The Wrah-Wrah and the Rutin. (Help!)

Hmm… I’m thinking it might be a good idea to create a “Cat Mom Blog” category so I can file these Ronnie James posts in one place….

Today, I have a question that I hope someone can answer: How do you get a cat to eat something he loathes?

This is a life-or-death problem we’ve been having, and we’re feeling like we’re out of options.

Ronnie James needs to take rutin. Rutin is not a medication. It’s a dietary supplement, and it’s evidently the only thing that cats can take with any degree of effectiveness for chylothorax. It can potentially stop or at least slow down the flow of chyle into the pleural cavity. It also tastes horrible, and Ronnie James will have none of it.


It smells like paint thinner.

It smells like paint thinner.


We’ve tried everything. We had Diamondback Drugs, our compounding pharmacy, formulate it into a liquid flavored with chicken. They warned us that he probably still wouldn’t like it, but we might have more luck mixing it into his food that way.

We mixed the chicken-flavored rutin into the Wrah-Wrah’s favorite wet foods, including his current most favorite of all (which, oddly, is one that was prescribed by his primary care physician), and he refused to eat it.

After his surgery, we tried again, to no avail. Finally, in desperation, we returned to the direct approach and injected the rutin into his mouth with the plastic syringe. He threw it up, along with his antibiotics and everything he’d eaten. He was abjectly miserable. We felt awful. We stopped trying and went back Dr. M. in defeat when it came time to remove Ronnie James’ stiches.

The following week brought us to Thursday night and our harrowing trip to the E.R. No one could understand how so much fluid had filled up Ronnie James’ little chest cavity so quickly. He HAD to take his rutin. While there was no guarantee that it would work, it would at least give him a chance at survival if it did. We had to try to give him that chance, and we had to somehow do it without stressing him.

Another order for rutin had been called in to Diamondback Drugs – tuna-flavored, this time. We were hoping we’d have better luck with the tuna, since Ronnie James loves tuna; we figured that strong-smelling fish might mask the rutin flavor well enough if we mixed them together.

Diamondback Drugs was closed on Sunday, so yesterday, Monday, Callaghan picked up the rutin. He stopped by my office on his way back to pick me up for lunch. We got home and went straight for the can of herring waiting on the kitchen counter. Operation Rutin was back in effect!

Two little plates of herring were prepared for the kitties’ lunch: Ronnie James’ contained the rutin. He tentatively sniffed his plate of herring, and then he walked away.

I knew that walk. It was the “I know there’s rutin in that food and I’m outta here” walk. It wasn’t that he didn’t like herring, or that he just wasn’t hungry, either. He went to Nounours’ plate and ate some of his herring. Nounours’ rutin-free herring.

We were beside ourselves. What was it going to take to get Ronnie James to eat the rutin?

Meanwhile, he needed something for lunch, so I fixed a clean plate of his normal, favorite food. (The other issue we’re having is that he’s not drinking enough water, so we’re giving him his favorite wet food at every opportunity.) I set the good stuff down in front of Ronnie James. He looked at it askance, then walked away again.

This time, it was the “I strongly suspect you snuck rutin into that food and I’m outta here” walk. He hadn’t even gotten close enough to smell it thoroughly! He was just convinced that the rutin was in there. We were now having trust issues.

I thought for a minute, then looked over at Ronnie James. He was sitting in the hallway at the kitchen entrance, watching me. Exaggerating my motions and holding his gaze with my eyes, I took an unopened can of his favorite food, waved it before me, and said, “Let’s open a brand-new can!” I reached for another fresh kitty plate, took a clean fork from the drawer, and brought everything to the kitchen entrance where he was sitting.

He kept his eyes on me as I made a big production of holding up the can and opening it, garnishing my actions with a little dramatic flair. He watched attentively as I scooped out a generous forkful, tapped it onto his plate, and set it down in front of him.

He started eating immediately.

He didn’t even sniff it first. He just knew that there wasn’t any rutin in it, because why? Because this cat is a brilliant genius. And we are screwed.

After the rutin-laced fish failure, Ronnie James had looked warily at the clean plate of his untainted favorite food and refused to touch it. But when he witnessed me opening a new can of the same food and filling his plate, he dug right in. He saw that the can was unopened, he saw that I transferred food directly from it to the plate that he saw was clean, and he saw that I put it down without adding anything to it… and the neurons in his brain made all the connections and arrived at the conclusion – food is safe – instantly. Callaghan was as astonished as I was. We’d known that we had an exceptionally smart kitty on our hands, but still, we were floored by this display of cognitive agility and capacity for comprehension.


Ronnie James is on to you!

Ronnie James is on to you!


It might seem like I’m just letting my proud cat mom colors show here, but really, I’m more just very concerned that there’s no way we’re ever going to get Ronnie James to eat his rutin. Even if we get it down his throat, he throws it up. We can’t outsmart him. Actually, we sniffed the rutin in its bottle, ourselves, and it doesn’t even smell like tuna. It smells like an industrial chemical! It’s atrocious. It literally smells like poison. I’d think that any sane, smart cat would instinctively reject it.

Isn’t there a better way? Has anyone ever had to give rutin to a cat?

We would greatly appreciate any suggestions or advice you could offer. Meanwhile, I’m going to call Diamondback Drugs again to ask if there’s any other way they could compound this stuff….

4 thoughts on “The Wrah-Wrah and the Rutin. (Help!)

  1. Hi,
    I know it’s been 10 months or so since you wrote this but my cat was just diagnosed with chylothorax last month so I’ve been digging around for everything I can find. I was just wondering how Ronnie James is doing – I hope, well!!!! I’m having a similar problem getting my cat Donut to take her Rutin to buy her some time while I figure out whether to do the surgery for her. I try to give her three 500 mg capsules a day, but the pills are so enormous and she fights like crazy – so far it’s only been a week, but I average about 2 pills a day. But it’s so stressful for her that I wonder if that’s just counter-productive. She refuses to eat it in her wet food (mixed with water), and I was thinking of getting the compounded version, but have a feeling she would reject both flavors as well. It’s starting to get to the point where she doesn’t trust any food I give her and eats less, which is a problem.

    Anyway – I hope you guys are making it through or made it past all the hurdles. It’s such a horrible disease and no one seems to have answers.

    Thanks for your time!


  2. Hi Natalie. I’m so very sorry about your Donut’s diagnosis… my heart truly goes out to you. Thank you for asking about Ronnie James. He lost his battle with chylothorax in May last year. (I’m still grieving for him… .)

    Yes, the Rutin experience was awful and sad, and Wrah-Wrah’s refusal to take it made us feel more desperate. I can certainly relate to how you’re feeling now. If you try everything and it all fails, in the end, you want to see your baby eating, even if it means no Rutin.

    In our case, the Rutin was likely prescribed after it was too late. Chylothorax is difficult to diagnose. Keep trying with Donut… who knows, she may take to the compounded formulas. It’s worth a try.

    Good luck. I don’t know if anything I said can help, but I truly wish you and Donut the best.


  3. Hi All,

    My cat has been taking the Rutin via various forms for multiple years and still tearing around the house. I think it was caught early and it was decided to not do the surgery and just see if she would be better. She responded well and gets checked up yearly (and when I panic at times). So right now she also takes Brethine for bronchitis morning and night and a half pill of the Rutin 500mg 3x a day… so I will sit in front of the TV and make “treat balls” from pill crushing the Rutin and cutting in the prescription all into Flavor-Doh paste (Chicken flavor only…she is picky!)…. Then I stuff them in her face 3x a day! I also have been fortunate to have the town compounding pharmacy mix the Rutin and med into Chicken oil for my kitty sitter ease. Hope this helps!


  4. Hi, Wilma. I’m glad that you found a way to get your kitty to take the Rutin. Our Wrah-Wrah passed away two years ago. His chylothorax wasn’t diagnosed early enough, regardless, I’m afraid. But thank you for your kind comment and advice.


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