Cats can be pretty picky as it is, and as a cat pet parent, this is something you are likely to be well aware of. But sometimes, if you’re thinking to yourself “my cat won’t eat, what do I do?” it may stem from a more severe health condition. Here’s what you need to know.
It’s not unusual for your cat to not want her food. She might not be in the right mood, she might feel fussy today, or she might just not be hungry from sleeping all day.
But in some cases, when your cat stops eating, it might be from a more serious health concern, the most common of which we have outlined in this blog.
When should I be concerned if my cat won’t eat?
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Instead of shrugging your shoulders and assuming your cat’s lack of appetite is because she is picky, make sure you understand exactly why she isn’t eating.
You should be concerned when your cat stops eating for more than 24 hours, as this can have a negative impact on her health. She might have something lodged in her intestines or stomach, or she is suffering from a disease. No matter what the reason is, when your cat stops eating, make sure you get to the bottom of it.
Health concerns that can cause your cat not to eat
Respiratory diseases can take a toll on your cat’s ability to breathe and her sense of smell, which will cause her to stop eating.
If your cat is suffering from a disease of the upper respiratory tract, this can cause discharge in her eyes and nose and result in temporary vision and scent issues.
An infection in the lower respiratory tract can affect her lungs and her breathing. A visit to the vet (pet insurance can help cover these medical costs) and some antibiotics can help clear this up, depending on the severity of the infection.
Issues with the digestive system
If your cat is experiencing problems with her intestine, stomach, or parts of the digestive system, this can lead to stomach issues such as vomiting, diarrhoea and pain. All these symptoms will reduce your cat’s appetite.
If your cat is sick or is experiencing tummy issues, then it’s a good idea to phone your vet or book an appointment to get an expert’s opinion.
Nobody wants to eat if they have a sore tooth or painful gums. Gum disease and other dental issues can cause pain in your cat’s mouth and cause her not to eat. If your cat has a dental problem, your vet will need to diagnose this.
There is something stuck in the intestines (foreign body)
As clever as cats are, they might still eat something they shouldn’t or get a hairball stuck in their tummy or intestines. This is known as a foreign body, and when it is lodged and stuck in the intestines or stomach, then it is known as a foreign body obstruction, and it will not let food pass.
Vomiting, dehydration, stomach pain, bloating and a loss of appetite are all symptoms of a bowel obstruction. You will need to phone your vet and possibly book an appointment to have the obstruction removed or your vet might induce vomiting.
Food issues that can cause your cat not to eat
Here are a few food issues your cat might be experiencing that are causing her to lose her appetite:
The flavour of the food – The manufacturer may have changed the flavour of the food or you have changed your cat’s food.
The shape or texture – Cats are very picky when it comes to the shape and texture of food. Some cats only like squares and some prefer soft food.
The food has expired – Make sure you check the sell-by date on the food.
Read also: 8 Strange Cat Behaviours and Their Meaning
How to get your cat’s appetite back
If your cat is suffering from a serious health concern, then you need to take her to your vet to get a professional diagnosis. But if it is nothing too serious and perhaps your cat is just a little fussy, then you can try some of the below tricks. If none of these work, then get your cat to the vet.
- Try heating up the food to bring out the flavour
- Try a different food or texture
- Check to see if the flavour of the food your cat eats has changed – if it has, try to find another food brand with the same flavour
Remember, as little as 24 hours of not eating can negatively impact your cat’s health. So, if she skips one meal, then you can try these tricks, but any more than this, you should phone your vet.
Getting a medical opinion is always your best bet before taking matters into your own hands. Getting your cat checked by a vet is the quickest and most effective way to know what the exact issue is.