Not eating (inappetance) and dehydration are two conditions that warrant immediate attention because they can become serious quickly. Each of these can lead to the other. In addition, when cats are stressed or ill and stop eating for a time, fats collect in the liver creating fatty liver disease also called hepatic lipidosis. This condition can be fatal.
Causes of not eating and dehydration range from minor to serious. Cats are known to be finicky eaters and not all of that finickiness has to do with the actual meal. I have seen the meal be rejected in one spot and when I move it to another spot the cat eats with gusto. Perhaps this has to do with ambient odours, markers from other cats or other things we humans can’t sense. I refer to this preference as “location is everything” and make a note of it. Next meal goes in the favoured spot.
I have found that many cats are drawn to food with engevita yeast sprinkled on it. Engevita yeast is a type of nutritional yeast. I was introduced to it by vegetarians who add it as a topping to various food to add B complex vitamins. (It is also used as a substitute for butter on popcorn). Those are the same B vitamins that are in brewer’s yeast and recognized for repelling fleas — fleas apparently don’t like the smell of thiamine, also known as vitamin B1. In addition, B complex vitamins are known for reducing the effects of stress. It can be purchased at health food stores and some grocery stores with a health food section.
Cats were originally desert animals and I have read that out of habit they are frequently somewhat dehydrated. This situation leads into the debate over dry versus wet food — wet food being seen as more favourable because it hydrates. However, that is not an argument that convinces all of the rescue cats in my house. Some are die hard kibble eaters, even some of the feral rescue cats.
One of my tame cats, Parker, had an episode with urinary crystals and the vet stressed that he must drink more water and should eat wet food. By chance I found a way to make drinking water more interesting for all of them. I put a bowl under the bathtub faucet and run the water a little every time I’m in there. Parker seems to like the fact that the water goes right to the top of the bowl. The way he sips it, it seems like it must have something to do with the surface tension of the water. I have tried the electric fountain dishes but am uncomfortable with the low level bowl and the electricity nearby. I know that some people just let a tap drip but I’m also uncomfortable with the wastage involved with that.
Captured ferals or other new cats may stop eating and drinking because they are stressed. As noted in the post called “Calm a Stressed Cat or Other Animal”, there are two audio frequencies that entrain kitty’s brain waves to states of relaxation and well- being. I have used these to get a new feral cat to eat.
Sometimes not eating is due to indigestion. A frequent cause of that in cats is hairballs. My cat Parker, mentioned above, had several bouts with this that included vomiting. One remedy for this is an herbal/natural digestive aid from Vets’ Best. I crumble the tablet and mix it with water. Parker is tame and doesn’t usually want it but I smear it on the roof of his mouth. For a feral cat, I will mix it with sticky food and smear it on him — preferably on a paw — and he will eat it while grooming himself.
I have also used the homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica (also called Colubrina). I typically play the audio frequency of Nux for Parker and the ferals but it can also be given to Parker as homeopathic pellets in a water solution (the pellets can be purchased from a pharmacy, health food store or holistic vet). Giving pellets to feral cats is trickier because strong food odours can antidote them if the pellets or water solution are mixed with food. Some people spray the homeopathic solution on the cat but I’ve found feral cats are inclined to snarl and swipe at that. Another homeopathic remedy for inappetance which I haven’t tried is cereales germees.
Please note that homeopathic audio frequencies were originally sold by Digital Sound Remedies which has since closed However some of them may still be found on a subscription basis from Digital Medicine Cabinet.
At one point none of the above remedies worked for Parker and the vet diagnosed gastritis. The frequency software, called Frex, has a database listing for gastritis. I ran this frequency set and recorded it and now play it for Parker from my computer and/or my mp3 player. So far he hasn’t had a relapse and I use the Frex gastritis recording if the other remedies don’t seem to help.
Not eating can be a symptom of serious problems such as chronic renal failure. A veterinary diagnosis is required in this situation. Often, not eating will be accompanied by dehydration and the vet will recommend subcutaneous hydration. Many caregivers perform this procedure themselves, injecting Ringer’s Lactate from an IV bag under the skin at the base of the neck. This procedure replenishes electrolytes and the cat feels better and will often then eat. Obviously such a procedure can’t be easily done on a feral cat unless it is sedated.
There are a few homeopathic remedies for dehydration including China and Carbo Veg.
A coworker of mine mentioned using unflavoured pedialyte for his dehydrated cat. Pedialyte is a balanced electrolyte formula for oral use with children. Most drugstores have it though it can be hard to find the unflavoured kind. After my feral cat Houdini had baffled the vets and was home again (not eating), I found he quite willingly drank pedialyte from his water bowl and then began to eat a little. There is a frequency to stimulate electrolyte production in the Frex software database.
I am interested in hearing from anyone who wants to experiment with or has experimented with audio frequencies for electrolyte production.