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My Cat Won't Eat - Is This an Emergency?

My Cat Won't Eat - Is This an Emergency?

Cats are known to be picky eaters, but don't assume this is the only reason they're not eating. Today, our San Diego vets provide common reasons why your cat won’t eat and what you should do.

What Does It Mean If My Cat Won't Eat?

Cats can be stubborn, picky, and fussy eaters and it’s easy to assume that your cat not eating because of a bad attitude. However, when a cat faces discomfort due to illness it can lose its appetite and avoid eating.  

A cat's loss of appetite often indicates illness and is a medically significant symptom. Therefore, it is important to monitor your cat and if the behavior lasts for more than a day you should call your vet immediately. The sooner the reason is identified, the sooner treatment can begin so your cat can start to feel better.

Common Reasons Why Your Cat May Not be Eating

Changes in food or routine: Your cat could stop eating because of recent changes in its food. If you need to change your cat's diet you may need slowly introduce the new food. Additionally, changes in your cat’s routine or home could cause anxiety, stress, or depression in your cat and as a result, she/he may stop eating.  

Pain while eating: Cats with dental tooth pain such as; infections or injuries, an abscess, a broken tooth, oral tumors, or other inflammatory issues, will avoid eating due to the pain experienced while eating.

Indigestion: If your cat is experiencing indigestion due to diet she/he will find eating unpleasant and will refuse to consume food or water. Another cause of indigestion could be foreign bodies (tumors or a swallowed object) which could lead to vomiting or diarrhea. 

Kidney Disease: Kidney disease is one of the most common ailments in cats, particularly in older cats, and will cause your cat extreme nausea.

Gastrointestinal Problem: Symptoms related to gastrointestinal issues can make cats it difficult for your cat to eat. This could be a result of a variety of underlying health issues that could be happening in your cat’s gastrointestinal tract:

  • Parasites
  • 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)

How Can I Encourage My Cat To Eat?

There are several things you can try to see if your cat will begin eating again.

  • Considering stress can be a cause, ensure your cat’s environment is safe and that the food dish is located in a quiet area.
  • Keep your cat’s food and water bowls clean. Stainless steel bowls are easy to clean and disinfect.
  • Give them canned or wet food - strong-smelling food such as seafood is a good option.
  • Gently warm the food in the microwave or with warm water. 
  • Try drenching their solid food with the juice from a tuna can.
  • Give your cat nutritional supplements as recommended by a vet.

What Should I Do If My Cat Is Not Eating?

Cats, unlike dogs or humans, can get sick very quickly if they are not eating. A cat’s choice not to eat is medically significant, therefore you must reach out to your vet to determine the underlying reason your cat is not eating for more than 24 hours. 

It's also extremely important to monitor and contact your vet if they are not drinking or are displaying other symptoms or behavioral changes. Your vet can help to determine the cause and best plan of treatment.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

If your cat is not eating contact San Diego vets to book an appointment or visit your nearest urgent care veterinary clinic.

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