Like children, cats are stubborn, picky and fussy eaters. Stray cats, especially, will spend a lot of time rummaging through heaps of garbage and scavenging for fresh meat just to get the ultimate meal. However, cats aren’t always looking for the next fill or growling to their owners for food. In some circumstances, a cat not eating can be more than a bad attitude. This can be caused by a number of reasons:
Cat not eating or drinking for 3 days or more? Could be Medical Problems
When a cat faces discomfort due to illness, his/her appetite dwindles causing a change in feeding. A number of illnesses cause loss of appetite. These ailments include:
If your cat is experiencing any dietary indiscretions, he/she will find eating unpleasant and avoid the activity altogether. Foreign bodies, tumors or foreign bodies in any part of the cat’s digestive tract could lead to vomiting or diarrhea. A cat suffering from poor digestion will refuse to consume any food or drink as the activity aggravates their situation.
Pain during eating
Cats with dental problems, spine injuries or fractures will experience pain which makes it difficult for them to eat. Cats with inflamed gums, a loose tooth, dental abscess, sore or an infected mouth will cease to eat once they feel any pain.
These not only cause the cat to feel pain while chewing but also keeping a straight posture while doing so. A consultation with your veterinarian is ideal to check out your pet’s mouth, give him/her dental cleaning and a thorough examination.
Symptoms related to gastrointestinal issues make cats unable to eat. This could be as a result of a variety of things 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)
- Foreign bodies such as pica in the stomach or intestines lead to pain and blockages
This is one of the most common ailments in cats. The nausea exhibited causes like a cat not eating or consuming anything.
Cat Won’t Eat? Were They Recently Vaccinated?
After vaccination, a cat can show side effects of vaccinations, which may include fatigue and loss of appetite. Although in most cases, the mild side effects disappear quite fast in others they stay for a while. If your cat not eating suddenly becomes impassive towards feeding or drinking after having regular vaccinations, she or he may be having an adverse reaction to one of the vaccines. See a vet if the symptoms take too long to go away.
Cat not eating much but acting normal? Remember: Some cats are stubborn!
Like little children, cats are picky eaters and may refuse to eat for petty reasons. They may dislike a certain food, feel the food is too cold, or stale or old or their bowl is dirty.
Rapid food changes especially for elderly cats are not taken well and they are likely to reject new diets. To urge your cat to eat you can change the bowl or try different diets or simply get them into a routine they enjoy.
Location or size of the bowls
Keeping bowls near trash bins makes it unappealing for cats to feed. Cats also feel threatened by other cats if they are in an environment where there is more than one house pet or their environment has other animals. If you place their food bowl where you place other cats or pets, they feel the other pets may consume their food or fight them over it. This is common in younger cats or kittens.
Place your cat’s bowl in a separate area or room from other pets and even humans. Due to cats’ long whiskers, cats ideally enjoy eating or drinking from a bowl where their whiskers aren’t touching the bowl. Shallow and wide bowls are thus ideal to feed your cat.
Putting medication in your cats food or feeding bowl
Cats have a strong sense of smell and tend to check their food due to their survival instincts. This is why cats sniff on any food or drink before they consume it. So once you put medication in their food, they are likely to sense there is something in there and refuse to consume it.
There are specific treats designed particularly to aid with this. So if your cat has a medication that they require to take regularly, you can ask your veterinarian to recommend a suitable treat.
As cats grow older, their metabolism slows down, they develop more issues with digestion, their muscles and bones get worn out, among other difficulties. For this reason, elderly cats may get apprehensive to eating every once in a while. These cats can also thrive on a meal a day so refuse to eat more or new foods in general. So sometimes a cat not eating is all in the age.
Weak sense of dehydration
Cats are lazy drinkers and won’t drink water unless it is placed in their bowls. Unlike humans, they are not aware when they are experiencing dehydration. For this reason, it is good that you make homemade foods that have moisture to enable your cat keep hydrated. Open water sources such as outdoor fountains also encourage pets to drink more. Cats may not like to get cleaned with water but they will definitely play in it. Also find a way to ensure your cat drinks sufficient water between and after meals.
Canned cat food is especially monotonous for cats. Over time, the cats will get fed up eating the same food. Try to switch up their diet with exciting new foods especially those made home. Your cat will enjoy eating and generally consume more with occasional treats to look forward to. When purchasing food, also consider the cat’s age and breed so as to get the best quality for them. Spice up your cats meal with seasoning such as parsley but avoid garlic, onions and other toxic additives.
“My Cat Won’t Eat!” Is it Psychological Distress?
Some people eat less or nothing at all when stressed. Just like people, some cats also behave the same way. Anxiety and stress can be caused by several reasons. This includes relocating to a new home, traveling, a visit to the veterinarian, new pets in the home or change in their environment, diet or routine. Cats are sensitive creatures and any breaking of their usual habits may cause loss of appetite.
Neglect, especially for cats with owners who go away for long periods or don’t get enough attention, may cease to eat when fed. Consult a vet to aid in diagnosing and prescribing the best treatment for any psychological issues that your cat may be exhibiting.
Cat not eating or drinking? Maybe They’re Just Not Hungry!
Cats will ravenously consume a meal they enjoy. This is especially when served meat, being that cats are carnivorous or gourmet meals. Cats also have small stomachs and can only consume as much. Feeding your cat with food rich in calories leaves your cat quite full. With cats that are inactive, digestion occurs slowly therefore they remain fuller for longer. So when your cat refuses to eat it may actually be full.
When you fill you cat with highly palatable meals, they will sometimes cease to eat. So quit worrying too much about your cat not looking twice at the food bowl. You’ve been feeding it well and it’s probably just taking a break. If your cat spends time outdoors, it could also be getting food from elsewhere. The cat could be feeding from the neighbours, hunting mice or getting food from trash bins. This way, by the time you get to feeding them, they are full and disinterested in eating more.
Tips to get your cat well fed
- Ensure your cat lives within a safe and friendly environment to curb stress and anxiety. These two have been known to be the main causes of illness and loss of appetite.
- Give your cat nutritional supplements as recommended by a vet. Supplements aid in adding up nutrients to their diet, calming them down and keeping them healthy.
- To heat food evenly, avoid using microwaves to warm food. Cats dislike cold food.
- Keep your cat’s food and water bowl clean. Get a stainless steel bowl if possible and keep it away from dirty areas such as near dustbins.
Having attempted the above methods to get your cat to eat but failed, you will need to take your pet to a veterinarian if:
- Your cat has not resumed eating within 24 hours.
- You notice any other accompanying symptoms such as lethargy, physical discomfort, behavioural changes, unusual aggression, vomiting, diarrhoea, incontinence or difficulty urinating.
To help your cat not eating, it’s best to have a schedule for feeding so as to easily identify when your cat is feeding less or not at all. Like children, you can also easily identify the cause of your cat’s poor feeding when you are closely monitoring them. Don’t be quick to assume your cat is spoilt or a picky eater before finding out the real reason why they aren’t eating.