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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Getting cats to eat with the e-collar / cone
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Member Since:
4 July 2017
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25 July 2017 - 4:01 pm
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Hi everyone,

My kitty Maceo is currently undergoing pre-operative radiation, on treatment #5 out of 20 (!!). 

Although the radiation is painless, it does require that he be completely still during treatment, so he has to get daily (brief) anesthesia. Because it is every day, they insert a catheter into one of his legs and then wrap it to keep it in all week, to avoid having to re-poke him every day (he gets very angry and uncooperative).

He's currently wearing a hard, clear plastic e-collar (not the flexible kind), to prevent him from chewing his catheter off -- which he will do within SECONDS of removing the e-collar. We learned the hard way.

The doctors have told us that he MUST wear the hard e-collar all the time. 

Obviously he hates this, as it prevents him from being able to groom or scratch himself, among other inconveniences. It's also really hard to keep clean during feeding, and even though I wipe the e-collar off, I haven't yet removed it to fully wash it, so there may be scents of previous meals etc. (I plan to wash it once a day, but it is a risk taking it off even for a few seconds)

I feel that it may be affecting his appetite -- both the physical discomfort of the hard cone around his neck, and the smells, and the general clunkiness when he tries to eat.

Does anyone have any tips for facilitating eating with the e-collar, or any extra stinky foods so that we can keep his calorie intake up?

He is currently eating a mix of Primal freeze-dried raw, kitten formula (for a calorie boost), and grain-free canned food, and sometimes baby food. I am trying to keep his calorie intake up at 250 cals (or more) per day so he doesn't lose any weight.

Thanks in advance for any advice!!

Member Since:
6 July 2017
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25 July 2017 - 5:44 pm
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Hi there,

While I have never had a cat require radiation treatments, Tuxedo was forced to wear one of the hard cones of shame for approximately 8 weeks following his amputation due to him out smarting the soft cone and getting a very bad infection in the incision.  There was a period of time where he refused to eat anything.  All the smelly soft stuff he used to love, he turned his nose up at.  I was frantic as no eating for over a week really was showing.  I literally bought every brand of cat food from the store to try along with various home made varities.  But no. As a last ditch effort before resulting to syringe feeding, I did a second pet store run focusing on treats.  Luckily for both of us, the Delectables chicken flavor caught his fancy.  He literally gobbled those things up & that was all he would touch for quite a long while.  Once I got him to eating, it was no problem for him to manage doing it on his own.  Since the treats were dry, there never was any mess on the collar either.  He would use the cone as a scoop and then eat the pieces off the cone.  He ate those as his only food for well over a month, literally spitting out any other food I tried to mix in with them.

It appears from the posts you have made that Maceo eats predominately a moist food diet.  It might be worth trying to tempt him with some dry tidbits & see how he reacts.  Even now, Tuxedo devours those things like they were kitties crack.  All I have to do is shake the container and he comes running.

Member Since:
4 July 2017
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26 July 2017 - 2:16 pm
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Thanks, that's a great tip to mix it up. I do think the moist foods are somewhat bothersome with the collar because they drip or otherwise get smeared onto the collar, which means the collar smells mildly of food all the time (even if I wipe it), which can decrease his appetite. 

We do have some very prized Origen kibble that I sometimes give, but he hasn't been super excited about that either -- with the cone on. I wonder if it is squeezing his trachea? 

Anyway, the cone + IV is by far the most stressful and unsuccessful part of radiation. He is quite a good eater otherwise, even with the cancer, so I'm hoping to find new solutions!


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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26 July 2017 - 3:34 pm
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I'm SURE you've already addressed this....can't you take the cone off long e ough for him to ea while you're standing right there?? 

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

East Tennessee
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3 June 2017
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29 July 2017 - 5:52 am
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Obie also had radiation treatment.  We also had a real hard time getting him to eat.  He had his catheter in a front leg, and the flexible paper collar we bought from amazon was enough to keep him from getting at it.  I had multiple collars, so could change them out when one got stinky.

He loved ham and gravy Gerber's baby food and at that point, calories in are calories in.  So we let him eat that.  Then we mixed it with a pate cat food and finally got him off the baby food.  We also added more water to make an easy to eat paste, which really helped.

We did have to syringe feed for a while.  Our Kroger's grocery store pharmacy gave us free syringes when we told them why we needed them.

Finally, it turned out Obie would eat if we put dots of easy to lick food on the collar itself - out towards the edge.

Good luck!  I've been through what you're doing and respect the time and commitment you are giving to your sweet furbaby!

Member Since:
4 July 2017
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5 August 2017 - 11:26 am
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Thanks for all the replies everyone! Maceo is doing MUCH better with the collar; he is definitely still happier without it, but he seems to have adjusted to it as well. He is also more used to the catheter, and so is ok with taking off the collar for a few min while he eats. Before, we could not do this -- he would start chewing the catheter immediately. 

So I think the answer for us was waiting till he got more used to everything. However, he suddenly doesn't eat super well now, so we're trying to figure that out separately... seems unrelated to the collar or the catheter, because he still doesn't eat well even when we are home on the weekends with no treatment stuff stuck to him. 

Thanks again for all the helpful replies.

Mesa, AZ
Member Since:
27 April 2009
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5 August 2017 - 4:53 pm
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Our cat Emily just had bladder surgery in June.  She couldn't eat with the hard cone, so we got her the "toilet seat" one.  She couldn't reach anything with that one.  I had to wipe her butt, clean her legs, chest and back with baby wipes for a month.  Here's a picture of her wearing the medium size one.
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