DEAR DR. FOX: I have a female domestic shorthair cat who will barely eat. I have had her for 8 years, and she will be 12 in February. She was a rescue. I did not know she had seizures when I adopted her; the rescue agency did not tell me. I have been able to put up with the seizures because they only happen about every four to six months, although it has now been over a year since she had one.
I think that is because she now does not want to eat. I have been to the vet, who gave me Hill’s to force-feed her. (I forgot to mention, she does not like to be caught, like when I cut her nails or give her pills.) We also tried pills -- prednisone and an appetite stimulant -- but it got harder and harder to catch her. She is very smart.
I have given her every food on the market, expensive and inexpensive. She does not like anything. I was told, after she had an ultrasound and extensive bloodwork, that she might have a slow-growing cancer.
I love her, but do not want to put her through more tests. She seems happy, and does eat her treats at night. The vet said she may have diabetes from the prednisone. I cannot give her insulin because she’s too hard to catch. I am 72 years old and I cannot be running all over the house to catch her, stressing her and me both out.
I weigh her every Sunday, and for the past three weeks she has maintained at 8 pounds. She used to weigh 12 pounds. I also tried cooking chicken and fish for her -- she loves shrimp, but not anything else. Thank you for any advice you can give me. -- J.B., West Palm Beach, Florida
DEAR J.B.: I commend you sincerely for the time, effort and money you have expended on this poor cat, who has much to thank you for. You have helped her stay alive and enjoy some quality of life.
Many cats can be difficult to handle for treatment, and for some, the stress involved may outweigh any benefits promised. This may be especially true for a cat prone to seizures.
From your account, I would say that your cat’s temperament calls for a minimum of forced handling for medication and veterinary follow-ups. Providing the best possible quality of life for your cat may well mean letting her be. Give her whatever she likes to eat, canned sardines in water being one nutritious and highly palatable food most cats enjoy. Groom her and play with her so she regains her trust.
I hope this helps put your mind at rest. Sometimes it is best with some animal patients to back off, and give the animal’s own natural healing processes a chance to function in a stress-free environment. But not without prior veterinary consultation.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxVet.net.)