VCA Animal Hospitals

Gastrostomy Tube Feeding in Cats

A gastrostomy tube is a small rubber tube that passes directly into the stomach through the skin and body wall gastrostomy_tube_feedingof the cat's abdomen. It permits you to deliver food and water directly into the stomach.

The gastrostomy tube is used in cats that have jaw fractures or head and neck injuries that prevent eating, or other diseases that cause long-term anorexia.

How do I feed my cat through the tube?

You will syringe a special liquid diet or a homemade mixture (listed below) through the tube two to five times per day. This food is formulated to meet the cat's nutritional needs; it should not cause vomiting or diarrhea. To feed your cat, follow these steps:

1.  Prepare the food by combining the following ingredients in a blender:

1 can (14 oz or 396 gm) of a high quality feline growth food +

10 oz (300 mls) of water +

2 oz (60 mls) of vegetable oil +

8 potassium chloride tablets

Run the blender at the fastest speed until the food is uniformly mixed. After mixing, pour the food through a kitchen strainer to remove any chunks or clumps of unblended food.

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2.  Remove the cap from the feeding tube. You may need to release or open an additional safety valve prior to administering the liquified food.

3.  Using the feeding syringe provided, inject ________ cc of the food into your cat's feeding tube ________ times per day FOR A TOTAL OF ________ cc PER 24 HOURS. It is helpful to inject the food slowly, about 1 cc per second, and to elevate your cat's front feet so that the food goes easily into the stomach.

"After you have given the appropriate amount of food, flush 5 cc of plain water through the tube to remove any remaining food."

4.  After you have given the appropriate amount of food, flush 5 cc of plain water through the tube to remove any remaining food. Replace the cap on the tube.

5.  Store any remaining food in the refrigerator. Before the next feeding, you should warm it to body temperature under hot tap water or in a microwave oven. If you heat it in a microwave oven, be sure to mix the contents thoroughly prior to feeding because of the potential for uneven heating. Always check the temperature prior to feeding to be sure that the food is not too hot by placing food on the back of your hand. It should feel slightly warm.

Note:  Some measuring devices are marked in milliliters (ml) and others in cubic centimeters (cc). Although technically these are slightly different, for our purposes, a cc is the same as a ml.

When and how is the feeding tube removed?

"Offer your cat a small amount of its favorite food by mouth."

Some cats require several weeks of tube feeding before healing occurs and/or their appetite returns. At least twice weekly, offer your cat a small amount of its favorite food by mouth so that you will know when its appetite is improving. The gastrostomy tube will not hinder chewing or swallowing. After your cat has been eating well for three to four days, you should book an appointment for a recheck examination and tube removal. Removal of the tube is simple and does not require anesthesia; however, under no circumstances should you remove the tube on your own.

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