Feeding tubes save lives and are not used as often as they should be for anorexic patients.
Unfortunately, when most people hear the term “feeding tube”, they tend to panic – feeling like this is the end of the road for their cat. However, feeding tubes should not necessarily be viewed as a doom and gloom ‘last ditch effort’ or as a ‘heroic measure’.
I often hear people say “oh, I would never put my cat through that!” Unfortunately, these folks are not recognizing the tremendous value of feeding tubes to support ill patients while they heal from a temporary illness or injury. Most cats are not bothered by the tubes at all! The human is the one who is bothered by it as the cat just goes about its daily routine.
Anyone who has ever tried to syringe-feed an ill cat for very long recognizes the stress that is involved for both the cat and the human. Not only is it very time-consuming, but the critical issue is that it is often very difficult to meet the caloric and hydration (water) needs of the cat with this method.
Feeding tubes are not right for every situation and case selection requires thoughtful consideration – keeping the patient’s best interest in mind – not the human’s. For cats that are suffering from a chronic, terminal illness such as renal failure or cancer, it is my feeling that a feeding tube is not necessarily appropriate to use in these cases. It is a matter of personal choice to prolong the inevitable in our pets and caregivers need to think long and hard before they put a feeding tube in a patient with a terminal illness when euthanasia may be a much more humane and loving decision to make.