Cat Not Eating? What to Do When Your Cat Won’t Eat
If your cat is not eating, you may be starting to panic. However, there are many reasons why a cat may refuse food and not all of them are due to serious issues.
No matter the case, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with your vet to help you figure out the root cause of the issue. Listed below are several possibilities of what may be wrong.
Does My Cat Not Eating Signal an Emergency?
There are many reasons why your cat may not be eating. While not always considered a medical emergency, you need to find the reason and shouldn’t ignore this behavior. Make sure to closely monitor your cat because many issues show themselves in their behavior throughout the day. If you are unable to watch their feeding times or are unsure if they have been eating when you aren’t home, then it is best to assume they have not been eating. Your cat may be showing other symptoms as well, such as lethargy, not drinking, or vomiting. In these cases, you will want to visit your vet as soon as possible and may consider an emergency visit.
Simplest Explanation: A Diet Change
Cats can be choosy about their food. If you change it from what they are used to, it can make them just look at it as though it was from the moon! Sometimes cats even develop strong food preferences. If you decide to change food brands, textures, or other aspects of their diet, they may stop eating their food for a while. To help transition your cat to their new food, simply mix the new food with the old food for the first few days. If your cat is still not responding to the new food, you take your cat to the vet.
Tip: Try adding a treat like cat vitamin powder or bonito flakes to your cat’s food and see if that does the trick.
Some vegetarians try to get their cats (or dogs for that matter) to adopt their lifestyle, wanting them to eat vegetarian foods. However, cats are predators that naturally eat meat. Even vegan meat alternatives that manage to fool humans won’t fool cats.
Food Mistakes to Avoid
- Cats spend a large portion of their lives grooming themselves. Make sure your cat’s food bowls are always clean and remove soap very thoroughly so there is not much of a residual smell.
- Don’t hide medicine in cat food, like grinding a pill into a powder. It changes the smell and taste and can be really bitter, making your cat avoid it.
- Your cat could have developed a food allergy. Try food for cats with allergies instead of insisting on the same food.
- Don’t use a deep or narrow bowl. The sides touch (and constrict) the cat’s whiskers, making a lot of cats dislike them.
- Don’t serve your cat food right from the fridge. You can try heating the food for 10 seconds in the microwave before you serve it.
- Don’t be committed to a specific brand – try another one if your cat doesn’t seem to like it.
- Cat’s need to eat water-rich foods. Don’t only rely on dry foods, as that can brew health problems over time.
Cats are often very sensitive, as well as connected, to their environment. Abrupt changes in this environment can lead to emotional distress, anxiety, and nausea. If you have just traveled or moved to a new place with your cat, expect some issues at first. Your cat may appear to be stressed, hide a lot more than usual, and it may not yet have tried to locate a source of food.
Allow them to acclimate to their new environment but make sure they don’t go without eating for too long. Guide them towards a source of food or offer them a treat to gauge their reaction. If the problem persists, you know what to do: contact your vet.
A common reason why cats refuse food is that they are experiencing dental pains. However, any painful condition inside your cat’s mouth may be preventing them from eating. This can include swollen gums, a broken tooth, or oral ulcers. Painful conditions can make eating painful for your cat, which makes them avoid food the same way it would you in that situation.
If your cat recently had a mouth infection or injury, this could be the cause of them not eating. It is important that your vet performs a full oral exam in order to determine if this may be the cause. Your cat may need a dental cleaning, procedure, or medication to help with the pain. To keep your cat’s teeth healthier, consider giving it dental treats.
Kidney Problems in Older Cats
When your cat won’t eat, it may be suffering from kidney disease. Symptoms of this in cats would include your cat drinking a lot of water, peeing a lot, and they may experience significant weight loss. Kidney problems are most common in older cats. However, younger cats can become affected too. One of the main symptoms is nausea. This can cause your cat to not want to eat on top of the other issues they may be having. If you suspect your cat may be suffering from this, don’t play it down and take them to their vet, as they will need diagnostic testing.
If your cat received a vaccination recently, your vet should have outlined potential symptoms your cat might experience in the aftermath. When a cat receives a vaccination, they may have adverse side effects. These side effects could include nausea, lethargy, or vomiting. It is important to contact your vet if your cat begins getting these symptoms, as they instruct you on what to do next. If your vet provided you with paperwork outlining what to do, follow those guidelines.
What Happens When a Cat Does Not Eat?
When cats have not eaten regularly over a period of time, they can develop a condition known as Hepatic Lipidosis (fatty liver). A cat’s body reacts differently than a human’s to starvation. When your body needs food, you are able to convert your fat storage into energy. A cat’s body does not have the capability to store fat in the liver. The liver has the potential to get bogged down with fat and can lead to liver issues, including Hepatic Lipidosis. Not eating for an extended period of time can lead to liver failure and death.
Here are some more tips on how to handle cat that refuses food:
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