Cancer - special diet needs


Q: Hi! My roommate and I are owned by six cats. Unhappily, one off them (Otto -The Great, or sometimes " 'Lil Guy"), is dying of cancer. I don't believe that we can save him, but would like to make sure that he has the best nutrition possible -- I know that nutrition plays an important role in fighting off cancer, but have no idea what to give him that will help. He's losing his sense of smell and a bit of his appetite, so feeding him is getting more and more difficult. I'm willing to expect a miracle, but want to make sure I've done all I can. Can you recommend a specific diet or certain supplements? Do you know of a good source? What should I be looking for (and watch out for)? Thanks for your time and effort!

A: At present, there are some studies (mostly done at Colorado State University's vet school) that suggest that restricting carbohydrates, increasing protein and using higher fat diets, especially certain of the omega fatty acids. I can't remember which ones, though - sorry.

I have seen a list of foods for cats that come close to meeting these needs and it included Hill's a/d and p/d diets, Sheba canned foods, Fancy Feast canned foods and several other canned foods which I also can't remember.

Fortunately, these are also foods that most cats like. It can help to warm foods when cats won't eat. Hand feeding helps, too. Appetite stimulation can be helpful, with diazepam (Valium Rx), oxazepam (Serax Rx) and cyproheptadine (Periactin Rx) being the most commonly used medical appetite stimulants. Your vet will know if there is any problem using these with the cancer your cat has.

Hope this helps.

Mike Richards, DVM


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...