Nowadays, it is increasingly common to find cats suffering from cancer. These patients, in addition to veterinary treatment, will need a quality of life in which food will play an essential role .
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What is cancer?
Cancer is basically an abnormal growth of cells. These will replicate at a higher rate than normal cells do. In this way they can invade other tissues and travel to different parts of the body, which is known as metastasis .
Cancer can be benign or malignant and cause more or less severe symptoms. In general, tumors are treated by removing them , if possible, or with medication. Not all can be cured but we can always focus on maintaining our cat’s quality of life.
How does cancer affect the cat’s diet?
In principle, a cat with cancer can maintain the diet to which it was accustomed before becoming ill. Of course, it is important that the food we offer you is of quality, since that will contribute to improving your physical condition .
The problem is that it is common for these cats to be inappetent. Stopping eating will cause complications such as malnutrition, which aggravates the situation. Therefore, in these and, in general, in any other sick cat, it is crucial to encourage it to eat and, in addition, it is essential that the diet be of quality, including supplements of high nutritional value .
If the cat refuses to eat food despite all our attempts, we will have to notify the veterinarian to start force- feeding , using a tube that is placed in the nose or esophagus.
Cancer also affects the cat’s diet in the sense that its own growth induces changes in metabolism because these cells consume nutrients at a faster rate than healthy cells.
A cancer located in the mouth that makes it difficult to swallow or one in the digestive system that causes symptoms such as nausea or vomiting will make it difficult to intake and absorb nutrients. These symptoms can also appear as side effects of chemotherapy , which may even alter the senses of smell and taste.
What should the diet of a cat with cancer be like?
This must be based on the principles of palatability and high energy density . This means that the food that we offer the cat must be appetizing and nutritious, so that, even eating a small amount, we can keep it nourished.
We can use dry or wet commercial foods, always looking for the best quality possible, or opt for a homemade diet supervised by a professional. A veterinarian specialized in nutrition will assure us that the chosen diet is balanced, since we cannot risk any nutritional deficit.
How can I help my cat eat?
In addition to offering tasty and quality food, we can follow the following recommendations to encourage the cat to eat them:
- Cats are very sensitive to changesso, if we introduce them to new foods, they may reject them. But, precisely because of that sensitivity, he is able to relate a certain food with his discomfort, in such a way that he will refuse to eat it. In these cases we could try to fill the plate with something completely new.
- The cat can develop an aversion to a foodbut, also, to the place where we have given it. That is why we can change the place of the feeder, if we give him some medication with the food it can also end up generating aversion.
- We can choose a different foodjust to give you the drugs, if we know your favorite food we can give it to you. It is not going to be healthy if you just eat that, but it is always better to eat something than nothing.
- Little by little we can try to expand their menu. Wet or homemade food is usually more palatable than dry. If the cat only accepts the feed, we can try to moisten it.
- Introducing him to warm food helps stimulate his sense of smelland thus encourages him to eat. Instead, there will be cats with aversion to this temperature that will prefer cold food.
- It will be easier for the cat to accept the food if we divide it into several servingsthroughout the day. We should never force the cat to eat.
- Yes, we can try, in those who are sicker, to encourage them by administering porridgewith a syringe, without a needle, on the side of the mouth, behind the tusk.
- The porridge can be made by grinding any food with a little water or by resorting to commercial cans indicated for convalescence.
- There are drugs that our veterinarian can guide us in order to control nausea, vomiting and whet the appetite.
- Finally, remember that if none of this works, you will have to go to the vetto feed the cat through a tube.