What to Do if Your Cat Won’t Eat

Cats are renowned for being fussy eaters and it’s actually incredibly common for cats to refuse to eat what they’ve been given occasionally. With new cats in particular, it can take some time to find a cat food they are happy to eat. Every cat is different, with some preferring wet food, some preferring dry food and sometimes they may only be interested in fresh fish or meat.

Is it simply about perseverance or is a cat not eating much a cause for concern? If you’ve tried every cat food brand and tasty morsel around but they’re still refusing to eat anything, could there be something going on that needs further investigation?

What is Cat Anorexia?

The medical term for a sustained loss of appetite in a cat is called anorexia. It is a fairly common cat health condition. The severity of anorexia can vary from intermittent periods of fasting, occasional decrease in appetite, to complete refusal to eat any food.

There are two types which are important to distinguish in terms of diagnosing the problem – is your cat showing interest in food and perhaps trying to eat? Or do they have no interest at all?

Reasons Why Cat is Not Eating

There are many potential reasons why a cat may not be eating, and these can range from stress, a change in climate or environment to more serious issues such as a foreign body, kidney disease, hypothyroidism and diabetes.

Cat anorexia can present alone or can be accompanied by other symptoms. Although cats are extremely good at hiding pain and discomfort, if you feel they look less well than usual, quieter, more lethargic, eyes are less bright, unusual inactivity etc – these are little signs that your cat may not be feeling 100%.

Because this is a symptom for a diverse range of diseases and health conditions, it can be almost impossible to establish the cause with out the aid of a qualified veterinarian. After all, as your kitty can’t communicate often the only way to know what is going on inside is with blood tests, urine tests and perhaps an ultrasound or x-ray.

What Action Should be Taken

In extreme cases where your cat has not eaten at all for more than 48 hours, it is vital seek urgent veterinary advice as this could be a serious sign of an underlying condition which requires medical intervention.

If anorexia is accompanied by any of the following, you should without doubt contact your vet for urgent advice.

  • No drinking
  • Blood in stools
  • Not defecating
  • Not urinating­
  • Drinking excessive amounts of water
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

Is your cat not eating much but acting normal? As long as your cat is eating something, you may wish to monitor the situation before taking them to the vet.

However, to give you peace of mind and to rule out anything more serious, it is usually a good idea to pop your cat over to the vet for examination.

Treatment for Cat Anorexia

Due to the vast array of possible causes of a cat not eating, treatment options will depend on the final diagnosis but there may also be some interim treatment pending results.

However, in all cases your vet will perform a physical examination and assess all presenting symptoms. The vet will be looking to see if there are any obstructions, by checking the mouth and stomach areas. If the cause is not obvious, and this is quite common, your vet will need to undergo further investigations. These may include, x-rays, scans, blood tests, urine tests etc.

If an obstruction has been ruled out and its deemed safe to do so, your cat may be prescribed an appetite stimulant to get them eating again.