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How To Rehabilitate A Starving Cat To Health? (Vet Answer)

Seeing a stray cat in need always occurs when you least expect it, and this is no different. We have all been in the situation when we are rushing out the door with groceries, children, and a million other things to do, and there in front of us is a lost child displaying all the indicators that they require assistance.

Caring for a hurting animal is a fantastic way to bring yourself and your new buddy happiness.

"How to Rehabilitate a Starving Cat to Health? (%year% Vet Answer)" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) is helpful if you have a hungry, needy cat in front of you.

You may operate a shelter, have visited one and adopted a neglected cat, have spotted a stray cat, or know someone who has.

In any case, this essay addresses all the hungry cats that may want your assistance to recover their vigor. Cats have been domesticated by humans, and although they are skilled hunters, food may be short in metropolitan areas, making it frequent to see cats who are famished.

The 6 Ways to Nurse a Healthy Cat to Health

1. The first steps to take when you find a stray cat

We’ll get into the specifics in a moment, but first, here are a few things that will immediately make your cat feel secure. If you have a scared stray cat in your arms and don’t know what to do, continue reading!

1. Get the cat to a safe location, such as a vehicle or adjacent structure, depending on its location. They may attempt to flee out of panic, so be ready.

2. Wrap a blanket/jumper/towel or anything similar around them, as they are likely to be frightened, chilly, or worried, or all three (avoid this if you are in a hot climate). If they are wounded, unable to walk, or extremely frail, contact a vet immediately.

3. Continue reassuring your new acquaintance that they are now secure and that everything will be okay, either aloud or in whichever manner you choose appropriate.

To assist them realize that you are not a predator, you may use gentle stroking or whispers. Hearing that you are loved is a global language, and it will go a long way toward restoring their health.

4. Provide them with clean water as soon as possible. If required (which may be the case if it’s a kitten), use a syringe and allow them to eat as much or as little as they need. Water is crucial and takes precedence over meals initially.

5. You can choose the finest food to give them once they’ve calmed down a bit and you’ve had a chance to determine their age.

If the cat is at least a few months old, you can serve it a little amount of cooked chicken, turkey, or fish in a broth.

If not, go to a pet store and purchase some high-quality, high-protein wet food, ideally as natural as possible. If you have discovered a very little kitten, you will need to purchase milk replacement formula.

6. Provide the missing cat food in modest amounts at frequent intervals.

Note: Do not allow them to eat as much as they desire, since this might lead to refeeding syndrome, which is discussed in further detail below.

7. Now is definitely a good time to call your veterinarian. This creature must be examined since you know nothing about it and it may have major medical concerns.

Nicely done! You have perhaps just saved a life.

2. Assess the cat’s condition

Shelter medicine is a vast topic, and there is always new study on how to care for rescued animals. While treating a stray cat, there are several aspects to consider, thus the optimal therapy is quite particular. The main diagnosis should be done by a veterinarian.

But if you are the one who discovered the cat, you will need to do a preliminary evaluation to assure their survival. The first thing to ask is, “Is this cat underweight or completely emaciated?” Usually, this may be determined simply by observing them.

As indicated in the emergency steps, if the cat is utterly sluggish, unable to walk, and/or emaciated, you should contact an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. Any cat that is somewhat better than this still likely falls into the malnourished group and may require monitoring around the clock.

A malnourished cat is often in a somewhat better condition and may begin consuming high-calorie foods almost immediately. Cats will instinctively know what they require, and if your cat has a healthy appetite when food is offered, then perhaps their stomach is not ailing from hunger.

Appetite loss signals underlying difficulties, and force-feeding is in no way acceptable. It may be necessary to administer IV fluids with veterinarian care until their vigor is restored.

3. Rehydrate

Before feeding the cat, provide it with clean, fresh water. If they refuse to drink, use a syringe to provide the fluids. Otherwise, a trip to the veterinarian is in order, as hydration is essential to their life.

There are obvious indicators of dehydration, such as slack skin, and it is nearly certain that a starving cat is also dehydrated. In severe circumstances, electrolytes should be given in the syringe.

There are treatments for cats accessible at pet supply stores. If you cannot obtain them immediately, human rehydration sachets will serve the same purpose.

4. Slowly and gently provide nourishment to your new friend

The two separate groups of emaciated and malnourished cats require slightly different care, but your new companion should improve if you provide high-fat, high-protein diets with nearly no carbs.

You may believe that you should force as much food as possible into these unfortunate creatures, but owing to refeeding syndrome, this should be avoided. Due to malnutrition, refeeding syndrome is a disorder characterized by metabolic abnormalities.

At least one week of prepared wet food consisting of fish, turkey, or chicken must be fed to cats that are famished and ill. Ideally, you should prepare a fish or poultry broth and consume it four to six times a day.

Next, gradually introduce some canned wet food, but only if it is fully natural and ideally prepared, while raw foods are gradually introduced. Certain high-calorie and nutrient-dense canned fish, such as tuna and sardines, may be administered in tiny quantities.

After your veterinarian gives you the all-clear, you can introduce dry food to your cat once he or she has made sufficient progress.

Malnourished cats are still at risk for refeeding syndrome, thus the approach is to feed them gradually. Their fragile tummies may be nourished by any moist meal, although cooked meats and broths are favored.

5. Give vitamin supplements

After a few days of consistent diet, it is advisable to introduce a broad spectrum of vital vitamins and minerals. The accumulation of good fats and amino acids in a cat may take time, but supplements can speed up the process.

Brewer’s yeast and omega-rich oils such as cod liver oil are fantastic additions for cats who have gone without sufficient nutrition for an extended period.

6. Long-term food plan and care

It may take your new companion a considerable amount of time to recover from the stress of being neglected and malnourished, but you will be able to tell when they are on the mend.

Typically, when you rescue a cat, new personality traits emerge each week as they get more comfortable. This is a sight to behold, and the little and frequent feeding will help it significantly.

Ultimately, you will be able to lower your food intake to normal levels and cease taking vitamins. When the moment is ripe and the cat has attained a healthy weight, they should be weaned from a high-calorie diet to ensure their health.


With the specific instructions from “How to Rehabilitate a Starving Cat to Health? (Vet Answer)” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) and your dedicated care, we believe that your cat will soon grow healthy.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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