasing the palatability of her meals by pouring tuna, salmon, or pilchard juice over the food.
“Give the cat a teaspoon of tuna water every few hours, increasing volume and frequency with demand, until the cat is meowing for it,” suggests Dr. Newman. “Then add a teaspoon of baby food meat dinner, high quality canned diet, or pureed home-cooked meat. Chicken and turkey are easy animal proteins to start with.”
You can also try warming the food; this releases odors that may encourage eating.
Cooking fresh ground lamb may stimulate eating as the meat produces strong odors during the cooking process.
Some people advocate adding baby food, but make sure it doesn’t contain onion or onion powder as these are toxic to cats.
Hand feeding is another option; once cats have tasted the food, it often encourages them to continue eating.
Before you embark on a new diet for your cat, especially if she has an existing health problem, be sure to first talk to your veterinarian. It’s also important to be patient and take your time when switching her over to a new food. Whatever her condition, however, once she’s eating healthier you’re bound to see some improvement in her well being, and in some cases even a partial or total recovery.