This problem has consumed so much of my time and energy for the last month that I have few other topics to write about. Thus, this is the story of feeding my difficult cat (and his many other diva habits).
Ever since the end of last month, Yellow has become increasingly difficult to feed. For a while, he just stopped eating and drinking, and I lost it a little bit. He sometimes drives me crazy, but he means the world to me and has been my closest confidant over the years. When he’s in any perceived danger, no matter how slight, I have a tendency to freak out. Just ask my family, who have somehow not kicked me out of the house over the last month.
He’s been on hyperthyroid medication for a couple years now, which of course complicated everything. We always gave him his pill in food, so if he doesn’t eat, he doesn’t get the pill, and when he doesn’t get the pill, his metabolism goes nuts and he loses weight at twice the speed.
When he stopped in January, I tried just about everything I could think of to get him to eat and take the pills. Even just to drink. He turned his nose up at everything, and I was a wreck.
To the Vet We Go
I ended up taking him to the vet, where they gave him fluids and did bloodwork. He was not very happy. I could hear him carrying on in the back room while they gave an IV. They informed him that he had a beautiful meow, which of course I agree with. I don’t think my family does.
The vet gave me an appetite stimulant, upped his dose of thyroid medication, and said to give it a few days. Lo and behold, on the third day after his visit, I tried making beef. He gobbled it up. Finally!
Unfortunately, the troubles were far from over, since he still wouldn’t take his medicine. For a while, I gave them by hand, holding him or having someone else hold him while I tried to persuade him to open his mouth and swallow. I hated doing it. I could see the absolute fury in his little golden eyes.
And after starting to hide them in his food again… he stopped eating. I’ve given him the appetite stimulant again and ordered a new version of his thyroid medication that you rub in the ear, so at least I won’t have to fight with the pills anymore.
That said, it’s been over a week now since I started trying to get the medication, and I paid for one-day shipping. I’ve stopped giving him the pill altogether so he will eat and not get mad at me, but that only works for so long before his thyroid attacks again.
Trying Cat Foods
Since kittenhood, he has loved wet cat food. Unfortunately, he turns his little snout up at every variety of every brand we have in the house. He’ll eat it once, then sniff at it and huff off every time after. Finally, we bought some new ones, a bunch of different brands in new and exotic flavors. Did you know Rachael Ray has a wet cat food brand? It’s just as expensive as you’d think.
Of course, all seafood types seem to be his favorite, and they’re the most horribly smelly things imaginable. He picks at these new ones from time to time now.
The trouble with the wet food is that it goes bad quickly, so him eating a bite or two at a time means most of the food ends up out for the barn cat. She’s thriving, by the way.
And as I learned last night, my cat will apparently turn around and eat wet food that’s sat out for two days even when offered fresh stuff. I got so worried that I started googling whether it was safe and panicked, thinking he would surely get botulism and perish. He then climbed up and tried to lay on my laptop, purring madly. His way of saying “Stop fretting and go to bed,” I guess.
Dry cat food isn’t much better, but he seems to pick at it. He doesn’t want the one he used to eat anymore, and wouldn’t touch any until my grandfather sent some of their cat, Spunky’s, over. Spunky and Yellow are mortal enemies, so it probably helped that I told Yell he was eating it away from Spunky. He picks at that food now, but unfortunately for us, it also gives him horrendous gas that can clear a room.
Trying Human Foods
Beef snapped him out of his hunger strike the first time, but lightning doesn’t strike twice apparently. We have lots of ground beef and stew meat in the freezer from butchering a few years ago, so I cooked some up and gave it to him. He loved it at first but now just sniffs at it and stalks off. I cooked up a whole chicken a couple weeks ago which he mostly ate and enjoyed, but then he got tired of that too.
He does love his seafood though. For years when we opened a tuna can, he’d come running from anywhere in the house and meow at us, tail quivering. He just sniffs at it now, but will occasionally drink the juice.
We made a meal with shrimp the other day, and he ate some of one that fell, but didn’t seem interested later. Just as well he didn’t get hooked – I’m not sure I could afford to feed him in shrimp for the rest of his life.
We also opened a can of salmon, and he drank some of the juice from that. It seemed to get his appetite going some, but the smell was so awful that it stopped mine entirely.
Placement Matters, Apparently
The biggest trick is not just what the food is, but where and how it’s presented to him. Sometimes I have to make a huge production of feeding time for him to eat.
For example, I would sit on the couch and make a big show of dropping a piece I was pretending to eat. I’d announce, “Oh no! Looks like I lost some!” and only then would he go over and eat it up.
In the last few months, I’ve given him every type of food in every kind of dish in all areas of the house: the closet, the bathroom, and my bed have all worked for some reason.
I have to do it all strategically, too: if it’s too close to him, he will ignore it, but if it’s too far, he doesn’t notice it. From my estimate it has to be set 8-12 inches away from his face, at PRECISELY the right moment when he’s hungry, for him to suddenly take an interest in it. And I also have to immediately ignore him eating and act like I don’t care, even though I really want to jump around and shriek with joy.
So That’s Where We’re At
He is a very difficult cat, but I love him very much. He still has the energy to hop up and sleep on my bed all day, thankfully. At the moment, his stomach is rumbling up a storm. Hopefully he’s hungry and will eat, and it’s not the onset of botulism.