Skip to Content

How to Force-Feed a Cat – Step By Step Guide

How to Force-Feed a Cat – Step By Step Guide

Ailments are inevitable to animals and humans. No matter how hard we try to prevent it, we can only reduce how often it occurs. 

But with cats, the first sign of illness often comes with some form of anorexia.

Anorexia is simply a total loss of appetite. The loss of appetite is not the problem itself. It’s the after-effects of not eating for a few days that’s bothersome. 

And, if your cat won’t eat, his health condition will likely get worse. Besides, he needs to eat for his medications to work effectively. 

So, if it becomes necessary, you may need to force-feed your feline. Don’t wait until he begins to eat on his own. 

How then will you force-feed your feline pal? Find out here.


How to force-feed a cat?

You can feed your feline pal with human baby food or blended gruel. Draw it into a syringe. Aim the tip of the syringe inside the cat’s mouth, slightly pointed towards the side and not in the middle as it can cause aspiration. Squirt a little food inside his mouth and give him some time to swallow it. You need to cover him with a towel as he could spit it out or drool on it. Also, instead of giving him a large quantity of food at once, it is better to spread his meal to about three or four times a day. That way, he’ll eat small quantities each time.


Items needed

To force-feed a cat, you need the following supplies:

  • Blended gruel or human baby food
  • Large syringe – 60cc for adult cats and 20cc for kittens and small cats
  • Towel


Step-by-step guide in force-feeding your feline

Using your cat’s weight as a guide, you can compute how much food you’ll need to feed him.

Technically, the rule is force-feeding your feline pal with 20 mL of food for every pound of his weight. Take a look at this sample computation to have a better idea of how to compute your cat’s meal intake.

  • A cat that weighs 1 pound will get a total quantity of 20 mL. You can spread it into 5 mL per feeding to be given four times a day.
  • A cat that weighs 2 pounds will be fed with a total quantity of 40 mL, which can be fed as 10-mL servings four times a day.
  • A cat that weighs 3 pounds should be fed with a total of 60 mL, with approximately 15 mL per serving.

But, remember to go slowly. Don’t squirt the entire amount of food you’ve prepared as it poses aspiration risks. Forcing the entire amount can even traumatic your feline further, making him lose his appetite more.

However, what if your cat’s weight is not a whole number? Don’t you worry. You can round it up to the nearest whole number and apply the feeding formula explained above. 

Now that you’ve computed how much to feed your cat for the entire day, here’s how you go about with the process of force-feeding him.

Step 1: Before you feed your cat, wrap him up with a towel or place it on his chest. 

Step 2: Gently draw the warm baby food or blended gruel into the syringe. 

Step 3: Aim the tip of the syringe slightly into the corner of his mouth and not in the middle. This is to avoid aspiration (food going into the lungs instead of the esophagus, or the food tube).

Step 4: Gently push the food out into your cat’s mouth. Allow him to swallow the food. Sometimes, he may spit it out. At other times, he may fight you and keep his mouth sealed. Just be patient. Give him some time and try feeding him again.

Step 5: When you’re through with the feeding, clean up the mess, if there is any. Keep him seated for a while to let the food digest. This upright positioning will help to prevent vomiting.


How to stimulate your cat’s appetite

Unfortunately, your cat’s appetite may not be restored soon. But, you can definitely stimulate it so he can get back to eating his food with gusto again.

To do this, get some of his favorite foods or snacks, especially the ones with a strong aroma. Lace his lips with some of the food. 

The idea is that their smell will gradually reawaken your cat’s appetite. It takes time for this method to work. So, you may have to try it a couple of times before you begin to get results. 

Remember, your cat will only perceive the smell of the food as an aroma if he’s still in the process of regaining his appetite. 

So, if your cat can’t tolerate the smell of a particular food yet, don’t force him to put up with it. Just reintroduce it later when your feline’s feeling much better. 


Exceptions to force-feeding 

Some medical conditions can make a cat ineligible for force-feeding. 

Technically, you should not force feed any cat suffering from a terminal illness. If your cat is suffering from end-stage renal disease, FIP, anemia, or others, you can’t force-feed him.

In fact, it may be a good idea to get a go-ahead from your vet first before you attempt to force-feed your cat. He may be able to give you other options that are a lot safer and gentler but still be able to provide the nutritional needs of your feline.


When to stop force-feeding your cat 

There are some situations that should make you stop force-feeding your cat. Here are some of them.


Cat runs away from you

If your cat begins to run away from you whether you’re holding a syringe or not, please stop force-feeding him. Don’t let feeding break the bond between both of you. 

Once you continue force-feeding your feline even if he doesn’t want to, he might develop trauma to it and overall refuse your efforts to feed him.

So, each time he sees you, he feels it’s time for another force-feeding session. At this point, you should quit force-feeding him.

The solution to a problem cannot be worse than the problem itself.


Cat vomits frequently

When your cat vomits after being force-fed, it could be that the quantity he ingested is too much for his stomach. The solution is to reduce the quantity you give him. 

If after reducing the quantity he still vomits, it means the idea isn’t working for him. Maybe you should look for another way to feed him and ask for your vet’s help for instructions.


Feline clenches his teeth

If your cat starts clenching his teeth together whenever you’re trying to feed him, you should stop feeding him. 

Although clenching his teeth is a mild way of revolting at the feeding method, that’s not why we’re suggesting that you stop.

We want you to stop because you could damage his teeth or gum while forcing the syringe into his mouth while his teeth are clenched together. 

After all, force-feeding is meant to help your cat ingest food, not to cause another problem instead. 



If your cat becomes anorexic, you need to try and force-feed him with either human baby food or blended gruel. 

However, always remember that it does not work for every cat. 

That’s why you should always seek your veterinarian’s help for proper advice on how to go about feeding your feline pal who has lost his appetite.