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What To Feed Cat That Won’t Eat

Get Your Cat Back On Track To Eating


Cats can get off their food for various reasons ranging from stress and illness to changes in their food preferences. It is important to identify why your cat is not eating and then figure out ways to get it back on track.

Here are some reasons that cats stop eating, what you can do, and tips for getting a cat to eat again.

If your cat is not eating, you need to try a soft, canned food. Worry less about nutrition at this point and go for taste and appeal.


How To Encourage Your Cat To Eat

30th May 2021

Loss of appetite can occur due to many things including both illness and stress. If your cat is not eating as they do normally, consult your veterinary clinic promptly, as periods of reduced food intake can have negative effects on a cats health. Even short periods eating less can have significant effects on recovery from illness, wound healing and the immune system, and cats are also vulnerable to liver problems caused by lack of food . Unlike dogs, which can cope with periods of reduced food intake, cats must be promptly treated to improve their appetite, or in some cases a feeding tube may be placed to supply nutrition while they dont feel like eating. Medications can also be given to boost appetite.

There are many causes of a reduction in appetite, and these include any illness causing nausea or pain for example. A cat may also eat less if they are dehydrated or constipated. Sudden changes in their diet or stress at home can also put a cat off their food. Please see the Cat Carer guide on inappetence found at for more information on why a cat would eat less.

If an illness has been ruled out, or a cat is recovering from a surgery or has been stressed for example, certain techniques can be used to tempt them to eat, although if methods fail, veterinary advice must be sought promptly.

Tips and hints include:

Your Kitten May Still Be Learning What They Like To Eat

Once they start transitioning to solid food, kittens should be exposed to different types and textures of food so they learn what they prefer. If your newly weaned kitten wont eat, it could be as simple as switching from a round kibble shape to oblong.

Offer wet food and dry food with different textures and shapes . You can also try to make the food more appetizing so that the transition is easier. A cats appetite is strongly driven by their sense of smell.

Make sure that any wet food that you feed your kitten is room temperature or slightly warmer warming wet food up increases its aroma and appeal.

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Try The Following Great Food If Your Cat Is Sick And Refusing To Eat

Yes, cats love dry foods.

But when they are sick, cats are known to reject dry foods.

So instead of trying to get your sick cat to eat dry foods, you can try adding the following food to their food bowls and see if they like it.

  • Try serving your cat some meat baby food.
  • Because sick cats dont do too well with dry foods, you can serve them wet/canned food. It will be great if you stick to stinky foods like seafood.
  • Sick cats also love chicken broth. So, feel free to add some to their food. And there is no problem whether it is kibble or canned. While doing this, please try to avoid chicken broths that contain garlic, chives, onion, or onion powered. Ingredients like these are known to be very toxic, especially to sick cats. You can also use powdered broth mix.
  • Sick cats are known to love spicy food. So, to get your sick cat eating again, you can add some juice from tuna or anchovies to your cats regular food.
  • Sprinkling a bit of grated parmesan cheese on your cats food will surely entice your feline friend to grab a bite or two. Thanks to the cheesy and salty flavor that comes with grated parmesan cheese, your cats appetite will get some much-needed boost.
  • If youve always served your cat cold food, make sure you warm her food in a microwave or warm water before serving her when she is sick. And please make sure it isnt too hot.
  • At the vets, your cat may be forced to eat using a feeding tube.

    This is typically done to help maintain your cats weight and overall health.

    Keep Your Cats Dishes And Bowls Clean

    My Cat Wont Eat! What Should I Do?

    This is especially important if your cat eats canned or raw food because germs can start growing in scraps of leftover food and cause illness. A cat not eating might hate the smell of her dishes or food. Cats are instinctively driven to avoid consuming putrid-smelling meat. If you use plastic dishes, replace them with metal or ceramic because theyre easier to keep clean.

    Also Check: How To Get A Sick Cat To Eat

    What Do I Do If My Cat Is Hungry But Wont Eat

    If your cat is hungry but refuses to eat food, then start offering him different kinds of food because he is bored of eating the same kind of food.

    If the cat continues to avoid food despite your attempts, keep an eye on it over the next 24-48 hours. If the cat eats little or nothing during this period, see a veterinarian. Your veterinarian may prescribe hunger stimulants if required.

    These, as the name suggests, cause hunger and a feeding reflex. Some have even included extra calories to aid nutrient-deficient animals. Depending on the severity of your cats problem, you can get them at your local pet store or via prescription.

    Typically, they are pastes that are applied to the cats foot. Even if the cat doesnt want to eat, it will generally lick the stimulant off its foot when it cleans it. These arent always effective, but they can assist with finicky or anxious cats.

    If your cat still refuses to eat, a vet will most likely employ a hand-fed liquid diet or a feeding tube to help him. Only a qualified veterinarian or veterinary nurse should try the latter.

    If your cat suddenly loses its appetite, keep a close check on it. Some people refuse to eat as a kind of protest, but things will soon return to normal. Other cats may go days without eating and require veterinary assistance.

    You might also like to read about possible reasons behind cat licks food but doesnt eat

    How To Tell If Your Cat Doesn’t Like Their Food

    Cats may explore their food bowl but take a sniff and walk away if they dont like it. Others may have a few bites before giving up. It can be hard to tell the difference between your cat being unwell or just not liking their food, so take them to the vet for a check-up if their appetite seems off to you.

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    Learn How To Entice Your Cat To Eat

    Its disconcerting when your favorite feline suddenly stops chowing down. Cats are notoriously picky eaters, and limited eating behavior can be triggered by many things, from the addition of a new pet to a major medical problem.

    Eating full and regular meals is extremely important to your cats overall health, so its important to figure out why your kittys bowl isnt being licked clean.

    Make Their Food More Appetizing

    Why Your Cat Won’t Eat Their Food | Chewy

    If your cat wont eat its food the way it comes in the can, there are a few things you can do, according to Dr. Fox. First, you can add chicken stock or tuna water to their canned wet food to enhance the flavor. Second, try microwaving their food, since this makes it smellier. Cats actually find smelly food extra appealing.

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    What To Do If Your Cat Still Won’t Eat

    If your cat is still not eating, you may need to try to make it eat. Cat anorexia can cause the animal to develop other issues. Severe weight loss puts a lot of strain on a cat’s liver and can lead to other issues.

    You can make your cat eat by putting food in its mouth and making it swallow. Before you do this, you should speak with your vet and determine if this is the right step for you and your cat. If you do decide to make your cat eat, you will need to be very gentle and patient with the cat. It helps if you have a strong and trusting relationship with him or her.

    Go to a quiet area and talk calmly and reassuringly to the cat as you are feeding it.

    Here are the steps for feeding a cat who won’t eat:

    Should Your Cats Continue With Regular Diets When They Are Sick

    For your cat to fully recover, there is a need to feed her with both water and food consistently.

    And in terms of food, we would advise you to stay away from dry foods until your cat feels better.

    Another thing you should do is separate sick cats from other pets.

    This way, youll know who is eating the food.

    While nursing your sick feline, make sure it always has access to fresh water.

    For cats that love canned food, they are most likely to drink very little water, and thats because canned foods already contain some water.

    If your cat is struggling to drink water, you can feed her water directly using a clean syringe.

    And if you dont know how to do this effectively, you can reach out to your veterinarian for some help.

    If things arent getting better, your cat may be hospitalized to get the support and necessary care it requires.

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    Your Cat May Have A Dental Issue

    Similarly, many diseases of the mouth can make cats stop eating altogether.

    Cats can develop tartar and gingivitis, as well as inflammation in other tissues of the mouth that can be quite painful. Sadly, cats can also develop cancerous tumors in the mouth.

    Clues to watch for include:

    • Bad breath

    • Nausea

    Nausea may also be caused by kidney disease or medications .

    Cats that are nauseous may seem interested in food, but then refuse it, or they may drool and lick their lips often.

    How To Encourage A Cat To Eat Wet Food

    Why Won

    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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    Dont Let Your Cat Dictate Meal Times

    Don’t chop and change food all the time and definitely dont change just because your cat decides to turn their nose up the first time. The very worse thing to do would be to immediately replace their food with something you consider more of a treat. If you do this your cat is simply very effectively training you to give them what they want, rather than the diet of your choosing!

    If your cat’s not eating, you’re worried and you want to feed something else, take up their food and wait an hour or two. Only then should you give the new food a go. This will mean your cat wont associate their refusal with the arrival of the new food.

    Cat Not Eating 9 Reasons Why And How To Help

    Is your cat not eating? There may be several reasons for this behavior, which can be especially concerning if it happens quite suddenly.

    Food avoidance can have a serious implications for your cat’s health if it continues for 48 hours or more, which means it needs to be noticed and dealt with promptly.

    Here, experts explain some reasons why your cat may not be eating and how to help reignite their appetite.

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    What Other Options Do I Have

    Cats not eating is an emergency situation. The body structure and digestive system of a cat make sudden weight loss very bad for its overall health and well-being. If you do not want to make them eat using canned food, you can try a nutritional, high-calorie gel such as Nutri-Cal.

    Many cats like the taste and will readily lick it off your finger or a spoon. If your cat won’t take it, you can use the above method to wipe the gel on the roof of his or her mouth.

    You can also talk to your vet about using a feeding tube. While the thought of a feeding tube is scary, it may be the only way to get nutrition into your cat. Some feeding tubes can be a temporary measure that will work until the animal gets better.

    How Do I Feed A Starving Cat That Wont Eat

    How to hand feed a cat, cat will not eat

    If your cat is starving, offer it very tiny amounts of high protein wet food rather than dry food, which is frequently heavy in carbs. You may also use very little amounts of fish oil or Brewers Yeast to give extra nutrients to the wet food.

    The average cat is slim and thin, having very little body fat. A cat that refuses to eat for an extended period of time may usually survive for up to two weeks without food.

    It may last a little longer if the cat can handle little pieces of food. If the cat refuses to drink, the period is cut in half, to about three days.

    Theres also the possibility of developing hepatic lipidosis. This is the most prevalent kind of liver illness in cats in North America, according to Veterinary Clinics. Its a disease that affects overweight cats that have fatty livers.

    A cat devoid of nutritional protein, on the other hand, must rely on its fat stores.

    The liver is in charge of processing these reserves and converting them into energy so that the body can operate. The liver eventually becomes overwhelmed by the quantity of fat it must process.

    Hepatic lipidosis causes loss of appetite, as well as:

    • Lethargy
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting

    It is a curable disease with a high recovery rate. However, this is only true if veterinary treatment is offered as soon as possible.

    You might also like to read about how to force-feed a cat

    Read Also: How Old Can A Kitten Eat Wet Food

    How Much Food Should An Average Cat Eat

    Just like people, the amount of food each cat needs will vary based on the individual, Mosenco told me. The feeding recommendations on pet food packing should only be used as a general guideline.

    Speak with your veterinarian to establish a healthy feeding schedule at each stage of your cats life kitten, adult and senior. Your vet will likely use a tool such as World Small Animal Veterinary Associations nutrition toolkit and Feline Body Condition Score chart to determine a nutrition plan for your cat.

    The Following Food Is Great If Your Cat Is Sick And Wont Eat

    The best food for sick cat: Instead of dry food try adding some of the following cat food to your catâs food bowl.

    • Give them meat baby food
    • Give them wet/canned food
    • Add some low-sodium, warmed chicken broth to their food, whether it is canned or kibble. Make sure to avoid broths containing onion powder, onions, garlic, or chives, since these can be very toxic to cats. If you have a powdered broth mix, you can sprinkle this on top of their food or mix it with water.
    • Add some anchovies or juice from a tuna can to their usual food to add more flavor
    • Sprinkle a bit of grated parmesan cheese as toppings for their food. The cheesy, salty flavor is usually enough to boost a catâs appetite and interest in food.
    • Gently warm your catâs food with warm water or in the microwave but do not make it too hot
    • Sprinkle some probiotic on your catâs food. Mix a little amount in and sprinkle some as food toppings. Probiotics donât only work great as an appetite boost for cats, but your cat is also getting the benefit of consuming probiotics.
    • Sprinkle a little amount of nutritional yeast powder on your catâs food. It will help achieve a cheesy, nutty flavor that many cats will surely go crazy for. Aside from that, nutritional yeast powder is rich in Vitamin B.

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    Issues With Texture Or Kibble Size

    There are a variety of dry foods available with different kibble sizes and shapes, some of which may be more appealing to your cat than others. Naturally, kitten kibble will be quite small and easier for tiny teeth to manage. Adult cat food may be uniform, or it could contain a variety of shapes and your cat may have a preference for one over the other.

    Some cats just dont enjoy the texture of dry food. Cats are carnivores by nature so might show a preference for moist, meaty foods instead of dry, crumbly kibbles.

    Feed A Good Quality Diet

    My cat won

    My final way to prevent your cat from becoming a picky eater is to feed them a good quality food. If you’re feeding a really cheap, low-quality diet then chances are it will be high in salts, fats, and other additives. When you then try and feed something a bit better quality youre going to have trouble

    My analogy is that this is like feeding a toddler on nothing but fast food and then expecting them to eat a bowl full of salad the first time its offered.

    Its not going to happen!

    Start as you mean to go on, stick to a high-quality food and you won’t go too wrong.

    Give these strategies a try and Im sure your cat will be tucking into their next meal with gusto!

    The next step, once your cat is eating what you want them to, is to optimize their diet and the way they are fed. Find out more in my deep dive into the best ways to feed your cat.

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