How to help cats get back to a routine

Question: Reader Linda Foley wants to know how her friend Doug can help his three cats who have stopped eating regularly. Doug had to leave the cats alone after an emergency. A friend fed the cats, but at one point the home where they live lost power and the house was very hot. Since Doug returned the cats aren’t eating. What can he do to help them to return to their normal routine?

Answer: This question leads to a very important point regarding cats. Cats love routine! They pretty much do the same things at the same time every day. These habits can make cats resistant to change and upset when change occurs.

Changes in cats’ environment can not only affect their appetite but it can affect their behavior. Cats often hide, become skittish, or even stop using the litter box.

The biggest problem that is happening with these cats is the fact that they are not eating or not eating like they used to. Cats that do not take in enough calories or drink enough on a daily basis will start to have organ problems. Dehydration from not drinking enough will harm the kidneys. Hepatic lipidosis, a liver disease, will occur when they don’t eat enough. These problems can occur even after just a day or two of not eating or drinking well and can become serious in a short period of time. So quick resolution of the problem is necessary.

The first thing to figure out with these cats is if they have some sort of illness that is causing them to be behaving differently. A visit to the vet to rule out illness should be done especially if it has been going on for some time now.

If the cats are healthy and are just out of sorts, there are a few things to try to get them back on track.

• Keep them inside so they can get back into a routine will force them to readjust to being inside. Also, they can also be monitored more closely to see if they are having any other issues.

• Sometimes even keeping them in one, nice quiet room in the house where they have everything they need can make a difference.

• Making sure that the temperature stays more consistent will help. Cats are affected by the heat so using fans and air conditioning if available is helpful.

• Offering them a variety of cat foods can entice them to begin eating again. This has to be done slowly and with the right kinds of food. A small amount of canned food or a different flavor of their current dry food can be a start.

•Using a calming pheromone spray or plug-in (which can be found at a veterinary clinics, pet stores or online) can sometimes get them back to their regular routine as well.

Usually cats that are not doing what they regularly do are trying to let us know that something is not going well. Paying close attention to them will help catch problems early and keep them from becoming serious.

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