The Care and Feeding of our Aging Pets: Part 2


I awoke this morning at 3 a.m. to loud shrieks and pitiful wails. I immediately jumped out of bed and ran to find my cat Princess. These weren’t her usual “I want to play” cries that I hear at least one or two nights a week. She sounded like she was suffering. Turned out not so much, unless you count wanting fresh canned cat food as suffering (and yes, that’s Princess licking her lips at about 3:05 a.m. this morning).

A year ago I posted here about the changes I was dealing with due to Princess’s advancing age. The past year has brought even more changes. As a result of some ups and downs in her health, we’re learning to deal with a number of new routines. But happily, Princess is still with me, is still active, and on balance has had a lot more good than bad days.

A major health scare for Princess a few days before Thanksgiving led to a complete re-evaluation of her medications. We were able to drop all of her meds with the exception of a tiny little thyroid pill that I give her inside a tasty Pill Pocket. Not having to mix powders and liquids into her food has made feeding time much less stressful for me and seems to be tastier for her.  Princess.

But Princess is still on a canned cat food only diet and that’s where my current challenge comes in. After eating Fancy Feast for nearly a year, she became incredibly picky. Some days she would eat it, some days she wouldn’t. This means the weight started dropping again. After consulting with the vet, I now give Princess a buffet. I keep a cupboard filled with a variety of canned cat foods: Fancy Feast, Friskies, Whiskas, Evo, and Boots at the moment. I keep a selection of meats (beef, liver, chicken, salmon, tuna) and styles (grilled, marinated, pate). I never know from feeding to feeding what will strike her fancy. Princess might eat marinated beef in the morning and refuse to touch it in the evening.

I’ve learned that adding a bit of warm water to any kind of canned food increases the chance that she’ll eat it. A friend told me to sprinkle catnip by her dishes and that seems to help.  Do you have any tricks for getting older cats to eat? I’d love to hear them.

— LinnieGayl

10 thoughts on “The Care and Feeding of our Aging Pets: Part 2

  1. AAR Sandy

    13 year old Rufus made a noise in the middle of the night that I’d never heard before either. It sounded as if he were suffering as well. I turned on the light and the first thing I saw was him sauntering into the bedroom totally fine. Who the hell knows what it was?

    My Rover lived to be 21 and a half. She was blind for the last year of her life, something which resulted in many challenges for her and for me. Fortunately, eating was the most important thing to my tiny little 7 pound Siamese. The only times she didn’t eat was when she was sick, so I don’t have any advice on how to get a cat to eat. Just keep doing what you’re doing, LG. Princess knows how much you love her.

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  2. LinnieGaylAAR

    Thanks, Sandy and Lee. I appreciate it.

    And what’s up with these cats and their strange noises in the middle of the night? She scared me so much early this morning that I couldn’t get back to sleep.

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  3. Leigh

    I hope she continues to do well, LinnieGayl. Since I have dogs, I am no help. Right now I am dealing with my older dogs only wanting to eat puppy food, and the puppy wanting to eat their food. What is it with pets and their foods.

    Pill pockets are great. I don’t keep them around all the time. But I have started giving my older dog a vitamin with chondroitin for her joints. Evidently it is about like our vitamins because she has decided she doesn’t like it. I have covered it with cheese but once she bits into it, she spits it out. I might just use pill pockets for her.

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  4. LinnieGaylAAR

    Leigh, how interesting about your dogs wanting the opposite food. Yes, I’ve tried all the usual things people suggest for giving pills to Princess (cheese, etc.) and she just eats the thing it’s stuffed in and spits out the pill. Not with pill pockets. She begs for pill pockets and completely chews up the pill inside it.

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  5. kathy

    thank God for pill pockets!! My kitty Clancey will only eat food from a brand new can. Then he dosen’t want anything but another new can!! I wouldn’t worry about Princess ( I love her too). They say they’ll eat when they get hungrey and if it lasts longer than you can handle a little canned tuna juice helps.

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  6. CindyS

    Precious girl!

    I do have to say that I know about cats and not eating – apparently after about a week their liver will go fatty and they can go into liver failure. It happened to our Emma when we had to put our dog Cody put down. She never liked dogs but for some reason she became depressed and stopped eating – which we were slow to realize as we were grieving also. A week in a kitty hospital and a new diagnosis of diabetes was a surprise and we were terrified whenever she decided she wasn’t hungry.

    Bob came home with a ton of different foods even though she should have been on ‘special’ food. Special nothing, she wasn’t having it. I never thought to put catnip in food so that’s a new take away for me so I’m glad you asked about it.

    Years ago they used to sell cans of just gravy for both dogs and cats (science diet did it) but it sold so infrequently that I think they stopped making it – although I will go and see if there are others on the market. Sometimes just a spoonful of a gravy will give them something new and get them eating again. (I had to do this with Cody when he went off his food – never knew I dog who wouldn’t eat and he was so not a prissy dog but I did have to go out and buy those gravy cans to add to his food to keep him from losing too much weight)

    All that said, I wish you and princess many more years of happiness and yes, even loud 3am wake up calls. We have a new cat in the house who was feral so playing is new to him so there have been a few high pitched shrieks that have had me running to make sure no one was dying ;)


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  7. Susan/DC

    When our cat Bella was sick and didn’t eat, she got fatty liver disease, which to my mind is an odd name for something that results from not eating. Our vet said that cats are not food motivated, unlike most dogs, and we wound up having to mash food and give it to her through a syringe. Very slow, but it was a sign of how sick she was that she did not complain or try to get away. She’s fine now and has been ever since, but it was touch and go for a while. She and her brother are now 9 so only middle-aged, but I read these posts to get ideas for when they are not so young any more.

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  8. cork_dork_mom

    Princess sounds like a sweetheart. We have always had cats, usually more than one – currently we have 3 cats & 1 beagle. Had to put Tiger the cat down awhile ago. He was wasting away and developing some serious personality disorders, not to mention that he was peeing on everything. Funny thing is that after he was gone his littler mate, Blossom, really came out of her shell. She starting talking more and was much more playful – unusual for a middle-aged cat.

    We will always have kitties – dogs, I’m not so sure about.

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  9. Dirk Mcgue

    “Whilst, I wish to be civil, this “article” is a farce comparing homosexuals to the Nazi Regime.
    I have never met or heard of a homosexual who tried to convince me I was wrong in my mind because I differed from them in my sexual orientation.
    It is anyone’s right to sleep with or marry any other willing partner, gender be damned.
    Also, I wonder if the author is aware that in his earlier years, Churchill himself voiced opinions nearly identical to Hitler, fully endorsing the eugenics movement to sterilise or kill mentally or physically disabled people?
    Hardly “a lone voice against the burgeoning darkness of Nazi ideology and intolerance”.”

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