platforms should only be large enough for one cat. • Try to place your cat's food in areas with minimal human activity and away from loud noises and visual threats (e.g., a window where your kitty might catch a glimpse of another cat outside).

• Put food in locations that encourage climbing and set aside time to play with your cat each day, which will provide him with both physical and mental stimulation.

Does Your Cat Have an Underlying Dis- ease?

If a change in your cat's environment doesn't seem to be the problem behind his lack of appetite, I strongly encourage you to make an appointment with your veteri- narian as soon as possible. Your vet will do a thorough physical exam and diagnos- tic workup, and investigate metabolic changes such as hypertension, blood po- tassium levels, anemia, etc.

He or she should also consider any

medications or supplements kitty is taking to rule those out as a cause. There are many health-related reasons that cause cats to

lose interest in food, including: • An upper respiratory infection • Nasal tumors or polyps • Gum disease or oral infection • Oral tumors

• A gastrointestinal (GI) disorder (e.g., nausea, constipation, obstruction or foreign body ingestion, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, cancer)

• Congestive heart failure If there's a disease process underlying

your cat's lack of appetite, the sooner you find out what it is and begin treating it, the better.

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Enticing a Reluctant Cat to Eat Helping a cat who is refusing to eat

stay nourished is an exercise in creativity, gentle prodding, and patience. Here are a few tips to tempt kitty's tastebuds:

• Warm her meals to bring out the aroma (cats respond to the smell of food before the taste).

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• Lure her with species-appropriate "people food" she has enjoyed in the past, for example, warm baked chicken or salmon.

• Offer her canned food with a strong smell or a sardine (packed in water). Offer new food from a paper plate (in case she associates a bad memory with her food bowl).

• If she's hooked on kibble and refuses

In the meantime, you need to try other things to encourage your cat to eat to keep him nourished and to prevent hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), which can develop rapidly in an anorexic cat. After a short time (as I mentioned earlier, in as little as 16 hours) without food or adequate daily calories, a cat's body will begin sending fat cells to the liver to con- vert to energy. That's where the problem begins, because cats' bodies don't metabolize fat efficiently. The process happens faster with overweight or obese cats; the more meta- bolically fit your cat is, the less risk there is for this condition to occur within a day.

everything else, try adding warm water to the food or an aromatic enticement like tuna juice or chicken broth.

• Buy a small selection of different fla- vors and textures of canned cat food or homecooked meat or bone broth and see if one catches her interest.

Some older cats seem to have senior

moments in which they wander away from their food after taking a few bites, then wander back in a bit and eat some more. If this sounds like your kitty, as long as she wanders back to her bowl and eats most or all of it, just leave her food down for her for a reasonable amount of time (not long enough for it to spoil) and let her eat at her own pace. Try to make your cat's mealtime a pleasant experience for her. Make sure she's in a calm, quiet environment that is optimally comfortable. If she's hesitant to eat from her bowl, try offering food from a clean paper plate or hand feeding her tiny amounts. You can also try putting small amounts

of watered-down food into her mouth with a syringe, but only if she's willing. Force- feeding is very stressful for cats and the humans who attempt it often end up bitten or scratched.

Be sure to pet and praise her along the

way, and no matter how worried or frus- trated you may be feeling, try not to trans- mit your concern to your cat.

What to Do If Your Cat Still Won't Eat If despite your best efforts you can't

get sufficient calories into your cat, call your veterinarian, who may prescribe an appetite stimulant, a homeopathic remedy, or a vitamin B12 injection. If your cat is losing weight from not eating, there's a good chance the problem is an underlying disease process, and your veterinarian will need to determine what's going on. If he loses a significant amount of weight, your vet may recommend a feeding tube. This isn't pleasant to contemplate, but it's crucial that your kitty stays nourished until he's eating again on his own. Often a feeding tube is actually much less stress- ful for cat and owner and is highly efficient in keeping kitty fed and hydrated (and medicated, if necessary).

Reprinted with permission from Mercola. com

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