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Improve cat’s appetite without pills

Q: My elderly cat Tango doesn’t eat much because of his chronic kidney disease, so he’s losing weight. His veterinarian prescribed part of a mirtazapine tablet every three days, but he refuses to take it, whether I use a pet piller, wrap the pill in a treat or hide it in his food. Now what?

A: Ask your veterinarian about Mirataz, a transdermal mirtazapine ointment recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Mirataz is easy to apply to Tango’s ear flaps, where it is absorbed through the skin. Once a day, put on disposable gloves, squeeze the ointment onto your finger, and rub it on Tango’s inner ear flap. Remove and dispose of the gloves, and wash your hands. It’s that easy.

Leave Tango alone for two hours to allow the medication to be absorbed so you are not exposed. The following day, apply the medication to the other ear.

Research shows that Mirataz is safe for cats and effective at increasing appetite and weight. In a study of cats with weight loss due to chronic kidney disease, vomiting or hyperthyroidism, cats gained an average 3.9 percent of their body weight in the first week, equivalent to six pounds for a 150-pound human. Cats that received the inactive placebo gained only 0.4 percent.

Editor’s Note: As cats age, they can develop chronic illnesses like kidney disease. Dr. Lee discusses the benefits of administering fluid therapy to a cat living with chronic kidney disease.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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