Cat Not Eating? Discussing Appetite Loss in Cats Why A Cat Refusing to Eat May Be More Than a Just Finicky Feline

Cat Not Eating? Discussing Appetite Loss in Cats
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Cats enjoy a good meal like everyone else. If your cat has stopped eating, this can be a sign that something is wrong with your usually frisky feline. Here we discuss some of the main reasons why a cat might not be interested in their food.

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 donโ€™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 catโ€™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 theyโ€™ve been eating. If youโ€™ve recently changed your catโ€™s food -- or if youโ€™ve never changed it -- this may be the reason that your cat is refusing to eat.

Treatment for Cats Who Arenโ€™t Eating

Treatment for your catโ€™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 catโ€™s inappetance, here are three things you can try to restore your catโ€™s desire to eat.

1. If youโ€™ve found that your cat is particularly enticed by certain food items -- such as canned fish or liver -- try mixing these in with your catโ€™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 catโ€™s food. Eventually you should be able to transition to feeding only cat food.

2. You can also try heating up your catโ€™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 catโ€™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 catโ€™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 track.

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 dog's appetites.

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 Cats
What To Feed a Cat: Female Cats
Nutrition For Feeding a Senior Cat
How To 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.

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