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Pet Connection Q&A: Baby food can tempt sick cat to recover

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 7D

When our cat got sick, our veterinarian recommended giving her human baby food to coax her to eat until she felt better. Is that a balanced diet for a cat?

Puréed meat in those tiny jars meant for human babies is commonly recommended to help sick cats keep eating. The diet's not meant to be a long-term solution, but rather is an important strategy for keeping a sick cat from getting sicker.

As I'm sure your veterinarian told you, it's important to make sure you're not choosing a variety of baby food with onion powder in it, because of the risk the substance poses to your already sick cat. Read the label!

Warming up your cat's food will increase its appeal. Microwave it for 30 seconds or so, and then stir to eliminate any hot spots. You want the food to be a tick above your body temperature – warm, but not hot. If your pet won't eat off a clean plate, try offering a little on the tip of your finger. Before you start, very gently clean any mucus accumulation from your cat's nose with a warm, damp washcloth to help him to better smell what you're offering.

Offer a little bit at a time, several times a day, instead of expecting a sick pet to eat a whole meal. If you're having no luck getting your cat to eat, call your veterinarian. There are medications that can stimulate appetite, and your veterinarian may want to prescribe one.

One final note: It's important when you're nursing a sick pet that you understand your veterinarian's instructions and get all your questions answered. Don't be afraid to call for more information if questions come up after you leave your veterinarian's office. Any good veterinarian would prefer that you completely understand what's required of you, rather than have you guess wrong when it comes to home nursing care.

– Dr. Marty Becker

The buzz

Donations make great gifts

• Looking for the perfect gift for the pet lovers in your life? Consider donating to animal-related charities. Even modest organizations, such as small local shelters and rescue groups, usually have gift membership programs in place.

• Animal-health foundations are also a good bet. Your nearest school or college of veterinary medicine will have a fund set up to accept donations for scholarships or ongoing research into animal health. The Morris Animal Foundation (www.morris animalfoundation.org), AKC Canine Health Foundation (www.akcchf.org) and Winn Feline Foundation (www.winnfeline health.org) accept donations to support research into animal health.

– Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori

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