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  • How to Get a Cat To Eat When He Has Kidney Disease

    Nov 21
    Catnip blossoms (Nepeta cataria)

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    When a cat has kidney disease, he may feel very lethargic and may not feel much like eating.  And to add to the problem, the foods that are often prescribed for cats with kidney disease tend to be blander and therefore less appealing to the cat’s senses.  So because you definitely want your cat to keep his weight up, you might need to get a little more creative with his feeding.  Here are a few tips.

    • First, do your best to get your cat to eat the special kidney diet that your veterinarian has prescribed.  These foods are lower in phosphorus than regular food, so they produce less waste and are kinder to your cat’s kidneys.  The same goes for homemade cat food.  Although this is probably the most nutritious food you can be giving your cat, especially when he is sick, he may not be interested in trying anything new right now.
    • The most critical thing to remember with feline kidney disease is that getting him to eat any food at all is much better than his not eating!   Look up the ingredients on any food that you buy and try to find those with the lowest phosphorus content.
    • Your cat may respond to a little catnip sprinkled into his food.  Catnip has a strong smell and taste, and most cats can’t resist it!
    • Try warming up the food a little in your microwave.  If the food is heated, the smell and flavor will become slightly stronger, which makes it more appealing to your cat.  Stir or mash up the food before serving it, to make sure it isn’t too hot.
    • While you are giving food to your cat, try holding her and touching or petting her gently.  Cats usually respond well to physical affection and encouragement, and this can help put her in a better state of mind, more receptive to your suggestions that she eat something.
    • You can also try adding a little strong flavored liquid to your cat’s food.  Things that work well are the water from a can of tuna, clam juice, or the liquid from a can of anchovies.   In addition to enhancing the scent and flavor of the food, this also adds moisture, which helps your cat stay better hydrated.
    • Rub a tiny bit of warm canned food onto your cat’s paw.  This will get him to groom himself by licking the food off.   If you have a small bowl of the same food right there, he may go from licking it off his paw to eating it out of the bowl.
    • Something else that can work well for a cat with kidney disease is to feed him by hand.  Put just a small amount of food on the palm of your hand, and let your cat smell it and lick it before deciding to eat.  Sometimes just the extra love and affection that you give your cat at this time can make a big difference in his appetite.

    There are other medical options that you may want to discuss with your vet if you cannot get your cat to eat with these other ideas.  He may be able to give you an appetite stimulant, which can be a good short-term solution.  Another thing that often helps a cat feel better and more like eating is subcutaneous fluids, that help your cat to be better hydrated.  If all else fails you may need to feed your cat with a syringe for a time.  Your vet is the best person to advise you on these alternatives.

    to the health of our cats,


    Related Posts:

    Feline Kidney Disease – Common Causes and Symptoms

    What You Need to Know About Cat Food For Kidney Disease

    Treating a Cat With Kidney Disease Using Subcutaneous Fluids

    Living Day to Day With Feline Kidney Disease


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4 Responses to “How to Get a Cat To Eat When He Has Kidney Disease”

  1. Stephanie said on

    A friend of mine had a cat with FIV and in the process of her and I researching how to care for the cat, we ran across an article with special recipes for high calorie kitty shakes. So, does dairy help or hurt when a cat has kidney disease?

  2. Kim Rawks said on

    I’ve also seen reference to making high nutrient shakes for cats with FIV but unless I’m mistaken (Beth?) dairy is high in phosphorus and should be avoided when kidney disease is an issue.

  3. Yes, dairy products do contain a lot of phosphorus, and from what I’ve read dairy isn’t much for good for cats at any time, it can give them stomach upset and loose stools. So probably with kidney disease that would be even more true! I don’t know why though, but my cats always seem to go after milk or butter, I always have to keep moving it out of their way!

  4. Jennifer Darnell said on

    Beth, I haven’t hear you mention salt. Sometimes I’ve used low sodium chicken broth to cover food and meds to get my cat to eat. Healthy or no?