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Feeding tubes for felines

It's not hopeless
It's not hopeless
Karla Kirby

Feeding tubes save lives and are not used as frequently as they should be for anorexic patients. Unhappily, when most people hear the term "feeding tube", they tend to cringe or panic believing this is the end of their cat’s ninth life. Nevertheless, feeding tubes should not of necessity be looked upon as a death row sentence for kitty.

Loving cat owners often declare they would never put their dear friend through such an ordeal. Regrettably, these well meaning folks are not identifying the remarkable value of feeding tubes to support ailing feline patients while they heal from a temporary illness or injury. Most felines aren’t the least bit vexed by the tubes, but their humans often are.

Anyone who has ever attempted to syringe-feed an ailing cat for very long distinguishes the stress that is involved for both the cat and the human. This method is time consuming and often fails to meet the caloric and hydration needs of the feline.

Of course, feeding tubes are not correct for every situation and case selection necessitates attentive consideration always keeping the patient's best interest in mind and not the human's. For cats that are suffering from a persistent, terminal illness like renal failure or cancer, than the feeding tube is not of necessity apposite to use in these cases. It is a matter of personal choice to prolong the foreseeable in our cats and caregivers need to think long and hard before they allow a feeding tube to be put in a patient with a terminal illness when euthanasia may truly be a much more humane and a loving decision to make

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Feeding tubes do entail a short period of around ten minutes of general anesthesia to place and this is regularly a concern when the patient is quite debilitated. This is the reason why it is better to put a feeding tube in an anorexic patient as soon as possible, without deliberating delay.

The first tube that is a pharyngostomy ("P") tube. It goes into the side of the feline’s neck as shown and enters the back part of the oral cavity and after that heads down the esophagus. Some veterinarians favor using an esophagostomy ("E") tube which goes in lower down the neck. Both tubes work well but E tubes are the most universal feeding tube used.

Another type of feeding tube is known as a PEG tube. This tube takes more know-how to place and must stay in for a minimum of 2-3 weeks contrasting with P or E tubes which can be removed at any time. Moreover, PEG tubes have a higher risk for complications associated with them.

Each case has to be considered independently when deciding which type of tube to use.