If your cat isn't eating there are a number of reasons why this could be the case. Now, this could be a simple reason like your cat bowl or even where it's placed. Or this could be the result of pain and discomfort.
Cats are typically very stoic and always take your cat to the vet clinic if this behavior continues for days as diagnostics will rule out the illnesses we talk about in this article like dental disease or kidney issues. If you live with a senior cat then it's also important to watch their eating behavior closely as seniors may have a more serious issue going on if they suddenly stop eating meals.
Reasons why your cat isn't eating
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There are a few health issues that will cause your cat not to eat. These are in no specific order and all of these can be the reason but we often hear from cat parents that dental disease is a major cause which is why dental exams are so important.
The Preventive Vet has a great article and a list of reasons that should be top of mind for all cat owners.
- Dental/tooth pain: broken tooth, abscessed tooth root, oral tumor
- Pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas)
- Urinary obstruction
- Digestive obstruction
- Upper respiratory infection ("kitty cold")
- Kidney disease
- Stress or a change within your home
Each of these is a medical issue and needs to be diagnosed by a vet. With that in mind, The Preventive Vet also says if your cat misses two back to back meals than it's time to make an appointment.
There also could be an issue with the food shape or texture as cats are known to enjoy their routine which includes eating the same diet they're used to eating.
What you can do to get your cat to eat
If you want to tempt your cat to eat and also rule out that there isn't a possible medical issue brewing (although they may eat a few meals and then boycott so watch them closely) here are ways to get them to eat.
- Heat up their food (We also do this for our dogs to encourage them to eat). This works at the vet clinic as we relied on this technique all the time for cats that were recovering from an illness or surgery.
- Offer canned tuna or canned chicken and use that entire can to see if the added moisture makes a difference.
- If your cat has a respiratory illness try putting them in a steamy bathroom and feed them while they're in there. They may simply be congested.
Another trick I learned is putting grated parmesan cheese on top of their meal as this works like a charm with some felines.
Feeding bowls to consider
The type of feeding bowl does matter!
Many people prefer stainless steel bowls as plastic can harbor bacteria. The best technique is small meals in puzzle toys as cats are used to hunting for their food. Another reason this may help with inappetence is a condition called whisker fatigue.
I learned this as a certified vet tech but the condition called 'whisker fatigue' is when they're constantly hitting the side of a food bowl it can cause discomfort. The discomfort is so awful they may stop wanting to eat out of their bowl.
There isn't any science behind this theory but many folks bring this up when a cat stops wanting to finish meals or simply stops eating.
Weight loss is a concern in cats and dogs so a loss of appetite is always something to keep your eye on. If you notice your cat's appetite changes and their eating habits all of a sudden are different you should be suspicious. Dental problems come up frequently as the reason. Some pet owners do have finicky cats but it's not often that cats are so picky they simply stop eating.
Pat attention to your cat's behavior and always have medical reasons ruled out. Another medical issue is foreign bodies as I've known some cats to enjoy string and wool! Also, older cats or seniors need to be watched. If you add a new pet that can be stressful for any animal in the house so make sure you have made arrangements so everyone is getting a chance to eat in peace.
Some cats prefer canned food over dry food. It's possible your cat's food is the reason why and they like wet food better than dry so talk to your vet or dvm about the different brands and what's best. An appetite stimulant would only be recommended if there is a medical issue for your cat's lack of appetite like kidney failure.
Has this ever happened to your cat? Please let us know in the comments.