Pros: inexpensive, easy to find, high-calorie supplement
Cons: cats don't seem to like it, extremely sticky, not a substitute for veterinary care
As someone who is actively been involved in cat/dog rescue for three years, I've dealt with dozens of ill animals. Some have had kennel cough, others have had upper respiratory infections, and I even had the bad luck to have two kittens with feline distemper last year. When pets are ill, they usually refuse to eat which only compounds the problem. If that happens, I rely on NutriCal Dietary Supplement to help me get them through the illness.
What Is Nutrical?
This product is a dark brown gel that is designed to be a high-calorie supplement for cats. The company claims that it is very palatable and easily digested. The main ingredients are corn syrup, soybean oil, malt syrup, cod liver oil, and molasses along with a bunch of vitamins and minerals. It comes in a 4.25 ounce squeeze tube like you get with toothpaste.
Although the company states that this food is designed to be palatable for cats, I've never encountered a sick cat who enjoyed eating Nutrical. When I've tried to squirt it directly into their mouths, they've put up quite a fight and would spit out anything that I managed to actually get into their mouth. Someone suggested putting it on the top of their front paws so they'd ingest it as they groomed themselves. I had no luck with that approach and wound up with a sticky cat.
I soon learned that I had to squirt the gel out onto my finger and then rub it up against the roof of their mouth in order to get them to eat it. This requires some luck and there's always a very real possibility that the cat may bite your hand as you try to get the Nutrical into them. I've been lucky up to this point and haven't actually been bitten yet while attempting to administer this gel to sick cats. (I've been bitten and scratched for lots of other reasons, though. I pretty much have a standing appointment every other month with my doctor for some heavy-duty antibiotics.)
As a side note, there's also plain old Nutrical Gel which can be used on both cats and dogs. I've never had an issue feeding this product to adult dogs or puppies. Dogs find it very tasty and let me squirt as much as I want directly into their mouths.
The problem with Nutrical is that the gel is very thick and extremely sticky. As I've battled with cats to get it into their mouths, it's usually gotten all over their faces, my hands, and sometimes even my shirt. Frankly, it makes a mess. I am willing to deal with the disaster that it creates because it's very important to me to keep the sick cats fed. Others may not appreciate the sticky mess that it makes.
Cost and Availability
A 4.25 ounce tube of this gel costs anywhere between $5 and $8, depending upon where you find it. It's sold in large chain pet supply stores like PetCo and PetSmart and also in smaller independent pet shops and feed stores. If you can't find it in your area, you can order it online though the delay in shipping would probably mean that you wouldn't get it in time to help your sick cat. I usually keep a few tubes on hand but I am not the average pet owner. We always have new cats and dogs from the shelter coming through here.
Nutrical High Calorie Dietary Supplement has been an important part in the treatment of sick foster cats and kittens. Not all of them have survived but it has helped many of them to remain strong enough to fight off whatever virus or bacteria was making them ill. I will continue to use Nutrical with the sick animals that we have here.