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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Our 16-year-old cat, Pebbles, started to get “picky” about her food a month ago and started to lose weight. We took her to the vet, and after a blood test that showed no health concern, the vet asked for poop sample to have it tested. The cat was isolated because we have three more cats, but she did not poop. The vet gave her an appetite stimulant, a worm infestation liquid to pour on her back and an antibiotic in case she had an infection. Pebbles did not accept the medicine and vomited it. The vet said that there was nothing else she could do but put her to sleep.

Siouxsie Mew, Top Cat of the Paws and Effect Gang

Siouxsie, age 18, says “Getting old isn’t for the weak!”

Until we can up our minds on putting her to sleep, we have her inside a mobile fence on our living room with good water, special food and treats, her bed, a paper bag and a litter box, so we can monitor her better. She is drinking some water and maybe eating very very little, but she pees a little. When I talk to her or pet her she purrs and also when I put her on the window so she can see outside, she shows she is enjoying it. Is there any hope she’ll get better?

~ Marcella

Siouxsie: Well, Marcella, this is a tough one. I’m a very old cat myself, so I can speak to some of the things that happen to elder kitties that make us feel yucky.

Thomas: You’ve already done the first thing we recommend when a kitty’s not acting like themselves — you took Pebbles to the vet.

Bella: We’re glad her blood test came back normal. What that says to us is that whatever’s going on isn’t a major disease. That in itself is cause for hope.

Siouxsie: Our best guess (and keep in mind that we’re not veterinarians here) is that Pebbles’ teeth are bothering her. When your teeth hurt, you don’t want to eat, which means that you’re going to lose weight.

Thomas: Did your vet examine Pebbles’ teeth at all? If not, you should ask her to do so.

Bella: Cats need regular dental care, just like people. That means we need to have our teeth cleaned whenever our vet recommends it, and then if we have bad teeth, the vet will pull them out so our mouths don’t hurt anymore.

Siouxsie: When I had my first teeth cleaning, I came out of it and found that my mouth had finally stopped hurting! The vet found four teeth with resorptive lesions (kitty cavities) and pulled them out. Suddenly I felt so much better and less grumpy …

Thomas: And Mama felt like such a bad kitty mom for not insisting that our previous vet give Siouxsie a teeth cleaning.

Bella: But we don’t blame her …

Siouxsie: And neither do I. How was she supposed to know I had a mouth full of sore teeth? It’s not like I was able to tell her that!

Thomas: So, long story short: We think it would be a good idea to go back to your vet and ask about Pebbles’ teeth. If all her lab work is normal, there’s no reason she should be unable to tolerate being put under anesthesia for her cleaning.

Bella: Meanwhile, we recommend giving Pebbles some soft food at room temperature or just a teensy bit warmer. Very cold or very warm foods will hurt her teeth if she’s got lesions, and soft food is easier to eat. You might even give her some liquids like the water in canned tuna or some “gravy” from canned cat food, just to get some nutrition into her.

Siouxsie: As Mama says, “What do you feed an old cat? Anything she’ll eat!”

Thomas: Please let us know how things turn out. We hope Pebbles will be able to be with you for at least a few more years.

Bella: What about you? What do you feed a cat that won’t eat? Have you had a situation like this with your cat — normal blood work but kitty refuses to eat? What did you do? Please share your thoughts in the comments.