When cats need nutritional supplementation for an extended period (> 1 week), use of gastrostomy, pharyngostomy, and esophagostomy tubes has been successful. Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes are a popular choice but require specialized equipment and training. Esophagostomy (E) tubes provide an alternative method of feeding and are associated with few complications. A retrospective study was conducted to evaluate complications and owner management of both PEG tubes (21 cats) and E tubes (46 cats). Self-removal occurred in two cats with PEG tubes, but the tubes were not replaced as the cats were consuming adequate quantities of food. Five cats with E tubes removed the tubes prematurely, but replacement was necessary in only two of the cats. The only statistically significant difference in the variables studied was the length of time the tubes were in place. The median time PEG tubes were in place was 43 days versus 26 days for E tubes. Twelve owners of cats receiving PEG tubes and 24 owners of cats with E tubes were surveyed. All owners said that if it were medically indicated, they would use another feeding tube in the future.

COMMENTARY: Both PEG and E tubes provided the necessary nutritional management to the cats in this study. Learning to use E tubes may become a useful skill because of their ease of placement and low cost. (See Procedures Pro: How to Place an Esophagostomy Tube, March 2003, pp 39-41)

A comparison of owner management and complications in 67 cats with esophagostomy and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy feeding tubes. Ireland LM, Hohenhaus AE, Broussard JD, Weissman BL. JAAHA 39:241-246, 2003.