Cats -- like anything else -- need to consume food in order to
live. If your cat is not eating, it is a sign that something is
wrong. Causes of appetite loss include illness, recent vaccination, change in
environment, or just plain fussiness. Regardless of the reason that
your cat is not eating, the physical consequences of
inappetance can be serious.
Cats who don’t eat must rely on fat reserves for energy, and
this fat must be processed by the liver before it can be used.
If your cat does not have adequate protein to aid in this
processing, fat can build up in the cells of the liver,
resulting in a life-threatening disease known as hepatic
lipidosis. Though many times this disease leads to liver failure, it can be reversed if
caught early enough.
Read on to learn about the causes and treatments of appetite
loss in cats.
Why a Cat Would Stop Eating
Illness - If your cat is not eating, it may be
the result of an illness. Infections, pancreatitis, kidney failure, cancer, and intestinal problems can all
cause a cat to stop eating. Less serious medical issues like a
toothache can also be to blame. If
you notice that your cat is suddenly refusing to eat, you
should visit your veterinarian to
rule out any medical conditions.
Vaccination - Vaccinations help to keep your
cat healthy and free of disease, but they can also cause side
effects, one of the most common being loss of appetite. This
side effect is usually minor and temporary, but you should
contact your veterinarian if you notice the problem persisting.
Change in Environment - Cats enjoy living a
routine life, and any changes in that routine can result in
appetite loss. Traveling to an unfamiliar location, moving to a
new home, or even welcoming a baby or new pet into the family can be stress-inducing, and your cat may deal
with that stress by refusing to eat. Some cats also experience
motion sickness when travelling in a car or plane, and that
nausea can affect your cat’s desire to eat.
Fussiness - Cats are finicky eaters, and they
often take a long time to adjust to a new food. Cats have also
been known to become bored with the food they’ve been eating.
If you’ve recently changed your
cat’s food -- or if you’ve never changed it -- this may be
the reason that your cat is refusing to eat.
Treatment for Cats Who Aren’t Eating
Treatment for your cat’s refusal to eat will depend on the
cause. If your cat is not eating because of an underlying
medical condition, that condition must be treated, but your
veterinarian may also design a feeding regimen to get your cat
eating while they are unwell.
Changes in feeding schedule and food type can sometimes get a
sick cat eating again, and many times a tasty canned food will do the trick.
When treating more serious illnesses, your veterinarian may
prescribe appetite stimulants, implant a feeding tube, or
recommend that you feed your cat a liquid diet with a syringe.
If a medical condition is not the cause of your cat’s
inappetance, here are three things you can try to restore your
cat’s desire to eat.
1. If you’ve found that your cat is
particularly enticed by certain food items -- such as canned fish or liver -- try mixing these
in with your cat’s regular food. Only offer these special food
items in small amounts, as too much could result in health
problems caused by excessive
vitamins. Fish oil, soup
broth, and cooked eggs are other good options for mixing with
your cat’s food. Eventually you should be able to transition to
feeding only cat food.
2. You can also try heating up your cat’s food
before serving it and/or removing food that has not been eaten.
Providing a new bowl of food later in the day may encourage
your cat to seize upon the food when it is fresh and available.
3. Rotating your cat’s diet among different
foods several times a year can help to reduce fussiness, and it
can also help prevent the development of food allergies or intestinal issues. When
changing your cat’s food, always make the transition over
several weeks by mixing the new food in with the old. If you
switch foods too abruptly, your cat may refuse to eat.
How to Help Your Pet With a Loss of Appetite
It is not uncommon for pets to lose their appetite, and it can
occur due to many reasons. Sometimes, pets just become picky
eaters temporarily, and especially so, if you have fed them
with food that is more appealing to their palate. Other times,
they could lose their appetite for days, and it does not have
anything to do with their picky eating habits. This can be due
to something more serious, and calls for a vet visit. It could
be anything from a gastro-intestinal upset to stress, tooth
decay, cancer or others that may be causing your pet to not
eat. It is always best to consult a vet if your pet has not
been eating for 1-2 days, so they can diagnose the problem and
address it at the earliest. In the meanwhile, here are some
steps that you can undertake to get your pet's appetite back on
Don't reach for those
treats, get flavor enhancers instead
Some pet owners resort to feeding pets treats when they are
distressed by the fact that their pet is not eating, as they
would rather have them eat something than nothing. However,
this is the wrong way to go about it. Feeding your pet only
treats can lead to diarrhea, while it does not solve the
problem at hand. You can instead try enhancing the flavor of
the food with a few additions, you just need to know what your
pet likes. For instance, cats like yoghurt and peanut butter.
On the other hand, honey or applesauce is said to do magic to a
Warm/chill the food
It may sound silly, but you'll be surprised how much good warm
food can do to your pet's appetite. Pets have a strong sense of
smell, and when you warm up the food, the enhanced scent of the
food naturally draws them to it. Of course, if your pet is
showing signs of nausea, then you probably want to do the exact
opposite. Chill the food, so the scent is not as overpowering,
and they find it more appealing.
Switch the food
Try swapping your pet's usual food with something else- canned
food, kibble, even fresh food if you please. Of course, it is
important to make sure that the new food that you are
giving your pet has been approved by the vet. Also, don't just
drop the new food into your pet's bowl and expect them to lap
it up in no time. Your pet runs at a chance of developing an
upset tummy if not introduced to new foods the right way. You
want to slowly incorporate the new food into your pet's diet,
if they take a liking to it.
More on Cat Food & Nutrition
Cat Nutrition for Male
What To Feed a Cat:
Feeding a Senior Cat
Make Your Own Cat Food
This information is for informational
purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the
professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your
veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been
verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.