Cat Not Eating? Here’s What To Do
by Jessi Larson
Is your cat not eating like they used to? We’re here to help.
Let’s talk about some reasons your pet isn’t eating and what you can do to help them.
It’s definitely concerning when a cat won’t eat. With other animals, this is an issue, but it can be even more dangerous with cats.
If there is rapid weight loss in a cat due to not eating, their protein supplies will be exhausted and their liver will be overwhelmed by fat. This can result in hepatic lipidosis and later lead to liver failure.
When a cat loses its appetite, it often signifies illness, and you should consult your veterinarian when you notice any change in their eating habits.
The faster you catch this problem, the soon it can be resolved.
If your cat stops eating and has any of these symptoms, immediately take them to the vet:
- Difficulty breathing
Cat Not Eating? Here Are Some Possible Reasons Why
If your cat isn’t eating, there could be one of several factors at play. These include the following.
There could be health issues in relation to your cat’s change in eating habits. Possible causes include infections, intestinal problems, kidney failure, cancer and pancreatitis.
Although these are all more serious issues, it could also be something as simple as a toothache.
Cat not eating? The problem can literally be their mouth.
Cats can develop gingivitis, tartar and inflammation in their mouth. Some cats sadly develop cancerous tumors in their mouth as well.
Look out for drooling, bad breath or bleeding from the mouth.
Cats sometimes ingest hairballs or other foreign objects that can become stuck in their stomach or intestines. This is referred to as an obstruction and doesn’t allow food to pass through your cat’s system.
Some cats can eat one food flavor for months or even a year, but then one day decide it is no longer their favorite. This could be due to a minor ingredient change by the manufacturer, yet your pet still notices.
Travel and Unfamiliar Surroundings
Cats are creatures of habitats. When their routine is changed, they can lose their appetite.
While traveling, it’s possible for your cat to also feel motion sickness when in a car or a plane. This results in nausea and the refusal to eat.
Any Recent Vaccination
Cat not eating after a recent trip to the vet? This could be an adverse reaction to shots.
Vaccines of course have saved millions of animals but do have some mostly temporary effects on some. The loss of appetite due to a vaccine is one that is commonly mild and only lasts for a short period.
Finickiness or Psychological Issues
If you take your cat to the vet and it’s concluded that they are not sick, then they could be having issues eating due to anxiety or depression.
Any changes taking place in the household can disrupt sensitive cats. This includes new people’s aromas or just a shift in the normal schedule.
Aside from this, cats do take some time when it comes to adjusting to new foods so a change in their diet could also be the cause.
Cat Not Eating – Here’s How to Help
To begin, no matter what the issue is causing your cat not to eat, never starve your cat into eating a certain type of food.
If an illness is the cause, then your veterinarian should work with you to design a regimen for your pet.
If your cat has an upper respiratory disease and is congested, you could take them into a steamy bathroom to help clear their nasal passage. This will help to break up the nasal discharge so that they can smell their food again.
You can attempt to change the type of food or consistency that you give your cat. If your vet finds an extreme issue, they may prescribe medicines that require syringe-feeding your cat a liquid diet.
The vet may also recommend a feeding tube to ensure your cat is receiving adequate nutrition. Medications will also act as an appetite stimulant to help your furry friend get well soon.
If you attempt to give your cat an appetite stimulant at home, go for canned tuna or liver, and remember to offer it to them in small amounts. By giving them large quantities, it can cause harm by delivering an overabundance of certain vitamins and cause deficiencies.
A vitamin that you could give your cat is B12, which is often depleted in cats with digestive issues. There are some over the counter options or in oral form as well. This is harmless and can help to increase your cat’s appetite.
Do not strictly rely on people food but instead offer your cat canned food. Heating it up or mixing it with fish oil, broth or cooked eggs could attract them to their bowl.
If they do not eat this, then try again later in the day with some fresh food. (Important note: If you choose to use broth, do not use one with onions, garlic or chives because they can be toxic to cats.)
You could also try out a cat treat and see if that appeals to them. Here are the top cat treat options.
Maybe you have heard of whisker fatigue? This is where your cat’s whiskers are being squished on their small feeding bowl, making it uncomfortable to eat.
As a solution to this problem, try offering them a much wider bowl with shallow sides and see if that makes a difference. This whisker-friendly bowl can help with problem:
If your cat only eats human food, gradually make the switch to cat food over a span of weeks. You should try mixing the cat food with the people food and continue changing the ratio until your pet is eating only the cat food.
Experts recommend rotating your cat’s diet among different high-quality brands about two to four times a year. This will help to reduce finickiness as well as intestinal problems and food allergies.
Also when buying food, only buy as much dry food as your cat will consume in a month, because some foods become rancid once a package is open for too long.
Cat Not Eating: Final Thoughts
If you try out some of these remedies and your cat refuses more than two meals, then it is time to go to the veterinarian right away.
They can properly diagnose your cat and get them on the path to healing and eating better.
We understand you care for your cat and want the best for their health. Hopefully, these tips can help regain your pet’s appetite and will spring them back up into their daily routine.
How To Find the Right Veterinarian
If you don’t have a veterinarian set up for your cat, it’s important to find one right away. Especially if you find your cat not eating like they used to.
Giving your cat proper care through a vet helps ensure their health and well being. And you want to pick someone who’s right for you and your cat.
This is a person you’re going to be entrusting with not just routine checkups and care but also possibly with urgent or critical care. So how do you go about choosing the right vet when there are many options available?
1. Ask Around
Some of the best resources for vet recommendations are friends and neighbors.
Many neighborhoods have discussion groups on social media, and people are usually more than happy to share the names of vets they’ve had great experiences with.
You’ll probably get a lot of different recommendations, but as you see some recommended multiple times, that can help you narrow your list.
2. Read Reviews
A resource right at your fingertips is your computer. Find some local vet websites and then read reviews, paying attention not only to the ratings but the number of high ratings.
Any practice with a high number of reviews, most if not all very positive, is likely a well-established one that a lot of people trust.
3. Visit the Office
Ask the office if they allow prospective clients to come in with their pets and meet the vets and staff.
If that option isn’t available, you can still schedule something relatively minor like a routine checkup and then make some first impressions.
When you arrive, look around to see if the facility looks clean and orderly and the staff seems welcoming and helpful.
Are the vets and staff cat-friendly?
One thing you’ll obviously want to do on your first visit is assess how cat-friendly the vets and staff are.
This doesn’t mean that a reputable clinic might mistreat your cat, but some people are naturally more a cat person or dog person, and that can sometimes translate into differences in care provided.
For instance, a vet who specializes in cats or has a true passion for them might be better able to diagnose problems and recommend treatments. That vet might be more likely to handle your cat in a way that calms and reassures them in what is often a stressful setting.
Do they provide emergency care or unique services?
An unfortunate aspect of pet ownership is that sometimes emergency treatment is necessary.
Ask the vet if they provide emergency or 24-hour care. If they don’t, find out what local options are available.
Not offering emergency services doesn’t have to be a deal breaker as long as the vet provides clear, practical advice about what to do in an emergency or after-hours situation.
Similarly, if you prefer holistic or alternative treatments, make sure you ask about their availability before you make a commitment.