Why Is My Cat Not Eating?

By Sarah Jeanne Terry
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It can be frustrating when your cat won't eat. And as a conscientious pet owner, you know your cat needs to eat, and their avoidance is causing you a bit of worry. You probably feel like you've tried everything. You've offered your cat different foods and maybe even read up on some of our cat feeding tips. But still, your feline friend refuses their food.

Any changes in eating a cat's eating habits should always raise some concerns.

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Because they can't explain to us that they don't feel well, we need to rely on other cues. A change in appetite is definitely a major red flag that something just might not be right.

Cats get very sick when they don't eat, so you don't want to wait too long.

Unlike humans or dogs, you don't want to just wait it out if a cat doesn't want to eat. When they miss meals, cats can develop a condition called hepatic lipidosis. Basically, if a cat doesn't eat, it starts converting fat into energy, which causes a dangerous buildup of fatty acids in a feline's liver. Too much of this can lead to liver failure, so that's pretty scary.

There are a number of medical issues that can cause your cat to stop eating.

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  • Gastrointestinal problems, like parasites, colitis, or cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Dental disease

According to Banfield Pet Hospital, any of these diseases cause pain or nausea, which makes eating much less pleasant for your favorite feline. Also, avoiding food is one of the early signs of these conditions, so contact your vet if you think there's a disease to worry about.

Some lifestyle issues might also be at play, causing your cat's appetite to disappear.

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Your kitty's eating habits can be affected by things like:

  • A recent vaccination that might cause side effects
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Travel, which can cause motion sickness
  • A change in routine, including a change to the cat's food

We all know how picky cats can be, so keep note of any major changes in their behavior or lifestyle that might lead them to avoid food.

A few things you can try at home include getting your cat moving and adding broth to their food.

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Dr. Eloise Bright of Love That Pet recommends that you encourage a fasting cat to exercise in the hopes that it will work up their appetite and get them eating. You can also use your hands. Petting your cat and/or hand feeding them might coax them to eat. Also, bumping up the flavor of their food with broth can make their food more enticing.

But experts agree, if your cat refuses food for more than a day, get them to the vet.

It's important to get your kitty the medical care it needs if these tips don't work. Your vet will know best how to get your cat's appetite back. And once your pet's back on a normal schedule, they'll be back to chowing down in no time.

Because once your cat's back to eating, we bet everything will feel just purr-fect.