Whatever may be the reason behind your cat’s anemia, getting him to eat properly is one of the most important tasks that you need to undertake to ensure his fast recovery.
Getting your anemic cat to eat
When your cat is sick, depressed, or anxious, you may notice a marked decrease in his appetite. Although encouraging your cat to eat may be challenging, there are several things that increase your chances of getting the cat to eat:
1. Work with your vet.
Once your cat’s veterinarian has put your cat under a treatment plan for anemia, he may prescribe a modified diet for your pet. The vet may list down certain types of foods that your cat needs to avoid. Additionally, he may prescribe a special type of food or iron supplements to facilitate your pet’s recovery. Follow closely your vet’s advice and seek his guidance if your pet does not seem to respond well to his new diet.
2. Set aside a space for your pet.
If you have other cats or even dogs in your home, it is a good idea to put your ailing feline in a space away from the other four-legged members of your household. At this point, your cat needs more attention and care than usual and he might not be able to cope with the usual antics of the other pets in your home.
3. Do not starve your cat.
Deliberately starving your cat will not encourage him to eat later. In fact, cats should never be starved. The main reason behind this is the condition known as hepatic lipidosis which is a type of liver disease. This disease is known to be fatal to felines. It can take two to three days for a cat to succumb to hepatic lipidosis.
If your cat will not eat, his body will turn to its fat reserves as a source of energy. But before the fat reserves can be used, the liver must process it first. This step requires the use of proteins. The problem is that your cat may not have sufficient supplies of protein in his body. Without sufficient protein to use, the liver soon becomes overburdened. Eventually, this can lead to hepatic lipidosis and even liver failure.
4. Use smelly foods as appetite stimulants.
Unless your vet forbids it, you can use certain types of food to coax your pet to start eating again. These include meat, canned tuna, liver, chicken, and shrimp. Be sure to give your pet any of these in small quantities, just enough to whet his appetite. Also, if you are feeding your pet pieces of meat, be sure to trim off the fat. Just mix these foods into his food.
5. Switch to high quality commercial cat food.
When people do not eat iron-rich foods, they can succumb to anemia. This is rarely the case in felines, especially if you are feeding your pet commercial cat food. However, your cat can get anemia if you are feeding him with people food. The main problem with people food is that it may not contain sufficient nutrients, including iron, that your cat’s body needs.
On the other hand, high quality commercial cat food has been specially formulated to provide your pet with the nutrients that he needs in the right quantities. If your cat is well on his way to recovery from anemia, it is a good idea to transition him from people food to commercial cat food.
A good option to start with is the Purina Fancy Feast Adult Canned Wet Cat Food.
It is also a good idea to rotate between different brands of cat food at least twice a year. Rotating between different cat food brands helps prevent intestinal issues and food allergies. Additionally, this can help stave off finickiness in your cat.
6. Never force your cat to eat.
It can be frustrating to see your cat starve himself despite all your efforts. However, it is never a good idea to force him to eat. When cats are sick, they may succumb to a condition known as food aversion. This is quite common in sick cats.
Food aversion occurs when your pet associates certain types of food with an illness. As such, if you give him his usual fare, he might not want to eat because the food worsens his illness. If you set down his food bowl and your cat ignores it, pick it up and serve him food later.
What is anemia?
Anemia is a condition where a cat’s red blood count is lower than what is considered to be healthy. The low level of red blood can come as a result of either a decrease in the production of red blood cells or due to the increase of cells destroyed in your cat’s body.
Typically, anemia is a symptom of a bigger problem. These include internal or external bleeding, ingestion of toxins, infections, genetic diseases, kidney problems, and bone marrow disorders.
Among the possible symptoms of anemia are:
- Increased heart and breathing rate
- Diminished appetite
- Pale gums
- Drinking water more frequently
Anemia hampers your cat’s ability to absorb oxygen from the air. Apart from that, anemic cats have difficulty distributing oxygen to different tissues in their bodies. This is why cats with anemia often exhibit symptoms like lethargy and difficulty in breathing.
Felines are susceptible to anemia due in large part to the short lifespan of their red blood cells compared to other animals. For example, the average lifespan of a cat’s red blood cell is 70 days while the average lifespan of a dog’s red blood cell is around 110 days.
The symptoms will vary from one cat to another, depending on the underlying cause of the anemia. If you notice these symptoms in your cat, schedule a consultation with your veterinarian.
Image: istockphoto.com / LightFieldStudios