How to Feed a Sick Cat With Infected Teeth

Prevent dental disease in your cat with regular dental cleanings.
Prevent dental disease in your cat with regular dental cleanings. (Image: cat image by JASON WINTER from

Cats with dental disease often develop infected teeth that making eating a painful, unpleasant experience. When cats stop eating, they can develop hepatic lipidosis, also called fatty liver syndrome, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This condition causes your cat to go into liver failure and die. To ensure that your cat gets the proper nutrition, take certain steps, including hand- or syringe-feeding if necessary, while getting your cat treated by a veterinarian.

Things You'll Need

  • High-calorie canned cat food
  • Low-sodium chicken broth or tuna juice
  • Towel
  • Feeding syringe
  • Liquid cat diet
  • Turkey baby food
  • High-calorie pet supplement

Feed your cat a soft, pâté-style canned cat food so your cat will not have to chew any chunky pieces. A cat with infected teeth cannot eat dry cat food. Ask your vet about feeding your cat a high-calorie, prescription canned cat food to keep your cat's weight stable. Before serving, heat the food in the microwave for six to eight seconds. This increases the aroma of the food, making it more appealing to your cat, as well as softer in texture.

Puree the contents of a 5 1/2 ounce can of cat food in the food processor with 2 to 3 tablespoons of low-sodium chicken broth or tuna juice if your cat refuses to eat it or appears to have trouble chewing. Make the food as finely pureed as you can, and attempt to feed the cat after heating the food. Alternately, you can feed your cat baby food that contains only turkey and water, or turkey gravy. While this will not contain all of the necessary vitamins and minerals found in canned cat food, it will provide some nutrition in an emergency situation.

Feed the cat by hand if it still refuses to eat on its own. Scoop up a small amount of the canned cat food or baby food on the tip of your index finger. Hold the cat still with your arm, and open your cat's mouth by placing your index finger in the corner of its mouth, between the upper and lower jaw. Wipe the cat food onto your cat's tongue and allow it to eat the food, or hold its mouth shut and stroke its neck to encourage it to swallow the food. Repeat this until you have fed the entire can of food to your cat, or as much as it will tolerate.

Feed your cat by syringe with a liquid cat diet available from your veterinarian. You can also make a liquid diet formula by finely pureeing canned cat food with equal parts water and straining it through a metal colander to remove the larger particles. Fill a feeding syringe with the liquid diet, hold your cat with one arm, and place the feeding syringe into the side of your cat's mouth, between the lower and upper jaw. Squirt a small amount of the liquid food into your cat's mouth and allow it to swallow. Repeat this procedure until your cat eats all of the liquid diet in the syringe.

Supplement your cat's diet with a high-calorie gel or paste to maintain its weight. Allow the cat to lick the gel from your finger or hand feed. Give the daily recommended dose.

Speak to your vet about tube-feeding, if your cat cannot be hand- or syringe-fed. This involves a special surgical procedure to insert a feeding tube into your cat's nose or mouth.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make your own baby food to feed your cat, combining cooked chicken or turkey with water or low-sodium chicken broth in your food processor and mix until you obtain the consistency of pudding.
  • Try feeding your cat on a flat plate instead of a dish that your cat's whiskers may touch when eating.
  • Never give your cat baby food that contains onion powder or onion salt, substances that are toxic to cats, according to the Feline CRF Information Center. Avoid baby foods that contain ingredients other than meat, meat gravies or water.

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