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Why is My Cat Not Eating?

by Sharilyn | January 19, 2021

Cats are curious and complex little furballs. If your cat isn't eating there are several health problems that might be the cause. Read our guide to cat appetite loss.

Stress

Our cats are creatures of habit, just like us hoomans. They know when their food is coming, where they are going to sleep at night, and which mug they have to knock off the table to get your attention. So if you switch things up on them, they might turn into a little nervous nelly. 

A few stressors that can affect your cat’s appetite include: 

  • Unfamiliar surroundings: Did you move your cat’s litter or food bowl to a new location? Or did you move into a new home? New spaces can be a bit stressful at first for your furry friend and could potentially change their eating habits. 
  • Travel: On top of being in a new location, cats can experience motion sickness from travel too! 
  • New Family Members: a new human or pet. Sometimes it can take a while before your cat adjusts to a new pet in the house (especially if personalities clash). 
  • Construction: If you or a neighbor are renovating or building, all those new noises could be frightening to your little one.

Change in Food 

Like your local toddler, cats can be picky eaters! And if you change their cat food (with the assistance of a vet of course), they might give you and their new food the cold shoulder. Generally, even a healthy cat with no history of being a fussy eater takes a while to adjust to new foods, so a change in diet could be the reason for their decreased appetite. 

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is more common in older cats, and it usually causes a cat to stop eating. Some of the symptoms are nausea, lethargy, and weight loss.

If you use PrettyLitter in your litter box, keep an eye out for any irregularities in their urine with its color-changing indicator crystals, and take your cat to the vet if you suspect anything is wrong. Your veterinarian can test your cat’s blood and urine to evaluate your cat’s kidney function. Although there is no cure for chronic kidney disease, some treatments can help with symptoms and get your cat to start eating again. 

It is also important to understand the warning signs that your cat is experiencing a urinary tract infection because this type of infection can lead to kidney disease if left untreated. 

Adverse Reaction

Cats need vaccinations to protect them from deadly and even contagious diseases. But occasionally, some cats can experience reduced appetite as a negative reaction to that vaccine. Fortunately, loss of appetite after a vaccine is pretty mild and shouldn’t last a very long time. If you notice your cat stops eating completely, and it lasts more than 24 hours, follow up with your vet. 

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Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is characterized by inflammation of the pancreas. It can be a bad reaction to trauma in the abdomen or surgery. It can also be caused by an infection, overuse of certain medications, or a metabolic disorder like hypercalcemia. 

It’s important as a pet parent to recognize if your cat seems dehydrated, lethargic, or experiencing weight loss because ignoring pancreatitis can lead to other health issues like sepsis, hemorrhaging, or breathing issues. Ignoring this issue can be fatal, so pay close attention to your furry one if they seem off, especially after surgery! 

Intestinal Obstruction

If your cat gets their paws on something they shouldn’t and they happen to swallow it, take them to the vet immediately. Sometimes cats swallow things they shouldn’t. For example, string or plastic from a toy can cause an obstruction or blockage in their intestine. If this happens your cat can experience cramping and abdominal pain, which makes them want to lay off the food. 

If your cat is vomiting, tired, dehydrated, or experiencing weight loss, this could be a sign that they are experiencing an intestinal obstruction. 

Your cat could also be experiencing extreme constipation, so be sure you are aware of the most common cat constipation symptoms

Dental Issues 

Pro of being a cat: you don’t have to go to the dentist. Con of being a cat: you can still get a dental disease! Like us humans, cats can develop diseases in their mouths that make them want to stop eating. Some common dental issues in cats are gingivitis, tartar, and tissue inflammation. Unfortunately, cats can also develop cancerous tumors. 

Keep an eye out for any of these suspicious symptoms: 

  • Drooling 
  • Bad breath 
  • Bleeding from the cat’s mouth 

What Should I Do if My Cat Won’t Eat or Drink? 

The most important thing you can do if you notice your cat’s eating habits have changed is taking them to the vet as soon as you recognize any of the above symptoms. Your vet will be able to run tests and give you professional advice on the best way to comfort and nourish your cat. 

A short term and temporary solution to getting some food and water in your cat could be to try giving them a treat, like tuna in water or wet food, depending on their dietary restrictions, to see if that peaks their interest in food again. Keep in mind, this should be in moderation and you should still keep a close eye on them and follow up with a vet visit. If you have a picky eater and want to try something new, try PrettyPlease, our ultra premium nutrient rich kitty food.

Sending paw-sitive vibes to you and your cat or kitten!