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What To Do If My Cat Won’t Eat

What To Do If Your Cat Wont Eat

Why Your Cat Won’t Eat and What to Do About It

Youre being bamboozled by a cat.

Thats what the receptionist at the vets office told me as I struggled to hoist a heavy case of canned prescription cat food onto the counter. I had explained that I needed to return it because my Himalayan, The Fluffy Cat, refused to eat it.

The Fluffy Cat had devoured the last case of food, recently prescribed to him to help manage his urinary health, but he refused to touch food from the new cans.

Hes normally a voracious eater, so I worried the food might be tainted. Plus, from my time spent on staff at Cat Fancy magazine, I knew that even small changes in a cats behavior can indicate a big problem, so I chose to err on the side of caution and return the food.

The Fluffy Cat chowed down on the first can in the replacement case like nothing ever happened. But the receptionists remark lingered in my ear. Was something really wrong with his food, or was my cat a finicky trickster?

To learn more about the reasons cats refuse to eat and what to do about it, I reached out to Ariel Mosenco, DVM, DACVIM, a staff veterinarian at Ryan Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

Help My Cat Won’t Eat What Should I Do

If your cat suddenly stops eating you are bound to be concerned. Should you rush your feline friend to the emergency vet clinic or wait until your regular vet is available? Our South Charlotte vets share some common reasons why cats stop eating, and how to tell if its time to head to the emergency vet.

Keep Serving The Meal Until Your Dog Eats It

Sometimes you happen upon a pet that is just too stubborn for his own good. Hell refuse to eat no matter what you do. In that case, the only way to curb this problem is the gentle starvation method. Begin by placing your dogs food down for 30 minutes. If he refuses to eat in that time, take it back up. Wait until his next normally scheduled mealtime and put it down for 30 minutes again. If he doesnt eat, take it back up. Eventually hunger will win over and your dog will eat his food. If not, theres probably a deeper problem than just a picky pup, and you should head to the vet.

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Dramatic Changes Can Cause Decreased Appetite

Cats are sensitive creatures, and changes in their surroundings might cause them to stop eating. If youve moved to a new house, changed the furniture arrangement, or introduced a new family member, your cat might take a break from its typical eating schedule. Some of the changes that might be stressing out your cat will be easy to fix such as putting their cat tower back where it used to be. Others, like a new baby in the house, will just require some adjustment on your cats end and maybe a little extra TLC from you.

What About A Cat Whos Not Drinking Water

My Cat Wont Eat or Drink What Can That Mean?

Its very unusual for a kitty to not drink enough water if their food intake is normal. If you think your cat isnt get enough water, though, try a kitty water fountain. Some cats prefer moving water to sitting water, and the noise of running water attracts them to the fountain to drink. Here are some additional tips and tricks.

One possible cause for decreased water intake, though, could be a food change. If you start incorporating canned food or another higher moisture content food into your cats diet, your pet may drink less water from their bowl since theyre getting more water at mealtimes. This is perfectly normal, so no need to worry.

But if your kitty is also eating less than usual, or if you are concerned, go ahead and schedule a veterinary appointment.

On the other end of the spectrum, if your cat is drinking more water than usual in combination with not eating, this could be a symptom of a health problem such as diabetes or kidney disease. Its important you talk to your vet if this is happening to your pet.

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End The Hunger Strike

Whether the idea that cats have nine lives and land on their feet at all times is true or not, they still need to eat to live and survive. A feline hunger strike is worth taking seriously and seeking help from your vet is still the best option to help to determine the cause and best plan of treatment for your cat.

Tell us:

Is your cat eating too much or barely at all? Have you had an experience when your cat wouldnt eat? If so, what did you do? Share your stories and tips in the comments below!

Its Time To Put On Your Detective Hat

You may want to confine your cat to one room for 24 to 48 hours.

Make your cat comfortable with food, water, a litter box and comfortable bedding.

This way, you can observe whats happening with your cats eating habits.

You also can monitor if your cat is having any urinary issues or diarrhea issues.

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Do You Make A Big Deal Out Of Eating

Dogs are smart and dogs are attention seekers. Your dog refuses his kibble one morning. You step closeby, pet your dog, and literally beg her to eat another kibble. Next, you are pleading her to eat on your knees. Your dog, at this point, feels like a star. Its like, Wow, every time I refuse food my owner goes bonkers over me. If I want to get all the attention I am missing during the day, all I need to do is turn my nose from the food I am offered.

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Your Cat May Be Recovering From An Illness Or Hospital Stay

Cat Not Eating? A Vet Gives 10 Reasons Why

Some cats will develop a food aversion, most commonly after an illness or hospital stay. Such cats associate a particular food with feeling sick or with the stress of hospitalization, and then refuse to eat that food.

It may require some ingenuity and trial and error to discover what your cat is willing to eat if a food aversion develops.

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If My Cat Refuses To Eat When Should I Visit A Vet

If your cat has skipped more than one or two meals, or is exhibiting any behaviors or symptoms youre concerned about, come to our emergency vet office in Greensboro right away. Call ahead if possible.

Because cats can quickly become seriously ill, early diagnosis and treatment are critical to your feline friends long-term health.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Why Is My Adult Cat Not Eating

Loss of appetite can have many causes in adult cats.

If your cat wont eat, some causes may be evident through a vets physical exam of your cat, while others may require diagnostic tests like blood work or x-rays.

If your adult cat has had a poor appetite or simply wont eat for more than two days, take your cat to your veterinarian to find out the cause.

Here are some possible reasons why your cat is not eating.

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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.

Helpful Information To Provide Your Veterinarian

My Cat Wont Eat or Drink What Can That Mean?

Below are some questions your veterinarian may ask you during your visit.

Make a note of the answers to them before your vet visit so you dont have to take up valuable time during your dogs appointment trying to remember.

  • How long has it been since your dog has eaten?
  • How many times a day does he eat?
  • Is your dog eating something or nothing at all?
  • Is it just food thats an issue or is he drinking more or less as well?
  • Is there a certain time of day he will eat?
  • Have you changed his food?

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Additional Important Information And Recommendations

  • Anorexia should be treated as a serious condition. Immediately inform the veterinarian if the cat continues refusing to eat a day or two after the consultation. A change of treatment plan might be in place.
  • It is a good cat owner habit to keep your cat under close observation every time he is under a medical treatment or is recovering from a disease.
  • In many cases, anorexia becomes recurrent or partial. Partial anorexia is when the cat eats less and loses weight gradually overtime. Keeping regularly records of your cats normal weight and diet can help you identify this problem at earlier stages, increasing the chances for a successful treatment.
  • Always make sure that your cats diet is nutritious, well balanced, and adequate for the specific stage and condition of your cat.
  • Dry food should be consumed within a month of opening to avoid changes on the texture or it becomes rancid.

Featured Image Credit: Elena Kutepova, Shutterstock


Refusal To Eat Might Be Because Of Underlying Health Conditions

Of course, when a cat refuses to eat, it can sometimes be a sign of an underlying and more serious health condition. This could include kidney issues, which are common in felines, or even gastrointestinal issues. Gastrointestinal issues like obstruction of the urinary tract or intestine, pancreatitis, and parasites are often accompanied by other symptoms beyond just decreased appetites, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy. Any of these symptoms require an immediate visit to the vet.

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Why Your Dog Is Only Eating Treats

It is pretty unusual if your dog turns away from its regular food and wants to eat only treats. This is usually an indication that something is changing, and you might want to check it out immediately.

One of the most common reasons a dog will refuse to eat but would want only to treat is ill-health. No matter the condition, from dental disease to tumors, the presence of pain usually detests most dogs from eating.

Also, you might want to check the expiry date of your pets food. Most people think animals would eat anything as long as they are hungry and will never stop to check if the food being given is spoilt. Most animals would reject spoilt food, though, so you should double-check every time.

Sometimes dogs do not bluntly like the food they are being given and will tend to reject it. Some animals are picky and fussy, and this can be frustrating and annoying, but just like you wouldnt want to eat something you dont like, animals tend to be the same. Find food that your dog readily likes and stick to it.

How To Encourage A Cat To Eat Wet Food

Why is My Kitten Not Eating? – How to Stimulate Appetite

If youre keen for your cat to eat some wet food, you can start by adding a tiny amount to their usual dry food. Gently warming the wet food can make it more appealing, as it brings out the smell .

Try different textures and flavors of wet food, to see which your cat likes. Mixing in some warm cat milk initially may help tempt your cat. Remember that any change in diet should be done slowly, over 1-2 weeks, to avoid tummy upsets! This also gives your cat time to adjust.

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What If Your Cat Is Not Eating Or Drinking

Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM

Certified Content. This article has been fact checked and verified by our veterinary adviser.

Loss of appetite can be cause for concern for any pet parent. After all, cats seem to live to eat, so a cat that suddenly doesn’t want to eat can feel like a reason to worry. If you know what can be causing your cat’s sudden hunger strike and how to handle it, your worries will be eased.

It may be something serious that requires veterinary intervention, or it could be just a case of the picky-pickies. Know your cat, and you’ll know what to do.

Quick Navigation

  • Why will my cat not drink water?
  • Why Your Cat Wont Eat

    Illness. Loss of appetite is one of the key indicators that something is wrong. So be sure to pay attention if your cat suddenly stops eating. A number of different conditions may be responsible, including infections, kidney failure, pancreatitis, intestinal problems, and cancer. But it isnât always serious — something as simple as a toothache can make your cat stop eating.

    Recent vaccination. Did you notice your catâs loss of appetite shortly after you took it to the vet for routine vaccinations? If so, the reason your cat wonât eat may be an adverse reaction to the shots. Although vaccines have been lifesavers for millions of animals, they do cause side effects in some. Loss of appetite is among the more common of these side effects, which are usually temporary and mild.

    Travel and unfamiliar surroundings. Like many people, many cats are creatures of habit. So a change in routine can result in a loss of appetite. Additionally, some animals experience motion sickness when traveling by car or plane, which can lead to nausea and a refusal to eat.

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    Has Anything Changed In The House Recently Building Work Guests

    Cats are very sensitive, and changes to their environment or routine can cause them to become stressed. This could be something obvious such as building work, visitors, a new baby, or a new pet. Other times we might struggle to pinpoint exactly what has caused the anxiety. If your cat is stressed and on high alert to potential threats, they may go off their food.

    If you can’t avoid changing your cat’s routine, you can take steps to help them cope better with the stress. Make them their own safe space and provide them with everything they need as far away from any sources of stress as possible. You might want to use pheromone diffusers, like a Feliway diffuser, in this area to increase the sense of calm and help them relax.

    You should consider seeking veterinary advice to rule out a health problem, especially if you can’t identify an apparent reason for your cat to be stressed. A qualified pet behaviourist may be needed in some cases.

    How To Give Medicine To A Fussy Cat

    My Cat Wont Eat or Drink What Can That Mean?

    It can be tricky to give medicine to any cat, so its even tougher for a fussy eater.

    If you think that you will struggle to medicate your pet with tablets, speak to your vet about whether there are alternative treatments. You can also ask them to show you how to safely and effectively administer pills.

    Try to avoid hiding tablets or medicine in the food of a cat who is already fussy, as this may put them off food even more.

    Do you have a fussy kitten? It might be a bit more difficult to convince younger cats to eat when they dont feel like it. Weve put together a guide explaining possible reasons why your kitten is not eating and what you can do to help restore their appetite back.

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    Most Common Reasons A Cat Loses Appetite

    This is a comprehensive list that covers the leading causes a cat wont eat:

    1. Change & Stress

    The most common reason a loss of appetite occurs in cats is change. Most cats are sensitive to changes in their environment such as a new home, new owner, or a new addition to the family such as a child or dog. This could even be as simple as you getting up at a different time each day and feeding them an hour earlier. Anytime this causes stress you will probably see increased shedding for a few days and not finishing all their food.

    Stick to your normal routine and make the changes minimal . Play with your cat and give them lots of attention and they will be back to normal in no time.

    2. Food Bowl

    Yes, food bowl problems is an often overlooked cause of a cat not eating as much. Sometimes cats have allergies to the material the bowl is made from. Other food bowl problems are dirty bowls, getting an electric zap from a metal bowl, or just the presence of another pet near their bowl. Some cats dont like hovering from their owners or other pets when they are trying to enjoy their chow time.

    3. Illness

    There are many illnesses that may affect a cats eating and diet. We list some of the more common illnesses below. If you notice your cat eating less keep an eye on them. Lethargy, sitting hunched up, lack of purring, being reclusive, hissing when you attempt to move them, or yowling when doing their business in the litter box are all common signs your cat has an illness.

    6. Travel


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