Cats with cancer sometimes won't eat. And who can blame them? Due to the cancer or the treatments they may be taking for it, they don't feel well. A trip to the vet's office is strongly suggested so you can talk about supplements that might get your kitty back to eating.
Cats with cancer often experience cachexia, or "wasting syndrome," the loss of body mass that cannot be reversed nutritionally. Cachexia may be the result of chemotherapy, radiation, the location of the tumor (whether it affects digestion or swallowing, for instance), and changes in metabolism due to the cancer itself. Symptoms include: loss of weight, fatigue and weakness, muscle wasting and a significant loss of appetite. Anorexia is the term used when cats won't eat.
Anorexia and Your Kitty
Loss of appetite is usually the first symptom pet owners notice in their kitties. While cats are notoriously finicky, anorexia is a sustained lack of appetite, not just a brief respite from eating. Owners may desperately try to entice their kitties to eat more. However, the underlying pathology inhibits sick cats from gaining weight, even when they do eat. Fortunately, some supplements may be given to help sick cats regain their appetites.
Supplements Your Veterinarian Can Prescribe
Your veterinarian can prescribe appetite stimulants like mirtazapine (also relieves nausea) and cyproheptadine to increase your cat's caloric intake; however, these drugs must be carefully monitored. Steroids also stimulate the appetite but increase your cat's thirst, thus causing him to drink more water and urinate profusely. NSAIDS, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may be prescribed, but like steroids they need to be carefully monitored. Warning: Never combine NSAIDS with steroids, which can cause ulcers.
To Use Neutraceuticals or Not?
Neutraceuticals are foods or food products that reportedly provide health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids (like Norwegian salmon oil) are said to promote weight gain and discourage muscle loss. However, research and trials are generally lacking for neutraceuticals, and some veterinary oncologists suggest they may negatively interact with conventional drugs and treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation. Consult your veterinarian before administering neutraceuticals to your cat.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.