Nasal Feeding Tube in Cats

A nasal feeding tube is a device that is inserted through the cat’s nose into the esophagus or stomach for the purpose of administering fluids and nutrients. The nasoesophageal location is preferred because the tube does not cause gastric irritation and vomiting is less likely. If the esophagus is not functioning properly, then the tube should come to rest in the stomach.

What is the Purpose of a Nasal Feeding Tube?

Nasal feeding tubes allow nutrition to be provided to animals that are unable or unwilling to eat. They are helpful in the treatment of facial and jaw fractures, of oral and esophageal diseases, and in cases of prolonged anorexia. Nasogastric tubes can also be used to decompress and remove fluids from the stomach.

Most feeding tubes are of sufficient size to handle either liquid diets or fine gruels of canned or strained foods. This form of nutrition has advantages over parenteral nutrition in that it stimulates the gastrointestinal tract to resume and maintain normal functions.

How is a Nasal Feeding Tube Inserted in Cats?

With the animal in a sitting or standing position, a long, thin plastic or rubber tube is inserted through the nostril and fed into the pharynx and then to the esophagus. After reaching the correct position in the esophagus or stomach, the tube is secured to the nose and side of the head using sutures and tape, surgical staples or surgical glue, and an Elizabethan collar is placed so the animal does not remove the tube.

Is a Nasal Feeding Tube Painful to Cats?

Because the insertion of a nasal feeding tube can be accomplished using only local anesthesia, the actual procedure is not painful. The continued presence of the tube may be annoying and/or uncomfortable for the patient, which is why an Elizabethan collar is used.

Is Sedation or Anesthesia Required for a Nasal Feeding Tube?

Nasal feeding tubes can be placed in many animals with only local anesthesia applied topically to the inside of the nostril. In some animals mild sedation is needed.