by Elisa Black-Taylor
If you’re like me, the words “cat feeding tubes” conjures up images of a cat about to die. Many people associate feeding tubes with a last attempt to prolong the suffering of a beloved cat. This simply isn’t true.
While cases involving potentially terminal cancer and chronic renal failure, the use of a cat feeding tube must be evaluated as to what is best for the cat and not for it’s human companion.
Otherwise, the tube can be a lifesaver for a cat facing a short term illness or injury. Internal organ diseases like liver disease hepatic lipidosis, infections, FeLV, and fevers, along with anatomical problems caused by a birth defect or injury can all prevent a cat from taking in adequate nutrition.
In addition, all of these diseases increase caloric needs, so a lack of appetite in a diseased cat is an important problem to address.
Cat feeding tubes make it easier to ensure the caloric and liquid needs of the cat are met. I know from experience how difficult it is to syringe feed a sick cat. A lot of them gag or it’s difficult to administer enough nutrition to keep the cat alive.
A feeding tube allows the cat caregiver to mix nutritional supplements and medication and deliver it right into the cats stomach. The vet will instruct what and how often the cat should be fed.
Here are the main types of cat feeding tubes available.
An esophageal tube, which can normally be inserted with sedation only (about 10 minutes), is inserted at the neck and runs down to the esophagus.
The gastronomy tube (sometimes called a PEG tube) is placed directly through the cat’s side into the stomach. It normally has to be inserted using a general anesthetic. It also has a higher risk of complications must remain in place for a minimum of 2-3 weeks.
A naso-gastric tube, which is used for short term needs, is inserted thru the nose without sedation and only liquids may be fed using this type of cat feeding tube.
One of the main dangers associated with esophageal feeding tubes is the possibility it will be spit out if the cat is vomiting a lot. Otherwise, the tube seems to pose more of a concern for the cat owner than for the cat. Most cats go on about their day and hardly notice the tube at all.
Also many tubes are made so the cat can also eat on it’s own as well as receive nutritional supplements thru the feeding tube.
This article shows several photographs of cats with feeding tubes in place and has a lot of information written by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM. http://catinfo.org/?link=feedingtubes
Dr. Pierson urges a tube be place before the cat is extremely emaciated. In other words, don’t wait until it’s the only option left to save your cat. Use it as a medical implant to give your cat a chance at life that probably wouldn’t be there without the use of the tube.
Get rid of the stigma that only a dying cat will be fitted with a tube. If you trust your vet and the procedure is suggested it’s because your vet is trying to help you save your cats life.
Have any of the readers at pictures-of-cats.org had any experience using a cat feeding tube? Do you feel it saved your cat. And can you offer any advice for cat owners facing the decision on whether or not to use this as a means of nutritional support.