Cats are well-known picky eater, however, you shouldn't assume that this is the only reason they aren't eating. Here, our Beacon vets provide common reasons why your cat won't be able to eat and what to do to help them.
What does it mean if my cat won't eat?
Cats have a well-deserved reputation for being stubborn and fussy eaters. Because of this, it's probably quite easy to assume that your cat isn't eating because of a bad attitude. However, our feline friends will often lose their appetites when feeling unwell and avoid eating.
A cat's loss of appetite often indicates illness and is a medically significant symptom. Therefore, it is important to monitor your cat and if the behavior lasts for more than a day you should call your vet immediately. The sooner the reason is identified, the sooner treatment can begin so your cat can start to feel better.
Common Reasons Why Your Cat May Not be Eating
Changes in food or routine: Your cat may have stopped eating because of recent changes in their diet. You may need to slowly change your kitty's diet by introducing their new food a bit at a time. On top of this, a change in your cat's routine at home may cause stress, anxiety, or depression in your cat and they may stop eating as a result.
Pain while eating: Cats with dental tooth pain such as; infections or injuries, an abscess, a broken tooth, oral tumors, or other inflammatory issues, will avoid eating due to the pain experienced while eating.
Indigestion: If your cat is having indigestion because of their diet or having eaten something they shouldn't, they will refuse food or water. Other causes of indigestion may be foreign bodies like tumors or swallowed objects that may cause vomiting or diarrhea.
Kidney Disease: Kidney disease is one of the most common ailments in cats, particularly in older cats, and will cause your cat extreme nausea.
Gastrointestinal Problem: Symptoms related to gastrointestinal issues can make cats it difficult for your cat to eat. This could be a result of a variety of underlying health issues that could be happening in your cat’s gastrointestinal tract:
- Cancer (e.g. intestinal lymphoma)
- Pancreatitis (inflammation or infection of the pancreas)
- Gastroenteritis (inflammation or infection of the GI tract)
- Colitis (acute or chronic inflammation of the membrane lining the colon)
How can I encourage my cat to eat?
There are several things you can try to see if your cat will begin eating again.
- Give them canned or wet food - strong-smelling food such as seafood is a good option.
- Keep your cat’s food and water bowls clean. Stainless steel bowls are easy to clean and disinfect.
- Try drenching their solid food with the juice from a tuna can.
- Give your cat nutritional supplements as recommended by a vet.
- Gently warm the food in the microwave or with warm water.
- Considering stress can be a cause, ensure your cat’s environment is safe and that the food dish is located in a quiet area.
What should I do if my cat is not eating?
Unlike humans or dogs, cats may become sick quite quickly when not eating. Your feline friend's choice to refuse food is medically significant and, therefore, it's important that you ask your vet about the underlying reason your cat may not be eating if they refuse food for more then 24 hours.
It's also extremely important to monitor and contact your vet if they are not drinking or are displaying other symptoms or behavioral changes. Your vet can help to determine the cause and best plan of treatment.