Animal column: Caring for a cat disinterested in food |

Animal column: Caring for a cat disinterested in food

Niki Congero
Tribune Opinion Columnist

Dear Hopeful Henry,

I have a 15 year old cat that started losing weight and is just not that interested in food (except for turkey sandwich meat). We have been to the vet and basically he is just old. He still cuddles and plays and uses his litter box, so I really don’t want to have to put him down yet. Do you have any suggestions that might encourage his eating?

Thank you,

Skinny Cat

Dear Skinny Cat,

I’m glad to hear you took your little old guy to the vet. And I totally understand you not wanting to euthanize him if he still has quality of life. Here are some tips that might help him get re-interested in eating more.

1. Keep him well-hydrated.

Dehydrated cats will quickly loose their appetites. Try flavoring his water with some sodium-free chicken broth. An automatic water dispenser is often favored by cats and will encourage them to drink more water. Make sure there are plenty of water bowls available and in convenient location that are easily accessible.

2. Warm up canned cat food in the microwave.

Make sure it’s not too hot. Senses in older cats can deteriorate, making mealtime less appealing than when he was a younger kitty. By warming the food it makes the odor of the meal more prominent, hence it’s more appealing.

3. Try some human baby food.

Only use the kind of food that is all meat. Preferably use turkey, lamb or chicken. Stay away from ham as it naturally has too much sodium. Also make sure that baby food contains no onion as it is toxic to cats.

4. Pick a new food for kitty to try.

Even if your kitty is used to a premium food, forget the labels for the time being and choose a novel food that may be more palatable for him.

5. Offer some canned pumpkin.

Plain canned pumpkin is full of vitamins and fiber. Many cats love the taste. Try offer a small amount on a teaspoon; if it’s a success you can give him up to two teaspoons a day.

6. Try add-ons to enhance kitties’ meal.

Water from tuna cans can be a good way to make food more interesting. Clam juice and sardines, finely minced, can also be enticing.

Lastly if your little guy is enjoying his turkey sandwich meat — as long as it’s natural and not full of sodium and other ingredients you can’t pronounce — go for it. Just please remember if his condition worsens and you start to see extreme weight loss or other signs that are of concern, always call your veterinarian. While we never ever want to let our pets go, sometimes it is the humane thing to do.

Hopefully this will help kitty plump up.

Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Submit questions or letters via e-mail to or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit, or

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