Maybe your cat is just eating less than usual or they've stopped eating entirely. Either way, this can be concerning for any pet parent. Today, our Springfield vets share some of the common culprits behind a decreased appetite and what to do when your cat won't eat.
My Cat Won't Eat
Cats can be temperamental at times which can lead us to believe that they are just in a mood when they don't go rushing for their dinner. However, your cat may actually be experiencing some type of discomfort that is leading them to 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.
Reasons Why Your Cat is Not Eating
Change of Food: Changing food brands is enough to make some cats turn their nose up at their food. If you need to change your cat's diet you should introduce the new food slowly.
Change in Home Routine: Cats love following a routine and having structure. If there are sudden changes in their routine or environment it could lead to them not eating as much as usual.
Pain or Discomfort: 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: Indigestion is one of the commonly seen causes of a cat not eating or drinking. Food and water can cause discomfort and so they may avoid it until it passes. One cause of indigestion could be foreign bodies (tumors or a swallowed object) which could lead to 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: If your cat has any type of gastrointestinal issue they could avoid eating due to discomfort. 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)
- Colitis (acute or chronic inflammation of the membrane lining the colon)
- Gastroenteritis (inflammation or infection of the GI tract)
Ways to Improve Appetites When Your Cat Won't Eat
Some of the things you could do to help jumpstart your cat's appetite include:
- Considering stress can be a cause, ensure your cat’s environment is safe and that the food dish is located in a quiet area.
- Keep your cat’s food and water bowls clean. Stainless steel bowls are easy to clean and disinfect.
- Give them canned or wet food - strong-smelling food such as seafood is a good option.
- Gently warm the food in the microwave or with warm water.
- Try drenching their solid food with the juice from a tuna can.
- Give your cat nutritional supplements as recommended by a vet.
What to Do When Your Cat is Not Eating
Cats, unlike dogs or humans, can get sick very quickly if they are not eating. A cat’s choice not to eat is medically significant, therefore it is important that you reach out to your vet to determine the underlying reason your cat is not eating for more than 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.
If they are exhibiting other concerning symptoms along with a decreased appetite such as vomiting, diarrhea or panting, you should bring them to your nearest emergency vet right away.
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.