Cat tries to cover food like his stool.
5 months ago, my girlfriend (now wife) and I moved in together. She had a smallish 3 year old male Tux, and I have a 3 year old male Seal Point Burman. Squish (the Burman) was about 13 lbs, active, quite normal for a finnicky cat. He does not like milk, tuna, tuna juice, wet cat food, catnip, or anything. He always at his Science Diet cat food. Vau (the Tux) ate whatever, and weighed about 10 lbs.
We moved in together, changed the cat food, introduced the cats. They took to each other normally, establishing a pecking order which Squish ended up waiting til Vau was done eating etc before he would eat. Then Vau started keeping Squish away from the food entirely so Squish ate when Vau napped.
After about a month of this, Squish stopped eating entirely. We did everything we could to get him to eat. Short of manually feeding him which we turned to. He began throwing up the food and water, not able to keep anything down. At this point, we took him to the emergency vet because he was getting very lethargic.
He's got a very high level of ALT (GPT) which signifies enzymes in the blood, either from liver or heart damage. We left him housed at the vet for a few days, then got home with the IV and special cat food and some medications. Now, 4 months later, he is finally drinking from a cat bowl, but we are still manually feeding him. About 50-60 mL of wet cat food, squirted in with a big needle thing without an actual needle.
He let's us know when he's hungry, and we have tried to put food in a bowl, on a plate, both wet food and dry food, and he starts trying to cover it like it's his stool in the litter box.
I realize he needs to see a vet, and I wish it was feasible. However, we are struggling financially, and we cannot afford another 600$ vet bill. I wish we could, but we can't. So please, please do not think I am unaware of his needs.
My question is if anyone else has seen this behavior in a cat, and if there is something we can do about it. Either dietary, or something else that we could do to work him into eating on his own again.