When you sit down in front of a steaming dish of your favorite food, all your senses are on high alert. First, you see the food in all its delicious glory. Then, you smell the food and the aromas waft into your nose. Next, you touch the food as you scoop up a forkful to your mouth and finally, you taste the food as the textures of the ingredients grace your palate. The only sense that doesnt play much of a role is the sense of hearing (unless youre eating food thats sizzling and crackling!) My point is, eating is a very sensual experience, and the inability to use one of the senses alters it overall.
Last week, an 18 year old cat came into the PPAC with concerned parents, stemming from its recent rapid weight loss—2 lbs since March—and, a loss of appetite. Two pounds may not sound like much to us, but to a small cat, thats quite a bit. Dr. S. did some blood work and a general physical exam to take a look.
The exam revealed not much—just a runny nose. The blood work on the other hand showed kidney failure and an elevated white blood cell count which showed that there was an infection. To probe deeper, Dr. S. also took an ultrasound which revealed evidence of pancreatitis. In an elderly cat, these medical issues are not all that uncommon so they went ahead and treated these various ailments. Unfortunately, this did not seem to resolve the issue and the cat continued not eating. Though he would stick his nose in the food, with apparent interest, he rarely was inspired to actually chow down.
Reflecting on the situation, Dr. S. had a chat with Anna, one of the techs at the PPAC who mentioned that her son, an adorable kid with chronic asthma, often seemed off his food. When this happened, Anna would declog his nose with a nebulizer and voila, his appetite would return. Dr. S. tried just this and, like Annas son, the cat was back on his food.
Turns out, the kitty just needed to be able to smell his food to want to eat it.
Til next time,