Cats can be very picky eaters. They get even pickier when they feel stressed, are injured, or feel sick. In such moments, force feeding your cat is the only way to ensure they are getting enough food and nutrients to heal their sick bodies.
Stop force feeding a cat if you notice they are grinding their teeth. This could be a sign of a painful tooth or discomfort from the feeding method. Also, if a cat vomits, it is good to find an alternative way to feed it.
Remember that one time you were so sick and grumpy you barely touched your meals? Turns out cats go through the same wave when they are sick. And just as your doctor or grandma insisted you must eat, force feeding a cat is also important.
Why is force feeding a cat important?
Force feeding is recommended when our feline friend is too sick to feed on her own. Helping your cat feed ensures they are getting their daily nutrient intake. As long as the cat is not malnourished, recovering from disease becomes easy.
Kittens born with defects also need to be force-fed to survive. It could be a weak kitten that the mother cat is refusing to nurture. It could also be a kitten born with a cleft palate which makes it hard for them to suckle.
Deformed kittens are often rescued from their mother, who could eat them, or the litter, which could trample on them. They are then force-fed regularly to help them grow as strong as the rest of the litter.
If a cat went through a dental procedure, feeding on their own may be a problem for a while. Force feeding, therefore, is an available option to nurse the feline until it can feed on its own. The same can be said about cats that suffer from toothaches or any other dental defect that causes pain and inflammation.
How and when to stop force feeding a cat?
It is important to monitor how your cat responds as you force feed it. If you notice any signs of struggling or discomfort on your cat’s part, you may have to stop the feeding.
Some of the warning signs to look out for include;
Grinding of teeth
If you do not know what you are doing
Cat prefers feeding itself
Cat grinding of teeth
Grinding of teeth could be a sign your cat is finding the force feeding routine tedious. When teeth start gnashing, it is time to put the feeder down. Otherwise, your cat may suffer painful jaws.
Also, if there is an underlying dental issue, like an aching tooth, force feeding the cat will be excruciating. The cat will grind or clench its teeth to prevent the feeder from getting into the mouth. Stop force feeding and seek alternative ways to nourish your kitten.
A good option is switching your cat to a liquid diet like cat broth. The flavor of chicken or beef in cat broth will entice your cat to drink. For a cat that is struggling to open its jaws, force feeding with a syringe is necessary.
But your need to learn the right technique of feeding to ensure your cat does not choke or vomit after eating.
Stop force feeding if your cat starts to vomit. This could be a sign they are nauseated or the force feeding technique one is using is not the best for them.
Vomiting has its dangers. It can lead to aspiration which is inflammation of the lungs when foreign objects are inhaled by the cat. If your cat repeatedly vomits, rush them to the vet for a checkup. Afterward, change the feeding method and monitor for any changes.
If it is your first time to force feed
If your cat is not eating and they are sick, you can easily feel anxious and desperately want them to eat something. This can lead to force feeding the cat the wrong way.
You must get trained on force feeding before you do it. Luckily, we will teach you how to force feed a cat correctly.
Only force feed your cat if you know how to do it. Poor feeding methods may cause injuries or more distress to the cat
Force feeding step by step
Use canned or homemade food with a smooth consistency
Use a 6mm syringe without the needle to force feed
Load the food through the front or take out the plunger and do it from the back
Wrap a towel around the cat to act as a bib
Using the syringe, inject small bits of food into the cat’s mouth using the corner
Never force feed from the front or it can cause your cat to choke or vomit
Feed small amounts at a time and allow your cat to swallow
Stop when the cat starts to spit food out instead of swallowing
The best way to force feed is to do it in small portions many times throughout the day.
VIDEO: Syringe Feeding Tutorial For Sick cats and Kittens
Cat wants to feed himself
If your cat is not willing to take the syringe in its mouth anymore, use this last trick on them. Bring their favorite food close and watch if they eat. If they do, it means the cat is recovering and can now eat on its own.
A cat wanting to feed itself is a sign they are getting better and their appetite is back. Other cats would even want you to hold out the syringe and they will lick away as you push the food out. Be patient with the cat until they start feeding themselves.
Force feeding is a great way to ensure your sick cat gets his daily nutrition. But if you notice the cat grinding its teeth or vomiting, stop force feeding them. Also, if the cat is willing to eat on its own, then force feeding is not necessary. Only force feed a cat if you know what you are doing.
Cats are not fans of drinking water which puts them at risk of dehydration. If your cat does not drink much water, switch it up with a tastier option like plain chicken or beef broth. Also, feeding your cat fruits like watermelon can help rehydrate them.
Some cats can get stubborn and won’t sit still when force feeding them. To hold the cat down, wrap a clean towel (the bib) around them like a burrito. Now have someone hold the cat down, preferably around the paws and chest, while force feeding it bits of food.
If your cat is not eating solid foods, try switching to wet foods with a smooth consistency. Another option is to add low sodium chicken broth into their normal food and see if they eat. If they do not eat, then try force feeding them with a syringe.