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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Last week my 13-year-old cat, Maisy, had an operation to remove both thyroid glands. Since she got home a few days ago, she’s been drinking but not eating. I thought she may have contracted an infection because her breathing was troublesome, so I took her to the vet yesterday. He gave me an antibiotic, which has improved her breathing, and administered mirtazapine as an appetite stimulant.

The problem is, 24 hours after the mirtazapine, she’s still not interested in food. I give her all the things she likes to eat (pouches, cooked fish, chicken, fish paste) but nothing interests her. I have just started feeding her on the thick liquids extracted from cat food pouches via a pipette, although this is hard work. Is there anything else I can do?

~ John

Siouxsie: The first thing we’d suggest is that you call your vet and tell him what’s going on. He may have some other appetite stimulants he can give Maisy and he can check to see if she’s in pain.

Thomas: If all the muscles around Maisy’s throat hurt because of the surgery, that might cause her to be less interested in eating solid food.

Bella: And if the antibiotics are making her feel pukey, she’s definitely not going to want to eat.

Siouxsie: For those of you who don’t know, surgery to remove the thyroid glands is one of three treatments for hyperthyroidism. The other two are methimazole (which I take for my hyperthyroidism) and radioactive iodine therapy (which I tried, and I guess I’m that one in a million cats who doesn’t respond to it).

Thomas: The thyroid glands are located on either side of the trachea, just below the larynx. Although the esophagus is behind the trachea, any surgery around that area can cause pain, swelling and discomfort in other parts of the throat.

Bella: And if she’s developed an infection at the surgery site, that would make it hurt even more.

Siouxsie: On the other hand, her respiratory infection may be harming her appetite. If her nose is stuffed up, she’s not going to be able to smell her food, and the sense of smell is the biggest appetite stimulant for a kitty.

Thomas: You can make soft food smellier by heating it in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. That might make Maisy more interested in eating.

Bella: We also think you’re on the right track with the liquids. Not only will they keep her nourished, they’ll keep her hydrated, too. You could mix the thick liquid with some water to make it a bit thinner and get more of it into her.

Siouxsie: But it’s very important that you get Maisy eating again. Cats that stop eating can develop a life-threatening condition called hepatic lipidosis, which requires pretty extensive veterinary treatment to manage.

Thomas: What about you other readers? What tricks do you use when your cat won’t eat solid foods? Please share your tips in the comments.

Bella: And please, John, let us know how it goes. We hope Maisy’s made a full recovery.